Meeting with Local Spiritual Assemblies
Representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly have had the pleasure of meeting with 22 of 35 Local Spiritual Assemblies and communities around Aotearoa in the last few months of 2018, and there are plans to meet with the others in early 2019. Representatives of the Regional Bahá’í Councils have also been participating in these meetings (sometimes via online mechanisms). The purpose of these visits has been to explore the areas of focus for the national community (accelerating the pace of systematic endeavour e.g. striving to bring programmes of growth to the stage of intensity and beyond, fostering the spiritual health of our community, fund education and development). The importance of universal participation was underscored—in the Five Year Plan, in giving to the Fund and in Bahá’í elections.
With the opportunity to consult with both the National Assembly and Regional Bahá’í Council representatives, Local Assemblies were able to consider ways to support the development of their clusters —whether it be to reach the next milestone, or continue to advance along the continuum of growth. Assemblies were encouraged to read their reality in preparation for the bicentenary in 2019, and consider how they can encourage the believers to lovingly nurture the seeds sown at the last bicentenary (particularly around building up core activities).
Other topics addressed were the needs of the National Fund, support for youth to attend the seminars organised by the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, and strengthening the spiritual health of the community by encouraging all to undertake the study of The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh (Ruhi Book 8).
Joy and a focus on learning and collaboration are characterising the consultations and the comments below are a selection of the reflections shared either by Local Assemblies or National Assembly members after the visits:
· “…will use the three focuses to structure their meetings; - appreciative and felt like a home visit which binds hearts together and is successful in communicating - motivating - lively and engaged.”
· “The Assembly shared that it has been a challenging year for their community with many members having serious health issues. But they still felt encouraged, particularly with the developments with the youth from the wider community in their locality. As well as the love and support they have received from each other during these times.”
· “More focus on the Fund and joyful giving; communities must educate their members on the Fund otherwise they will miss the bounty of giving… “
· “We can encourage every home to have devotionals, because this is the foundation of spiritual health. In a sense each home becomes a mini institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The Local Assembly to study Ruhi Book 10 which is about building communities.”
· “Some learning from the previous bicentenary: start planning early, identify protagonists, build on connections made from previous Holy Days, arts was a powerful tool … Holding things in homes and in local spaces can often be better to connect hearts. After the [last bicentenary], the community realised that for some people who came, who had a real spiritual connection, there was nothing to keep that going/kindled...”