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Riḍván 2008 Annual Report

National Spiritual Assembly of the


Bahá’ís of the United States and its agencies
Riḍván 2008 Annual Message
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

ear Bahá’í Friends,


The year just concluded was characterized by outstanding prog-
ress in advancing the process of entry by troops. The third year
of the Five Year Plan opens with bright and immediate prospects
for growth, the evidence of which can be seen in clusters in every region of
the country. Already there has been a notable increase in new believers as
the result of an exciting surge in teaching activity. As of this writing, the
number of adults and youth who entered the shelter of God’s Cause during
the past year is expected to exceed the previous year’s total by at least half.
In addition, the opening months of 2008 saw a significant increase in the
registrations of children and youth, from a monthly average of 46 in 2007
to a current average of 78. The new registrations are coming primarily from
clusters with intensive programs of growth in place—a welcome portent of a
growing rejuvenation of the Bahá’í community.
More important, the elements of community life prescribed by the Universal
House of Justice as essential for sustained and accelerated growth are rapidly
taking shape in cluster after cluster. More believers than ever before are
directly involved in the institute training process and related activities. These
developments, combined with an emerging pattern of action, reflection, and
learning at the cluster level, are greatly enhancing our capacity to reach out
to the larger community with the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, to attract large
numbers of receptive souls to the Faith, and to nurture them in their own
path of service.
These victories will surely inspire every believer with feelings of profound
gratitude to the Blessed Beauty, and provoke a fresh determination to carry
forward this sacred work.
Advancements at the cluster level
The number of clusters with intensive programs of growth more than doubled
during the past year, from 42 at Riḍván 2007 to at least 90 (projected) as of
Riḍván 2008. This places the American Bahá’í community on a pace to achieve
its goal of 233 intensive programs of growth by the end of the Plan.
This notable progress received its impetus from steadily increasing participation
in the institute process—with more believers working to complete the full se-
quence of Ruhi courses—in the core activities, and in other associated services.
The aggregate increases since Riḍván 2006 illustrate our growing commitment

W hile there
was a general
upsurge in teaching
to this organically unfolding process, while also revealing a potential yet to be
achieved. For example:
• Those completing at least one book in the Ruhi sequence increased from
activity across the 20,300 to 27,000.
country, most of the
• Those completing the entire sequence doubled from 2,900 to 5,900.
growth came from
a relatively small • The number of study circles increased from 1,900 to 2,300.
number of clusters • The number of children’s classes increased from 850 to 1,100.
that shared several
• Junior youth programs increased from 40 to 340.
characteristics, such as
an emphasis on direct The number of seekers attending core activities also increased significantly,
especially in the more advanced clusters. As the numbers are steadily increasing,
teaching, collective it is difficult at present to report an aggregate for the entire country. But it is
teaching projects, and clear that those attending core activities naturally constitute one of the most
a vigorous institute receptive populations in the clusters where the most growth has been seen.
process. While there was a general upsurge in teaching activity across the country, most
of the growth came from a relatively small
number of clusters that shared several
characteristics. These included:
• An emphasis on direct teaching, “an
open and bold assertion of the funda-
mental verities of the Cause,” for which
“Anna’s presentation” from Ruhi Book 6
is serving as an effective model. A related
element is the confident readiness of a
growing number of the friends to invite
individuals to become members of the
Bahá’í Faith.
• Collective teaching projects organized
under the auspices of the Area Teach-
ing Committees. In cluster after cluster,

2
these direct teaching efforts—assisted
by the guidance and leadership of Aux-
iliary Board members and with the col-
laboration of cluster institute coordina-
tors—are helping to accelerate growth,
especially when targeting receptive
populations and seekers participating in
core activities.
• A vigorous institute process, wherein
human resources from among both vet-
eran and new believers are successfully
channeled into the field of action.
These and other elements, such as the
proliferation of core activities that include
seekers, increased individual teaching
initiative, involvement of youth, enthusi-
astic and wholehearted support from Local
Assemblies, an orientation of learning,
and above all, a reliance on prayer and the
confirmations of the Holy Spirit, are the
hallmarks of the most successful efforts.
What we have witnessed so far has been
accomplished by only a relative handful of
devoted believers, even in the places that have had the most success. This indi-
cates a vast, untapped potential for systematic growth latent in our community,
which will increasingly be realized as more of the friends, acting on the guid-
ance for this Plan, become actively engaged in teaching, and as more people
W hat we have
witnessed so far
has been accomplished
come under the shelter of the Faith. by only a relative
Six clusters had achieved 50 or more enrollments during the year, as of this handful of devoted
writing. Although most were areas with relatively large Bahá’í populations, one believers, even in the
was a cluster that started out with fewer than 100 believers. It is significant to places that have had
note that in each instance almost all of the growth occurred within the span
of a single expansion phase lasting from a few days to two weeks. Based upon
the most success.
what has already been learned, it is not difficult to imagine what would happen This indicates a vast,
if all 90 or more of the intensive programs of growth currently in place were untapped potential
to produce similar results in each of the four cycles per year—not to mention for systematic
if this could be extended to all 233 goal clusters! The prospects for dramatic growth latent in our
expansion, even in the coming year, are breathtaking.
community.

3
Developing a culture of learning
Our capacity to prosecute the teaching work in a systematic fashion is growing,
as believers increasingly adopt lines of action based upon a realistic assessment
of resources and opportunities, act with unity, and learn from experience. This
is facilitated through focused attention to guidance from the World Center,
which conveys general principles related to growth and reflects the learning of
the worldwide Bahá’í community.
Regular three-month cycles of planning, action, and reflection taking place
at the cluster level are paralleled by similar patterns emerging at the regional
and national levels. The Regional Bahá’í Councils undertake systematic reviews

B
of each cluster in consultation with the Counselors, National Spiritual Assem-
elievers
bly, Auxiliary Board members, Regional Training Institutes, and Area Teaching
increasingly Committees. From these consultations specific lines of action emerge that are
adopt lines of action designed to lend further impetus to growth.
based upon a realistic The National Spiritual Assembly meets every quarter with all five Counselors
assessment of resources resident in the United States for a joint assessment of the Plan’s progress. These
and opportunities, act plenary consultations, complemented by frequent meetings and communica-
with unity, and learn tions between the Counselors and officers of the Assembly, ensure unity of
from experience. vision and affect decisions related to resource allocation, guidance to the com-
munity, and administrative activities.

4
Administrative adjustments
Three years ago, the National Spiritual Assembly sought guidance from the
Universal House of Justice about how national administration can best respond
to the needs of the Plan. Its response, dated October 19, 2005, has since served
as an essential point of reference. In this letter, the Supreme Institution reviewed
changes in national administration in the U.S. Bahá’í community that were made
W e are involved
in a learning
process and cannot
in response to the tremendous growth in the 1970s. Among the results of that
growth was a vastly augmented National Center, “one that served as a hub for a define our needs
vibrant network of committees, departments, and programs.” While noting that with absolute clarity
this arrangement had served the community admirably for more than three de- and for all time. The
cades, the House of Justice also stated that “an effort of similar magnitude may work of reviewing
well be needed to put in place administrative mechanisms that will support the administrative needs
work of the community during the next stage of its development.”
is ongoing and should
In the years since the Supreme Institution’s writing, the administration of teach- remain an essential
ing at the cluster level has been vastly enhanced through the establishment of a
discipline.
network of Area Teaching Committees, cluster development facilitators, and clus-
ter institute coordinators. These operate under the aegis of the Regional Bahá’í
Councils, which have also taken other measures to refine their administrative
structures to better serve the clusters.
In reviewing potential national administrative adjustments, the National Assem-
bly considered a number of principles drawn from the guidance of the Universal
House of Justice, including:
a. The need to build capacity for growth at the level of the cluster, eliminating
any practices that would hinder that process, and fostering those that ac-
celerate it.
b. Examination of national functions with an eye to determining which are
properly undertaken and necessary at the national level; which should be
decentralized; which should be modified to be more in line with the needs of
the Plan; and which should be eliminated.
c. Recognition that we are involved in a learning process and cannot define our
needs with absolute clarity and for all time. The work of reviewing adminis-
trative needs is ongoing and should remain an essential discipline.
The Assembly began its review of national administrative functions with the
expectation that there are a number of changes that could be undertaken im-
mediately based upon a clear sense of priority, whereas other potential changes
would require more study and reflection.

National Teaching Committee


The addendum to the Universal House of Justice’s letter of May 30, 1997, on
the establishment of Regional Bahá’í Councils, outlined in detail the role of
the National Teaching Committee and made clear its potential value to the

5
work of the Councils and to the National Assembly itself.
All of the potential benefits of the Teaching Committee described in this guid-
ance remain valid today. However, in view of the relative maturity of the Councils,
the practice of regular joint examination of the Plan by the Counselors and the
Assembly, and the evolution of a decentralized process of learning, the Assembly
deemed it wise to dismantle the committee for a period of at least one to two
years. The Assembly believes that the mandate for this committee will be easier to
discern after a period of time. Clarity on its specific functions will also emerge as
the Plan unfolds, should the need for such a committee be determined to exist.
Meanwhile, there is still need for an office to compile statistical reports and oth-

T housands of er information related to teaching, even though data is being collected primarily
at the cluster level. The National Teaching Office currently acts as a clearing-
believers attend
house for teaching materials and resources for the use of the friends, assists in
the permanent and developing information for publication in The American Bahá’í, publishes the
seasonal Bahá’í teaching blog http://teaching.bahai.us on the Internet, and assists the National
schools every year. Spiritual Assembly with regular analysis and reports on the progress of the Plan.
This represents an
Schools and conferences
opportunity to increase
Thousands of believers attend the permanent and seasonal Bahá’í schools every
their understanding year. This represents an opportunity to increase their understanding and sup-
and support of the port of the Plan through programs developed especially for this purpose. The
Plan through programs National Assembly requested that the preponderance of programs for the com-
developed especially for ing year be designed to focus on the Plan and include measures to gauge their
this purpose. effect in advancing the participation of the friends.
The following steps were also taken to help ensure this outcome:
• Membership on school committees
and school advisory boards now
includes persons with experience in
and knowledge of the Plan.
• Regional Training Institute Co-
ordinators and members of the
Auxiliary Boards have been invited
to consult with school commit-
tees and administrators early in the
curriculum planning process. They
have often been invited as present-
ers, along with others who pos-
sess the necessary familiarity and
experience with the Plan.
• The permanent schools (Bosch,

6
Louhelen, and Green Acre) have been asked to work with the Regional Train-
ing Institutes to offer the use of their facilities for Ruhi “intensives”—brief
periods of highly focused study of particular books in the Ruhi sequence.
• The schools have been asked to work with the Regional Training Institutes
to offer special programs for youth, complemented wherever possible by op-
T he Supreme
Institution
challenged the National
portunities for service in goal clusters. Assembly to “maintain
Development Office the focus of the
While social and economic development will, in due course, become the natural
community,… boldly
outgrowth of sustained growth at the cluster level, it is not a national prior- guide the friends who
ity at this stage of the Plan. As part of the continuing adjustment of the work have demonstrated
of the National Center, the Office of Development was discontinued. Such an their enthusiasm for
office can be established when it is clearly needed as the result of significant teaching and the core
growth in the clusters. Meanwhile, those interested in this form of service have
activities, lovingly
access to the Office of Social and Economic Development at the Bahá’í World
Center and can attend the Rabbani Trust’s annual Conference on Social and encourage those who
Economic Development to develop their networks. are trying to find their
place, and wisely
Communications
remove any obstacles
The Universal House of Justice sent a message to the National Assembly on to progress that may
the occasion of its meeting with the Counselors in January 2008. The message
noted “significant progress” in the teaching work throughout the world during
emerge.”
the past year, “as cluster after cluster has pursued successive cycles of activity in
their efforts to implement the Plan’s framework of action,” as well as the rapid
diffusion of new insights garnered through a growing body of experience and
conveyed through the Counselors by the International Teaching Center.
That message also noted the ways in which the communications originating
with the National Assembly had “emboldened the believers and institutions to
pour forth their energies for the advancement of the Plan.” In view of the vast
increase in the number of intensive programs of growth yet to be achieved dur-
ing the remainder of the Plan, the letter then challenged the Assembly, in close
collaboration with the Counselors, to “maintain the focus of the community on
this endeavor and, in each cluster, to boldly guide the friends who have demon-
strated their enthusiasm for teaching and the core activities, lovingly encourage
those who are trying to find their place, and wisely remove any obstacles to
progress that may emerge.”
The National Assembly has endeavored to use the communications resources at
its command to accomplish these aims. For example:
• Every Feast letter this year focused on specific needs of the Five Year Plan. The
first several letters focused on issues including teaching, children’s classes, the
nature of the institute process, the role of the institutions, and the importance

7
of youth involvement. Subsequent
Feast letters, while reiterating some
themes, also included stories of
successes in various clusters, often
quoting firsthand accounts that
helped to illustrate specific elements
of the Plan.
• The American Bahá’í devoted a
full THE
two-thirds
WORLD WE LIVEof IN isits content
changing faster
than ever before. Advances in education, health,
to
articles related to the
communication, and transportation contribute
Plan. For the
The
to the progress of humanity. Yet widespread
To Become a Bahá’í
mostmaterialism,
part
extremes these
of wealth stories
and poverty and many not
other only
racial prejudice, religious fanaticism,

Bahá’í Faith
Some who encounter the message of Bahá'u'lláh
social ills persist.
feel an immediate attraction to its aims, beliefs, and
told of victories won, but how
principles, and wish to become a part of the Bahá'í
world community. A person becomes a Bahá'í by
recognizing Bahá'u'lláh as the Messenger of God
ReligionRenewed
obstacles
FOR A CHANGING were WORLD surmounted and
for this age, committing to abide by His laws and
AN INTRODUCTION
guidance, and informing the Bahá'í community of this
lessons were learned.
At such a time, people are seeking deeper
meaning in their lives and in the world. Many have

S
commitment. If you would like to join the Bahá’í “A new life is,

everal important
Faith, we warmly welcome you. You can begin the in this age, found such purpose in the ideals of the Bahá'í
process of enrolling in the Bahá'í community by filling stirring within
Faith. Bahá'ís understand the turbulence of today
out the “Declaration of Bahá'í Beliefs” card in the back
• The U.S.
all the peoples
Bahá’í
as part of a momentous
of the earth.” Newsreel main-
and divinely-guided

innovations
of the prayer book accompanying this packet and
process —the dawning of the Day of God promised
— BAHÁ' U' LLÁH
either giving it to the Bahá'ís in your local area or
mailing it to the printed address. If you have any tained its focus on the Plan, with
in all the world’s great religions.

were introduced for


questions about the Bahá'í Faith or becoming a Bahá’í
As Bahá'ís, we believe our purpose in life is to
you can call the Bahá'í information number at
1-800-22-UNITE. a range
know andof stories
worship illustrating
God, and to help carry forward
a just and ever-advancing world civilization.
the
those investigating dynamics of local activity in various
Committed to the belief that mankind is one family

the Faith through situations—from relatively advanced


the Internet. The clusters to those just beginning
to establish the institute process
public Bahá’í website and that the earth is our common home, we strive
andtocore activities.
put the principles The
of our Faith into action aim
to was to
(www.bahai.us)
BAHÁwas
’Í FAITH improve ourselves, our neighborhoods, and the
demonstrate,
world at large. If you through the
are interested in becoming voices of
redesigned, a Spanish-
Copyright ©2007 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States.
All rights reserved.
part of this effort, we warmly welcome you to
participants, an organically evolv-
investigate the Bahá'í Faith.

language website was ing process of growth.


established, and new BAHÁ’Í FAITH • The National Spiritual Assembly addressed nearly 1,000 unique letters and
seeker materials were emails related to the Plan to specific individuals, institutions, and clusters. It
developed. also issued general letters of various kinds, conveying guidance on such sub-
jects as direct and door-to-door teaching; the role of Local Spiritual Assem-
organized by topics and interests
– books, music, information; helpfully
www.bahaibookstore.com
books about the Bahá’í Faith
books.bahai.us – Website of Bahá’í Publishing, source for blies; the importance of youth participation; neighborhood children’s classes;
content of children’s education; and the acquisition of Bahá’í Centers. It also
www.bahai.org – international Website of the Bahá’í Faith
the United States

sent letters to each of the 37 clusters scheduled to establish an intensive


www.bahai.us – official Website of the Bahá’ís of
Additional Resources

program of growth between February 1 and Riḍván 2008, with specific guid-
ance for each one. A general letter to the 55 clusters with existing intensive
programs of growth as of February 1 was also sent.
• The National Teaching Office established a teaching blog (http://teaching.
bahai.us) to allow the believers to post and read teaching stories from across
the country and to access current guidance and news.
• Several important innovations were introduced for those investigating the
Faith through the Internet. The public Bahá’í website (www.bahai.us) was

8
redesigned with a focus on helping seekers to understand and participate
in the core activities. A Spanish-language website was established for this
receptive population. And new seeker materials were developed, including an
enrollment card for those who wish to register as Bahá’ís.
• Brilliant Star magazine was made available free of charge to all registered
T he need for
systematic
training of Local
Bahá’í children, ages 6–12. In addition, an experiment is under way in a Spiritual Assemblies
few selected clusters to provide copies of this award-winning publication to on administrative
children who are not yet registered, but who are attending children’s classes.
matters will grow in
Local Spiritual Assembly development the years to come.
In a letter dated January 5, 2006, to the National Assembly, the Universal Experimentation with
House of Justice addressed the issue of Local Spiritual Assembly training. The new methods will
Universal House of Justice stated that the Assembly should continue to train enhance the National
Local Assemblies in administrative matters, as compared with training related
Assembly’s capacity to
directly to teaching and growth undertaken by the Councils and in the context
of clusters. “The training provided through your National Office,” wrote the meet this challenge.
House of Justice, “complements [regional training] by concentrating on subjects
that go well beyond matters of growth, touching on such sensitive and often
problematic issues as personal status, family violence, and other questions of a
judicial or administrative character.”
Among the regular means for such training in past years have been regional
conferences, including gatherings for urban Assemblies, the Treasurers Forums,
and skill-building conferences for Assembly Chairpersons and Secretaries.
The conferences for urban Assemblies have been temporarily suspended in order
to free local institutions to focus on the requirements of the Plan. The Treasurers
Forums have benefits that should continue, not least of them being an immedi-
ate increase in local support of the various Funds and better overall management
of local resources. Conferences for Assembly Chairpersons and Secretaries—which
have been broadened to be open to all Assembly members—will continue. The
National Assembly will continue to provide training to specific Local Assemblies
in cases of clear need, and will consider further development of Internet-based
training tools, local resource persons, and other strategies that can be pursued
with minimal cost and least adverse impact on the Plan. The Office of Assembly
Development will continue to oversee the revision and publication of the manual
for Assemblies, Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities. It will also con-
tinue, among other tasks, to offer periodic training conferences and workshops
for members of Local Assemblies at various locations around the country and to
host Special Visit programs of Local Assemblies to the National Center.
The need for systematic training of Local Spiritual Assemblies on administrative
matters will grow in the years to come. Experimentation with new methods will
enhance the National Assembly’s capacity to meet this challenge.

9
Other developments
In brief, some other significant developments of the past year occurred in the
following areas:

W e have much
to learn
about expansion,
• Since Riḍván 2006, 391 believers from the United States have undertaken
service as international pioneers. The goal for the current Plan is 1,300,
indicating the need for many more of the friends to arise for this priceless
consolidation, service to the Cause. An additional 635 believers have served as international
traveling teachers.
community life,
and institutional • Each year since 2005, the American Bahá’í community has successfully
development. Our way achieved the National Fund goal while simultaneously contributing gen-
erously to support the building of the new Bahá’í House of Worship in
forward will surely Chile and providing the necessary support for the Kingdom Project—which
be propelled by the includes the restoration work and the new Visitors’ Center at the Temple in
spiritual dynamic of Wilmette. The Assembly this year anticipates no less than the same record of
crisis and victory. achievement in the community’s pattern of contributions, thereby making
resources available to ensure our operations on the National and Regional
levels are functioning properly.
• The work of the Kingdom Project is continuing apace. Restoration of the
House of Worship is proceeding, and plans for the new Visitors’ Center have
been approved. We are now in the process of obtaining permits, and hope to
break ground for the Center later this year. Both restoration and the Visitors’
Center are still scheduled for completion by autumn 2010.
• The Bahá’í Distribution Service underwent a major reorganization, involv-
ing closing the Atlanta operation and relocation to Wilmette. New features
of the operation include outsourced fulfillment and the use of “print on
demand” technology, the combination of which will save significant person-
nel and warehousing expenses while providing a wider range of services in a
timely manner.

10
Conclusion
Our beloved Universal House of Justice has made it clear that advancing the
process of entry by troops will be our focus for many years to come. We have
much to learn about expansion, consolidation, community life, and institutional
development. Our way forward will surely be propelled by the spiritual dynamic
of crisis and victory. Yet who can doubt that we have already seen profound
Y et who can
doubt that we
have already seen
changes in our community as the result of our efforts to follow the provisions
of the Plan? And who, considering the prospects immediately before us, cannot profound changes in
but be exhilarated at the opportunities that lie ahead? our community as the
In closing, we are moved to acknowledge with humble gratitude the sacrifices result of our efforts to
of our dear brothers and sisters in the Cradle of the Faith. Their steadfast- follow the provisions of
ness is the ransom for the progress of the entire Bahá’í world. The only befit- the Plan?
ting response on our part is to make teaching “the dominating passion of our And who, considering
lives,” thereby ensuring the growth of that Cause for which they have joyously
the prospects
forfeited all worldly interests.
immediately before
We are also moved to pay tribute to Dr. ‘Alí-Muḥammad Varqá, the last of the us, cannot but be
Hands of the Cause of God, who passed from this life last September. Surely
he, together with the rest of that exalted company, and the entire host of the
exhilarated at the
Supreme Concourse, stand ready to assist us from the realms beyond. opportunities that lie
ahead?
We wish to offer our loving gratitude to those whose function is to carry on
the work of the Hands of the Cause: the International Teaching Center and the
Continental Boards of Counselors and their Auxiliaries. Their devoted and tire-
less services have been a decisive force in advancing the Plan, filling our hearts
with joy and wonder.
Let us take inspiration from these words of our beloved Master:
Be not concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be op-
pressed by the multitude of an unbelieving world.… Exert yourselves;
your mission is unspeakably glorious. Should success crown your en-
terprise, America will assuredly evolve into a center from which waves
of spiritual power will emanate, and the throne of the Kingdom of God
will, in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

11
Regional
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States Bahá’í Councils
The Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States is elated by developments in the 13..... Regional Bahá’í Council of
Central region. This year has marked a spiritual turning point in the growth of the the Central States
Faith and in our pursuit of the aims of the global Plan, with tremendous possibili-
16..... Regional Bahá’í Council of
ties for even greater progress in the next three years.
the Northeastern States
Highlights from 2007–08 19..... Regional Bahá’í Council of
At the Bahá’í National Convention last year, the Council introduced its goal to the Northwestern States
achieve eight intensive programs of growth (IPGs) by Riḍván 2008. We are happy
22..... Regional Bahá’í Council of
to report that this goal was met in January, and six additional clusters are on tar- the Southern States
get to bring the total number of IPGs to 14 in the region at Riḍván!
26..... Regional Bahá’í Council of
Development of the I nstitute P rocess. To support the development of human the Southwestern States
resources for the expansion and consolidation of the Faith, the Regional Training
Institute has expanded its work in the region. Some 1,200 tutors are facilitating
institute courses, accompanying seekers, new believers, and other Bahá’í friends
to use the skills they acquire from study for walking a path of service, which
includes sharing the Message of Bahá’u’lláh in a natural, direct way. Children’s
class teachers are translating training into action through 177 children’s classes
for the spiritual development not only of Bahá’í children but of the tender ones
in the greater community who are seeking a sense of hope and are thirsting for
S ome 1,200 tutors
are engaged in the
study of institute courses,
the love and knowledge of God. Developments in the scheme of coordination
for the training institute are also taking place. It was decided that the time was
accompanying seekers, new
propitious for the Central States East and Central States West training institutes believers, and other Bahá’í
to be consolidated into one Central States Regional Training Institute, with one friends to use the skills they
Board of Directors, serving the 12 states. Plans are also under way to appoint acquire from study for walking
one regional coordinator who will carry out the day-to-day operations of the a path of service, which
training institute, working in concert with the network of cluster institute coor- includes sharing the Message
dinators and tutors serving at the grass roots.
of Bahá’u’lláh in a natural,
Transformation of Local Spiritual A ssemblies. This year the Council had the op- direct way.
portunity to have intimate, one-to-one meetings with over 50 Local Assemblies,
engaging in a dialogue about administering growth. These visits, along with a
flood of reports from Assemblies, have given the Council an opportunity to lis-
ten to the Assemblies and to deepen its appreciation of the transformation these
beloved institutions are undergoing.
We find Local Assemblies expressing similar questions, hopes, and struggles. Again
and again, Assemblies convey their commitment to doing whatever they can to
support growth and adapt to changing realities at the cluster level. In one let-
ter, an Assembly described its approach to serving its community as adopting “a
systematic, learning attitude which has freed us to experiment … and take a more
action-oriented approach than it might otherwise.” Another Assembly shared the
following heartfelt reflection: “We realize that we need to continue to improve our

Regional Bahá’í Councils


13
outward [-looking] orientation and strengthen the steady flow of new commu-

S tories of teams of
youth reaching out
to receptive populations
nity of interest members. [Our] consultation also heightened a sense of urgency …
which we will keep in mind as we move forward in the remaining years of the Five
Year Plan.” On welcoming new believers, one Assembly shared: “It is exciting to see
in student unions on … new Bahá’ís so enamored with the Faith and for them to in turn teach others
college campuses, in their community.” The Council is inspired by the examples of loving leadership
emerging from the grass roots and will continue to learn from and support the
coffee houses, living
contributions of Assemblies to the teaching work.
rooms, and city streets
have inspired our hope Engagement of Youth. Youth are emerging as champions of the Five Year Plan in
cluster after cluster and, in particular, are demonstrating their enthusiasm and
for great victories in vitality in the field of teaching. Stories of teams of youth reaching out to recep-
clusters at all stages of tive populations in student unions on college campuses, coffee houses, living
growth. rooms, and city streets have inspired our hope for great victories in clusters at all
stages of growth. Recent campaigns of teaching in Columbus, Evanston, Kansas
City, and Minneapolis demonstrated the tireless energy of youth delivering the
healing Message of Bahá’u’lláh through home visits and direct presentations of
the Faith. In core activities, youth animators are accompanying their younger
peers in some 57 junior youth groups in settings from public schools in urban
Chicago to rural communities in the villages of South Dakota. These youth, serv-
ing as examples and older friends to groups of junior youth, encourage reflection
on one’s spiritual identity, developing the power of expression, and engaging in
acts of service to others, and their circles increasingly include friends from many
faith traditions.
Developments in I ndigenous Communities. As we are learning in all clusters where
the framework for action, described by the Universal House of Justice, is being
applied, developments with the institute process and teaching plans in North
and South Dakota have been especially encouraging. We find more individuals,
particularly children and youth, from Native American backgrounds engaged in
core activities and teaching the Faith. Some common elements in neighborhoods
where growth is occurring have been sustained efforts, particularly with children
and junior youth activities, as well as the support and participation of youth

Riḍván 2008
14
pioneers, serving for a period of one to two years. So encouraging has the work
of these youthful pioneers been that the Council is actively recruiting youth
who feel moved to offer a period of service in clusters with primarily indigenous
populations.

