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Local Spiritual Assembly
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The local administrative body of the Bahá'í community. The nine members are directly elected from among the body of the believers in a community every Riḍván and serve for a period of one year. All adult believers in a given community are eligible for election to the local spiritual assembly. The assembly elects its own officers for the year and meets as often as it sees necessary. The local assembly oversees teaching and other work of the Bahá'í community, conducts marriages and funerals, provides for the Bahá'í education of the children in its community, ensures the holding of the Bahá'í Holy Days and the Nineteen Day Feasts, and provides advice, guidance and assistance for those in difficulty. All its decisions are made after consultation.
Bahá'u'lláh called for the creation of local spiritual assemblies in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: 'The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá (9) . . .'5 The Local House of Justice is presently called the local spiritual assembly, but it is clear that the two institutions are the same; '. . . the Spiritual Assemblies of today will be replaced in time by the Houses of Justice, and are to all intents and purposes identical and not separate bodies . . .'6 'For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Bahá'í communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies . . .'7
Shoghi Effendi has characterized the local spiritual assemblies thus: 'instituted, without any exception, in every city, town, and village where nine or more adult believers are resident; annually and directly elected, on the first day of the greatest Bahá'í Festival [Riḍván] by all adult believers, man and woman alike; invested with an authority rendering them unanswerable for their acts and decisions to those who elect them; solemnly pledged to follow, under all conditions, the dictates of the "Most Great Justice" . . . charged with the responsibility of promoting at all times the best interests of the communities within their jurisdiction, of familiarizing them with their plans and activities, and inviting them to offer any recommendations they might wish to make . . . supported by local funds to which all believers voluntarily contribute . . .'8
[BD 139]
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