Spiritual Assembly

Spiritual Assembly is a term given by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá to refer to elected councils that govern the Baháʼí Faith. Because the Baháʼí Faith has no clergy, they carry out the affairs of the community. In addition to existing at the local level, there are national Spiritual Assemblies (although "national" in some cases refers to a portion of a country or to a group of countries).

Nature and purpose

Baháʼu'lláh, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi stated how Spiritual Assemblies should be elected by the Baháʼís, defined their nature and purposes, and described in considerable detail how they should function. Since these institutions are grounded in the Baháʼí authoritative texts, Baháʼís regard them as divine in nature, and contrast the wealth of scriptural guidance with the paucity of scriptural texts on which Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious institutions are based.[1]

The Universal House of Justice has added that among the responsibilities of Local Spiritual Assemblies are to be “channels of divine guidance, planners of the teaching work, developers of human resources, builders of communities, and loving shepherds of the multitudes.” [2] On a practical level, they organize local Baháʼí communities by maintaining a local Baháʼí Fund, owning the local Baháʼí center (if one exists), organizing Baháʼí events, counseling Baháʼís about personal difficulties, assisting with Baháʼí marriages and funerals, providing educational programs to adults and children, publicizing the Baháʼí Faith locally, fostering projects for the social and economic development of the region, and enrolling new members of the religion. Spiritual Assemblies appoint individuals, task forces, and committees to carry out many of their functions.[3] National Spiritual Assemblies have a similar mandate at the national level: they coordinate publishing and distribution of Baháʼí literature, direct relations with national organizations and governmental agencies, oversee the work of local spiritual assemblies, and (in some countries) Regional Councils, set local Baháʼí jurisdictional boundaries, provide various educational services and programs, and set the overall tone and direction of the national community.