Focus for the current year


First and foremost, our attention is directed to realizing “the awaited breakthrough
in achieving large-scale enrollments” which is dawning in our national community.
To achieve this breakthrough, the friends, encouraged by our dearly loved Auxiliary
Board members, and accompanied by a growing number of Area Teaching Com-

C
mittees, are:
ouncil members are
• Sharing the Faith in ways that are direct and inviting, often using “Anna’s pre- visiting intensive
sentation” from Book 6 of the Ruhi curriculum. programs of growth
• Engaging in an action-reflection process and in the sacred act of teaching. to participate in
• Demonstrating a pronounced spirit of reliance on prayer and seeking assistance teaching teams and
from the Supreme Concourse. are experiencing the
Each member of the Regional Council is personally committed to the pursuit of
joy of direct, collective
our regional goals. In addition to participation on teaching teams and in core teaching endeavors.
activities in our home clusters, Council members are visiting intensive programs
of growth to participate in teaching teams and are experiencing the joy of direct,
collective teaching endeavors. We also wish to acknowledge, with heartfelt ap-
preciation, the degree of support and collaboration we continue to enjoy with our
National Spiritual Assembly and the Institution of the Counselors. We marvel at
the sacrificial service that each performs even as developments in the Faith acceler-
ate in all five regions. We are confident that the goal of 33 intensive programs of
growth in the Central region will be won by the end of the Plan. To ensure victory,
we must proceed in unity, with a humble posture of learning through action, and
with our hearts ever focused on becoming clear channels to offer the Message of
Bahá’u’lláh to waiting souls.

Stages of advancement in the Central Region


‘A’-stage clusters
IL-03 (Aurora area, IL) MN-33 (Hennepin Co. So, MN)
IL-16 (Chicago, IL) MO-01 (St. Louis, MO)
IL-17 (Evanston area, IL) MO-07 (Kansas City, MO/KS)
IL-20 (Wilmette area, IL) OH-01 (Cleveland area, OH)
MI-17 (Ann Arbor, MI) OH-03 (Columbus, OH)
MN-27 (Minneapolis, MN) WI-19 (Madison, WI)
MN-28 (St. Paul/Ramsey Co., MN) WI-21 (Waukesha Co., WI )

‘B’-stage clusters

IA-07 (Ames, IA) MN-30 (E & SE Mpls/St.


IL-09 (Springfield, IL) Paul area)
IN-01 (Indianapolis, IN) MO-03 (Columbia, MO)
KS-13 (Wichita, KS) NE-13 (Omaha, NE)
MN-02 (Lake of the WI-17 (Sheboygan, WI)
Woods Co., MN)

‘C★’-stage clusters

IL-01 (Rockford, IL) MI-18 (Oakland Co., MI)


IL-02 (Waukegan, IL) MI-28 (Wayne Co., MI)
IL-11 (Champaign, IL) MN-34 (Hennepin Co.
IL-18 (Des Plaines, IL) North, MN)
MI-09 (Grand Rapids, MI) OH-05 (Hamilton Co, OH)
MI-11 Central Lower WI-16 (Appleton, WI)
Peninsula, MI) WI-22 (Milwaukee Co., WI)
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States

W e strengthened
the institute
process, reorganized
Highlights of 2007–08
During 2007–08, the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States saw
our Office of Cluster movement in the region on three significant fronts:
Advancement, and 1. Achieving 40 percent of Five Year Plan goals: At least four clusters, possibly
refocused Regional five, will each launch an intensive program of growth by Riḍván 2008, bringing
Council members and the total for our region to 12, or 40 percent of the Plan goal.
Council agencies to 2. Applying strategies conveyed in the letter of September 30, 2007: All 12 clusters
support and respond to with an intensive program of growth, and many less developed clusters, are effec-
needs at the level of the tively applying the strategies of the International Teaching Center’s letter of Sep-
cluster. tember 30, 2007, including a renewed emphasis on teaching, teaching projects,
direct teaching, and the utilization of resource people and homefront pioneers.
3. Laying the foundation for uninterrupted progress in the third year of the Plan
by appointing and training our strongest human resources in roles in clusters
throughout the region. We strengthened the institute process, reorganized our
Office of Cluster Advancement, and refocused Regional Council members and
Council agencies to support and respond to needs at the level of the cluster.

Stages of advancement in the Northeast Region


‘A’-stage clusters
Hartford / Tolland, CT Buffalo area (Buffalo, NY)
Coastal Lower (Lower ME/NH) Long Island (Long Island, NY)
Boston area (Boston, MA) New York City (New York, NY)
South Middlesex County, MA Rochester area (Rochester, NY)
New Hampshire Harrisburg / Lancaster, PA
Central Jersey / Capital North Philadelphia, PA
(Trenton, NJ)

‘B’-stage clusters

Upper Maine SW Philadelphia, PA


Cherry Hill area, NJ Vermont
Newburgh area, NY

‘C★’-stage clusters

Fairfield Co., CT Newark area, NJ


New Haven Co., CT Albany area, NY
Bristol / Plymouth, MA Syracuse area, NY
Franklin / Hampshire, MA Westchester Co., NY
Hampden Co., MA Allentown / Reading, PA
Northeast Massachusetts NW Philadelphia, PA
Worcester Co., MA Rhode Island
Bergen / Passaic, NJ

16
Key initiatives
During the past year, the Council undertook the following key initiatives:
• Conducted workshops for 31 priority clusters: 22 workshops were conducted
on the framework for action of the Five Year Plan for believers in all 31 priority
clusters.
• Conducted workshops for 69 Assemblies: 12 workshops were conducted for
69 (70 percent) of the Local Spiritual Assemblies in the region.
• Established dynamic youth projects: One major youth project will be carried
out in the Long Island cluster during summer 2008. Several cluster-based youth
and junior youth initiatives are emerging throughout the region.
• Encouraged increased direct teaching using “Anna’s presentation”: All “A”
C lusters at several
stages are taking
part in “action
and “B” clusters and some “C” clusters in the region are taking part in “action
refreshers” where they learn to give “Anna’s presentation” from Book 6 of the refreshers” where they
Ruhi curriculum and go out that same day to offer it to someone. The Council learn to give “Anna’s
printed and distributed over 500 presentation books and 750 leave-behind bro- presentation” from
chures for use by teaching teams in 14 clusters. Electronic files of the materials Book 6 of the Ruhi
were made available to all clusters.
curriculum and go out
• Promoted door-to-door teaching campaigns: Four “A” clusters have initiated that same day to offer
door-to-door neighborhood teaching campaigns. Others are planning to follow it to someone.
their lead. Resource people are helping us engage in this kind of outreach and
teaching.
• Repositioned the work of the Regional Training Institute from a regional
structure to a sub-regional, zonal structure, with coordination available in
closer proximity to institute coordinators and tutors in clusters.
• Prepared to move the Office of Cluster Advancement to zonal coordination to
intensify the way we train and support Area Teaching Committees. Refocused
staff will support cluster agencies with new ways to share learning, use technol-
ogy, implement accurate Statistical Report Program (SRP) and Cluster Growth
Profile (CGP) reporting processes, manage the Seeker Response System, analyze
progress in the region, and respond quickly to new guidance from the Faith’s
senior institutions.
• Implemented zonal Council collaboration with those serving the clusters,
with a quarterly inter-institutional meeting to study the Cluster Growth Profile
forms together with those engaged in coordinating the implementation of the
Plan.
• Designed measures to increase efficiency of the Seeker Response System:
While the system is providing a rapid response to seeker inquiries, accurate
management of the seeker response database, and the systematic develop-
ment of a regional response network, to handle the increased number of seeker
inquiries, zonal and cluster seeker response specialists are being appointed. Over
40 enrollments this year were a direct result of the operations of the Seeker
Response System.
Other significant activities in support of the Five Year Plan include:
• Council collaboration with the Counselors and their Auxiliary Boards, and with
the National Spiritual Assembly. Such collaboration has continued to be our
greatest strength as we together prosecute the Five Year Plan. Collaboration
with Green Acre Bahá’í School, Media Services at the Bahá’í National Center,

Regional Bahá’í Councils


17
The American Bahá’í, and the National Teaching Office has been invaluable in
ensuring that our activities better support the Plan in the Northeast.
• Council member personal visits to the goal clusters. These visits, for the pur-
pose of accompanying the friends in direct teaching and core activities, have
become vital to our learning and encouragement to those who sacrificially serve
the Cause in their clusters and local communities.
• Letters of encouragement, which are sent by the Council to all believers mov-
ing into and within the region to connect them to their cluster agencies and
invite them to participate in the core activities.

T o handle the
increased number
of seeker inquiries,
• Support to all new believers, which is provided by letters and personal contact
to ensure that they are engaged in activities in their cluster and that they are
encouraged and supported by the Council.

zonal and cluster seeker • Fund development, which is promoted by the Council through our an-
nual Fund solicitation letter to the region; stories in North Star, our regional
response specialists
newsletter; thank-you letters to Assemblies; and presentations on the Funds to
are being appointed. regional conferences and workshops.
Over 40 enrollments
• Reaching special populations, which the Council has facilitated through out-
this year were a direct reach to American Indian populations, Latinos, African-Americans, immigrant
result of the operations populations, and people of Iranian origin, and by encouraging the believers to
of the Seeker Response undertake pioneering to priority countries.
System.

Riḍván 2008
18
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northwestern States
Summary
During 2007–08, the second year of the current Five Year Plan, the work of
T here has been a
significant increase
in direct teaching,
the Faith in the Northwestern States reached a higher level of intensity. The providing a more
number of “A” clusters increased from five to 13, including seven advance- practical and relevant
ments in the first quarter of 2008. The number of adult and youth believers
who have completed the full sequence of Ruhi courses grew by half and now
context for the work of
comprises over 10 percent of this group. The experience from intensive pro- the institute.
gram of growth expansion phases (such as those in Colorado Springs, Seattle,
and Benton County) produced new awareness and understandings. Additional
agencies and capacity were established to support the work at the cluster
level.
Some 20 additional “A” clusters are needed before the end of the Plan. Current
and future “A” clusters each need to possess the vitality and growth associated
with truly vibrant “A” clusters. The Council notes that all of its clusters, priority
or not, can “taste the sweetness of the teaching experience.”

Northwestern Regional Training Institute


The Regional Training Institute (RTI) Board continued to refine the applica-
tion of the guidance provided by the senior institutions of the Faith, including
strategies to improve tutor effectiveness and to assist the friends to participate
in the institute training process to find their path of service.
In our priority clusters a sizable group has begun but not completed the full
sequence of Ruhi courses, despite many months since their beginning. The
coming year will see an emphasis on accelerating the progress of those priority
clusters which need more active institute involvement.
Neighborhood children’s classes in apartment complexes represent an oppor-
tunity. Last summer such classes were successfully initiated in several clusters;
sustaining these over the longer term remains a vital focus.
The International Teaching Center’s letter of September 30, 2007, prompted
a shift in measurement of the strength of the institute process “by activity
and growth and not solely by numerical benchmarks.” As a result, there has
been a significant increase in direct teaching, providing a more practical and
relevant context for the work of the institute. A current focus on Ruhi Book
6 refresher trainings, especially on mastering the concepts and skills modeled
in “Anna’s presentation,” is proving successful throughout the region. There is
an increased awareness of the need for three-month cycles, which has resulted
in the launching of small teaching campaigns in even the less developed
clusters.

Regional Bahá’í Councils


19
Cluster advancement
The region currently has 40 percent of planned “A” clusters in place two years
through the Plan. The remaining 20 clusters, however, will require substantial as-
sistance to increase in strength enough to sustain intensive programs of growth.
The Council will identify by Riḍván the next 10 clusters most likely to advance,
given the proper support. At the same time, the Council will be working with the
Riḍván 2010 candidates for advancement to enable requisite progress in the com-
ing year.

Progress of the teaching work

A n Office of
Homefront
Pioneering/Traveling
The believers in all clusters are encouraged to seize opportunities to teach directly.
In the past year, believers have worked in collective teaching campaigns with a
new level of energy and confidence. The transformational quality from this effort
Teaching/Year of yields a new confidence about their capacity to teach directly. This new vitality has
emerged noticeably only in the past few months and will be nurtured in all areas
Service was recently
of our region. An Office of Homefront Pioneering/Traveling Teaching/Year of Ser-
established to vice was recently established to strategically recruit and deploy prospective teachers
strategically recruit and pioneers to priority clusters.
and deploy prospective
teachers and pioneers Youth development
to priority clusters. In an effort to bring larger numbers of youth into the forefront of the Plan, the
Council has instituted a youth development program focused on applying the tal-
ent and capacity of young people to the teaching work in selected clusters. Three
youth teaching projects with intensive institute training programs are planned for
this summer.

Stages of advancement in the Northwest Region


‘A’-stage clusters
CO-13 (Colorado Springs, CO) WA-09 (Whatcom / Skagit /
OR-09 (Jackson Co., OR) Bellingham, WA)
OR-14 (Eugene, OR) WA-13 (Snohomish Co. /
OR-15 (Benton Co. / King Co., WA)
Corvallis, OR) WA-14 (Seattle area, WA)
OR-26 (Beaverton, OR) WA-15 (East King Co. /
OR-31 (Portland, OR) Bellevue, WA)
WA-08 (North King Co., WA) WA-19 (Tacoma, WA)
WA-24 (Yakima, WA)
‘B’-stage clusters

CO-14 (Fort Collins, CO) UT-08 (Salt Lake Co., UT)


CO-15 (Boulder, CO) WA-01 (Olympic Peninsula, WA)
CO-19 (Denver, CO) WA-05 (Kitsap Co., WA)
ID-01 (Boise, ID) WA-17 (South King Co., WA)
OR-24 (Tigard / Lake Oswego /
Tualatin, OR)
‘C★’-stage clusters

CO-09 (Grand Junction / Mesa OR-23 (Milwaukie /


Co., CO) Gladstone, OR)
CO-16 (Lakewood, CO) UT-06 (Salt Lake City, UT)
CO-18 (Douglas Co., CO) UT-09 (Sandy, UT)
MT-01 (Yellowstone Co., MT) WA-04 (Clark Co., WA)
OR-18 (Salem / Woodburn, OR) WA-06 (Olympia, WA)
OR/WA-21 (Pendleton / Walla WA/ID-28 (Spokane, WA /
Walla / Umatilla Res., WA) Kootenai Co., ID)

20
Next steps
Council operations will support three thrusts:
1. Primary focus on those clusters due to advance to the “A” stage in 2009
I n an effort to bring
larger numbers of
youth into the forefront
2. Support of the remaining clusters needed to advance later in the Plan of the Plan, the Council
3. Support of existing “A” clusters so they see substantial growth has instituted a youth
development program
The Council and RTI Board will work to intensify the institute process, especially in
priority “C★” clusters, with an emphasis on teaching. The three years remaining in focused on applying
the Plan will require even higher levels of collaboration with other institutions and the talent and capacity
agencies as well as a more intimate presence in the priority clusters. of young people to
the teaching work in
selected clusters.

Regional Bahá’í Councils


21
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southern States

W e are witnessing
a new spirit of
teaching sweeping the
Energized, motivated, and enkindled with a new sense of urgency to bring the
Divine Message of Bahá’u’lláh to “the pitiful plight of the masses,” more and more
Bahá’ís in the South became engaged in direct teaching during 2007–08. We are
region, awakening the witnessing a new spirit of teaching sweeping the region, awakening the hearts and
hearts and minds of minds of the believers to new insights on growth and emboldening them to inten-
the believers to new sify their teaching efforts. Such efforts, for many, include sharing “Anna’s presen-
insights on growth and tation” from Book 6 of the Ruhi curriculum, using it as a tool in different settings
to become more confident and effective teachers of the Cause.
emboldening them to
intensify their teaching At Riḍván 2007, the Southern region had 18 clusters that had launched inten-
sive programs of growth. By April 2008, 12 additional clusters were advanced to
efforts.
the “A” stage of development and it is expected these new “A” clusters will have
launched their intensive programs of growth by Riḍván 2008. With the launching
of a total of 30 intensive programs of growth, the region will have achieved 40
percent of its goal of establishing 75 intensive programs of growth by the conclu-
sion of the current Five Year Plan.
The region has experienced solid measurable progress in most growth indicators, as
demonstrated in the chart below.

1200
Growth indicators: a six-month comparison
1141

1000
November 2006–April 2007
1021

May 2007–October 2007


800
831
667
649

600
605
528

486
476

461

400
428

384

371
346

321

298

200
120
103

Study Seekers Devotional Seekers in Children’s Seekers in Junior Seekers Enrollments


circles in study gatherings devotional classes children’s youth in junior
circles gatherings classes groups youth
groups

Riḍván 2008
22
The figures show a moderate strengthening in the institute training process and
core activities, and a major increase in the community of interest. We have also
seen a considerable increase in the enrollment of adults and youth from May
2007–February 2008 as compared to the previous 10 months, representing a 31
percent jump in the growth rate. Last year at this time, moving inquirers from
“interest” to “enrollment” was a formidable challenge. This year the believers have
learned much about how to assist seekers on their path to recognizing Bahá’u’lláh.
An impetus to the increased enrollments has been the International Teaching Cen-
ter’s letter of September 30, 2007. Applying the guidance from this letter, the cluster
agencies began to quickly plan and implement direct, collective teaching projects.
In “A,” “B,” and “C” clusters, receptive neighborhoods were identified, friends were
trained in direct teaching, particularly in using “Anna’s presentation,” and collec-
tive teaching projects were undertaken. Training conferences for cluster agencies
L ast year at this time,
moving inquirers
from “interest” to
have now incorporated direct, collective teaching projects as part of their training.
For example, in two training conferences held in Florida, 77 people were taught the
“enrollment” was a
Faith, 83 people requested a follow-up visit, and seven new souls declared their faith formidable challenge.
in Bahá’u’lláh. Having had this experience, cluster agency members express greater This year the believers
confidence and skills to coordinate and engage in collective teaching. have learned much
The South has seen considerable growth from direct, collective teaching projects. about how to assist
The following are a few to highlight. seekers on their path to
recognizing Bahá’u’lláh.
Metro Atlanta Area, Georgia (“A”-stage cluster)
Approximately 50 believers participated in direct, collective teaching during the
cluster’s most recent expansion phase. The teaching project focused on four highly
receptive neighborhoods, and utilizing “Anna’s presentation,” the teachers shared
the Message of Bahá’u’lláh with waiting souls and invited them to join the Faith.
By the end of the second weekend, nine days into the expansion phase, the cluster
experienced a breakthrough in declarations of faith, with 102 precious new believ-
ers. This includes 59 adults and youth, and 43 children and junior youth from a
wide diversity of nationalities and cultures, including Mexican, Burundian, Thai,
Kenyan, Russian, Burmese, Eritrean, and African-American.

Savannah Area, Georgia, (“B”-stage cluster)


Having become more aligned with the Five Year Plan guidance since last Novem-
ber, this cluster experienced a gain of 53 new believers, including a significant
number of junior youth and children of non-Bahá’í families. These commend-
able results came about through the friends’ arduous application of elements of
the growth process—which were themselves jump-started by a direct, collective
teaching project in which believers visited the parents of the junior youth and
child participants in the neighborhood activities, sharing the Message and inviting
parents and their children to embrace the Faith. Some of the fruits of the teaching
and its resultant growth have included increased attendance at Feast and a rise in
the number of neighborhood children’s classes and junior youth groups. Diligent
efforts are being made to consolidate the growth through ensuring the participa-
tion of new believers in core activities and social meetings.

South Hampton Roads, Virginia (“C★”-stage cluster)


In response to the call for an upsurge in teaching activity and the encouragement
of clusters not to wait for “A” stage to do “A”-level work, this cluster organized
training for direct teaching to present the Faith audaciously, followed by a direct,
collective teaching project that was supported by 25 believers committed to ac-
tive teaching. The project yielded four new believers, eight non-Bahá’í children in

Regional Bahá’í Councils


23
neighborhood children’s classes, a Ruhi Book 1 study circle for the new believers,
and 20 new receptive souls who requested a follow-up visit, including their receiv-
ing “Anna’s presentation” through a home visit.

S ome of the fruits


of the teaching
in the Savannah-
As a result of increasing experience in direct, collective teaching, numerous lessons
have been learned. Following are some of them:

area cluster and its • Relatively recent immigrant populations are very receptive to the Faith.
resultant growth have • When engaged in door-to-door teaching, use the opportunity to present the
included increased Faith rather than simply extending invitations to core activities.
attendance at Feast and • It is essential to have those involved in direct, collective teaching practice “Anna’s
a rise in the number of presentation,” followed by direct teaching on the same day.
neighborhood children’s • When giving “Anna’s presentation,” follow the content and the flow and be sincere.
classes and junior
• In a door-to-door campaign, it is important to match an inexperienced teacher
youth groups.
with someone who feels comfortable and confident in direct teaching.
• When using “Anna’s presentation,” invite people to become part of the Faith after
the section on Bahá’u’lláh. Many people express the desire to become Bahá’ís
when given the opportunity to embrace the Faith immediately after hearing
about the life of the Blessed Beauty.
• Hold reflection sessions after the teaching project to share what worked, what did
not work, what was learned, and what the next steps are.
• Immediate follow-up with new believers and contacts is essential and should oc-
cur within days. Follow-up could include visiting the person to share a prayer, a
deepening theme from Ruhi Book 2, or completing “Anna’s presentation.”

Stages of advancement in the Southern Region ‘A’-stage clusters


Washington, D.C. Oklahoma City, OK
Broward Co., FL Greater Columbia, SC
Dade-Miami, FL Knoxville, TN
Gainesville, FL Nashville, TN
Palm Beach, FL Austin, TX
Tampa, FL Collin Co., TX (Plano)
Atlanta, GA Dallas, TX
Cobb / Douglas, GA Denton Co, TX
Gwinnett / North Harris Co., TX (Houston)
Fulton, GA NE Dallas Co., TX
Savannah, GA San Antonio, TX
Baltimore, MD Tarrant, Co., TX (Fort
Howard Co., MD Worth)
Montgomery Co., MD Fairfax, VA
Charlotte area, NC/SC Loudon Co, VA
Triangle, NC (Raleigh- NoVA East, VA (Arling-
Durham) ton / Alexandria)

‘B’-stage clusters

Birmingham area, AL First Coast, FL


Limestone / DeKalb, AL (Jacksonville / St.
(Huntsville area) Augustine area)
Little Rock area, AR Lee / Collier Co, FL
Central Delaware Marion, FL (Ocala area)
Northern Delaware Melbourne, FL (Brevard /
Daytona, FL Indian River Cos.)
Emerald Coast, FL Orlando, FL
(Pensacola area) Pasco / Hernando Cos., FL

Riḍván 2008
24
• Set numerical goals for enrollments, core activities, home visits, and direct
teachers to be communicated to the cluster.
• During the expansion phase, cluster agencies need to regularly share teaching
C ollective prayer
is important.
Put your reliance on
victories, updates, and quotations from the Writings.
Bahá’u’lláh to guide
• Collective prayer is important. Put
your reliance on Bahá’u’lláh to
and empower you.
‘B’-stage clusters ‘C★’-stage clusters
guide and empower you.
Pinellas Co., FL Springdale area, AR
Sarasota / Manatee Cos., FL S. Fulton / Fayette / Considering all the teaching victories
Tallahassee, FL Clayton Cos., GA throughout the region in a relatively
Greater Augusta, GA Salisbury, MD/DE (Salisbury / brief span of time, the Council is
Kentuckiana, KY / IN (Louisville Southern Delaware)
optimistic and confident that the
area) Jackson area, MS
Baton Rouge area, LA Beaufort area, SC ambitious goal of establishing 75
New Orleans area, LA Greater Orangeburg, SC intensive programs of growth before
Prince Georges Co., MD El Paso area, TX the Five Year Plan concludes will be
Central Mountains, NC Montgomery Co., TX
won. As more and more believers
Triad, NC (Greensboro / Charlottesville, VA
Winston-Salem) and institutions mentally and spiri-
Norman, OK tually accept the possibility of entry
Berkeley / Charleston Cos., SC by troops and work toward embrac-
Georgetown / Horry Cos., SC
ing and confirming masses of new
Greenville / Spartanburg, SC
Pee Dee, SC believers in their clusters, the best is
Upstate foothills, SC yet to come.
Chattanooga area, TN
Memphis area, TN
Amarillo area, TX
Bryan / College Station, TX
Fort Bend / Brazoria Cos., TX
SW Dallas Co., TX
Rio Grande Valley, TX
Richmond, VA
Roanoke, VA
South Hampton Roads, VA

Regional Bahá’í Councils


25
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern States

O ur joint vision
has been to
focus individuals,
At this writing, the establishment of 60 intensive programs of growth by April 20,
2011, is the goal toward which the Southwestern States are making steady prog-
ress. A summary of the movement of clusters from the beginning of the current
communities, and the Five Year Plan is provided in Table 1 (p. 27).
institutions on the
To fulfill the region’s tremendous latent potential, during 2007–08 the Council
framework for action
collaborated closely with Counselor Farzin Aghdasi and Auxiliary Board members
and to eliminate all across the region. Our joint vision has been to focus individuals, communities,
distractions. and the institutions on the framework for action and to eliminate all distrac-
tions. With unprecedented close and loving collaboration, the goal of estab-

Stages of advancement in the Southwest Region


‘A’-stage clusters with intensive programs of growth (IPGs)
AI-03 (Fort Defiance, AZ) CA-NC09 (San Francisco / San CA-SE18 (San Diego, CA)
AZ-07 (East Valley, AZ) Mateo, CA) CA-SE22 (Irvine, CA)
AZ-09 (Scottsdale, AZ) CA-NC16 (Contra Costa Co., CA-SW01 (Los Angeles, CA)
AZ-11 (Tuscon, AZ) CA) CA-SW06 (San Gabriel /
AZ-13 (Phoenix, AZ) CA-NI10 (Sacramento / Pasadena, CA)
CA-NC04 (Santa Clara Co. Carmichael, CA) CA-SW17 (Thousand Oaks, CA)
West, CA) CA-SE08 (Laguna Niguel, CA) NM-32 (Albuquerque, NM)
CA-NC05 (San Jose, CA) CA-SE09 (Mission Viejo, CA) NV-01 (Northern Nevada)
CA-SE15 (Oceanside, CA) NV-S01 (Southern Nevada)

‘B’-stage clusters

AI-02 (Chinle Agency) CA-NI07 (Modesto, CA)


AZ-21 (West Valley, AZ) CA-NI12 (Yolo Co., CA)
CA-NC03 (Fremont, CA) CA-SE13 (Escondido, CA)
CA-NC08 (Oakland, CA) CA-SE14 (El Cajon, CA)
CA-NC15 (Santa Cruz Co., CA) CA-SE20 (Anaheim, CA)
CA-NC18 (Solano Co., CA) CA-SW02 (Santa Monica, CA)
CA-NC23 (Monterey Co., CA) CA-SW28 (Ventura, CA)
CA-NI04 (Fresno, CA)
‘C★’-stage clusters

AZ-18 (Pinal Co, AZ) CA-SE23 (Fullerton, CA)


CA-NC07 (Marin Co., CA) CA-SW08 (Glendale, CA)
CA-NC14 (Sonoma Co., CA) CA-SW10 (Claremont, CA)
CA-NI02 (Exeter / Visalia, CA) CA-SW27 (San Luis
CA-NI09 (Stockton, CA) Obispo Co., CA)
CA-NI16 (Chico, CA) CA-SW29 (Santa Clarita, CA)
CA-SE01 (Upland, CA) CA-SW30 (Whittier, CA)
CA-SE02 (Coachella Valley, CA) CA-SW31 (South Bay, CA)
CA-SE04 (San Bernardino, CA) CA-SW32 (Long Beach, CA)
CA-SE06 (Riverside, CA) NM-02 (Las Cruces, NM)
CA-SE07 (Temecula, CA) NM-29 (Santa Fe, NM)
CA-SE19 (Newport Beach, CA)

Southern California
clusters
lishing 60 intensive programs of Table 1: Movement of clusters
growth appears attainable.
This report shares some of the ac- February February February
tions and the lessons learned in: 2006 2007 2008
• Building human resources at the
“A”-stage 6 8 21
cluster level.
• Focusing communities and insti- “B”-stage 16 19 15
tutions on exploiting the frame-
work for action. “C★”-stage 32 31 22
• Observing and guiding intensive
programs of growth.
“C”-stage 82 61 61 T he Regional Bahá’í
Council suggested
that opportunity be
• Involving youth in the Plan. “D”-stage 0 2 2
provided at every
The development of human resources Total 136 121 121 Nineteen Day Feast
A summary of the progress of the and other community
first movement of the Five Year gatherings for the
Plan “to strengthen the Institute process ensuring the steady flow of the friends friends to share the joy
through the sequence of courses” from the current Plan’s beginning is shown of completing any of
in Table 2 (below). The data show that while the system as a whole has been in
the institute courses
a continuous state of expansion, the increase in the number of those who have
completed the full sequence of Ruhi courses (57 percent) and are engaged in their and of subsequent core
concomitant practices has been significant. activities as a result
of practicing their
Throughout the year, we have observed with pleasure an increased audacity on the
part of those friends who, despite their trepidation, have entered the teaching field
newfound skills.
and have translated what they learned in institute courses into constructive action.
A focus on spiritual education and training is apparent from the large increase in
the number of study circles, children classes, and junior youth groups across the
region, summarized in Table 3 (p. 28).

