Areas of focus for this year
Before giving details of the National Assembly’s current areas of focus, it is helpful to consider guidance of the Universal House of Justice about learning to maintain focus.
During the 25 years leading up to 2021, the Bahá’í world is focusing its efforts on a single aim: “advancing the process of entry by troops and on its systematic acceleration.” (1)
First introduced in the message dated 26 December 1995 to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, this aim has required believers and their institutions to exercise a higher degree of discipline in their individual and collective activities than previously called for... “there will be challenges to face, difficulties to overcome and adjustments to be made,”(2) the Universal House of Justice cautioned one National Spiritual Assembly at the beginning of the Four Year Plan in 1996. What would be important, the House of Justice indicated, was for the institutions and the believers to set out towards the realization of this aim in a “spirit of unity.”(3)
Passages from the Universal House of Justice suggest that having an aim implies understanding that certain activities take precedence over others and that certain steps must precede others. “At various stages in the evolution of the Faith,” a letter to an individual has indicated, “certain activities that assist with the pressing needs of the development of the Bahá’í community may receive emphasis in a particular global plan. The institute process is one such example and is concerned with raising up the needed human resources for this stage in the growth of the Faith.”(4)
It is clear, then, that not all activities have the same importance at a given stage of development. Some activities, while perhaps suitable at a later stage, will only serve as distractions at the present one. Such activities may divert human and financial resources away from pressing tasks and impede progress. One of the requisites of having an aim is to maintain a “clear vision of the steps”(5) that must be taken at each stage in order to reach it.
Maintaining focus has proven to be one of the greatest challenges to individuals and institutions in this regard.
“As the community of the Most Great Name continues to multiply the ranks of its adherents, to develop and consolidate its institutions, to extend a firmly rooted pattern of community life, to explore the implications of the divine teachings for diverse societies, to enhance its capacity to render service to the peoples of the world—in short, as it labours for the fulfilment of the God-given mission with which it has been charged—it finds itself being drawn into a more profound interaction with society for which it needs to become increasingly well equipped. This interaction occurs at all levels, from the grassroots to the international arena. Over time, the society-building power possessed by the Faith becomes manifest, and Bahá’ís can more readily perceive how their own efforts are channelling that power.
The House of Justice has described three interrelated areas of endeavour—expansion and consolidation, social action, and participation in the prevalent discourses of society—which are central to the process of learning in which the Bahá’í community is engaged. Coherence among these three is maintained by ensuring they adhere to elements of the conceptual framework that governs the current series of global Plans. Each area has implications for the Bahá’í community’s involvement in the life of society.”
While working in many areas, the National Spiritual Assembly wants to highlight three main areas of focus for our national community for the fourth year of the current Five Year Plan (176 B.E.). They are:
1. Accelerating the pace of systematic endeavour and celebration of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb
To move as many clusters (out of 11 clusters) to or beyond the second milestone (an intensive programme of growth) by Ridván 2020 - by nurturing “endeavours undertaken by believers across the cluster as their circumstances permit” and at the same time fostering “community-building efforts in small settings of heightened receptivity” through close collaboration with the Counsellors, the Regional Bahá’í Councils and Local Spiritual Assemblies.
For this bicentenary to be about believers engaging family, friends, and acquaintances of all kinds in conversations about the life and teachings of the Faith’s Twin Founders.
2. Fostering spiritual health
To foster the spiritual health of our community, and to enhance the devotional character of the community by laying the spiritual foundations of future Houses of Worship through hosting of devotional meetings in more and more homes.
To strive for higher participation, love and unity.
3. Institutional capacity building and Fund development
To enhance administrative processes and systems at local, regional and national levels.
To have sufficient funds for the material needs of the Faith especially the acceleration of expansion and consolidation. This involves inviting the generality of the friends to consider afresh the responsibility of all believers to support the work of the Faith through their own means and manage their financial affairs in the light of the teachings.
(1) Message dated 26 November 1999 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the world.
(2) Letter dated 16 September 1996 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India.
(4) Letter dated 17 May 2005 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer.
(5) Letter dated 11 July 2005 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia.