Baha’i National Convention begins

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Delegates engage in a procedural vote Thursday evening at the outset of the 103rd Bahá’í National Convention. Photo by Nancy Wong

 

Delegates to the 103rd U.S. Baha’i National Convention are gathering April 28 to May 1 in the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois to fulfill two tasks.

Over the next four days, the delegates will consult in sessions focused on themes from recent guidance from the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith. They will also receive the Annual Report of the current National Spiritual Assembly and hear from the members of the Continental Board of Counselors that are present.

Their other sacred duty will be to prayerfully elect the nine members of the National Assembly that will guide the affairs of the Faith in this country over the coming year.

It’s the continuation of a process that began the first weekend of October when Baha’is around the nation gathered in Unit Conventions to elect the 171 delegates. In 2013, the process will take an additional step when the members of the world’s National Spiritual Assemblies gather in Haifa, Israel, to elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice.

THURSDAY

This afternoon, delegates arrived at the nine-sided Temple on the shores of Lake Michigan for the Convention’s opening session. In Foundation Hall, the delegates were seated in a roll call by the temporary Convention secretary.

The first order of business was to elect Convention officers and adopt procedures.  Following dinner, the Ridván 2011 message of the Universal House of Justice was read. The Counselors present gave their thoughts on the message and fielded questions before delegates wrapped up with consultation on the message’s themes. The day concluded with attendees ascending the steps to the Temple Auditorium for a program commemorating the Ninth Day of Ridván.

FRIDAY

The first full day of Convention will be a full day, indeed. Presentations by National Assembly Secretary Kenneth E. Bowers and Treasurer William L.H. Roberts will spotlight aspects of the National Spiritual Assembly’s Annual Report. Questions and consultation on the reports will follow.

The afternoon and evening sessions will be taken up with focused consultation on three themes from the Dec. 28 letter from the Universal House of Justice: programs of growth, advancing the frontiers of learning and strengthening the institute process.

SATURDAY

Delegates cast their ballots for the incoming National Assembly this morning. After voting, delegates will consult on enhancing administrative capacity.

Off site, meanwhile, non-delegate Convention attendees will hear a talk by former Universal House of Justice member Hooper Dunbar.

After lunch, if the weather cooperates the official Convention photograph will be taken on the upper steps of the Baha’i House of Worship. Otherwise, it will be snapped inside Foundation Hall.

During the afternoon:

  • Consultation on three preeminent vital and spiritual prerequisites, followed by consultation on transforming habits of thought.
  • Tellers’ report of the ballot results.

During the evening:

  • Introduction of the National Spiritual Assembly.
  • Recognition of the services of outgoing treasurer Dr. Roberts, who is taking up a pioneering post in Bermuda alongside his wife, Bette.
  • A special presentation by Hooper Dunbar.

SUNDAY

National Convention delegates return home today to clusters transformed over the past decade into ever more efficient erectors of the building blocks for a new civilization. But first they’ll consult one more time in the Baha’i House of Worship on our national community’s accomplishments and challenges. And they’ll have the parting bounty of hearing a final time from the Counselors present.