The community
Bahá’í communities throughout the region have been trying to find their place in
the Plan. Those communities that adopted the Five Year Plan guidance—reinforced
to them by the Regional Bahá’í Council and their Auxiliary Board members—found

Table 2: Institute course completion


Entire
Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4 Book 5 Book 6 Book 7 sequence

Completions as of 2/2008 7915 5188 3392 3634 619 2596 2293 1552

Completions as of 2/2007 6373 4131 2301 2753 371 1799 1717 987

Completions as of 2/2006 5748 3628 1705 2291 60 1282 1429 630

Percent increase 2007–2008 24% 26% 47% 32% 67% 44% 34% 57%

Percent increase 2006–2007 11% 14% 35% 20% 500% 40% 20% 57%

Regional Bahá’í Councils


27
Table 3: Spiritual education and training
with percentage increase from previous year
Junior youth
Study circles Children’s classes groups
February 2008 636 (+36%) 350 (+41%) 113 (+85%)
February 2007 467 (+26%) 248 (+5%) 61
February 2006 372 237 N/A

T raining for
Local Spiritual
Assemblies focusing on
a new sense of vitality. In such communities, reports of the activities of the Plan
were integrated in their Nineteen Day Feasts and other community gatherings, ac-
tivating a larger number of the believers. Specifically, the Regional Bahá’í Council
their development in
suggested that opportunity be provided at every Nineteen Day Feast and other
relation to the teaching community gatherings for the friends to share the joy of completing any of the
work has reduced the institute courses and of subsequent core activities as a result of practicing their
“period of adjustment newfound skills.
in which some Many of the larger communities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa
(Assemblies) struggle Monica have decentralized their Nineteen Day Feasts. All of these communities
to understand the new report increased participation and contributions to the Fund.
realities being created A summary of the increase in the number of devotional gatherings and the in-
at the cluster level” for crease in the size of the community of interest is shown in Table 4 (below). The
those Assemblies where increase in the size of the community of interest indicates the increased capacity
a majority of their for outreach and the ever-growing vitality of the Bahá’í communities.
members attend the
The institutions
training.
In collaboration with Auxiliary Board members, the Regional Bahá’í Council
continued to provide training for 252 Local Spiritual Assemblies focusing on
their development in relation to the teaching work. These workshop trainings
include time to study recent guidance, pose questions, and explore challenging
issues.
The program has been warmly embraced. Our experience indicates this care-
fully designed interactive training is effective in helping participants gain
deeper insights into the leadership role of Assemblies in the Five Year Plan.
Studying the selected passages has raised the level of consciousness of the
participants. The program has reduced the “period of adjustment in which
some (Assemblies) struggle to understand the new realities being created at
the cluster level” for those Assemblies where a majority of their members at-

Table 4: Community development and community of interest


with percentage increase from previous year
Devotional Community of
meetings interest
February 2008 652 (+15%) 3087 (+59%)
February 2007 568 (+31%) 1937 (+30%)
February 2006 433 1494

Riḍván 2008
28
tend the training. At this time, 100 percent of the Assemblies in the “A” and
“B” clusters have undergone the training, although only about 60 percent of
their members participated. Many members of “C★” clusters have also ben-
efited from a modified version of this institutional training.
In response to the National Assembly’s August 14, 2007, letter to all Assemblies
guiding them in their enhanced responsibilities in relationship to teaching and ask-
ing them to reflect on the content of the letter and then to report their results to
their Council, 72 Assemblies in this region have communicated with the Council.
In response, the Council has sent letters of encouragement.

T
The Regional Bahá’í Council itself has reduced the number of its meetings to six he greatest learning
in the past year. This has allowed Council members to be intimately and deeply
involved in collective teaching days in certain clusters and in Assembly training
during the past
sessions. year came from the
region’s efforts at
The Council has designed a lean regional infrastructure, allocating most of its re-
sources to the work at the cluster level. The number of staff serving at the regional
direct, collective
level has remained a small fraction of those serving at the cluster level. teaching.
Throughout the year, in collaboration with the Auxiliary Board members, the
Council has appointed and trained cluster development facilitators for “B”-stage
clusters, and Area Teaching Committees (ATCs) for “A”-stage clusters. We have
learned that one cluster development facilitator in each “B” cluster suffices to
manage cluster growth programs. Experience also has shown that a three-mem-
ber ATC is the optimal membership size, even in the case of large clusters. We
have observed that assigning “anchor” persons to manage teaching and consoli-
dation efforts in a neighborhood where collective, direct teaching projects are
launched is an effective way to utilize the skills, time, and energy of our precious
human resources. While the ATC secretary oversees the total management of the
project, that person cannot be present in all neighborhoods at all times. Utiliz-
ing anchor persons ensures that human resources are not burdened by excessive
administrative duties.
Table 5: Summary of new believers during the two-week
Intensive programs of growth intensive expansion phases in recent IPG cycles
The greatest learning during the
past year came from the region’s ef- Child / junior
forts at direct, collective teaching. IPG cycle Adult / youth- youth
number declarations registrations New believers
Beginning with the return of the
Continental Counselors for the Phoenix, AZ 1 36 34 70
Americas from the Bahá’í World
Center in September 2007, Coun- Tucson, AZ 10 30 14 44
selor Farzin Aghdasi has focused
the attention of the Council and its East Valley, AZ 1 64 42 106
Regional Teaching Office on direct,
collective teaching. A number of Los Angeles, CA 11 52 44 96
“A” clusters were trained, guided,
and accompanied to initiate a series Contra Costa Co, CA 2 14 3 17
of “teaching days.” A teaching day
consisted of a group of believers San Jose, CA 1 26 9 35
coming together, saying prayers,
reviewing sections of Book 6 of the Southern Nevada 1 34 2 36
Ruhi curriculum, and visiting homes
in a neighborhood that appeared

Regional Bahá’í Councils


29
receptive, explaining that the Bahá’ís are trying to create more united and spiritual
communities on their street. Initially these efforts were aimed at inviting neighbors
to core activities. Almost all the friends who participated in these efforts came
with a measure of trepidation. The accompaniment of Dr. Aghdasi and Auxiliary
Board members gave them confidence. Invariably, teaching teams would return
elated by the positive responses they had received from neighbors. Several neigh-
borhoods in clusters such as San Francisco, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Ocean-
side, Sacramento, San Jose, Southern Nevada, Phoenix, and East Valley, Arizona,
were examined.
Having gone through this experience, the existing intensive programs of growth

W e have learned
how to train
friends to engage in
began to plan and execute direct, collective teaching for their expansion phases.
While this approach increased the number of seekers and the courage of the teach-
ers, we still did not see large numbers of enrollments. These efforts in particular
increased the number of non-Bahá’í children in Bahá’í children’s classes. Foremost
a profound spiritual among these clusters was Phoenix, still a “B” cluster, which had registered over
encounter in the 100 non-Bahá’í children in 20 neighborhood Bahá’í children’s classes. A band of
neighborhoods by using dedicated Bahá’í teachers who had completed Ruhi Book 3 taught these classes
“Anna’s presentation” throughout the summer. Ten new believers spontaneously enrolled as a result of
from Ruhi Book 6. these efforts. Later, when Phoenix launched a two-week expansion phase of its
first intensive growth cycle, 36 youths and adults enrolled and 34 children and
junior youths registered.
Subsequently, the Tucson cluster witnessed 30 adult enrollments and 14 children
and junior youth registrations during the two weeks of their expansion phase. The
neighboring East Valley cluster, selected by the Counselors as a “learning labora-
tory” cluster, followed a development path similar to that of the Phoenix cluster.
After the cluster launched its first intensive growth cycle, the expansion phase
had to stop due to a large number of declarations of faith. On the ninth day of
the expansion phase, there were already 64 declarations of faith by adults and
youths and 42 registrations of children and junior youths. The Los Angeles cluster
launched its first direct, collective teaching during its 11th intensive growth cycle.
During the two weeks of the expansion phase, 52 adults and youths enrolled, and
34 children and junior youths registered. This was unprecedented in the 10 previ-
ous cycles. The use of a resource person in the Los Angeles cluster significantly
improved the mobilization of a number of Persian friends. The Southern Nevada
cluster has just completed two weeks of the expansion phase of its first intensive
growth cycle, enrolling 36 new believers. The San Jose cluster, with just a small
core of active supporters, enrolled 11 new believers during its first intensive growth
cycle. A summary of the enrollments in the recent intensive programs of growth
that employed a direct, collective teaching approach is given in Table 5 (p. 29).
Several lessons have been learned from these victories, including how to recognize
receptivity and identify receptive neighborhoods. Neighborhoods where children
and parents spend time outside and mingle with their neighbors are more friendly
and welcoming. We have learned how to train friends to engage in a profound
spiritual encounter in the neighborhoods by using “Anna’s presentation” from Ruhi
Book 6. We have also learned through the use of anchor persons how to ensure a
systematic approach in reaching out to receptive neighborhoods and in follow-up
visits.
These clusters are now intensely focusing on consolidating their new believers.
We have learned the necessity of identifying the resources that will be available
to consolidate new believers during the planning phase of each cycle. It is crucial
to arrange a Ruhi Book 1 study circle immediately after a new believer makes a

Riḍván 2008
30
declaration of faith. Arranging follow-up deepening visits within a day or two of
a new believer’s declaration is essential. The role of the anchor persons in ensur-
ing that new believers are receiving systematic consolidation is vital. While the
ATC secretary oversees the overall coordination of the teaching and consolidation
activities when large numbers of enrollments are involved, the role of the anchor
person becomes essential.
Eight additional clusters were advanced to “A” stage in February and were to
launch their first intensive cycle of growth before April 21.

The youth
Throughout the year, the Council consulted on various methods to help youth
find their rightful place in the vanguard of the Plan. Many youths are serving as
teachers and tutors, institute coordinators, and Area Teaching Committee members
I t is crucial to arrange
a Ruhi Book 1 study
circle immediately
throughout the region.
after a new believer
During summer, six youth projects were launched in six clusters. The “Tree of Life”
makes a declaration
project, which combined institute training and teaching, was the most successful.
We have learned that while these projects are valuable, they need to be incorpo- of faith. Arranging
rated into an intensive growth program to be sustainable. follow-up deepening
College students at UCLA are learning to do direct collective teaching on their col-
visits within a day or
lege campus. They visit students in their dormitory rooms, introduce the Faith to two of a new believer’s
them, invite them to embrace the Faith, and participate in core activities. They are declaration is essential.
learning to be more systematic in outreach, follow-through, and sustainability. The role of the anchor
The way forward
persons in ensuring
To strengthen appreciation for systematic action on the part of individuals and
that new believers are
institutions, the Council is continuing the publication of its quarterly electronic receiving systematic
newsletter Learning in Action, to share stories of individuals and institutions fully consolidation is vital.
engaged in the framework for action.
The fervor for teaching has clearly increased throughout the region. The number
of dedicated friends for whom “teaching is the dominating passion” of their lives
is definitely on the rise. We are increasingly witnessing friends abandoning their
previous modes of operation and embracing new methods and instruments.

Regional Bahá’í Councils


31
Contents
External Affairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Treasury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Community Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77
Bahá’í House of Worship, Wilmette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95
Publishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Research Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Logistical Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129
Affiliated Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133
Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .147
External
In its 1994 external affairs strategy letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies, the
Universal House of Justice wrote, “the Lesser Peace anticipated by Bahá’u’lláh will,
Affairs
of course, be established by the nations themselves. It seems clear that two entities
will push for its realization: the governments of the world, and the peoples of the
world through the instrumentality of the organizations of civil society.
“But to lend spiritual impetus to the momentum which that grand attainment will
generate, the need for a Bahá’í strategy is evident. One of its expressions should be
the exertion of a kind of leadership, principally a moral leadership, by coherently,
comprehensively and continually imparting our ideas for the advancement of civi-
lization, and this through a unified voice that because of the diverse composition
S ince its establishment in
1984, the Office of Exter-
nal Affairs has concentrated
of our community could come to be regarded as representative of the aspirations its activities on the defense
of the peoples of the world.… of the Bahá’í communities in
“The purpose of the external affairs efforts of the Bahá’í International Community Iran, Egypt, and other Muslim
is focused on two objectives: 1) to influence the processes towards world peace. countries; on human rights; on
So as not to dissipate our limited resources, our efforts will concentrate on human
the advancement of women;
rights, the status of women, global prosperity, and moral development and 2) to
defend the Faith, as in the case of the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran.” and on the environment and
sustainable development.
Since its establishment in 1984, the Office of External Affairs has concentrated
its activities on the defense of the Bahá’í communities in Iran, Egypt, and other
Muslim countries; on human rights; on the advancement of women; and on the
environment and sustainable development. Over the past year, the staff continued
to work on these issues, through which they also endeavored to impart Bahá’í
ideas for the advancement of civilization.
Staffing changes occurred at the Office of External Affairs. The Liaison for
Women’s Issues, Ms. Sharona Shuster, and the Assistant to the Director, Mr. Jason
Kugler, resigned and left the office. Ms. Suellen Treadwell, the Communications
Manager, joined the staff.

Defense of the Bahá’ís


Diplomatic work in defense of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Egypt
The past year witnessed significant developments in the situations of the Bahá’ís
in Iran and Egypt. The situation in Iran deteriorated further as the government
expanded implementation of its official anti-Bahá’í policies on a coordinated,
national scale. In Egypt, there were new legal developments for the Bahá’í com-
munity in cases that have drawn a large following in the Arab world, with media
outlets, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and citizens voicing their support
for human rights for Bahá’ís. For the first time in many years, Iranian government
officials publicly addressed the situation of the Iranian Bahá’ís.
The National Spiritual Assembly carried out the directives of the Universal House of
Justice. The representatives worked closely with the White House, the Department
of State, Congress, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to

{SectionAffairs
External Title}
35
keep the United States government informed about the situation of the Bahá’ís in
Iran, Egypt, and other sensitive countries.
The work of the National Spiritual Assembly with NGOs in defending the Bahá’ís
in Iran and Egypt continued, leading to statements and other responses in support
of the Iranian and Egyptian Bahá’ís.

Iran
Throughout the year, documents obtained from Iran revealed that anti-Bahá’í ac-
tivities were the result of official policies implementing the 1991 Supreme Revolu-
tionary Cultural Council document on “the Bahá’í question.” A detailed summary

I n December 2007,
the United Nations
General Assembly
of these events may be found on the Web (http://iran.bahai.us).
In March 2008, the Bahá’í International Community Office of Public Information
asked National Spiritual Assemblies to inform Bahá’í parents, teachers, and admin-
adopted a resolution istrators of primary and secondary schools that Iranian Bahá’í schoolchildren were
being harassed and mistreated. The National Assembly asked Bahá’ís to approach
on the human rights
their local and national educational or professional organizations to request that
situation in the Islamic they protest the treatment of young Bahá’ís in Iran.
Republic of Iran. The
Denial of H igher Education I nitiative. In 2007, the Office of External Affairs
U.S. Mission to the UN began to coordinate the task force of national offices implementing this ongoing
and other State Depart- campaign. The National Spiritual Assembly twice contacted all Bahá’í Campus
ment officials formally Associations and university faculty who are Bahá’ís asking them to urge ac-
thanked the Office of tion by their fellow students, faculty, and university administrators on behalf
External Affairs for its of Iranian Bahá’ís who have been denied access to higher education since 1980.
Actions included resolutions, public meetings, videos, and letters to Iranian of-
help in ensuring the ficials written by university presidents. External affairs representatives spoke at
resolution’s passage. the D.C. Bahá’í Youth Congress and held two training sessions for Bahá’í Campus
Associations and Bahá’í academics in March 2008.
Selected R esponses to the P ersecution by the U.S. Government and Congress. In De-
cember 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the
human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The U.S. Mission to the
UN and other State Department officials formally thanked the Office of External
Affairs for its help in ensuring the resolution’s passage.
The State Department’s 2007 International Religious Freedom and Human Rights
Reports on Iran provided a comprehensive overview of the treatment of the Bahá’í
community.
On January 23, 2008, the State Department issued a statement, “Death of Impris-
oned Student in Iran,” which “urge[d] the regime to release all individuals held
without due process and a fair trial, including the three young Baha’i teachers
being held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention center in Shiraz.” Following this
statement, an Iranian judiciary spokesman stated that “Three Bahais have been
sentenced to four years in prison for propaganda against the regime,” and the sus-
pension of the sentence for 51 other Bahá’ís was conditional on their attendance
of courses held by the state Islamic Propaganda Organization.
The Office of External Affairs worked to ensure that the president of Iran would be
asked about the persecution of the Iranian Bahá’í community in at least one venue
during his U.S. public appearances in September 2007. The president of Colum-
bia University mentioned the persecution of members of the Bahá’í Faith in his
remarks. At a press conference before the National Press Club, the Iranian president
was asked about the deprivation of rights of the Bahá’í minority. The next day, at
a UN press conference, the president of Iran was asked a question about how the

Riḍván 2008
36
government of Iran justifies its policy
of eradicating the Iranian Bahá’í com-
munity. T here was significant media coverage, particularly during the
visit of the Iranian president in September 2007. There was
also significant media coverage in January 2008 after the sen-
Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas ad-
tencing of 53 Bahá’í youth from Shiraz.
dressed the situation of the Bahá’ís in a
statement in September 2007 from the
Senate floor.
On September 30, the Chicago Sun-
Times published a forceful op-ed by
Representative Mark Kirk entitled “Iran’s
Crackdown Victimizes Bahá’ís.”
In May 2007, the U.S. Commission on
International Religious Freedom specifi-
cally cited the deteriorating situation of the “Baha’is, Sufi Muslims, and Evangelical
Christians” in its recommendation of re-designating Iran a “country of particular
concern.” On February 21, 2008, the commission held a hearing on “Advancing
Religious Freedom and Related Human Rights in Iran” at which a State Depart-
ment official and several panelists spoke movingly about the treatment of the
Bahá’ís in Iran. The hearing was covered live by C-SPAN television and broadcast
several times.
Ms. Kit Bigelow, the Director of External Affairs, testified at a briefing, “Assessing
the Human Rights Situation of Iran’s Ethnic and Religious Groups,” held by the
Congressional Iran Working Group on March 13, 2008.
The situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran was described in a May 25, 2007, Congres-
sional Research Service report for Congress entitled “Iran: Ethnic and Religious
Minorities.”
tenth congressIonal r esolutIon. In February 2008, Representatives Mark Kirk and
Robert Andrews introduced H. Res. 1008. It will be the 10th Congressional reso-
lution condemning the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. The National Spiritual
Assembly asked the members of the U.S. Bahá’í community to urge their repre-
sentatives to become cosponsors of the resolution.
passIng of r epresentatIve tom l antos. A longtime Congressional champion of the
Iranian and Egyptian Bahá’ís, Representative Tom Lantos of California, passed
away in February 2008. Mr. Lantos was a cosponsor of the nine Congressional
resolutions condemning the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. He was a found-
ing co-chair, in 1986, of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which has
called attention to the plight of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Egypt through numerous
hearings. He was a recipient of the National Spiritual Assembly’s Human Rights
Award in 1988.
m eDIa r elatIons—I ran. The communications media work of the office helped to
achieve even greater public awareness about the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran.
The Media Relations Officer, Ms. Kathleen Holmlund, shared news with national
media outlets and key journalists covering human rights issues and the Middle
East. There was significant media coverage, particularly during the visit of the
Iranian president in September 2007. There was also significant media cover-
age in January 2008 after the sentencing of 53 Bahá’í youth from Shiraz. Media
coverage on the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran is available on the Web
(http://iran.bahai.us/category/media-coverage).

External Affairs
37
Egypt
Details of events in Egypt over the past year may be viewed on the Web
(http://www.bahai.us/persecution-bahais-egypt).
In February, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a
statement calling on the Egyptian government to respect and enforce the January
2008 court ruling favorable to the Bahá’í plaintiffs.
The U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report in 2007
noted that, due to hardship experienced by “members of religious groups that are
not recognized by the Government, particularly the Baha’i Faith,” the “status of re-

T he National Spiri- spect for religious freedom by the Government declined during the period covered
tual Assembly by this report.”
worked on defense Congressional offices also addressed the situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt. At a
issues with nongovern- May 2007 hearing on religious freedom in Egypt by the Congressional Human
Rights Caucus Task Force for International Religious Freedom, Professor Harold
mental organizations
Hongju Koh, dean at the Yale Law School and a former assistant secretary of state,
and kept them informed focused his entire testimony on the “demonization” of Bahá’ís by Egyptian author-
about the situations of ities. The situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt was also discussed by witnesses on each
the Bahá’ís in Iran and of the other three panels.
Egypt. In an article published in April 2007 by ASSIST News Service about an anti-def-
amation resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, a Congressional Fellow for
Representative Trent Franks twice referred to official discrimination against the
Bahá’ís in Egypt.
M edia R elations—Egypt. The situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt garnered media
coverage throughout the year. In November, the Voice of America reported on
the situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt. News of the January court ruling in favor
of the Bahá’ís gained international coverage, being picked up by The New York
Times and The Washington Post. Background on the situation of the Baha’is in
Egypt, as well as news coverage, is available on the Web (http://bahai.us/
persecution-bahais-egypt).
Nongovernmental Organizations’ Support for I ranian and Egyptian Bahá’ís. The
National Spiritual Assembly worked on defense issues with nongovernmental or-
ganizations (NGOs) and kept them informed about the situations of the Bahá’ís in
Iran and Egypt. The following is a partial listing of actions undertaken by NGOs.
In March 2007, the American Jewish Congress released a report titled “Human
Rights in Iran, 2007,” which contained a section on the persecution of the Bahá’ís.
On June 30, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation issued a media release in
commemoration of the June 1983 execution of 17 Bahá’ís in Shiraz.
In July, in a conference on “Human Rights in Iran and US Foreign Policy Options,”
the representative of Amnesty International USA discussed the repression of the
Bahá’ís.
On September 21, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center released “Com-
munity under Siege: The Ordeal of the Bahá’ís of Shiraz,” timed to coincide with
the Iranian president’s visit to the UN.
On November 3, the Anti-Defamation League adopted a “Resolution on the In-
ternational Community and Iran’s Development of Nuclear Weapons,” noting that
“The regime continues to engage in horrific violations of human rights, including
the persecution of religious minorities, particularly the Bahá’í.”

Riḍván 2008
38
Dr. Paul Marshall, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious
Freedom, published, “Murder with Impunity: Iran targets the Baha’i—again,” in the
November 5, 2007 issue of The Weekly Standard.
On January 30, 2008, the Leadership Council for Human Rights issued a statement
titled “LCHR News Alert: For Baha’is, court victory in Egypt, ongoing persecution
in Iran.” In that statement the Council declared, “LCHR joins the international hu-
man rights community in calling for the release of three Baha’i teachers, who have
been held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention center in Shiraz since November,
2007.” On January 31, the president of the Leadership Council for Human Rights
sent a letter to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence protesting the incarceration of
the three Bahá’í prisoners in Shiraz, in support of an Amnesty International urgent
action appeal for the prisoners’ release.
Also in January, the Washington Institute on Near East Policy released a policy
U nder the Bahá’í
International Com-
munity UN Offices, the
study titled Apocalyptic Politics: On the Rationality of Iranian Policy, which ex- Office of External Af-
amined the messianic and apocalyptic vision of the Iranian regime, and in several fairs continued to assist
instances related this vision to the treatment of the Bahá’ís.
in building the capacity
On January 31, Human Rights released its Watch World Report 2008, which men- of other National Spiri-
tioned the situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt and Iran. tual Assemblies’ exter-
On February 5, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy issued a statement nal affairs officers.
about a draft Islamic penal code in Iran introduced into the Parliament. The story
was picked up on February 4 and 5 by ArcaMax Publishing and the Assyrian
International News Agency. The story with a reference to the Bahá’ís was covered
by Catholic World News on February 6. The Leadership Council for Human Rights
published a report about the draft Islamic penal code in its emailed February 8
Weekly News Digest and expressed specific concerns for the Bahá’ís.
Two articles by Ms. Bigelow, “Renewed Persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran” and “Dis-
crimination Against Bahá’ís in Egypt,” appeared in the Winter 2007/2008 issue of
the Institute for the Study of Genocide newsletter.
Under the guidance of the Bahá’í International Community’s UN Office and the
Office of External Affairs, Mr. Jeffery Huffines, the National Spiritual Assembly’s
UN Representative, provided information about the Iranian Bahá’í situation to ecu-
menical organizations engaged in academic and interreligious exchange programs
with Iran. Ms. Bigelow and he also met with a visiting Iranian academic to discuss
the situation.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty included articles about the dismissal of
Bahá’í university students in Iran in two issues of its weekly online newsletter. In
January, the Becket Fund reported on the Bahá’í prisoners in Iran and the Bahá’í
court cases in Egypt.
NGOs also invited the National Spiritual Assembly staff to participate in work
related to their own religious freedom advocacy. On October 20, 2007, Mr. Aaron
Emmel, the National Spiritual Assembly’s Human Rights Officer, spoke on the situ-
ation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt at a Coptic Assembly of America conference.

Diplomatic seminars and consultations


Under the Bahá’í International Community UN Offices, the Office of External Af-
fairs continued to assist in building the capacity of other National Spiritual Assem-
blies’ external affairs officers. In August, Mr. Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary-General
of the National Spiritual Assembly, Ms. Bigelow, and Mr. Emmel attended the 12th
annual diplomatic seminar in Europe at Acuto, Italy, where Ms. Bigelow provided

External Affairs
39
workshops to the more than 70 participants from Europe, North America, Brazil,
India, Australia, and New Zealand.
In January, Mr. Bowers and Ms. Bigelow attended the 12th annual consultations
on external affairs at the Bahá’í World Center.

Refugee Desk Officer


The National Spiritual Assembly’s Refugee Desk Officer, Ms. Yasmeen Aidine-
jad, strengthened relationships among NGOs and U.S. government agencies that
resettle Bahá’í refugees, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (US-
CIS), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the International Catholic Migra-

A lthough the Na-


tional Assembly
did not assist Bahá’í
tion Commission (ICMC), and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Although the National Assembly did not assist Bahá’í refugees with resettlement, it
maintained a strong working relationship with these organizations and agencies to
ensure that Bahá’í refugees were treated justly and in accordance with applicable
refugees with resettle- legal standards. Ms. Aidinejad conducted training sessions for USCIS officers. She
ment, it maintained a informed the officers about the recent increase in the persecution of Bahá’ís in
strong working rela- Iran, the Bahá’í verification system, Bahá’í interfaith marriages, religious conver-
tionship with these sions, and other issues they were likely to encounter while processing Bahá’í cases.
organizations and The National Assembly was one of a few organizations that offered such training
sessions. Bahá’í refugees enjoyed a very high approval rate in part because of these
agencies to ensure that training sessions and because of the National Assembly’s close relationship with
Bahá’í refugees were resettlement agencies.
treated justly and in
As part of her advocacy work, Ms. Aidinejad participated with several leading NGOs
accordance with appli- and like-minded organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Human Rights
cable legal standards. First, Amnesty International, the International Rescue Committee, and others in a
variety of initiatives and projects aimed at protecting and enhancing the rights of
refugees and asylum seekers. These included finding legislative solutions to coun-
teract the negative impact of the USA Patriot Act and the Real ID Act on refugees
and asylum seekers, adopting new rules for the Religious Worker Visa Program,
and proposals to amend the U.S. asylum system and laws.

General media relations


Ms. Holmlund updated the external affairs content on the U.S. Bahá’í website and
created a new site focusing on the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. In collabora-
tion with the Office of Communications, she also assisted local public information
officers in their efforts to gain media coverage on external affairs subjects.
Ms. Holmlund was elected to the board of the D.C. chapter of the Religion Com-
municators Council and was on the organizing committee for the 2008 annual
national conference. She also attended the Religion Newswriters Association Con-
ference in September 2007.

Communications
The Office of External Affairs handled many inquiries from the U.S. Bahá’í com-
munity. As part of the National Spiritual Assembly’s Secretariat, the Office of
External Affairs provided guidance to Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals on
matters related to external affairs, such as participation in political activities and
voting in primaries, interfaith activity participation, Middle East issues, contacting
government officials and national organizations, involvement with the UN, and
participating in letter-writing campaigns and marches. The office also collaborated
closely with the Secretariat at the Bahá’í National Center to provide guidance to
the Bahá’í community.

Riḍván 2008
40
External affairs training
The Office of External Affairs participated in the Local Spiritual Assembly secretar-
ies’ and chairpersons’ conference at Green Acre Bahá’í School in December. Ms.
Bigelow and Ms. Suellen Treadwell facilitated workshops on the subject of “Exter-
nal Affairs and the Local Spiritual Assembly.”

Human rights
The National Spiritual Assembly cosponsored a June 2007 reception on Capitol Hill
to celebrate the work of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and to introduce
new members of the caucus.
In July, National Spiritual Assembly representatives met with the Becket Fund’s
representative for legislative and international programs to discuss how the fund
A s part of the Na-
tional Spiritual
Assembly’s Secretariat,
could be more effective in using its resources and experience in religious freedom
advocacy. the Office of External
In October, Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Emmel attended the Global Conference on the Affairs provided guid-
Prevention of Genocide in Montreal. Also in October, they attended a discus- ance to Local Spiri-
sion on “The U.N.’s Racism Conference, ‘Islamophobia,’ & the Campaign to Crush tual Assemblies and
Debate and Dissent within Islam” at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious individuals on mat-
Freedom.
ters related to external
They attended in November a panel discussion on “The Role of Civil Society in affairs, such as par-
Empowering Marginalized Groups in Egypt” at the Embassy of Egypt’s Cultural ticipation in political
and Educational Bureau.
activities and voting in
Religious freedom primaries, interfaith
The Director of External Affairs and the Human Rights Officer attended many activity participation,
events on religious freedom during the year. Among the highlights were the fol- Middle East issues,
lowing. contacting government
In April 2007, representatives attended the Center for the Study of Islam & De- officials and national
mocracy’s (CSID) eighth annual conference, on “The Rights of Women in Islam and organizations, involve-
Muslim Societies.” ment with the UN, and
In July, Mr. Emmel participated in the annual conference of the North American participating in letter-
Interfaith Network by contributing to a plenary panel discussion on the “Current writing campaigns and
State of Religious Freedom” and hosting a workshop on “Defending Religious marches.
Freedom: Baha’is in Egypt & Iran.” In July, he also attended a U.S. Commission
on International Religious Freedom hearing on “Threats to Iraq’s Communities of
Antiquity.”
In July, the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom held an event on
“World Trends in Religious Freedom,” at which the initial findings of the Center’s
book Religious Freedom in the World 2007 were released.

The International Criminal Court (ICC)


Mr. Emmel continued to participate in the Washington Working Group for the ICC
(WICC). Mr. Huffines has served for seven years on the American NGO Coalition for
the ICC (AMICC). Both AMICC and WICC consulted upon strategies to bring to the
attention of presidential candidates the importance of increasing U.S. support for
and cooperation with the ICC.
Last year AMICC created a U.S. chapter of the Faith and Ethics Network for the
ICC. Mr. Huffines served as the co-chair of US FENICC, which focused exclusively
on ICC educational and advocacy initiatives in the U.S. As co-chair of the Faith

External Affairs
41
and Ethics Network for the ICC, Mr. Huffines represented the Bahá’í International
Community at events in New York.
In February, at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Faith and Ethics
Network organized a seminar on faith-based responses to gender-based violence
as an atrocity crime, a reception for the executive director of the ICC Trust Fund
for Victims, and a workshop on preventing sexual violence against women and
girls.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


The Office of External Affairs continued its involvement in the Campaign for U.S.

T he Office of Exter-
nal Affairs contin-
ued its involvement in
Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a broad-based
coalition of children’s rights, religious, academic, and legal organizations. Ms.
Sharona Shuster, the National Spiritual Assembly’s Liaison for Women’s Issues,
served on the steering committee of the campaign. Quarterly meetings of the full
the Campaign for U.S.
campaign were hosted at the Office of External Affairs. Ms. Shuster also assisted in
Ratification of the Con- organizing nationwide local/state CRC briefing days at universities to commemo-
vention on the Rights rate Universal Children’s Day and to educate communities, the media, and local
of the Child (CRC), a politicians about the campaign.
broad-based coalition
of children’s rights, re-
United Nations
ligious, academic, and Mr. Carl Murrell, the National Spiritual Assembly’s Alternate UN Representative,
legal organizations. served on the planning committee of the 60th annual UN Department of Public
Information–DPI/NGO conference, “Climate Change: How It Impacts Us All.”
The event, held in September, included a workshop on the ethical dimensions of
climate change sponsored by the Bahá’í International Community and moderated
by Mr. Peter Adriance, the National Spiritual Assembly’s NGO Liaison.
Mr. Huffines was elected to serve a two-year term as chair of the NGO/DPI Execu-
tive Committee. As chair-elect, he presented a paper at an UN-sponsored confer-
ence on the elimination of poverty and hunger in Beijing, China, in June 2007.
The U.S. UN Office hosted a reception welcoming 47 Chinese delegates who
attended the 60th annual DPI/NGO conference in September.
In November, Mr. Huffines was part of a delegation of the UN DPI to prepare for
the 61st DPI/NGO conference to be held in Paris in September 2008. The confer-
ence will be held outside of New York City for the first time in its 61-year history.
He also spoke at the 23rd General Assembly of the Conference of NGOs in Consul-
tative Relationship with the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
The U.S. UN representative concluded 11 years of service on the bureau of the
Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN. In 2007, the Committee sent a letter to
the UN ambassador for Vietnam thanking that government for taking the historic
step of officially recognizing the Bahá’í Faith.
While serving on a Civil Society Task Force appointed by the Office of the Presi-
dent of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Huffines helped select themes and speakers,
including a speaker nominated by the Bahá’í International Community, for a civil
society dialogue with government representatives on interreligious and intercul-
tural understanding and cooperation for peace.
For the last 14 years, Mr. Murrell has served as co-chair of the UN Values Caucus,
which hosted monthly meetings and off-the-record coffees for UN ambassadors.
He was elected to serve a two-year term as vice-chair of UNA-USA New York
Council of Organizations. He also helped organize events sponsored by the United

Riḍván 2008
42
Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Interfaith Partnership for the Environment
(IPE) that included a presentation on spiritually-based indicators for advancing
sustainable development.
Mr. Murrell served on the planning committee of the 52nd UN Commission on
the Status of Women held in February and March 2008, as well as on its violence
against women subcommittee.
At the invitation of Religions for Peace–USA, Mr. Murrell attended the Interfaith
Academies for Religious Leaders at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City,
Missouri.
Ms. Carolina Vasquez, the U.S. UN office administrative assistant, collaborated with
the national Bahá’í Education and Schools Office to encourage Bahá’í community
participation in the UNICEF global education program (www.TeachUNICEF.org),
D uring 2007, the
National Spiritual
Assembly continued its
Volunteer Center, and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.
more than two-decade
Women’s issues involvement in pro-
During 2007, the National Spiritual Assembly continued its more than two-decade moting U.S. support
involvement in promoting U.S. support for and eventual ratification of the United for and eventual rati-
Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against fication of the United
Women (CEDAW). Ms. Shuster served on the CEDAW Working Group Steering Nations Convention on
Committee.
the Elimination of All
Bahá’ís were part of a coalition of more than 50 organizations focused on legisla- Forms of Discrimina-
tion to eliminate international gender-based violence. The bill, the International tion Against Women.
Violence Against Women Act, was introduced in the Senate in October 2007. Ms.
Shuster participated in the legislative drafting process.
Ms. Shuster also promoted the full participation of women in international devel-
opment assistance programs, with particular focus on the Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government entity that provided funding to developing
countries based on their ability to rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage
economic freedom.
The Bahá’ís of the U.S. were involved in the development of a new organization,
the Women, Faith and Development Alliance (WFDA), which joined international
religious women’s networks with international development organizations to
advocate for setting women’s empowerment as a key priority for investment in
development. Ms. Shuster, Ms. Treadwell, and Ms. Bigelow assisted with the plan-
ning of the Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty, an
international conference of world leaders in April 2008 at the National Cathedral
in Washington. Ms. Juana C. Conrad, the National Spiritual Assembly’s Deputy
Secretary-General, and Ms. Fulya Vekiloglu, the Bahá’í International Community’s
Office for the Advancement of Women representative, were invited to become
members of the WFDA Leadership Circle and to attend the April event. Ms. Bigelow
was invited to become a member of the WFDA Leadership Council, attending an
all-day conference with other leaders to discuss the work of the Alliance.
As co-chair of the Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) of the
American Society of International Law (ASIL), Ms. Bigelow emceed several events
during the year, including the annual WILIG luncheon in April 2007 at the ASIL
annual conference. Judge Taghrid Hikmet, the first female judge in Jordan and a
judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was the speaker.
Ms. Bigelow attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women in February as
part of the Bahá’í International Community’s delegation.

External Affairs
43
Sustainable development
Throughout the year, Mr. Adriance worked with other organizations on issues
related to sustainable development.
In May 2007, Mr. Adriance worked with the Bahá’í International Community to
organize an event at the 15th meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable De-
velopment on “The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change.” The event helped to
place moral and ethical considerations at the forefront of discussions on address-
ing the causes and impact of climate change. Thanks to their leadership on the
issue, a Bahá’í delegation, co-led by Mr. Adriance, was invited to make a presen-

T he National Spiri- tation to three European Union leaders in a meeting held with representatives of
“major groups” of civil society.
tual Assembly’s
NGO Liaison addressed In September, in his role as co-chair of the Faith Sector Team of the U.S. Partner-
ship for Education for Sustainable Development, Mr. Adriance addressed a regional
a regional interfaith
interfaith sustainability gathering held at Green Acre Bahá’í School. The gathering,
sustainability gath- which brought together members of more than nine faith communities, spawned
ering held at Green the Piscataqua Interfaith Sustainability Initiative, which will facilitate networking
Acre Bahá’í School, across faith communities in the region and ongoing educational events and proj-
which brought together ects that promote sustainability.
members of more than In October, Mr. Adriance helped to organize—and spoke at—the 11th annual
nine faith communi- conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF): “Responding to Climate
ties and spawned the Change: Scientific Realities, Spiritual Imperatives,” held in Ottawa, Ontario. Mr.
Adriance was elected to serve on the governing board of the IEF for another year.
Piscataqua Interfaith
Sustainability Initia- In December, Mr. Adriance was part of a team that organized and held a pre-con-
ference development seminar in Orlando on “Creating a Conceptual Framework for
tive.
the Application of Spiritually-Based Indicators in Development.” He also facilitated
a workshop on the seminar theme at the annual Bahá’í Conference on Social and
Economic Development.
In January, at the invitation of the National Council on Science and the Environ-
ment, Mr. Adriance organized and facilitated a workshop, “People of Faith Re-
spond to Climate Change with Concrete Actions,” at an annual conference that
drew more than 1,000 scientists, academicians and others. The workshop brought
together Protestant (Evangelical and mainline), Catholic, Jewish, and Bahá’í rep-
resentatives and a representative of Interfaith Power and Light with scientists and
academicians. Many at the conference expressed appreciation for the complemen-
tary roles that science and religion must play in addressing the issue.
In February, the National Spiritual Assembly approved a proposal to “green” na-
tional Bahá’í operations as much as feasible and to develop educational materials
on the environment for use in the junior youth animator program.

Riḍván 2008
44
External Affairs
45
Approaching the conclusion of the second year of the Five Year Plan, the United
States Bahá’í community bows its head with a deep sense of gratitude. A dedicat-
Treasury
ed core of believers growing in understanding and numbers are demonstrating the 55..... Financial highlights
capacity, until now largely untapped, which exists within our ranks.
56..... Statement of financial
Awakened, it seems, we are awestruck by the swiftness with which we can act, and position
by the decisiveness with which we can realize the goals and objectives established
for us. 57..... Statement of activities

In the past three years, our community has met in fine fashion the national Bahá’í 58..... Notes to financial statements
Fund contributions goal. Last year, with characteristic flair, we did so just as Bahá’í
National Convention convened, eliciting from the delegates and guests in atten-
dance a joyous celebration, the reverberations of which were amplified in commu-
nities large and small across the land. The victory, after all, was theirs, believers of
every background, of every means, of every experience who brought to bear their
collective determination to make available the necessary financial resources to fuel
the national and regional administrative institutions and agencies of our beloved
Faith. What a joy it was!
As this is being written, we find ourselves in a similar state: with only one month
to go before the close of the fiscal year on April 30, we are facing a shortfall of
A dedicated core of believers
growing in understanding
and numbers are demonstrat-
$5.6 million in striving to meet the $25 million Fund goal.
ing the capacity, until now
But if history is an indicator and the response we are witnessing continues, it is
more than possible this year to realize the same achievement as last—albeit during largely untapped, which exists
the final days of the year. within our ranks.
Your National Spiritual Assembly is convinced that the capacity to achieve this level of
contributions from our community exists and is certain that it can and will happen.
We look forward to announcing such happy news.
Progress to date on other funds are as follows:
• Chilean Temple Initiative: $1.9 million contributed during 2007–08; $11.6
million contributed in total thus far.
• Bahá’í House of Worship Visitors’ Center: $3.2 million contributed during
2007–08; $870,000 to go to win $6.5 million goal.
• Kingdom Project: $61,400 contributed during 2007–08.
• Payam-e-Doost Bahá’í radio and the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace were also
the recipients of generous contributions during the past year.
Mention must be made of the special earmarked contributions this year that
were directed to develop specific Bahá’í-owned properties, making much-needed
improvements possible and, in certain cases, enabling us to establish new facilities
where the need was greatest. We are extremely grateful for these extraordinary acts
of kindness and generosity.

{Section
Treasury
Title}
47
Fund development
Seventh Annual National Treasurers Forum: “The Spiritual Nature of the Enterprise”
The Seventh Annual National Treasurers Forum returned to the sacred grounds of
Green Acre Bahá’í School, bringing together participants from every region to to-
gether explore and learn how to serve the institution of the Fund and support our
communities in meeting the goals of the Five Year Plan. As usual, the Forum also
provided opportunities for treasurers to enjoy fellowship in each other’s company
as fellow believers united in purpose.
Participants at the Forum eagerly took part in consulting together during special
roundtable break-out sessions—which provided opportunities for treasurers to
consult by stages of cluster development and by region, facilitating dialogue with

T he Seventh Annual representatives from their Regional Bahá’í Councils on the needs and opportunities
of the Five Year Plan in their respective regions.
National Treasur-
ers Forum extended the Forum highlights included keynote talks and community meetings with the
Forum’s record of suc- Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly, an update on the state of the Fund
offered by the Assembly’s Chief Financial Officer, a presentation on Planned Giving
cess in providing potent and the writing of a will, a practicum on engaging young adults, and a feature
education and training plenary by the Regional Teaching Coordinator for the Northeastern States on
leading attendees to integrating Fund education into the core activities. This seventh such gathering
increased effectiveness. extended the Forum’s record of success in providing potent education and training
leading attendees to increased effectiveness.

Riḍván 2008
48
The Treasurers Café
The Treasurers Café is open for busi-
ness! Thus read a featured article in the
monthly Bahá’í Treasurers Bulletin
announcing the new networking site
“for treasurers, by treasurers.”
An idea that grew out of a discussion
at the National Treasurers Forum, the
Office of the Treasurer was pleased to
launch the Treasurers Café, a network-
ing site in which treasurers can con-
nect with other treasurers nationwide
and participate in forums on a number
of topics such as feast reports, audits,
Bahá’í centers and the Five Year Plan,
and Fund education. The café also
provides treasurers with the ability to
upload and download material helpful
in their financial duties as well as in
their duty to inspire love for the Fund.

T
Members of Local Spiritual Assemblies and treasurers and secretaries of registered he Office of the
groups can register for the café (http://treasurerscafe.bahaitreasurer.us).
Treasurer was
The Bahá’í Treasurers Bulletin pleased to launch the
Now entering its sixth year in production, the Bahá’í Treasurers Bulletin (BTB) Treasurers Café, a net-
continues to offer treasurers of Local Spiritual Assemblies and registered groups working site in which
monthly updates on the National Fund, the Kingdom Project, the Temple Visitors’ treasurers can connect
Center, and the Chilean Temple Initiative, along with articles on treasury resource
management, Fund education and development, and Fund-related activities for with other treasurers
children and junior youth. It is distributed every Bahá’í month and is designed nationwide and par-
to build a bridge of communication between the Office of the Treasurer at the ticipate in forums on a
National Bahá’í Center and local treasurers. This year the BTB underwent recon- number of topics such
struction that allowed for more user-friendly navigation, facilitated new member as feast reports, audits,
registration, provided a cleaner look and feel, and made distribution more efficient.
Bahá’í centers and the
Five Year Plan, and
Fund education.

Treasury
49
Young Believers Programs
During 2007–08, Liang’s Adventures, a colorful activity booklet mailed to all
registered Bahá’í children ages 4–9, continued to draw connections between our
children’s hearts and minds and the institution of the Fund. The publication relies
heavily on a group of about 10 volunteers who regularly add their talents and self-
less service to its production. In addition to imaginatively presenting virtues and
concepts associated with Fund participation, each issue continues to explore the

E ach issue of Liang’s


Adventures contin-
ues to explore the link
link between the Funds, the Five Year Plan, and the unique and essential role that
children can play in achieving its goals. Story highlights lead the reader to appre-
ciate in a deeper way the core activities of the Five Year Plan and their purpose,
between the Funds, the through examples of actions taken by key characters and their friends. Examples
from Bahá’í history are also utilized to amplify the message connecting readers to
Five Year Plan, and the the Five Year Plan.
unique and essential
The Arise ‘zine for junior youth, sent to registered Bahá’ís ages 10–14, also
role that children can
continued to be produced. The variety of features in each issue, contributed by 13
play in achieving its volunteers of all ages, engage junior youth in learning about the Funds and the
goals. Five Year Plan—as well as the young heroes of our Faith, the national administra-
tion, and money management—and offer practical advice on navigating the chal-
lenges and opportunities many junior youth face in life today.
The FUNDamentals Ezine, or online magazine for young adults, is published
quarterly, drawing readers from diverse walks of life. Designed primarily to speak
to the spiritual and financial needs and interests of Bahá’í young adults living in
the U.S., readers from a wide range of ages and from six continents, both Bahá’í
and not, were among those regularly visiting and leaving comments on the site.
Articles ranging from how to save for retirement to how to financially sustain a life
of service to the Faith and involvement in the Five Year Plan all inspired prayerful
consideration of the connection between our spiritual goals and material resources.
FUNDamentals currently draws on the assistance of 15 volunteers with various
forms of expertise.
A young adult Fund education task force was convened to consult and provide
feedback on new ways to engage young adults and empower them to lay their
“share on the altar of Bahá’í sacrifice.” In February, young adults from around the
country were brought together in the shadow of the holiest House of Worship to
offer their insights, which have proved invaluable. Throughout the year, similar
task forces will be called upon to offer suggestions on Young Believers Programs.
In addition, these individuals will be called upon to inspire young people to arise
in service to the institution of the Fund.

Riḍván 2008
50
Kingdom Project
The restoration of the Mother Temple of the West drew nearer to completion in
2007–08, with just three terraces and gardens remaining to be completed.
In recent years, six of the aging gardens and terrace sections on the east and south
sides of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár were demolished, then gradually replaced with a
renovated terrace deck, new fountains with advanced control systems, and newly
renovated gardens landscaped as meditative spaces. In mid-November 2007, the
restoration work on the last three gardens was finally begun! T he American
Bahá’í community
continues its tremen-
Structural repairs and renovations to the Temple also continued, including two of
the three remaining terrace decks. Meanwhile, excavation began for the renovation dous support for the
and waterproofing of the roof over Foundation Hall. new Visitors’ Center,
The American Bahá’í community continues its tremendous support for the new which has received over
Visitors’ Center, which has received over $5.5 million in contributions toward the
Visitors’ Center, which has received over $5.5 million in contributions toward the $5.5 million in con-
$6.5 million goal. Construction of the Visitors’ Center will soon begin on the
$6.5 million goal. Construction of the Visitors’ Center will soon begin on the tributions toward the
west side of the Temple grounds. The Center will provide a loving and befitting $6.5 million goal. Con-
welcome that prepares visitors for their visit to the House of Worship, beautifully
visible through the Center’s garden-level glass roof. Other features will include a struction of the Visi-
reception room for visiting Bahá’ís and guests, and a gathering space with places tors’ Center will soon
to rest, reflect, and enjoy light refreshments. begin on the west side
Special Visit Programs will continue to be hosted in 2008, providing the friends of the Temple grounds.
with an opportunity to closely experience the great progress accomplished in the
Temple’s restoration due to the sacrificial contributions by individuals and institu-
tions within the Bahá’í community.
The Kingdom Project website (www.kingdom-project.org), e-newsletter, and
articles in The American Bahá’í and the Bahá’í Treasurers Bulletin con-
tinue to provide regular updates on the Temple restoration efforts
and inspiring stories of love and support from around the
United States.

51
Chilean Temple Initiative

A n Enchantment
of the Heart, a
biography of Marcia
As this is being written, the American Bahá’í community—answering the call made
two years ago to contribute the “lion’s share” of the $27 million projected as
necessary to build the Mother Temple of South America—has lovingly sent $11.6
Steward, an American million to the House of Justice for this purpose. Updates on the Chilean Temple
believer and the first Initiative continue to be available through The American Bahá’í, the Chilean
Bahá’í to pioneer to Temple website (www.chilean-temple.org), and the Chilean Temple e-newsletter.
Chile, highlights the An Enchantment of the Heart, a biography of Marcia Steward, an American
close connection be- believer and the first Bahá’í to pioneer to Chile, has been posted on the Chilean
tween these two coun- Temple website and is complete with photos of Marcia Steward and the coun-
tries she visited. The biography, tenderly written by a former pioneer to Chile, is
tries, one that began a profile both of Marcia Steward’s hard-won achievements in her path of service
over 60 years ago and and the arduous life led by pioneers in those exciting yet challenging times. The
continues to this day. publication highlights the close connection between these two countries, one that
began over 60 years ago and continues to this day.
The enthusiasm surrounding the Chilean Temple Initiative continued through
increasing orders of Chilean Temple wristbands. During 2007–08, the collection
grew, with the addition of three new colors: alabaster (with red text), burgundy
(with alabaster text), and purple “glow-in-the-dark.” The order form can be found
on the Chilean Temple website (www.chilean-temple.org), along with Chilean
Temple “pledge” cards and “in honor” cards.

Riḍván 2008
52
Planned Giving program
Planned Giving—that is, leaving a legacy—continues to play a vital role in gener-
ating financial support for the progress of the Plan and the growth of the Faith.
O ver the past year,
18 gift annuities
were opened, totaling
Systematic efforts were made to educate the friends regarding Planned Giving op-
portunities made available by the National Assembly allowing individuals, couples, 154 annuities that in-
and families to tailor their gifts—leaving a legacy based on their particular capac- creased our charitable
ity. Gifts of life insurance, bequests in wills and trusts, real estate, gifts in kind, gift annuity portfolio by
gifts of securities, and charitable gift annuities are among the available options.
$479,259—to a total of
These gifts confer unique spiritual benefits promised throughout the sacred writ-
ings and are profound opportunities to participate in the eradication of human $4,626,195.
suffering—all the while providing donors with significant tax benefits.
At the close of February 2008, 30 Writing of Will/Planned Giving presentations
were hosted by Bahá’í communities throughout the country—with attendees rep-
resenting 132 communities. Increased interest and participation in writing wills is
evidenced by inquiries from attorneys who are completing these documents at the
instruction of believers.
Over the past year, 18 gift annuities were opened, totaling 154 annuities that
increased our charitable gift annuity portfolio by $479,259—to a total of
$4,626,195. Increased participation in the Gift Annuity program has enabled the
National Spiritual Assembly to transfer a portion of the administrative responsi-
bilities and management of these assets to Wachovia Philanthropic Services. This
transfer will allow the staff more time to steward and promote the various options
for leaving a legacy through Planned Giving.
We look forward to the expansion of the Planned Giving program, which offers
every believer the bounty and privilege of leaving a material and spiritual legacy to
the Faith by participating in its future financial security.

Treasury
53
Financial Advisory Group

T o each one of the


believers who are
sacrificing their all in
We offer our gratitude and respect to this team of selfless advisors who offer their
continuing advice, assisting the National Assembly to steady its sails during stormy
financial weather—such as that being experienced by the world during this pres-
the path of this sacred ent period. Each with his own expertise stands ready to provide wise counsel and
Cause, we salute you consultative services, assisting in the safeguarding of the financial resources of the
and your generous spir- Faith.
its, which continually Summary
inspire us.
The National Spiritual Assembly would like to offer its heartfelt appreciation to all
the dedicated and selfless volunteers assisting the Office of the Treasurer, without
whom its many ambitious projects would simply not be possible. But to each one
of the believers who are sacrificing their all in the path of this sacred Cause, we
salute you and your generous spirits, which continually inspire us and remind us of
the stature of the American believers, as spoken of by Shoghi Effendi.
The words of the beloved Guardian, recorded in a letter dated December 6, 1928,
are as applicable today as the day they were written:
Not by the abundance of our donations, not even by the sponta-
neity of our efforts, but rather by the degree of self-abnegation
which our contributions will entail, can we effectively promote
the speedy realization of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s cherished desire. How
great our responsibility, how immense our task, how priceless the
advantages that we can reap!
May the blessings of Abhá continue to be abundantly showered upon every one of
you, every day and at every moment!

With loving appreciation,

Dr. William Roberts


Treasurer

Riḍván 2008
54
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Financial highlights • March 31, 2008 (unaudited), April 30, 2007, and April 30, 2006

March 31,
Unrestricted and restricted contributions received 2008 April 30, 2007 April 30, 2006
by the National Spiritual Assembly unaudited actual actual

Unrestricted contributions $22,406,620 $35,699,090 $28,743,568


Restricted for the Kingdom Project 1,240,148 1,270,395 4,676,107
Restricted for the International Funds 685,895 831,013 1,062,190
Restricted for other Funds 1,177,821 630,721 734,668

Total contributions received $25,510,484 $38,431,219 $35,216,533

Contributions to other organizations

International Funds $4,152,523 $1,541,053 $6,673,824


Continental Fund $257,701 260,804 291,304
Chile Temple 1,863,491 8,432,216 1,111,881
Other Bahá’í Funds and Deputization $48,877 50,082 199,886

Total contributions to other Funds $11,555,125 $10,284,155 $8,276,895

Kingdom Project, capital expenditures and depreciation


Kingdom Project expenditures $4,567,505 $3,285,173 $3,058,722
Other capital expenditures $2,707,375 $3,161,581 $1,660,438
Depreciation $2,973,229 $2,973,229 $2,535,958

Total unrestricted revenues $31,318,465 $45,358,594 $39,063,143

Total expenses $30,973,991 $38,366,866 $34,366,878

Net assets $49,369,683 $52,412,870 $41,746,290


National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Combining and combined statements of financial position • March 31, 2008 (unaudited), and April 30, 2007

Combined total
National Publishing March 2008 April 2007
Assets Bahá’í Fund Trust unaudited actual
Current assets
Cash and investments $9,524,455 $6,860 $9,531,315 12,935,726
Due (to)/from other Funds 5,669,403 (5,669,403) 0 0
Accounts and notes receivable 543,331 199,963 743,294 838,399
Chilean Temple pledges receivable 205,608 0 205,608 2,837,400
Inventories 216,157 384,846 601,003 1,083,934
Other current assets 436,954 26,723 463,677 473,318

Total current assets $16,595,908 ($5,051,011) $11,544,897 18,168,777

Property and equipment net of


accumulated depreciation $39,616,745 $167,832 $39,784,577 35,714,111
Investments 8,625,824 0 $8,625,824 8,928,433
Prepaid and intangible pension asset 0 0 0 1,117,786
Endowed investments and other assets 5,077,107 0 $5,077,107 5,075,868

Total assets $69,915,584 ($4,883,179) $65,032,405 $69,004,975

Liabilities and net assets


Liabilities
Current liabilities
Accounts payable and
accrued liabilities $1,735,285 $70,518 $1,805,803 2,209,602
Demand notes and
current maturities of long term debt 7,709,364 0 7,709,364 8,203,084
Deferred revenues & gift annuities 448,875 0 448,875 440,126

Total current liabilities $9,893,524 $70,518 $9,964,042 10,852,812

Long term debt $2,185,447 $0 $2,185,447 2,235,880


Other long term liabilities 3,513,233 0 3,513,233 3,503,413

Total liabilities $15,592,204 $70,518 $15,662,722 $16,592,105

Net assets
Unrestricted $38,891,548 ($4,953,697) $33,937,851 34,713,377
Temporarily restricted 11,410,578 0 11,410,578 13,678,239
Permanently restricted 4,021,254 0 4,021,254 4,021,254

Total net assets $54,323,380 ($4,953,697) $49,369,683 52,412,870

Total liabilities and net assets $69,915,584 ($4,883,179) $65,032,405 69,004,975


National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
Combining and combined statements of activities • March 31, 2008 (unaudited), and April 30, 2007

Combined total
National Publishing March 2008 April 2007
Changes in unrestricted net assets Bahá’í Fund Trust unaudited actual
Unrestricted net assets
Contributions $22,406,620 $0 $22,406,620 35,699,090
Contributed property 25,845 0 25,845 24,489
Estate bequests 721,380 0 721,380 1,205,613
Bahá’í school tuition 956,867 0 956,867 1,088,041
Sale of books and materials 608,443 1,250,206 1,858,649 2,152,580
Investment and other income 404,484 0 404,484 1,476,097
Investment gain (loss) 258,990 0 258,990 23,061
Assets released from restriction 4,685,630 0 4,685,630 3,689,623

Total unrestricted revenues $30,068,259 $1,250,206 $31,318,465 45,358,594

Expenses
Contributions to International Funds $4,459,101 $0 $4,459,101 10,284,155
Education and teaching activities 7,036,588 0 7,036,588 7,128,699
Properties operations and maintenance 3,566,155 0 3,566,155 3,998,009
Cost of books and special materials 372,976 766,376 1,139,352 1,356,923
General administration 13,434,019 1,338,776 14,772,795 15,599,080

Total expenses $28,868,839 $2,105,152 $30,973,991 38,366,866

Other changes in unrestricted net assets ($1,120,000) $0 ($1,120,000) 802,576

Increase/(decrease) in unrestricted net assets $79,420 ($854,946) $775,526 7,794,304

Changes in temporarily restricted net assets


Contributions $2,417,969 $0 $2,417,969 6,561,899
Net assets released from restriction (4,685,630) 0 (4,685,630) (3,689,623)

Increase/(decrease) in temporarily restricted net assets ($2,267,661 $0 ($2,267,661 $2,872,276

Increase in permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 $0 0

Increase/(decrease) in net assets ($2,188,241) ($854,946) ($3,043,187) $10,666,580

Net assets, beginning of year $56,511,621 ($4,098,751) $52,412,870 $41,746,290

Net assets, end of year $54,323,380 ($4,953,697) $49,369,683 $52,412,870


Notes to Financial Statements • March 31, 2008, and April 30, 2007
Operations and accounting policies
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (the Assembly) was established in 1927 as
a voluntary trust and subsequently incorporated in October 1994 as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation to
administer, teach, and further the Bahá’í Faith in the United States.
The accounts of the Assembly are maintained on the accrual basis. The financial statements of the Assembly
include the assets, liabilities, net assets (deficits), and financial activities of the National Bahá’í Fund and the
Bahá’í Publishing Trust.
The principal accounting policies used by the Assembly are as follows:

Contributions
All contributions from members of the Faith, unless specifically restricted by the donor, are considered to be
available for unrestricted use and are recorded as received. Contributions in kind are recorded at an amount
representing the estimated fair value of goods and services received during the year. Items received of artistic or
religious significance for which no value can be readily determined and which are not anticipated to be sold are
recorded at nominal value.
Contributions from nonmembers may not be used to support the Faith and, accordingly, such amounts received
are distributed for other humanitarian causes. Contributions restricted by the donor for particular programs and
projects, or for property and equipment acquisitions, are earned and reported as revenues when the Assembly
has incurred expenses for the purpose specified by the donor. Such amounts received, but not yet earned, are
reported as restricted deferred amounts. Estate bequests are recorded when the funds are received.

Tax-exempt status
The U.S. Treasury Department has held that the National Spiritual Assembly and all subordinate Local Spiritual
Assemblies are exempt from Federal income tax as organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal
Revenue Code (I.R.C.) of 1986. Accordingly, contributions made to the National Spiritual Assembly and all of its
subordinate Local Spiritual Assemblies are deductible by the donors for Federal income tax purposes as provided
by I.R.C. Section 170.
Bequests, legacies, devises, transfers, or gifts to the National Spiritual Assembly or its subordinate Local Assem-
blies are deductible for Federal estate and gift tax purposes as provided by I.R.C. Sections 2055, 2106, and 2522.

Inventories
Inventories of books and special materials are recorded at the lower of cost, using the average cost method, or
market.

Investments
Investments are recorded at market value.

Property and equipment


Property and equipment are stated at cost. The Assembly computes depreciation of fixed assets over their
estimated useful lives using the straight line method. The estimated lives used in computing depreciation are as
follows:

Asset description Asset life


Furniture/Equipment 5–10 years
Buildings/Improvements 20–40 years
Bahá’í House of Worship 75 years
National Teaching Office and National Youth Desk Teaching
New developments and changes in the administrative structure in support of the 61 .... National Teaching Office and
teaching work “to bring certain elements of collective decision-making close to the National Youth Desk
grassroots and to create communities with a sense of mission”—in the words of the
64 .... Office of International
Universal House of Justice—were illuminated by the National Spiritual Assembly in
Pioneering
August 2007. A key action taken to further decentralize the management of the
teaching work was to suspend temporarily the operations of the National Teaching 66 .... Office of Communications
Committee, thus enabling its experienced members to return to the field of service.
During the course of the year 2007–08, through the service of the committee and
in close consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly, the National Teaching
Office was directed to study closely all documents and best practices related to the
current Five Year Plan, to share insights gained that would lend further impetus to
the movement of clusters nationwide, and to be of service to the Regional Bahá’í
Councils in their efforts to manage teaching efforts at the cluster level.

E
Monitoring growth in enrollments
nrollments of adults and
Monitoring the Bahá’í community’s teaching efforts both qualitatively and quan- youth and registrations
titatively is a principal task of the National Teaching Office. Teaching efforts in
the United States have advanced significantly since Riḍván 2007, as the friends
of junior youth and children
everywhere have learned the requirements of steady growth. Enrollments of adults each rose more than 50 per-
and youth and registrations of junior youth and children each rose more than 50 cent during 2007–08, stand-
percent during 2007–08, and by Riḍván 2008 it is estimated that—at 1,550 and ing at their highest levels in a
786 respectively—they will have reached their highest levels in a four-year period four-year period.
(see the table below).

2000
Enrollments in the United States, Riḍván 2005–Riḍván 2008 (as of 4/2008)
1750
Adult and youth declarations
1500 1,550
Child and junior youth registrations
1250
1,179
1000 1,013 1,003
823 786
750

500 514
435
250

Riḍván 2005 Riḍván 2006 Riḍván 2007 Riḍván 2008


(estimate)

{Section Title}
Teaching
61
Sharing systematic learning
New, energetic, and enthusiastic participation in the teaching work by the
friends trained in elements of the framework of the Plan has created a treasure
trove of lessons learned and instructive stories about collective action in the field
through door-to-door teaching, use of “Anna’s presentation,” prayer sessions
organized to support intensive teaching programs, and active participation in a
rich community life filled with weekly devotional gatherings, study circles, neigh-
borhood children’s classes, and animated junior youth groups. Systematically, as
this accumulated wisdom derived from the path of learning is being committed
to writing, and as stories are shared in cluster after cluster around the country,

O n implementation both the stories themselves and reflections on what has been learned are being
posted on the national teaching blog site (http://teaching.bahai.us). Shared
of the Statistical rapidly by individuals, Area Teaching Committees, Cluster Institute Coordinators,
Report Program, clus- Regional Council members, Local and National Assembly members, Counselors,
ters become empowered and Auxiliary Board members, these stories provide valuable learning to friends
in reporting results of developing plans for expansion and consolidation within their own clusters.
their progress, use the Teaching materials found effective in the field are also posted on the site for
downloading (and on info@ruhiresources.org).
statistics to consult
about more opportuni- Implementation of decision-making instruments
ties for growth, and Increased understanding of an important new decision-making instrument
study collectively the has accelerated across the country with the implementation of the Statistical
needs of the cluster Report Program (SRP), which was developed by the Bahá’í World Center to as-
sist National Assemblies around the world in collecting and reporting pertinent
with the friends at re- information about key elements of growth at the cluster, regional, and nation-
flection meetings. al levels. Serving as the national statistics office for the National Assembly, the
Teaching Office is facilitating the implementation of the program in consulta-
tion with each of the five Regional Bahá’í Councils. On its implementation,
the clusters become empowered in reporting results of their progress, use the
statistics to consult about more opportunities for growth, and study collec-
tively the needs of the cluster with the friends at reflection meetings. In the
U.S., growth will be monitored within 836 clusters using the Statistical Report
Program.

Teaching the Faith


Significant progress has been made in the decentralization—from the national
level to the regional level—of the management of the teaching work related
to the Seeker Response System (SRS). Most notable is the rate of enrollments
in the field. Through the former SRS system, the average enrollment rate of
seekers was approximately two to three percent. Today, some of the regions
have achieved a five percent enrollment rate. This is primarily due to the focus
on direct teaching and connecting seekers to core activities. Seekers inquiring
through 800-22UNITE or the national websites are now receiving home visits by
Area Teaching Committee or Assembly members and, in those cases where seek-
ers reside in isolated areas, Bahá’ís are driving several miles to meet with seekers
and to provide them support. In each of these cases, the regional specialists are
instrumental in stimulating the actions of the local Bahá’ís and assisting them in
making effective contacts with the seekers.
A new packet of introductory materials has been developed and is now being
sent to any seeker who calls 800-22UNITE or makes a request through one of
the various websites. These new packets include a detachable declaration card
and a prayer book.

Riḍván 2008
62
Youth share Convention experience
For several years now, the Youth Desk has hosted a special program for youth that
runs concurrently with the National Convention. Since Riḍván 2007, the Youth
Desk has been learning more from the youth who were invited to attend National
Convention in 2007. At least two youths from each region are invited, ranging
from 17 to 23 years of age.
The youth visitors to the 98th U.S. Bahá’í National Convention kept a busy sched-
ule. Their program consisted of a combination of observing the Convention pro-
ceedings, meeting with members of the senior institutions (including the National
Spiritual Assembly, National Teaching Committee, members of the Continental
Board of Counselors and their Auxiliary Boards, and Counselor member of the
International Teaching Center, Dr. Penelope Walker), a special devotional gather-
ing in the House of Worship auditorium, and consultations and reflections on their
B y the close of the
98th U.S. Bahá’í
National Convention,
experiences at Convention. A frequent focus of the discussions between the youth
the youth visitors were
and members of the various institutions was the advancement of the teaching
work in their clusters. By Convention’s close, the youth were excited and ready to excited and ready to
serve their clusters anew when they returned to their home communities. serve their clusters
anew when they re-
New capacities on www.bahaiyouth.com
turned to their home
A new website for youth (www.bahaiyouth.com) was launched in mid-December
communities.
2007 and the 134 members who have accessed it since initial invitation grows
daily. Site traffic has already risen to a slightly higher average than before the
move to the new site. Other site statistics also show improvement over the previous
version, including the number of pages viewed during each visit and the overall
length of each visit. The next step in promoting the site will be to send another
e-newsletter informing the 3,500 users on the list of the new site, previewing some
of the content, and inviting them to join. Members can post in the forum and
upload pictures and video.

Youth at the Forefront video released


During summer 2007, four youths embarked on a road trip from Chicago to
Los Angeles, stopping along the way to discuss lessons learned with youth in
the field and capturing their efforts on camera with an eye toward creation of
a video documentary. The resulting video is posted online on several websites,
including Google Video, Facebook, YouTube, and Bahaiyouth.com. It is also being
shared with the organizers of upcoming youth conferences. The 26-minute youth
teaching video was completed by mid-December 2007 and is available through
your Regional Bahá’í Council or by emailing the National Teaching Office (NTC@
usbnc.org).

Keeping in touch with youth on the move


Integral to the work of the Youth Desk is engagement with Bahá’í Campus As-
sociations around the country. Among the future developments envisioned for
the www.bahaiyouth.com site is the addition of online registration for Bahá’í
Campus Associations, which will improve the ability of any club in the country
to register.

Teaching
63
Office of International Pioneering

A s of March 2008,
391 believers
from the United States
Through the movement of pioneers, traveling teachers, and youth service volun-
teers from the United States, the name of Bahá’u’lláh continued during 2007–08
to be spread throughout the world. Since the inception of the Five Year Plan of
have filled pioneering 2006–11, believers from the United States have continued to fill pioneering posts
posts and 635 travel- around the world. As this is being written, in March 2008, 391 believers from the
ing teaching trips have United States have filled pioneering posts during the current Five Year Plan. In
been recorded during response to a call from the Universal House of Justice in late February for pioneers
to Lithuania, one pioneer is prepared to leave immediately and the office has
the current Five Year continued to work with a growing contingent. In addition, 635 traveling teaching
Plan. trips have been recorded. Annual Riḍván cards were again distributed around the
world to pioneers in the field.
In response to a call to reduce costs, four actions were taken:
1. A single bookmark, created by a believer as a gift to the office, was printed in
quantity and used to replace the comprehensive packet of information previ-
ously given out to guests, institutions, and contacts at recruitment sites.
2. The office completed its move toward a paperless office and cut paper and
printing costs, creating an electronic system to help support its goals.
3. The office utilized the existing network of Pioneer Resource Persons (PRPs) to
help maintain its presence at conferences and seasonal schools.
4. The office relinquished a staff position for the coming year.
In efforts to align its orientation program and pioneer preparation with the goals
of the Five Year Plan related to the institute training process, measures were taken
by the office to:
• Update forms to capture information from prospective pioneers and their insti-
tutions regarding institute experience.
• Update the Pioneer Orientation Program and its supporting materials to incor-
porate the skills required in the institute process.
The office now has two full-time international consultants, one working with
believers from the states east of the Mississippi River, the other working with
believers from the states to the west. The work of one of the office’s full-time
staff members is entirely devoted to supervision and development of the network
of Pioneer Resource Persons (PRPs). This web of local community advisors on
pioneering, with members appointed by each Local Spiritual Assembly, undertakes
some functions of the office, helping to decentralize the tasks involved in assist-
ing prospective international pioneers. The office continued during the past year
to train and communicate with these Pioneer Resource Persons to support them
in fulfilling their responsibilities. Notification of appointments can now be made

Riḍván 2008
64
through the Bahá’í National Center’s eMembership system. Encouraging PRPs to
assume a greater degree of involvement in the office’s work, the PRP Supervisor
arranges for them to represent the office at numerous conferences throughout the
year to help with pioneer recruitment. The PRP Supervisor also serves as the coor-
dinator and registrar for the Pioneer Orientations, often calling upon the assistance
and involvement of PRPs and returned pioneers.
Procedures for recordkeeping have improved notably in the past year. An electronic
contact management system—the Global Exodus Management System (GEMS)—
was developed, tested, refined, and implemented by all office staff. The system
enables staff consultants to monitor and track the progress of prospective pioneers
though the steps toward their engagement in international service—from first
contact through transfer of membership to another country. The system further as-
sists in transferring back to U.S. Bahá’í membership those pioneers returning to the
W ork is continu-
ing on the de-
velopment of an online
country, making all related information accessible to staff consultants.
pioneer orientation
Most correspondence is handled electronically, except for those few items required,
course that will be ad-
due to protocols, to be transmitted only through the mails. The office is in its
second year of filing correspondence using an electronic document management ministered through the
system. In addition, the office is now using a high resolution scanner in converting Wilmette Institute.
paper files into electronic documents. Paper files are gradually being moved to the
National Bahá’í Archives.
In response to feedback from prospective pioneers on the structure of the current
orientation program, work is continuing on the development of an online pioneer
orientation course that will be administered through the Wilmette Institute.
The office has sought to keep the U.S. Bahá’í community informed of the Faith’s
international service needs through the Pioneer Resource Persons, articles in The
American Bahá’í, mailings to Bahá’í schools, and other channels. One of the Na-
tional Spiritual Assembly’s Feast letters during the year highlighted the continuing
need for pioneers in this Plan. The office has also continued to revise and improve
its section of the national Administrative Website, adding a new subdomain name
(www.pioneer.usbnc.org) to make it more accessible to believers.
The vast majority of pioneers in the field are self-supporting. However, deputi-
zation of a handful of stalwart pioneers continues. Appeals for assistance for their
support have been made in the pages of The American Bahá’í and, occasionally,
through Pioneering Resource Person channels. Encouragements to the friends to
contribute to the deputization fund have seen a moderate response.

Teaching
65
Office of Communications

D uring 2007–08,
the office pursued
several strategic lines
The mission of the Office of Communications is to broaden and deepen the posi-
tive image of the Bahá’í Faith among the general public in the United States; to
stimulate the growth of the U.S. Bahá’í community by promoting the systematic
of action to better align and effective use of media; and to nurture a distinctive Bahá’í culture by inform-
communications from ing, inspiring, and facilitating dialogue among Bahá’ís, members of the Faith’s
the Bahá’í National community of interest, and the general public.
Center with the goals During 2007–08, the office pursued several strategic lines of action to better align
and priorities of the communications from the Bahá’í National Center (BNC) with the goals and priori-
Five Year Plan. ties of the Five Year Plan.
Over the past year, several national Bahá’í offices and agencies have worked closely
to take steps in this direction. The new Newsreel Online website (http://news-
reel.bahai.us) and the teaching blog (http://teaching.bahai.us) are public-facing
websites hosted on subdomains of the national public website (www.bahai.us). As
a complement to the national public website, a new multimedia portal has been
created (www.bahailife.org) to serve all audiences, regardless of their member-
ship in the Faith. The portal will also carry the webcast of the U.S. Bahá’í National
Convention this year, with a portion of convention coverage made available to the
general public.
In recognition of the receptivity and growth of the Faith among Latino popula-
tions, the office created a Spanish version of the national public website (espanol.
bahai.us) and assisted with the translation and production of Spanish editions of
the seeker response booklet and new believers’ packet.
Another strategic challenge identified by the office is the universal trend in
communications away from one-way broadcasting toward greater interactiv-
ity, networking, and individual expression. This trend is reflected in the emphasis
placed on interactivity in the new media portal (www.bahailife.org), which allows
for real-time chat and voice interaction. The portal also links to Talkabout (www.
bahai.us/talkabout), a new Bahá’í service that enables seekers and Bahá’ís to have
real-time conversations and browse audio and video resources on many aspects
of the Faith. Talkabout was launched in March 2008 with an Internet advertis-
ing “pay-per-click” campaign and a weeklong series of live, online events during
which several Bahá’í authors discussed their books.
The office has started linking to individual blogs and podcasts on the national
public website and highlighting interesting commentary through the “Bahá’í Buzz”
feature. The office has also encouraged and assisted several BNC offices to make
greater use of interactive communications techniques: the Youth Desk to relaunch
the national youth website (www.bahaiyouth.com) as a social networking por-
tal; the Office of External Affairs to use blogs to publish updates on the situa-
tion of the Bahá’ís in Iran (http://iran.bahai.us) and Egypt (http://egypt.bahai.

Riḍván 2008
66
us) and to create a Facebook group on
the campaign for the right to higher
education for Bahá’í students in Iran;
and the Bahá’í House of Worship and
Green Acre and Bosch Bahá’í Schools
to launch subscription-based electronic
newsletters accessible to Bahá’ís and
non-Bahá’ís (see www.bahai.us/enews-
letter).
A related trend is the encouragement
of individual initiative on the Internet.
The Bahá’í Internet Agency, established
in 2004 by the Universal House of
Justice, has issued a series of docu-
ments (available at www.bcca.org/bia)
encouraging individual Bahá’ís to be
active communicators online through
individual blogs, social networking, and
other forms of teaching and publishing
online. This is a major shift of culture
in the Bahá’í community, and the office has endeavored to encourage and facili-
tate the use of online tools and resources by Bahá’ís.
The office hosts the U.S. Bahá’í Web Developers Forum (at http://bahai.uswebdev.
net) for Bahá’ís to share their knowledge and experience with Web services and
T he office has
started linking to
individual blogs and
tools. The office is focusing on developing an application framework to model the podcasts on the na-
use of popular Web services, such as open-source content management systems, tional public website
blogging technology, Google Apps for calendars and document-sharing, Youtube. and has encouraged
com/usbahaifaith for video sharing, Netvibes.com/bahai for widgets and feeds,
Ning.com for social networking, and Meetupalliance.com/usbahai as a network
and assisted several
of locally organized Bahá’í activities and groups. The office also takes part in BNC offices to make
the Bahá’í Computer and Communications Association’s annual “Cultivating the greater use of interac-
Roots” conferences (see www.cultivatingtheroots.org). tive communications
As the Bahá’í media presence diversifies and proliferates, both online and off, techniques.
the challenge emerges of building a recognizable identity for the Bahá’í National
Center with high standards of quality, accuracy, and consistency in visual and
written communications. During 2007–08, the office took steps to document and
standardize visual and editorial style guidelines for the Bahá’í National Center and
to implement aspects of this identity package in business cards, letterhead, website
branding, seeker response materials, new believers’ packet, and other publications.
Developing such a communications stylebook is important from a public relations
perspective—as a method of building public awareness and understanding of the
Faith—as well as from a legal perspective—as a tool to combat fraud or misrepre-
sentations of the Faith.
Another strategic challenge identified by the office is crisis communications and
emergency preparedness. Building on the learning and analysis compiled by the
Office of Development Research in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the
office coordinated the creation of a Crisis Communications Team that meets semi-
annually to anticipate and prepare for a variety of crises or emergency situations
that may confront the U.S. Bahá’í community. The team, which includes staff from
the national Secretariat, Office of External Affairs, Legal Office, Public Safety, and

{Section Title}
Teaching
67
Media Services, helped the Southwest

D uring 2007–08,
the office took
steps to document and
Regional Bahá’í Council to create an
emergency hotline during the southern
California wildfires in October 2007.
standardize visual and Finally, the office continued to manage
editorial style guide- public information activities, fielding
lines for the Bahá’í requests and responding to misrepre-
National Center and to sentations, inaccuracies, and omissions
about the Faith in the national media,
implement aspects of and providing guidance and support to
this identity package in the hundreds of Local Spiritual Assem-
business cards, letter- bly-appointed Public Information Of-
head, website brand- ficers. The office responded to general
ing, seeker response inquiries from national organizations
and the general public about the Faith
materials, new believ- and maintained the accuracy of entries
ers’ packet, and other about the Faith in reference works. The
publications. office also maintained relations with
relevant professional associations by
participating in the Religion Communi-
cators Council (RCC); planning for the
Religion Communicators Congress, an
interfaith event that occurs every ten
years and will take place in Chicago in
April 2010; and sponsoring a Bahá’í
booth at the Religion Newswriters As-
sociation’s annual convention, which
took place in San Antonio in October
2007.

Riḍván 2008
68
Teaching
69
Community
Office of Assembly Development Development
During 2007–08, the Office of Assembly Development sharpened its focus on as- 71..... Office of Assembly
sisting Local Spiritual Assemblies to better understand their vital role in the Five Development
Year Plan. While maintaining the same broad range of resources for Assemblies,
73..... Office of Community
the office concentrated its efforts on those that are most relevant to the current
Administration
stage of Plan development and have enhanced the ability of remaining resources
to more directly address current needs. The office’s energies have principally been 74..... Persian-American Affairs
centered on conferences for Assembly members and updates to the essential As- Office
sembly manual Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities: Guidelines for Spir-
itual Assemblies. In addition, the office has offered Assembly visits to the Bahá’í
National Center and a revised Secretary’s Toolbox.
Two significant developments during the year were the expansion of the office’s
conferences to serve a broader range of Assembly members and its hosting of a
conference in the South—its first in that region. The office offered three three-
day conferences and one one-day conference serving 294 participants from 136
Assemblies—with an average of 41 percent being Secretaries, 30 percent Chair-
persons, and 28 percent other members. The conferences were well received, with
participants rating their usefulness at an average of 4.7 out of 5.
T ime is a precious commod-
ity best employed at this
moment in efforts to advance
For a second year, the office continued to offer one-day conferences. This year’s, the work of the Five Year Plan
held at the Bellevue, Washington, Bahá’í Center, was particularly well attended,
at the cluster level. In light
as was the office’s three-day conference at the Plano, Texas, Center—the first held
outside of a Bahá’í school. We attribute the greater popularity of these events— of this, the office will focus
whether built around a shorter format or held at venues in closer proximity to the on holding one-day training
home communities of the Assemblies attending—to the fact that time is a precious events in areas where there is
commodity best employed at this moment in efforts to advance the work of the a high concentration of As-
Five Year Plan at the cluster level. In light of this, the office’s exclusive focus in the
semblies.
immediate years to follow will be on one-day events held in areas where there is a
high concentration of Assemblies.
The mainstays of each conference were the participatory workshops. In the three-
day conferences, the office also included plenary sessions featuring talks by mem-
bers of the Continental Board of Counselors and the National Spiritual Assembly,
as available, to help participants better understand the role of Assemblies in
advancing the Plan. In addition, the office added a segment to allow participants
to share what they have learned locally, particularly in relation to their work in
promulgating the Plan. Though centered on the practical day-to-day functioning
of Assemblies, workshops also addressed broader topics, again highlighting the role
of Assemblies in the Plan.
The office has continued its Spiritual Assembly Special Visit program, which invites
Local Assemblies to Wilmette, enabling members to familiarize themselves with
the resources available at the National Center, and affording them an opportunity
to share questions, comments, or suggestions directly with the National Assem-

Community Development
71
bly and its offices. This year the office concentrated its efforts on assisting Local
Assemblies to better understand their role in the Plan. In order to accomplish this,
we instituted more time for discussion of the topic and for sharing local learning.
In addition, National Center offices were brought together in small groups prior
to the visit to explore how their presentations could model ways in which the Plan
can be placed in the forefront of administrative work.
The three visits this year enabled 109 members of 15 Local Assemblies to partici-
pate. Assemblies that participated rated the conference highly (an average of 4.8
on a 5-point usefulness scale), and they report a greater understanding of their
role in the Plan.

W e are conducting
a survey of Local
Assembly members to
Another area of success this year was keeping the manual Developing Distinc-
tive Bahá’í Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies updated with new
guidance and information. In the current climate of change, the office has had
determine the frequency to develop new skills to make the manual a living document easily accessible and
current in its content. Major revisions were published in June and February, with
and relevance of the
update packages available for insertion in previously purchased copies and the new
manual’s use. In ad- electronic versions posted to the national Administrative Website and sold on CD-
dition, we are moving ROM. We are conducting a survey of Local Assembly members to determine the
toward offering it in frequency and relevance of the manual’s use. In addition, we are moving toward
electronic form only. offering it in electronic form only.
An electronic copy of the manual, revised versions of the supplements on “Domes-
tic Violence” and “Protection of Children and Youth” and a revised Secretary’s
Toolbox were sent to all Local Assemblies in May 2007. An update is forthcoming
in May of this year. We are also working on reinvigorating the Web-based forum
for Assemblies by opening up access to it and expanding the range of topics
addressed—with more focus on the sharing of learnings concerning the role of As-
semblies in the Five Year Plan.

Riḍván 2008
72
Office of Community Administration
The Office of Community Administration provides administrative support to the
National Spiritual Assembly by offering guidance to Local Spiritual Assemblies and
individual believers concerning issues of community functioning and the application
of Bahá’í laws and principles. In cooperation with the Office of Assembly Develop-
ment, Community Administration plays a key role in training Assemblies through the
continuing program of Assembly visits to the Bahá’í National Center and through
skill-building conferences for Assembly members, assisting them to better under-
stand and address issues pertaining to Bahá’í law and Bahá’í administration.
It has long been a challenge for the Office of Community Administration to pro-
vide timely responses to the many telephone calls, letters, and email messages it
receives. Over the past year, the office received approximately 1,200 letters, 3,600
emails, and 1,600 telephone calls. These figures, however, do not include the many
additional emails and telephone calls that go directly to the office manager and
five administrative consultants. Although the past year saw a decline in the num-
ber of letters it received from some regions of the country, emails handled by the
office over the past year continued to increase. In addition, the complexity of the
personal status issues with which the office must deal has, in general, grown. With
greater frequency, the office has had to handle cases that involve detailed review,
extensive analysis, and frequent follow-up, requiring an inordinate amount of the
staff’s time.
During 2007–08, the National Spiritual Assembly removed the administrative rights
of 38 believers and restored the administrative rights of 27 believers. The majority
of cases resulting in deprivation involved knowing violations of the Bahá’í mar-
riage laws and immorality (primarily, couples choosing to live together without
the benefit of marriage). For the first time, the office has been able to track the
number of divorces reported in the Bahá’í community during the span of a year:
from January 1 to December 31, 2007, there were 49 Bahá’í divorces reported.
The number includes divorces where both parties are Bahá’ís and where only one
party is a Bahá’í. In addition, there were, during the same year, 348 withdrawals
(21 less than in the previous year) and 38 reinstatements to Bahá’í membership
(four more than in the previous year). There are a number of reasons why people
withdraw their membership in the Faith. In many cases, they are believers who
have not been active in the Faith for many years and have finally decided to write
and say that they never really considered themselves to be Bahá’ís. Some state that
they have returned to their former Christian churches. Others express the view that
they love Bahá’u’lláh but cannot accept His teachings on such matters as homo-
sexuality or the requirement to have the consent of one’s parents to marry. Still
others adamantly decline to give a reason, insist that what they choose to believe
or not believe is nobody’s business but their own, and rebuff any efforts at further
contact with them.

{Section
Community Title}
Development
73
Persian-American Affairs Office

A pilot program was


initiated in North-
ern California as part
The Persian-American Affairs Office (PAAO) continued during 2007–08 to monitor
and promote the integration of Persian-American members of the U.S. Bahá’í com-
munity and to offer relevant recommendations to the National Spiritual Assem-
of the creation of a bly. Over 12 percent of the total membership of the U.S. Bahá’í community is of
systematic approach to Persian descent. Of those members for whom good addresses are available at any
attending to the inte- given time, more than 22 percent are of Persian descent. It is, therefore, critical to
gration needs of newly- enlist the full participation of this active and involved human resource pool in the
sacred endeavor to attain the goals of the current Five Year Plan.
arrived Iranian Bahá’ís.
To facilitate the integration of newly-arrived Bahá’ís from Iran, the PAAO collabo-
rates with and provides advice to other national and regional Bahá’í offices and
agencies. The office also provides publications in Persian and/or videos and study
guides on integration and race relations in the U.S. to Local Spiritual Assemblies
that request them for this purpose.
Among its many activities during 2007–08, the PAAO responded to requests con-
cerning transfer of Bahá’í membership of the Persian friends and integration issues
or problems encountered by local communities. During this period, a pilot program
was initiated in Northern California to promote Persian integration. Letters were
sent to Local Spiritual Assemblies to follow up on the letter from the National
Spiritual Assembly concerning integration of Persian friends in the life of the com-
munity. Meetings were held with Assemblies and communities where specific inte-
gration issues and messages from the Universal House of Justice to Persian Bahá’ís
were discussed. As a result of their increased awareness of the issues discussed,
the friends exhibited a deeper understanding of the concept of integration and
a firmer commitment to work on deepening their relationship with the American
friends. They were invited to stay in contact and to feel free to share any concerns
they might have with the PAAO representative in Northern California. These activi-
ties were a further step in the creation of a systematic approach to attending to
the integration needs of newly-arrived Iranian Bahá’ís.
The PAAO continued to assist the Office of Assembly Development in holding
workshops for Assembly members (at Bosch and Green Acre Bahá’í Schools, and in
Texas and Washington) to help them meet integration challenges.
Other integration-related activities during the year included providing support
to the Board of Directors of the Association of the Friends of Persian Culture,
responding to requests from various government and refugee organizations about
refugee and asylum cases, organizing two quarterly meetings of Persian-American
friends residing in the vicinity of the House of Worship, and preparing digital
photographs of some 100 Iranian Bahá’í martyrs for a presentation at the Grand
Canyon Conference.
All these efforts were made parallel to encouraging the Persian friends to fully

Riḍván 2008
74
engage in the institute process and to become active participants in the process of
entry by troops.
The PAAO regularly translates the National Spiritual Assembly’s Feast messages and
mails copies to some 500 localities, in addition to posting them on the national
Administrative Website. It also translates various documents and pieces of corre-
spondence from—or into—Persian for a number of offices. Other translations pro-
vided this year included provisional translations of the March 25, 2007, and Riḍván
2007 messages of the Universal House of Justice, instructions for the election of
the Regional Bahá’í Councils, and the October 11 letters of the five Regional Bahá’í
Councils to the Bahá’í communities in their respective regions for the Feast of ‘Ilm.
The office also certifies the transcripts of former Bahá’í Institute for Higher Educa-
tion (BIHE) students. To date, 104 BIHE graduates residing in the U.S. have been
identified. These friends can assist with the integration process, as they are familiar
T o date, 104 gradu-
ates of the Bahá’í
Institute for Higher
with the Persian language and culture and are active in Bahá’í community life. Education residing in
The PAAO assists with the review of items for placement in The American Bahá’í the U.S. have been
and prepares four or five Persian pages for each issue, together with a correspond- identified. These friends
ing electronic file for the journal’s online edition. can assist with the
In order to promote Bahá’í studies in Persian, the PAAO helps organize the Persian integration process.
sessions of the ‘Irfán Colloquium in the U.S. and assists with the preparation of
colloquia proceedings (Safíniy-i-‘Irfán) and colloquia program booklets for publi-
cation. The office is also one of the sponsors of the Wilmette Institute.
In April 2007, the publication of the bilingual quarterly Tabernacle of Unity was
restarted. Three issues have been published and distributed to a mailing list of over
300 friends. Work also continued on other publications that promote integration—
for example, Túshiy-i-Rahmání, a bilingual compilation of the Bahá’í sacred
writings, and a revised translation of the International Teaching Center’s Building
Momentum. A number of articles were also reviewed for Payám-i-Badí‘ magazine.
The PAAO also helps collect subscriptions to Payám-i-Bahá’í—a Bahá’í magazine
in Persian, published in France and distributed worldwide. During this period, some
375 subscriptions were received.
Persian media (radio, television, websites) are monitored routinely and regularly
and all mentions of the Faith are filed for reference. In response to the call of the
Universal House of Justice, the press release dated June 7, 2007, was widely dis-
seminated to the Persian media. This led to two requests for interviews. Dr. Muin
Afnani participated in one, and Dr. Heshmat Shariary and Dr. Farhad Sabetan par-
ticipated in another. The press release was also sent to more than 2,000 individuals
and various websites. Various other Persian media outlets were monitored, several
of which read the content of the press release and/or discussed it on radio and
television. A press release was also sent to Persian media for Naw-Rúz.
The PAAO also acts as the secretariat of the Persian Reviewing Panel, appointed
by the Universal House of Justice to review manuscripts in Persian before their
publication. During this period, 19 titles were received and the review of 14 titles
was completed.

Community Development
75
National Bahá’í Office of Education and Schools Education
The Office of Education and Schools (OES) coordinates and supervises the work 77..... National Bahá’í Office of
of the national Bahá’í schools, including Bosch, Green Acre, Louhelen, 29 nation- Education and Schools
al Bahá’í school committees, and the Wilmette Institute, as well as the National
80..... Bosch Bahá’í School
Bahá’í Education Task Force and the Native American Bahá’í Institute. During
2007–08, the OES provided support as administrative oversight of WLGI Radio 83..... Green Acre Bahá’í School
Bahá’í was placed under the aegis of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southern
86..... Louhelen Bahá’í School
States, in another act of decentralization. In addition, the OES coordinates Bahá’í
Youth Service Corps applications for the schools and institutes. 89..... Native American Bahá’í
Institute
National Bahá’í schools supporting the Five Year Plan
91..... Wilmette Institute
With increasing emphasis at all of the Bahá’í schools on linking programs more
explicitly to the Five Year Plan, the OES is learning how the schools can become
more effective venues for building understanding and enthusiasm about the Plan.
Early in the year, school sessions focused on study of One Common Faith, em-
phasizing the link between this document and the Five Year Plan. Copies of The
Five Year Plan 2006–2011: Messages of the Universal House of Justice were
provided for every school attendee throughout the summer. Feedback from the
I n September 2007, the
National Spiritual Assembly
made a series of decisions,
friends attending these sessions suggested that many had never before studied
One Common Faith, nor had they had opportunities for coherent presentations positioning the schools to lend
on the Plan, despite engagement in core activities in their local communities. even more direct support to
Their experience fostered a greater appreciation for the Plan and inspired new achievement of the goals of the
enthusiasm for achieving its aims. Presenters linked study of One Common Faith Plan.
effectively with the Five Year Plan, and many attendees at the sessions expressed
their commitment to use its themes in teaching and building bridges of unity
with their co-religionists. Even seekers attending these programs responded
positively—one to the extent of initiating a study circle on returning home, as a
result of what had been learned during the school session.
In September 2007, the National Spiritual Assembly made a series of decisions,
positioning the schools to lend even more direct support to achievement of the
goals of the Plan. Each of the 29 Bahá’í school committees, responsible for plan-
ning 34 summer and winter school sessions, was directed to collaborate closely
with Auxiliary Board members and Regional Training Institute coordinators to
develop programs for the coming year that are directly related to the Plan and
meet the needs of the specific regions they serve.
Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools were directed to plan their
program calendars to include a preponderating share of programs directly re-
lated to the Plan and to begin implementing these changes in January 2008. To
align program planning with regional needs, these schools are working closely
with their respective Regional Bahá’í Councils and Regional Training Institute
coordinators.

Education
77
The approach to implementing these changes is characterized by the same spirit
of learning that is so fundamental to the progress of the Plan itself. Consulta-
tion among the school administrators, committees, and regional agencies and
institutions responsible for prosecution of the Plan has been rich and warm, and
experimental programs are being conceived as complements to the local processes
of expansion and consolidation. Mindful of the distinct vision for Bahá’í schools
and the need to continue to provide courses that address a range of important

Staff and volunteers at National Bahá’í Schools 2007–2008

S eekers of all ages


are attending
Bahá’í schools in great-





































































































































































••
••



er numbers. Creative 11 9 14 37 41 60
programs are being paid staff Advisory BYSC Miscellaneous Children’s Faculty and
committee volunteers volunteers class teachers presenters
designed to meet the members
needs of the growing
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
community of interest • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
and to lend support to •





































































the teaching work tak- •



































































ing place at the cluster • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Green Acre Bahá’í School • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
level. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
11 8 42 56 144 85
paid staff Advisory BYSC Miscellaneous Children’s Faculty and
committee volunteers volunteers class teachers presenters
members

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
11 8 42 56 144 85
paid staff Advisory BYSC Miscellaneous Children’s Faculty and
committee volunteers volunteers class teachers presenters
members

Volunteers at Seasonal National Bahá’í Schools 2007–2008


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
1 10 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
paid staff Advisory • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
committee • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
members • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
35 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Faculty and • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
presenters 233 320 333 128
Advisory Miscellaneous Children’s Faculty and
committee volunteers class teachers presenters
members
78
subjects, the OES is now focused on learning how to more effectively fulfill Shoghi
Effendi’s conception of the Bahá’í schools as “a vital and inseparable part of any
teaching campaign.”

Reaching out to the wider community


Seekers of all ages are attending Bahá’í schools in greater numbers. Creative pro-
grams are being designed to meet the needs of the growing community of interest
and to lend support to the teaching work taking place at the cluster level. Many of
the seekers coming to school sessions are already engaged in study circles and find
their understanding of the Faith enhanced by their experience at school sessions.

O
One such couple wrote, “We enjoyed the fellowship of the Bahá’í friends, we were ur Youth Service
drawn to the teachings in substantially more depth, and we clearly observed how
Corps program
the Bahá’í values were lived out in every Bahá’í family there.”
has also been affected
Children, junior youth, and youth by our increasing
The strength of attendance among children and junior youth at the national outward-looking orien-
schools remains disproportionate to their numbers in the American Bahá’í com- tation, as four service
munity. In addition to making continuous improvement of these programs a high volunteers this past
priority, the OES is also learning how school programs can more effectively support
year were friends of
work at the cluster level. We have learned, for example, that young volunteers
who are engaged in the institute process and who have completed Ruhi Book the Faith, two of whom
3 gain valuable experience as teachers of children’s classes at the schools. With made declarations of
the benefit of guidance and support provided by staff and coordinators, teachers faith.
strengthen their skills and develop the confidence necessary to take up this service
in their home communities. In addition, the Teacher’s Toolbox, which has been
a valuable resource for teachers serving at the schools, will include lessons for all
ages that relate directly to the Plan. The lessons aim to familiarize children with
the language, priorities, and activities they will encounter in their home communi-
ties and to align their learning with that of their parents.

Bahá’í Youth Service Corps


Hundreds of volunteers serve the national schools in a variety of capacities. Among
these are the young adults of the Bahá’í Youth Service Corps, without whose in-
valuable contributions to Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen Bahá’í Schools and the
Native American Bahá’í Institute, operations would be severely hindered (see chart,
p. 78). This year, the Office of Education and Schools processed 126 inquiries from
youths considering service; 81 offered service for terms varying from a few weeks
to a full year. The service teams at each school and institute were further enriched
this year by the participation of 16 youths from outside the United States, their
home countries including Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana,
Hawaii, India, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Scotland, and Sri Lanka. Our Youth
Service Corps program has also been affected by our increasing outward-looking
orientation, as four service volunteers this past year were friends of the Faith, two
of whom made declarations of faith during their terms of service.

National Bahá’í Education Task Force


In October 2007, the publication of the full series of Core Curriculum Lesson Plan-
ning Guides for teachers of children’s classes was completed. Some 21 guides are
now available, containing a wide assortment of activities addressing the full range
of Bahá’í subjects. These materials, linked to the institute process as a branch from
Ruhi Book 3 training for teachers of children’s classes, provide a rich source of
songs, stories, games, and other activities for students ages 6–14.

Education
79
Bosch Bahá’í School, Santa Cruz, California
Programming
The year 2007–08 represented a conscious paradigm shift for Bosch Bahá’í School
in its mission to support the Bahá’ís of the western United States. The preceding
year had seen a remarkable transformation in the greater Bahá’í community, as it

R efinement of our
programming took
direction from our
matured in its understanding and application of the Five Year Plan. Bosch Bahá’í
School recognized that a shift in Bahá’í programming was needed to complement
these changes. First, it would be necessary to find ways to enrich the intensified
focus on core activities and teaching at the individual and cluster level. Second,
consultations with the Bosch would have to provide new and uninvolved Bahá’ís, when necessary, with an
Regional Bahá’í Coun- introduction to the objectives of the Plan and stimulate their immediate partici-
cil of the Southwestern pation. Third, Bosch would need to assist the clusters in their teaching work by
States, as well as from providing greater opportunities for the deepening of seekers, as well as by holding
sessions dedicated to cluster reflection and development.
guidance from the Su-
preme Institution. Beginning at Riḍván 2007, the refinement of our programming took direction
from our consultations with the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern

Riḍván 2008
80
States, as well as from guidance from the Supreme Institution contained in Turn-
ing Point: Selected Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1996–2006,
which addresses the fundamental concepts of the Plan. New courses were designed
to be explicitly oriented toward the Plan, while presenters of current programs
were requested to reinvestigate the themes of their programs to clarify lines of
connection to the Plan. Without exception, each presenter obediently and effec-
tively rose to this challenge. Thus, emerging from this shift were programs such as:
“Exploiting the Framework for Action: Home Visits,” “A Culture of Learning and
a Culture of Growth,” and “Creating a Climate of Encouragement in the 5 Year
Plan,” as well as other courses developed this year and scheduled to follow Riḍván
2008, such as “Developing an Outward-Looking Orientation,” “Connecting the
Hearts Through Devotional Gatherings,” and a course for Persian-American fami-
lies titled “Direct Teaching: From Anna’s Presentation to Consolidation.” Moreover,
intensive training courses on Ruhi Books 3A and 5 were organized in collaboration
B osch is seeing an
increasing number
of requests by non-
with the Southwest Regional Training Institute to meet the vital needs of chil- Bahá’í guests for op-
dren’s class teachers and junior youth animators in the Southwest region.
portunities to have the
To answer the need of many Bahá’ís for a more fundamental approach to the Plan, Faith directly presented
and at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly, each attendee of our sum- to them.
mer 2007 sessions (including Youth and Junior Youth Institutes) received a copy
of The Five Year Plan compilation. Of further benefit to our guests, Southwest
Regional Council member Marsha Gilpatrick spoke at each weekly session during
the heavily attended summer months, discussing the Plan from its basic terminol-
ogy to specific goals for growth in the Southwest region.
Lastly, Bosch continued its commitment to the growth and development of clus-
ters by hosting regular seekers’ courses and on-demand sessions for Local Spiritual
Assemblies on their role in advancing clusters. While attendance at the latter be-
gan to taper off as the year progressed, due to the increasing number of trainings
occurring at the cluster level, our seeker sessions were better attended this year
than any year previously. Furthermore, there were 10 recorded declarations of faith
at these sessions this year. To demonstrate the sustainability of these programs, in
June four seekers affirmed their faith as Bahá’ís. By September, these new believers
had returned, bringing four new seekers as a result of their own teaching. Bosch
Bahá’í School has become for them, and for many, a trusted source for seeker
education.
Therefore, by the time the National Assembly issued a directive in November 2007
requesting that the greater part of courses at national Bahá’í schools directly ad-
dress themes of the Plan, Bosch was fortunate to have already in place not only
a program calendar obedient to this instruction, but a pattern of attention and
activity that was consistently aligned with this mandate.

Outward-looking orientation
The past year was also witness to a change in Bosch’s program of facility use by
outside groups, as it shifted from merely a leasing arrangement to one in which
the healing and transformative power of Bahá’u’lláh can and does noticeably
affect guests. Previously, outside users of the campus had hinted at an indefin-
able quality of spirituality at Bosch. Now many of those people regard Bosch as a
spiritual haven, and several openly recognize a moving potency in the spirit of the
campus and staff. For example, over a two-day period, a national group of medical
students and professionals purchased more Bahá’í books and jewelry in response to
their interest and fascination with the Faith than had been purchased during the
two previous Bahá’í sessions that month. In addition, they sought out the teacher
of the concurrent Bahá’í course on campus to deliver a talk on the Faith at their

{Section Title}
Education
81
own seminar. By the last day of this session, one of the organizers declared that
she considered herself a Bahá’í. This kind of response from non-Bahá’ís is growing
more consistent. The increasing number of requests by non-Bahá’í guests for op-
portunities to have the Faith directly presented to them demonstrates that outside-
use programs not only generate income, but can contribute to the expansion of
the Faith during the current Plan and beyond.

News and projects


In an effort to remain appealing to a broad Bahá’í audience and, at the same time,
market the school effectively but inexpensively, Bosch debuted an attractive and
modern website aimed at both Bahá’í and outside users. The quarterly brochure

I n all we do to carry
out our important
work, Bosch’s staff and
was eliminated in favor of a semiannual color postcard advertising Bosch’s courses
and website. Also premiering this year was a monthly electronic newsletter as a
cost-free and effective way to disseminate the most up-to-date programming
volunteers endeavor information. Response to all three initiatives has been extremely positive.
to ultimately become The Bosch bookstore, in its first full year in a renovated facility, continued in its
explicators and cham- role as a primary provider of resources for implementation of the Plan. Calls and
pions of all the succes- visits continue to come daily from Bahá’ís seeking not only books in the Ruhi cur-
riculum, but also children’s class and devotional materials.
sive Plans growing out
of the beloved Master’s While 2007–08 brought the campus significant victories, Bosch also experienced
a tremendous loss with the retirement in April of Dr. Bahia Farahi, who had served
Tablets of the Divine
in many capacities since 1998 and as Administrator since 2003. Her infectious en-
Plan. thusiasm, selfless spirit, and keen sense of humor will long continue to warm our
hearts and inspire us to greater acts of service.

Conclusion
While the Bahá’í world continues to vigorously prosecute the Five Year Plan, Bosch
Bahá’í School strives to fulfill its responsibilities as a center of Bahá’í education,
committed to the global vision of the Universal House of Justice and the unifying
directives of the National Spiritual Assembly. In all we do to carry out our impor-
tant work, Bosch’s staff and volunteers endeavor to ultimately become explicators
and champions of all the successive Plans growing out of the beloved Master’s
Tablets of the Divine Plan—the “God-given Charter” through which the American
Bahá’í community has been summoned to play “a preponderating role in the spiri-
tual conquest of the entire planet.”

Riḍván 2008
82
Green Acre Bahá’í School, Eliot, Maine
Throughout 2007–08, Green Acre Bahá’í School strove to align its programs more
closely with the objectives of the Five Year Plan. The school focused on children,
V eteran youth
volunteers as-
sisted with a shortage
junior youth, and youth programs, on achieving an outward-looking orientation,
and on furthering collaboration with the Regional Bahá’í Council of the North- of full-term volunteers
eastern States, the Regional Training Institute coordinator, and Auxiliary Board by returning for short
members. periods, sometimes as
Children paid staff.
Two elements contributed to the improved quality of Green Acre’s summer pro-
grams for young people: the excellent curriculum provided by the Education Task
Force (Core Curriculum Toolbox) and the ongoing Core Curriculum teacher-train-
ing for the youths who provided the backbone of the summer teaching staff.
The highlight of summer Family Sessions are weekly “open houses” in which
young participants demonstrate what they have learned in class, delighting ev-
eryone with varied dramatic presentations, memorized excerpts from the sacred
writings, and beautiful artistic creations.

Youth
Junior youths enjoyed two weekend institutes (April and November), and many
participated in the popular summer “Transformation for Peace” program. High
school youths took part in Badasht Youth Academy (July) and a Youth Institute
(October). College youths enjoyed the “Spiritual Retreat for the Fast” (March) and a
Campus Association weekend (September). Three youths made declarations of faith
during the year.
Green Acre’s Bahá’í Youth Service Corps (BYSC) suffered a decrease in year-of-ser-
vice volunteers. Youth seemed less able to commit to longer periods of service for
various reasons—including financial needs, family responsibilities, or health-related
problems. Some prefer service posts more directly linked to the core activities.
Veteran youth volunteers assisted by returning for short periods, sometimes as paid
staff. The BYSC training program was reinforced with additional mentoring and
study sessions and more social activities (local and regional). The youth were sent
to NEBY Fest. They were active in outreach teaching activities and more involved
in local core activities. A local adult provided additional personal support to facili-
tate their adaptation.

Outward-looking orientation
The Race Unity Banquet at Green Acre featured a presentation on Bahá’í perspec-
tives, which inspired regional race relations leaders. A course on diversity training
was offered and presentations on the subject were made to the Mayor of Ports-
mouth and the Vice-Provost for Diversity from the University of New Hampshire.

Education
83
The Saturday evening program, a collaboration with the Seacoast African American
Cultural Center, featured a dramatic presentation by children and youths, a step
dance by Green Acre youths, and the presentation of the Vision of Race Unity
Award. One participant exclaimed: “When I come to Green Acre, I feel as if we are
all one family.”
The school further developed its relationship with the Portsmouth Peace Treaty
Committee during 2007–08. Two members attended the February 2007 course
presented by Dr. John Grayzel, holder of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the
University of Maryland, resulting in an invitation to the committee’s chairperson
to be a panelist at the Annual Dialogue of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace in
November 2007. The school also held a Peace Flag Raising and Concert/Picnic in
September 2007, with committee members present. The harmonious Iranian-Amer-
ican fellowship evident at the event was very impressive to Green Acre’s politically-
aware non-Bahá’í friends.
A third major effort at outreach was made to those working for sustainable
development. A course was held in September 2007 at which representatives of
several faith communities consulted on ways to facilitate information sharing.
During the weekend, the Sarah Farmer Peace Award was given to a local envi-
ronmental educator. A course on “Climate Change and the Bahá’í Faith” was

Course attendance by seekers / non-Bahá’ís


2005–2006 2006–2007 2007–2008

Seekers Declarations Seekers Declarations Seekers Declarations

March 1 0 24 0 6 0

April 29 0 6 0 43 2

May 20 2 18 0 15 0

June 12 2 9 0 15 0

July 15 0 8 0 9 0

August 5 0 9 0 11 0

September 0 0 13 0 27 1

October 4 1 15 0 6 0

November 7 0 1 0 5 0

December 10 0 10 0 10 0

January 9 1 0 0 5 0

February 4 0 4 0 2 0

Total 86 5 102 0 154 6

Riḍván 2008
84
offered in January 2008. The public meeting focused on Bahá’í ethics and the
scientific basis for counteracting global warming.
A significant trend in all Bahá’í programs is the growing number of seekers at-
tending courses at Green Acre. Between the 2005–06 and 2007–08 years, Green
Acre saw a 79 percent increase (see chart) in the attendance of seekers. Some are
invited by Bahá’ís and some are already affiliated with an ongoing program, such
as the Children’s Theatre Company and Latin American weekends.
Rentals to outside groups provide many opportunities to disseminate the Bahá’í
teachings. A group of New England Unitarian ministers held their retreat at Green
Acre, resulting in many conversations about both spiritual and social issues. Sub-
sequently, a group of non-Bahá’í parents from the Hyde School, renting a seminar
room for the weekend, mixed in with Bahá’ís at meals and then wholeheartedly
participated for more than an hour in prayer, drumming, and singing at a Bahá’í
A group of New
England Unitar-
ian ministers held their
devotional gathering. retreat at Green Acre,
The Persian Weekend in November 2007 focused on “Consecration and Teaching.” resulting in many con-
An Armenian-Persian seeker participated in a program of Iranian Bahá’í music, versations about both
commenting: “This is truly heavenly. We should be videotaping this so that others spiritual and social
can experience this joy and this beauty.” Another participant wrote: “Every mo-
ment of my stay at Green Acre was filled with the aura of the Master.… The veils
issues.
were lifted and I was reminded of the purpose of me being in this world.… I am
reinvigorated. I am happy.”
At the bidding of the National Spiritual Assembly, Green Acre has initiated con-
sultations with representatives of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern
States, the Regional Training Institute coordinator, and Auxiliary Board members.
One fruit of this consultation was a course on teaching. Each of the participants
developed three-month plans of study and teaching, which were then shared with
the Regional Council members in their area for follow-up, resulting in the request
for an entire study circle from New York to attend a second course on teaching.
We will continue to design programs which inspire the love of Bahá’u’lláh in
hearts, complement the work of the training institutes, and empower the friends
to participate wholeheartedly in the core activities.

Education
85
Louhelen Bahá’í School, Davison, Michigan
Louhelen Bahá’í School continued, during 2007–08, to offer well-organized,
formally conducted courses on a regular schedule to families, youth, adults, and
children relating to the goals of the Five Year Plan, such as: assisting individual
believers to arise to teach and serve, promoting the development of clusters, study-
ing the fundamental verities of the Faith, and fostering the development of Local
Spiritual Assemblies.
A special highlight of the year was the

A special highlight of the year was the dedication of Unity Hall


to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, with distinguished
guests Mr. ‘Alí and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavání.
dedication of Unity Hall to the memory
of the Greatest Holy Leaf. In the after-
math of the passing of the Greatest Holy
Leaf in 1932, a series of letters passed
between the Guardian and some of the
friends serving at Louhelen. These letters
focused on the possibility of creating
a permanent memorial in her memory
at the school. The Guardian suggested
that the Louhelen friends “conceive ways
and measures that will enable you to
perpetuate her glorious memory and to
transmit to those who will work after
you the tradition she has bequeathed to
us all.” In this spirit, the National Spiri-
tual Assembly sponsored a dedication
ceremony in August 2007 that was inspired by the presence and full participation of
Mr. ‘Alí and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavání. These distinguished guests offered perspective
on the Five Year Plan, referring to stories of the Greatest Holy Leaf and the magnifi-
cent teaching work of the Hand of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga.
Throughout the year, Louhelen programs focused on the Five Year Plan and the
means to carry it into action. Extensive consultations with representatives of the
Regional Bahá’í Council of the Central States and the Regional Training Institute
enhanced program planning in all areas. Richly varied programs for children, junior
youth, youth, adults, and families raised the consciousness of all community mem-
bers that each and every person has a role to play in advancing the process of entry
by troops. Participants engaged in age-appropriate reflection and consultation on
specific lines of action that individuals can take to understand and assist the growth
process in their clusters. Examples of especially successful programs include:
• A Junior Youth Animator Training in June, sponsored by the Central States East
and West Regional Training Institutes. The training, assisted by Bahá’í Youth Ser-
vice Corps volunteers acting as facilitators, was an experiment in offering intensive
animator training at Louhelen and will be expanded in spring and summer 2008.

Riḍván 2008
86
• Study of the life and service of the Hand of the Cause of God Louis G. Gregory,
which illustrated patterns of effective service to the Faith and offered lessons on
teaching and service within the Five Year Plan.
• Study of One Common Faith, which, drawing on relevant themes from the
Kitáb-i-Íqán and Islamic texts, illuminated the power of a learning culture and
was integrated with exploration of Century of Light, offering insights on how
this new culture of learning answers the current needs of human social evolu-
tion.
• An exploration of the real-life implications of an outward-looking orientation,
through which trained and experienced teachers, directly involved in community
outreach activities, assisted the friends to learn to effectively seize opportunities
to make and strengthen friendships within emerging communities of interest
and cooperate with diverse members of the wider community.
• A presentation, using the metaphor of a cell in the human body and each cell’s

M
importance to the health of the body, illustrating the role of individual Bahá’ís ore than 30 chil-
within the framework of the Five Year Plan and how the participation of every
dren continued to
individual contributes to the health of the growing Faith of God and its ability
to transform humanity. regularly participate in
the Lions and Whales
More than 30 children continued to regularly participate in the Lions and Whales
Bahá’í School classes, a collaborative project of Louhelen and the Spiritual Assem-
Bahá’í School classes,
bly of Davison Township. Although more than two-thirds of these students are not a collaborative project
from Bahá’í families, the majority of them recognize Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of Louhelen and the
of God, and their parents and other family members have started to participate Spiritual Assembly of
in other cluster activities. The success of the Lions and Whales classes has been a Davison Township.
catalyst for growth in the cluster as the unity of effort among Louhelen and the

Education
87
Spiritual Assemblies of Davison Township and Flint has flourished. A high school
student participating in this program recently observed, “When I first came here, I
was nervous because I thought the people would be like the people in my neigh-
borhood, but now I can tell you that I thought wrong. Actually the people are lov-
ing, caring, respectful, and very, very helpful. Being here for the past three years,
I am growing more and more into a man—not just any man—a smart, intelligent,
handsome, and caring man.” Another wrote, “Thank you for opening a new world
full with friends.”
All Louhelen sessions were devoted to the goal of attracting the hearts of neigh-
bors among the community of interest, and attendance at every session included
numerous friends and seekers drawn to Louhelen by the inclusive, loving spirit
of the sessions. Joyous and spirited arts are particularly important to Louhelen’s
open-to-all spirit, and evening arts programs, free and open to the public, oc-
curred most nights during Louhelen sessions.
Participation in programs created to attract the community at large benefit from
specific personal invitations to individuals, outreach to like-minded groups, and
public service notices in the local newspaper.

Riḍván 2008
88
Native American Bahá’í Institute, Houck, Arizona
By steadily expanding the number of the four core activities, with the help of
highly dedicated pioneers, volunteers, and community members, the Native Ameri-
C ore activities are
regularly being
conducted in 17 native
can Bahá’í Institute (NABI) experienced increased reservation cluster growth during
2007–08. This growth seemed to mirror the growth of the individuals, communi- communities. NABI is
ties, and institutions of the Faith in the area. striving to train more
tutors in their respec-
The individual
tive areas to provide for
At NABI, two fully trained Navajo youths took it upon themselves to teach weekly
self-sustaining commu-
youth classes. In Holbrook, youths met with the Local Spiritual Assembly to create
a junior youth group, now facilitated by two local youths. Throughout the various
nities.
clusters, youth and junior youth are arising to serve and enlist other community
members.
NABI’s focus on junior youth and youth this year included a Council Fire, two
Elizabeth Dahe Native Youth Academies, and a Media Storytelling Training. The
Summer Academy focused on raising up children’s teachers and junior youth ani-
mators. All participants left with personal teaching plans and were later accompa-
nied to accomplish their plans.
The Winter Academy taught youth direct teaching techniques and the importance
of service. All participants practiced “Anna’s presentation” (from Ruhi Book 6) with
nearby families and left with experience and confidence in direct teaching.
NABI also offered Media Storytelling Training to youth from the Navajo, Lakota,
and Tohono O’odham Nations. The 12 participants created a 15-minute video,
“Making Right Decisions,” which was shared with their families and communities.
On a local level, youths carrying out direct teaching and making home visits have
had a great impact on the Fort Defiance Agency (AIO3) cluster.
In Fort Defiance, a Bahá’í started a devotional gathering. He asked for the help of
Area Teaching Committee (ATC) members who were also community members, and
they, in turn, initiated an intensive teaching campaign. In two weeks, the group
visited 59 homes and offered Anna’s presentation to most of them. Some 26 re-
quested return visits. Now we are working to systematically consolidate the seekers
and friends into one or more of the core activities.

The community
On a community level, core activities are regularly being conducted in 17 na-
tive communities. NABI is striving to train more tutors in their respective areas to
provide for self-sustaining communities. As a result of direct teaching, the number
of core activities has increased to the point where, in some places, there are not
enough facilitators to meet the demand. In Houck, weekend junior youth and
youth groups have been restarted.

Education
89
NABI continues with regular community building activities such as weekly com-
munity dinners, food distribution to the elderly, water sharing, devotional gather-
ings, children’s and youth classes, and helping to improve community road, water,
and telephone infrastructure.
NABI staff and volunteers have been invited to traditional Navajo family cer-
emonies such as the Beauty Way and the Kinaalda (coming of age ceremony for
girls), and the Gourd Dance (Veterans Day celebration). That Bahá’ís are invited to
traditional ceremonies shows the amount of trust and respect they have gained on
the Navajo Nation. Similarly, NABI hosts numerous community social and Holy Day
functions.

O nce motivated and


trained, teams go
out and use what they
The institutions
In August 2007, NABI was blessed by the visit of Mr. and Mrs. ‘Alí Nakhjavání, ac-
companied by National Spiritual Assembly member Ms. Erica Toussaint. Mr. Nakh-
have learned to teach. javání was thus able to fulfill a promise made 50 years ago to the beloved Guard-
This means numerous ian to visit the Native peoples of North America. Over 250 guests came, including
home visits and offer- 40 tutors on the reservation. Mr. Nakhjavání humbly motivated every believer and
ings of Anna’s presen- nonbeliever to rise up and take action with his suggestions, “if you are sitting,
stand … if you are standing, walk … if you are walking, run.” “It’s not enough to
tation. think about acting; one has to act in order to get something accomplished.” Every
heart was touched by his words, the effect of which prompted 16 new declarations
of faith in the ensuing weeks. The visit of Mr. and Mrs. Nakhjavání came about
through NABI’s close collaboration with its beloved National Spiritual Assembly.
The ATC also works closely with NABI staff, volunteers, and community mem-
bers to train for systematic use of direct teaching methods. Once motivated
and trained, teams go out and use what they have learned to teach. This means
numerous home visits and offerings of Anna’s presentation. In our consolidation
phase, we systematically strive to include our seekers and friends in one or more
of the core activities. The time for complacency is at an end; we must deploy and
use direct teaching methods to systematically spread the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
Over a four-year span, one cluster alone has grown in enrollments from 3 to 13 to
15 and then to 24. NABI works with Local Spiritual Assemblies and Auxiliary Board
members to facilitate core activities.

Challenges
NABI has an increasingly large community of interest. An overwhelming need ex-
ists for dedicated and trained pioneers or long-term volunteers, better roads to tra-
verse the vast Navajo reservation, and opportunities to retain fully trained tutors, if
we are to nurture this growing demand for spiritual nourishment. One outcome of
NABI’s work that gives its staff and volunteers great satisfaction can be seen in the
number of youths who, after being trained in the institute process, pursue higher
education opportunities.

Riḍván 2008
90
Wilmette Institute
Mission
D uring 2007–08,
the Wilmette Insti-
tute offered 14 online
The Wilmette Institute was established in 1995 to offer courses and other training courses, three fewer
programs. Its mission statement, revised in January 2007 based on the learning than the previous year.
resulting from the last Five Year Plan, states:
Courses attracted an
The Wilmette Institute offers quality e-learning courses and ap- average of 25 stu-
plied courses on the Bahá’í Faith. The Institute is committed to dents, two more than
engaging a broad and diverse community of learners in deep study
last year’s average and
of the Faith and to fostering love for study of the Faith.
seven more than in
The institute is financially self-sufficient and receives no direct financial support 2005–06.
from the Bahá’í National Fund, though it does receive support services from offices
and agencies of the National Spiritual As-
sembly. Costs are covered by tuition fees and
donations.

Online (Internet) courses


During 2007–08, the Wilmette Institute of-
fered 14 online courses, three fewer than the
previous year (two other courses were sched-
uled, but were postponed because of inad-
equate registrations). Attracting 356 students,
the courses reflected some of the following
characteristics:
• Courses focused on educational priorities,
such as the Five Year Plan (“Community
Development in the Five Year Plan”), and
recent publications (One Common Faith).
The Islam course was part of the institute’s
efforts to provide education about that
religion. “How to Study the Bahá’í Writ-
ings” and five courses on particular works
by Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi
Effendi supported the goal of strength-
ening the ability of Bahá’ís to study the
Faith’s authoritative texts. All courses were
designed to strengthen the goal of developing a culture of learning in the
Bahá’í community.
• Courses attracted an average of 25 students, two more than last year’s average
and seven more than in 2005–06. This suggests steady improvement in course
quality and marketing. The average course had two local study groups, the

{Section Title}
Education
91
same number as in previous years.
• In addition to the United States, students came from 27 countries, the same
number as both previous years: Australia (9), Brazil (7), Canada (33), Ecuador
(2), Egypt (1), Finland (1), France (1), Germany (2), Greece (3), India (2), Indone-
sia (1), Ireland (1), Italy (1), Jamaica (1), Luxembourg (1), Malaysia (3), Nether-
lands (2), New Zealand (4), Portugal (4), Puerto Rico (1), South Africa (2), South
Korea (2), Switzerland (1), Tanzania (3), United Kingdom (11), and Zambia (1).
Canada remains the chief source of foreign students (33), followed by the Euro-
pean Union (28) and Latin America and the Caribbean (11).

B
• Students from outside the United States—including some pioneers—totaled 101
ahá’í academics (compared with 84 in 2006–07, 90 in 2005–06) and accounted for 28 percent
and researchers of all students.
have felt encouraged
• While statistics have not been systematically collected, a significant frac-
and empowered by the tion of institute students are trained as Ruhi tutors or have taken numerous
opportunity to serve Ruhi courses. Many report using Wilmette Institute information in their study
as Wilmette Institute circles.
faculty; for some, it
Upgrading quality
has been an important
The most significant upgrade to the institute’s website was launched on January
confirmation that their
28, 2008. The portal (home) page is more attractive and user-friendly than ever.
specialized education is Courses are located in a Learning Center powered by the Moodle course man-
valuable to the Faith. agement system. Courses can now include quizzes, “lessons” (text followed by
questions to answer), “choices” (a text to read and a series of clickable choices),
and several types of discussion forums. Faculty can add or modify the content of
their courses and are being trained in how to use the system, which ultimately will
greatly reduce the workload of the institute staff.
Also, the institute has designed a faculty training course and launched a faculty
resource course to provide faculty with examples of activities they can use in their
courses. The Memorandum of Understanding sent to faculty has been refined to
clarify faculty responsibilities. Plans are being made to conduct a faculty training
session at the 2008 Association for Bahá’í Studies annual meeting in San Diego.

Publicity and marketing


Two issues of The Lamp, the institute’s newsletter, were published. Publicity
information was distributed at Bahá’í National Convention, the annual Association
for Bahá’í Studies conference, the Friends of Persian Culture Conference, the Green
Lake Bahá’í Conference, and NEBY (Northeast Bahá’í Youth) Fest. In most cases
the publicity included a display as well as fliers. Electronic publicity for courses has
continued to be upgraded and attracts the majority of the institute’s students. The
new website allows us to post several news items at once (the old site accommo-
dated only one at a time).

Service to the Five Year Plan and the Bahá’í community


Bahá’ís take Wilmette Institute courses to:
• Enrich their presentations to study circles.
• Assist them in preparing children’s and youth classes.
• Enhance their devotional programs.
• Improve their artistic skills (students are linked to mentors who are professional
artists).

Riḍván 2008
92
• Develop their scholarship (several students, mentored by published Bahá’í au-
thors, have produced publishable works).
• Acquire knowledge to explain the Faith more effectively (to such groups as
Jews, Christians, Muslims).
• Foster regular study of the Word of God (through courses on Bahá’u’lláh’s writ-
ings).
Bahá’í academics and researchers have felt encouraged and empowered by the op-
portunity to serve as Wilmette Institute faculty; for some, it has been an important
confirmation that their specialized education is valuable to the Faith.
Planning for the future
The new website will allow the institute to pursue two goals it has set for itself in
the Five Year Plan:
1. Collaboration with Bahá’í Campus Associations in creating courses accreditable
through their universities.
2. Creation of courses designed for and marketed to inquirers.

Education
93
Bahá’í House of
House of Worship Activities Office Worship, Wilmette
During 2007–08, the staff of the Bahá’í House of Worship Activities Office contin- 95..... House of Worship Activities
ued its efforts to align the two principal areas of its work—devotions and teaching Office
the Faith—with the primary goal of the Five Year Plan—advancing the process of
97..... House of Worship Choir
entry by troops.
The first essential movement of the Five Year Plan, developing human resources
through participation in the institute training process, was promoted internally
and externally. Every staff member has had some exposure to the Ruhi curriculum
and almost half have completed the sequence of courses. The House of Worship
hosts a regular study circle facilitated by area believers in response to the needs
of visitors. Study circles often use the House of Worship as a venue for the service
components of their Ruhi training. This includes creating devotional programs
(Book 1), creating programs illustrating stories of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh (Book
4), and using “Anna’s presentation” in telling visitors about the Faith’s fundamen-
tal verities (Book 6).
The second essential movement of the Five Year Plan, the advancement of clusters,
was promoted through “Community Days,” one afternoon per month during which
D evotional services at the
House of Worship had a
record number of attendees
members of particular Bahá’í communities pray and teach together at the House
of Worship. A furthering of the unity of their communities and encouragement of this year: 19,501 (32 percent
individual teaching were among the results they reported. Four nearby clusters are higher than 2006).
engaged in intensive programs of growth.
Maintaining a prayerful and contemplative ambience in the House of Worship is
a constant focus of the Activities Office. Prayer requests from around the world
are honored daily. After staff noted that a prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that
states, “this Building wherein Thy name is mentioned every morn and every eve,”
daily prayers at 5:15 pm were added to those already scheduled at 9:15 am and
12:30 pm. This additional service not only provides another time during the day
when visitors can experience devotions at the House of Worship, but also allows
staff the opportunity to finish the workday the same way it begins it—by offering
praise and gratitude to God. Devotional services at the House of Worship had a
record number of attendees this year: 19,501 (32 percent higher than 2006). On
three Sundays each month, devotions are enhanced by the House of Worship Choir,
under the expert direction of Van Gilmer; the choir also sings for many Holy Day
commemorations.
The Activities Office staff also strove last year to maintain a warm, encouraging
learning environment at the House of Worship. Holy Day programs have explored
different ways of incorporating the arts to inspire and uplift souls. One highlight of
the year was the Choral Music Festival Concert, which filled the House of Worship
with song and spirit. Weekly introductory classes for visitors continued, resulting in
many participants’ joining study circles and some making declarations of faith.

Bahá’í House of Worship


95
Special programs to connect the hearts of believers with their House of Worship
and with the Bahá’í National Center continued throughout the summer. Of par-
ticular note, the Spirit of the Cornerstone summer youth program had seven par-
ticipants. Three Spiritual Oasis weekends were attended by more than 100 Bahá’ís
from around the world. The weekends were scheduled to coincide with Holy Day
programs. Bahá’í classes and individuals from around the world also came to teach
at and connect to the Mother Temple of the West.
More people visited the Bahá’í House of Worship in 2007 than ever before—more
than 250,000. The number of visitors has been increasing in the last few years, but
there was a marked increase after the Bahá’í House of Worship was named one of

M ore than 6,700


volunteer hours
were recorded at the
the “Seven Wonders of Illinois.” Earning this designation caused a surge in cover-
age from local and national media groups, and news crews came to record devo-
tional services in the auditorium as well as to interview staff.

House of Worship this More than 6,700 volunteer hours were recorded at the House of Worship this year.
The friends who offer their valuable time, often sacrificially, report that they feel
year. The friends who
drawn to serve and teach at the House of Worship. They bring a dynamic energy
offer their valuable with them. In 2007, a number of visiting volunteers served from between one
time, often sacrificially, week to one year. The number of declarations of faith (34) for the year matches a
report that they feel record high of two years ago, and more than 340 interest cards were submitted to
drawn to serve and the Seeker Response System. The House of Worship Bookshop achieved its highest-
ever sales for a single year, bringing total sales over the past 13 years to more than
teach at the House of
$3.58 million.
Worship. They bring a
dynamic energy with As the Five Year Plan progresses, the Activities Office will continue to use guidance
from the senior institutions of the Faith to develop plans of action that align the
them. work of the House of Worship with the two essential movements. The opportuni-
ties for teaching at the House of Worship are, as always, plentiful. Now human
resources developed through the institute process are available for teaching that
is effective. Lessons continue to be learned in how individual initiative can be
encouraged, welcomed, and harnessed to conduct programs and activities appro-
priate to this most sacred environment.

Riḍván 2008
96
House of Worship Choir
The Bahá’í House of Worship Choir strives to maintain its status as a world-class
choir. Its purpose is to sing regularly at the House of Worship’s Sunday devotional
services, Holy Day commemorations, memorial services, and other special programs
designated by the National Spiritual Assembly.
The choir’s focus during 2007–08 has been on further developing a schedule of
performances that not only comprises the first three Sundays of each month—on
which it currently sings in the Temple auditorium—but also includes occasions to
respond to an expanding number of opportunities to represent the Faith in local
community musical programs.
The most successful musical event of the past year was the First Bahá’í Choral
M any of the singers
who attended the
Bahá’í Choral Music
Music Festival. Nearly 200 singers from throughout the United States and Canada Festival at the House
gathered for a weekend of learning and performing a variety of musical selections of Worship have since
appropriate for the House of Worship. The culminating concert, held during the
regular Sunday devotional service, was attended by approximately 1,000 people,
reported that they
most of whom were not Bahá’ís. It clearly demonstrated that music and the arts experienced new op-
attract the community of interest in ways that ordinary meetings do not. Many of portunities to teach
the singers who attended the festival have since reported that they experienced their friends and family
new opportunities to teach their friends and family upon returning from this upon returning home.
highly successful event.

Bahá’í House of Worship


97
Support of special devotional services
During the past year, the choir provided music for the following special memorial
services and Holy Day commemorations:
• Memorial Service for Mrs. Javidukht Khadem
• Memorial Service for His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II of Samoa
• Memorial Service for the Hand of the Cause of God ‘Alí-Muḥammad Varqá
• Birth of the Báb

T he choir has in- • Birth of Bahá’u’lláh


corporated fel- Reaching out to the community of interest
lowship and prayer in During 2007–08, the choir also sang for these local community events:
its rehearsals and has
• Interfaith Thanksgiving Program at St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois
continued to deepen on
its role in strengthen- • Winnetka Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Devotional Service at the Bahá’í
House of Worship
ing the core activities—
particularly devotional • Choir Concert at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois
services—and on identi- At each of these community events, the choir was recognized as outstanding by its
fying its community of receiving the only standing ovation given or through the many encouraging com-
interest. ments made by attendees. For the Winnetka Interfaith Council service, members of
other choirs rehearsed and sang with the House of Worship Choir as they sang the
words of Bahá’u’lláh, “My God, My Adored One.”
At this writing, in concert with the House of Worship Activities Office, the choir
has plans in place for a number of events to reach the community of interest:
• Concert of the Lawrence University Choir, Sunday, April 13, 2008. Two years
ago, this choir sang at the Bahá’í House of Worship and filled Foundation Hall
with alumni and community.
• Presentation and concert featuring the unique Imperial Bösendorfer piano in
Foundation Hall, Saturday, May 10, 2008. This rare piano in Foundation Hall
will finally be introduced to the music community around the Bahá’í House of
Worship, as well as to Bahá’ís.
• Second Annual Bahá’í Choral Music Festival, May 15–18, 2008. Some 300 sing-
ers are expected and the audience should once again fill the House of Worship
auditorium.

Activities of the Choir Director


During the past year, Choir Director Van Gilmer participated in a number of special
musical events and programs around the country:
• Conducted a Gospel Music Workshop at Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute in Arizona,
with several local church choir members participating.
• Attended, as an invited guest, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Wash-
ington, D.C., especially for their 23rd Annual Interfaith Concert at the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the West-
ern Hemisphere. The Bahá’í Faith and Van and Cookie Gilmer’s past support
were prominently mentioned to the more than 2,000 attendees.
• Attended the Music Industry Workshop at Bosch Bahá’í School in Santa Cruz,
California.

Riḍván 2008
98
In addition, Mr. Gilmer will conduct the Ninth Annual Gospel Music Workshop in
Los Angeles. Approximately 40 Bahá’ís and their friends are expected to partici-
pate.
Many members of the Bahá’í House of Worship Choir have become distinguished
for the steadfastness of their commitment, some traveling an hour or more to its
rehearsals and performances. The choir has incorporated fellowship and prayer in
its rehearsals and has continued to deepen on its role in strengthening the core
activities—particularly devotional services—and on identifying its community of
interest.

Bahá’í House of Worship


99
Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Bahá’í Distribution Service Publishing
The Bahá’í Publishing Trust and Bahá’í Distribution Service set a new organi- 101... Bahá’í Publishing Trust and
zational course during 2007–08 while fulfilling the mission of “publishing and Bahá’í Distribution Service
distributing to Bahá’ís and the general public the sacred texts and authoritative
104... Bahá’í Media Services
writings of the Bahá’í Faith and other Bahá’í literature and select related items.”
The central challenges were twofold: 108... World Order
1. To continue the work of the Publishing Trust and Distribution Service without
interruption.
2. To develop and implement a restructuring plan to increase revenues, reduce
costs, and increase efficiencies throughout the organization.
New works or new editions issued under the Bahá’í Publishing Trust imprint
included a new edition of The Promulgation of Universal Peace (hardcover and
softcover); Ḥuqúqu’lláh: The Right of God, a new compilation from the Bahá’í
World Center; The Bahá’í Faith, a flip-book version of “Anna’s presentation”
from Book 6 of the Ruhi Institute Curriculum intended for use with seekers, and
its companion piece, The Bahá’í Faith (The Full Text of Anna’s Presentation for
Teacher Training); the Bahá’í Wall Calendar (165 B.E.); and the Bahá’í Datebook
T he Bahá’í Publishing Trust
and Bahá’í Distribution
Service set a new organi-
(165 B.E.). zational course, looking to
New titles or new editions issued under the Bahá’í Publishing imprint in spring continue their work without
2007 included Gems from the World’s Great Scriptures, compiled by David interruption and to develop
Jurney; One World One People: How Globalization Is Shaping Our Future, by and implement a restructur-
Gregory C. Dahl; Peace: More Than an End to War: Selections from the Writ-
ing plan to increase revenues,
ings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal
House of Justice, compiled by Terrill G. Hayes, Richard A. Hill, Anne Marie Schef- reduce costs, and increase ef-
fer, Anne G. Atkinson, and Betty Fisher; The Prisoner and the Kings: How One ficiencies.
Man Changed the Course of History, by William Sears; and Seeking the Wisdom
of the Heart: Reflections on Seven Stages of Spiritual Development, by Patricia
Romano McGraw, Ph.D. Those issued in fall 2007 were The Ascent of Society:
The Social Imperative in Personal Salvation, by John S. Hatcher; Hidden Gifts:
Finding Blessings in the Struggles of Life, by Brian Kurzius; Religion on the
Healing Edge: What Bahá’ís Believe, by Frank Stetzer; The Secret of Divine
Civilization, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; and A Way Out of the Trap: A Ten-Step Program
for Spiritual Growth, by Nathan Rutstein.
One new children’s book was issued under the Bellwood Press imprint: The First
Gift, written by Judy Cobb and illustrated by Wendy Cowper-Thomas.
Reprints included The Ascent of Society; Bahá’í Prayers (leather, hardcover,
and softcover editions); God Speaks Again; Memorials of the Faithful; Some
Answered Questions (pocket-size edition); and The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh
(softcover edition).

Publishing
101
The Publishing Trust is working on 27 projects for the Bahá’í Publishing Trust and
Bahá’í Publishing imprints and seven new projects for its Bellwood Press imprint
for children, junior youth, and youth.
Acquisitions activities are focused on finding materials that support the goals of
the Five Year Plan—particularly on materials that directly support teaching work
and the four core activities. Promising, appropriate manuscript proposals that are
closely aligned with the goals are coming in for all imprints.
Beginning in fall 2007, the Trust began to utilize new printing and inventory con-
trol technologies, such as “print on demand.” This technology is making it possible
to control inventory costs and improve cash flow management. Best practices for
the employment of this and other technologies are being further explored.
The Bahá’í Distribution Service (BDS) continued its role as the distribution arm of

B eginning in fall
2007, the Trust
began to utilize new
the Publishing Trust, as well as the primary distributor for World Centre Publica-
tions. The BDS also provides the majority of product fulfillment to the national
Bahá’í schools. Additionally, the BDS provides subscriber services for Brilliant Star,
printing and inven- World Order, One Country, the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel, and international subscrip-
tory control technolo- tions to The American Bahá’í.
gies, such as “print on Organizational challenges were formidable. In November 2006, the National
demand.” Spiritual Assembly appointed a task force—consisting of staff from the Publishing
Trust, the Distribution Service, the Treasurer’s Office, and Information Technolo-
gy—to evaluate the operations of the Publishing Trust
and Distribution Service and to develop and imple-
ment a restructuring plan that would increase rev-
enues, reduce costs, and increase efficiencies through-
out the organization. In February 2007, the task force
was further guided by the National Assembly to reduce
the annual subvention to the Publishing Trust and
Distribution Service by $500,000. In September 2007,
a business restructuring plan was submitted to the
National Spiritual Assembly and it was approved.
Full implementation of the plan by April 30, 2008, is
expected. The key elements of the plan are to:
• Combine the Publishing Trust and Distribution
Service into one organization located in one office.
• Form a core management group
comprising a general manager,
production manager, editorial and
acquisitions manager, marketing
manager, and business manager. The
group is charged with providing the
organization with accountability,
strategic guidance, and learning
resources, and with maintaining a
dynamic vision based on guidance
from the institutions of the Faith.
• Create a balanced editorial calendar
including all imprints, to better serve
the objectives of the Five Year Plan.

Riḍván 2008
102
• Develop a production program that effectively utilizes the latest technology and
formats.
• Develop a marketing program that serves all products and offers them to the
widest possible market, including the retail trade.
• Outsource warehousing and fulfillment operations.
In October 2007, a company specializing in warehousing and fulfillment services
for publishers was identified, a contract was negotiated, and a transition task/item
list and timeline were developed. The offices of the Publishing Trust and Distribu-
tion Service were combined at the Publishing Trust building in Wilmette, Illinois.
Because the Atlanta-based staff declined to transfer to Wilmette, new personnel
were hired and trained.
By January 2008, staff had been hired and trained; office space was prepared and
workstations installed; programming and testing for data file transfer between
the new fulfillment company and the Distribution Service was completed; vendor
and customer notification was accomplished; and inventory was transferred. On
January 14, 2008, orders began to be filled and shipped from the new fulfillment
company.
As of this writing, the goal to complete the transition and fully implement the re-
structuring plan by April 30, 2008, is well in sight. Budgets prepared and submit-
ted indicate that financial goals will also be met.

Publishing
103
Bahá’í Media Services

M edia Services
produces and
distributes multimedia
The mission of U.S. Bahá’í Media Services is to work in partnership with National
Spiritual Assembly offices and agencies, with regional and local Bahá’í institutions,
and with individual believers to create a more informed American Bahá’í commu-
products that express nity—one that is continually challenged and invigorated by a deep understand-
the ideals, relevance, ing and appreciation of the global plans of the Universal House of Justice for the
momentum, vitality, growth and development of the Faith.
and cultures of the To carry out its mission, Media Services produces and distributes multimedia
American Bahá’í com- products that express the ideals, relevance, momentum, vitality, and cultures of
munity. the American Bahá’í community, including the print, video, and Web versions of
The American Bahá’í, Brilliant Star magazine, the U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel, and a
diverse array of special projects.
During 2007–08, primarily through the use of Web media, Media Services reached
out to new and more diverse audiences—both Bahá’ís and the general public—in
more ways than ever. Through deeper coverage of local and regional stories, the
department also sought to connect more closely with Bahá’í communities.
Media Services also joined with its sister agencies, particularly the Office of Com-
munications, in a series of collaborative initiatives to help strengthen the National
Spiritual Assembly’s communications infrastructure and create a comprehensive
approach to the distribution of informative and inspirational content that spans
local, regional, national, and international issues.
A multiyear strategic capabilities improvement plan, initiated at the outset of the
Five Year Plan, has helped Media Services to further fortify its technical capacities
and human resources—through outsourcing and the increased involvement in its
work of volunteers.
Major accomplishments for the year include:
• Establishing www.Bahailife.org, a Web portal to the flagship multimedia
publications of the Bahá’ís of the United States and a source of learning and
inspiration about the emerging pattern of Bahá’í community life—including
study circles, prayer gatherings, children’s and youth activities, and social and
economic development projects.
• Developing and launching a U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel online presence.
• Receiving a DeRose-Hinkhouse Award of Merit from the Religious Communica-
tors Council for the video David Kellum: A Friend to Every Child.
• Producing memorial videos for the Hand of the Cause of God ‘Alí-Muḥammad
Varqá and His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, the King of Samoa.
• Providing support for the 2007 U.S. Bahá’í National Convention webcast.

Riḍván 2008
104
• Co-sponsoring, with the Native American Bahá’í Institute (NABI), the Third An-
nual Youth Empowerment Workshop, which took place from July 24–29, 2007,
with the theme “Choices and Consequences.” Twelve young people, ages 14–21,
took part in the workshop, held on the NABI campus near Houck, Arizona—
most notably a four-person delegation representing the Tohono O’odham
National Youth Council. They were joined by seven Navajo and one non-native
youth returning from previous years. This year, the youth participants took
their cameras and microphones out into the community and interviewed law
enforcement officials, health professionals, and teenagers. The final nonfiction

A
short video encourages their peers to think deeply about the possible con- ccomplishments
sequences, both positive and negative, of the decisions they make as young included establish-
people in the modern age.
ing www.Bahailife.
U.S. Bahá’í Newsreel org, a Web portal to
During 2007–08, Media Services for the first time enjoyed two lengthy and infor- the flagship multime-
mative consultative sessions with a member of the Continental Board of Counsel- dia publications of the
ors and with representatives, respectively, of the Regional Bahá’í Councils of the Bahá’ís of the United
Northeastern and Central States. The sessions helped us to better understand the States, and a U .S .
present and potential value of Newsreel to support the plans and needs for growth
Bahá’í Newsreel online
at the cluster level throughout the American Bahá’í community.
presence.
Highlights of the past year include release of four Newsreel DVDs to the com-
munity containing stories focusing
primarily on the dynamics of growth at
the cluster level.

Brilliant Star
Brilliant Star continued during
2007–08 to advance in several key ar-
eas, including the pursuit of publishing
excellence, the fostering of an active
Brilliant Star community, and operat-
ing in a mode of deep learning.
Since the 2005 initiation of the Na-
tional Spiritual Assembly’s complimen-
tary subscription program for registered
U.S. Bahá’í children, Brilliant Star has
benefited from increased reader feed-
back. One of the magazine’s priorities
is—while remaining attentive to Bril-
liant Star’s educational goals and intent to be of value to parents and teachers—
to develop content that children simply find engaging and fun. Positive comments
from subscribers confirm our success: “My son enjoys the activities and colorful
illustrations, while I love the content and the messages that get across, and the
way their presentation makes the themes easy to understand.… So, thanks again
for your hard work and creativity, and also the support your publication gives to
Bahá’í children and parents.”
Brilliant Star seeks to support the Five Year Plan on several fronts by:
• Inspiring and educating Bahá’í children.
• Assisting parents and teachers in their spiritual education of children.

Publishing
105
• Serving as a tool for sharing the Faith.
To this end, we develop content that is accessible to readers of all faiths and back-
grounds. Brilliant Star’s advisory group of young readers, “the Trailblazers”—with
representatives from each continent—assists us in creating content that reinforces
children’s identities as Bahá’ís, as well as global citizens.
Six issues of Brilliant Star were produced during the past year, with the following
themes: “Spirit of Service” (May/June 2007), “Wonders of Nature” (July/August
2007), “Finding Your Way” (September/October 2007), “Unraveling Mysteries”
(November/December 2007), “Let Your Spirit Soar” (January/February 2008), and
“World Citizens” (March/April 2008).

O ne of the maga-
zine’s priorities is—
while remaining atten-
In April 2007, Brilliant Star received its second DeRose-Hinkhouse Best of Class
award from the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), for its “We Are One” issue
(November/December 2006). We also received an Award of Excellence for our
tive to Brilliant Star’s entire set of 2006 publications. Brilliant Star assisted with the RCC’s 2007 Na-
educational goals and tional Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Participation in the RCC has elevated our
intent to be of value to discourse on religion and expanded our network of interfaith colleagues.
parents and teachers— Brilliant Star was also awarded an APEX 2007 “Award of Excellence” for graphic
to develop content that design and editorial content. While the RCC awards are judged in a faith-based
children simply find arena, the APEX awards are judged among corporate, academic, and other secular
entries. In another arena, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
engaging and fun.
(SCBWI) again recognized Brilliant Star’s designer/illustrator, Aaron Kreader,
in March 2007. He received a Letter of Merit for his cover illustration in our
“Circles of Unity” issue (March/April 2006). SCBWI’s Magazine Merit
“Circles
awards recognize works “that exhibit excellence … and genuinely
awards recognize
appeal to the interests and concerns of young people.” It has been
a confirming experience to have Brilliant Star acknowl-
edged in a diverse range of publishing forums.
Our most forward-thinking initiative to help ad-
vance the Five Year Plan—and to increase aware-
ness of Brilliant Star as a valuable
teaching tool—is Brilliant Star Online,
which is nearing a beta-test launch.
The interactive website will
be an educational, entertain-
ing, and visually engaging
environment that comple-
ments and reinforces its print
counterpart. We conducted
a survey of teachers, parents,
writers, and others with exper-
tise or interest in child develop-
ment to help us define content
for a separate portal for parents
and teachers.
Brilliant Star Online will also
enhance our marketing and dis-
tribution practices. There is vast
potential for expanding awareness
of Brilliant Star’s applicability for
teaching the Faith in the U.S. and in-

Riḍván 2008
106
ternationally, among Bahá’ís and communities of interest. One recent recognition
of this potential came in a subscription order from the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá’ís of the United Arab Emirates, which requested Brilliant Star for all
Bahá’í children in its national community. With admittedly limited promotional
efforts in recent years, we have nonetheless garnered subscribers in over 80 coun-
tries. This year, we began concerted efforts to improve our subscription fulfillment
system, which includes online ordering, subscription renewals, bulk ordering, and
the ability to implement promotions. Brilliant Star Online will widen the scope of
our community-building initiatives, seen, for example, in the magazine’s contest
program, which has attracted participants from around the world and has inspired
community action.
As we reflect on the events of the past year, the staff of Brilliant Star is filled with
gratitude for the privilege of providing spiritual sustenance to children around the
A fter more than 38
years of receiving
The American Bahá’í
world. We hope that Brilliant Star not only gives children courage, but that it
propels their service to the world and affirms their confidence that, in the Universal in tabloid newspaper
House of Justice’s words, “they belong to the community and share in its pur- form, believers across
pose.” the country after
The American Bahá’í
Riḍván 2008 can now
Staff of The American Bahá’í capped the year 2007–08 by preparing for the most
expect that a newly
significant transformation in the periodical’s history. designed full-color
news magazine will be
After more than 38 years of receiving The American Bahá’í in tabloid newspa-
per form, believers across the country after Riḍván 2008 can now expect that a delivered to their homes
newly designed full-color news magazine will be delivered to their homes every every two months.
two months. As mandated by the National Spiritual Assembly, the magazine is to
focus analytically on meeting the goals of the Five Year Plan, delivering in-depth
feature stories, news, action steps, and learning from teaching efforts in a variety
of clusters—in vivid images as well as words—to help equip and inspire the friends
nationwide to spread the healing teachings and stimulate growth of the Faith.
The magazine complements the continuing service provided by The American
Bahá’í online edition, with its up-to-date coverage of a wide spectrum of our na-
tional community’s activities. In addition, articles developed for the magazine are
to be available as part of the new www.BahaiLife.org public Web presence.
Publishing eight newspaper-style issues in the past year, The American Bahá’í
maintained its work of sharing authoritative guidance as well as inspirational sto-
ries on the international, national, regional, local, and individual levels, in order to
inform, educate, unify, and inspire.
Over the year, The American Bahá’í deepened its collaboration with the U.S.
Bahá’í Newsreel, the Office of Communications, the National Teaching Office, and
the Office of the Treasurer, while continuing to work in concert with the Persian-
American Affairs Office, the Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Brilliant Star magazine, and
the National Spiritual Assembly’s offices responsible for Assembly Development,
International Pioneering, Human Resources, Bahá’í House of Worship Activities, the
Wilmette Institute, and others.

Publishing
107
World Order

W orld Order pub-


lishes on “issues
of broad social concern
World Order publishes on “issues of broad social concern from a Bahá’í perspec-
tive,” thereby fulfilling its mandate from the National Spiritual Assembly and
supporting the national teaching plan, external-affairs activities, and Shoghi Ef-
from a Bahá’í perspec- fendi’s wish for Bahá’í scholars to correlate the Bahá’í teachings with “the current
tive,” with remarkably thoughts and problems of the world.” Since the beginning of the Five Year Plan,
varied content on a World Order has published remarkably varied content on a number of central is-
number of central is- sues. Some examples are listed below, including the volume and issue number in
sues. which each example appeared:

Community building, past and present: The effects of persecution, prejudice,


and war
• 37.1: An editorial discussing the effects of repression on Iranian Bahá’í youth
and on community building.
• 37.3: An update on the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Egypt and an
1867 petition from Bahá’ís in Shushtar, Iran, to the United States Congress
and 1897 and 1902 Russian documents about Iranian Bahá’ís in Ashgabat and
Baku.
• 37.4: A Bahá’í International Community statement on the effects of war and
outdated views on women.

Community building: What Bahá’ís are doing and what they can do
• 37.1: An article encouraging Bahá’ís to reexamine the foundations of Bahá’í
elections at all levels and to understand the evolving process by which the
Bahá’í electoral process came into being, together with 1927 correspondence
between Shoghi Effendi and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of
the United States and Canada about Bahá’í elections.
• 37.3: A review of In Service to the Common Good: The American Bahá’í
Community’s Commitment to Social Change, a survey of projects undertaken
by U.S. Bahá’ís.
• 37.4: A comparison of the Bahá’í community with religious communities of
the past and a look, from a new perspective, at the challenges Bahá’u’lláh
provided all of us in the structure He outlined for His community for this
dispensation.

Community building through the arts


• 37.2: An article on the maturation in Robert Hayden’s poetry, part of a tribute
to Hayden on the 30th anniversary of his appointment as Consultant in Po-
etry to the U.S. Library of Congress, and a 1976 interview with Robert Hayden
by Glenford E. Mitchell, together with Mitchell’s reflections on the interview.

Riḍván 2008
108
• 38.1: An anthology of poems that help us to repair our damaged spirits.
• 38.2: An interview with Mark Bamford about his award-winning film Cape of
Good Hope, which examines a variety of prejudices and the healing power of love.
• 38.2: Excerpts from a journal kept by a Canadian artist about how he used art
as an entrée to teaching the Faith in Salvador, Brazil.
• 38.2: A creative nonfiction piece, based on a trip to Central America, contain-
ing reflections on travel and comments on poverty and sexuality.

Solving humanity’s problems


A trilogy of editorials on the effects of war (37.3), the true meaning of civil-
ity (37.4), and consultation as the new vocabulary of communication (38.1) that
encourages us to look at our troubled world and at some of the qualities needed
for bringing unity of thought and action to problems facing humankind.
• 37.4: A review of Building Sustainable Peace, a book examining processes
leading to peace.
• 38.1: An interview with the holder of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace about
the challenges and opportunities it faces as it moves into its second phase of
development at the University of Maryland.
Other highlights
exterNal outreaCh. The National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of External Affairs
and U.S. UN Office distribute several hundred copies of each issue to
contacts. The National Spiritual Assembly’s Office
of Communication regularly posts on its public
newsletter stories on new issues of the magazine.
Local Spiritual Assemblies use World Order in their
external-affairs activities.
improviNG ServiCe to SubSCriberS. The World Order
staff is:
• Consulting with the Bahá’í Distribution Service,
Service,
Subscriber Service, Media Services, and Brilliant
Star to streamline and improve the quality of ser-
vice provided by Subscriber Service.
• Launching, with Brilliant Star, an online subscription
form that will enable subscribers to subscribe without
having to telephone, fax, or mail the information.
• Working to launch an embryonic website as a home for
home for
the new online subscription form.
The World Order Editorial Board continues to make signif-
icant contributions to a body of literature that fulfills the
magazine’s mandate; supports the national teaching plan
and the development of spiritually distinctive communities;
supports external-affairs activities; provides materials for
individual and group deepening; seeks to correlate, as Shoghi Effendi
has encouraged Bahá’í scholars to do, the beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith
“with the current thoughts and problems of the world” in the areas of
areas of
religion, society, polity, and the arts; and develops and enhances the
intellectual and cultural life of the community.

Publishing
109
Research
National Bahá’í Archives Services
Through service to Bahá’í institutions and individual researchers, the National 111.... National Bahá’í Archives
Bahá’í Archives supports the efforts of those working to achieve the goals of the
Five Year Plan. 114... Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project
115... Research Office
During 2007–08, the Archives answered 450 reference requests from Bahá’í
institutions and individuals, including requests for historical and biographical 116... Office of Review
information, photocopies of archival material, questions about the holdings of
the Archives, and information about visiting the Archives. The Archives supplied
5,692 photocopies of archival and library material and 196 digital copies of
photographs.
Over the past few years, the Archives has been answering a growing number of re-
search requests from the National Spiritual Assembly’s Office of the Secretary. This
year it answered 109 requests, supplying, among other information, biographical
data for approximately 70 condolence letters.
The National Bahá’í Library and the Archives Photograph Collection continued to
be used heavily by National Center staff. National Center staff checked out 180
books from the Library and 357 photographs were checked out of the photograph
T he Archives had a busy
year for visitors to its
displays of relics and histori-
collection, primarily by Media Services and Brilliant Star staff.
cal photographs. A record 882
Another responsibility of the Archives staff is to provide technical advice on ques- visitors toured the displays.
tions of archival preservation and arrangement. The Archives answered 48 such
questions—15 from the Bahá’í National Center, 11 from Local Spiritual Assemblies,
and 22 from individuals. It also provided advice to the National Bahá’í Archives of
Bulgaria.
The Archives had a busy year for visitors to its displays of relics and historical pho-
tographs. A record 882 visitors toured the displays. The largest group consisted of
152 visitors from the Bahá’í House of Worship’s Choral Music Festival, followed by
137 from last summer’s conference for Ethiopian/Eritrean believers.
Some 19 researchers visited the Archives during 2007–08. Most of the topics
researched concerned individuals, including Howard Colby Ives, Mark Tobey, Alice
Dudley, and Juliet Thompson, but researchers also conducted studies of the Cyprus
Bahá’í community and Native American Bahá’ís. One book was published in 2007
utilizing documents from the Archives—Honore Jaxon: Prairie Visionary by
Donald B. Smith. The Archives also acquired a new microfilm reader-printer and a
workstation with computer and scanner for use by researchers.
The Archives also began planning—with the assistance of the National Center’s
Information Technology Department—for an Archives public website. Most archives
and libraries now have websites, which allow the public to easily access informa-
tion about their location, hours, and collections. Often the websites will also have
available digital displays of archival or library material.

{SectionServices
Research Title}
111
T he Archives staff processed 124 new accessions, totaling 227 linear feet, including three origi-
nal letters from the Guardian, two relics of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, and 156 boxes of
Bahá’í National Center records.

The services provided by the Archives would not be possible without the behind-
the-scenes work of the Archives staff in acquiring, arranging, and preserving
archival and library material.
The Archives continued to acquire a large volume of material. The Archives staff
processed 124 new accessions, totaling 227 linear feet, including three original
letters from the Guardian, two relics of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, and 156
boxes of Bahá’í National Center records. The Archives also received the papers of
Larry Kramer and additional material for the Josephine Kruka Papers, Alice Dudley
Papers, Beatrice Groger Papers, Ruth Moffett Papers, and Frances B. Edelstein
Papers.
Three important series of Bahá’í National Center records were opened to research-
ers—the Office of the Secretary Files on Individuals for 1925 through 1949. Other
records processed included House of Worship Activities Office Records, National

Riḍván 2008
112
Youth Committee Records, Office of International Pioneering Records, and Office
of the Treasurer General Ledgers. The Archives also processed 20 collections of
personal papers, including the Mariam Haney Papers, Cora H. Oliver Papers, Edward
and Carrie Kinney Papers, Gerald and Gail Curwin Papers, and Aziz and Godsieh
Wahid Papers.
Reflecting the wide range of archival material held by the Archives, the Archives
staff processed five relics of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi, nine ar-
tifacts, one work of art, 366 photographs, 11 audio tapes, 12 posters, and 18 archi-
tectural drawings. The Archives had eight audio tapes transferred to CDs. The staff
added 1,509 items to the National Bahá’í Library, including local bulletins from 54
communities in 29 states, and cataloged 3,214 pamphlets and periodicals.

Research Services
113
Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project

T he Encyclopedia
Project is prepar-
ing to launch a website
After a year of intense and wide-ranging activity, the Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project
is embarking on a promising new endeavor. As reported last year, the Encyclopedia
Editorial Board, following extended consultation with the National Spiritual As-
that will provide access sembly about the future of the project, received approval to Web-publish a range
to selected high-quality, of high-quality articles while work on the Encyclopedia as a whole continues. The
comprehensive articles Board immediately began exploring possibilities and making new plans.
from its unique and Now, as the year 2007–08 draws to a close, the Encyclopedia Project is preparing
vast collection. to launch a website that will provide access to selected high-quality, comprehen-
sive articles from its unique and vast collection. The initial selection covers a range
of topics—from “Mihdí, Mírzá” to “Letters of the Living,” and from “Ransom-Ke-
hler, Keith” to “Children.” Many of the historical and biographical articles include
material that has never been published or has not been available in English. Fur-
ther, the Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project website will eventually include links to related
resources, an opportunity for dialogue on topics being researched, and information
on archives around the world and on oral history. This combination of resources,
which does not exist anywhere else on the Internet, will both complement and
augment the diverse and varied Bahá’í presence that already exists on the Web.
The current plans are the culmination of more than 20 years of effort under the
oversight of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States.
An Editorial Board appointed by the National Assembly, currently consisting of 10
scholars and publishers from the United States and Canada, actively directs the
diverse aspects of the project, including editorial and website development. The
day-to-day work of the Encyclopedia Project is carried out by two full-time staff
members—a coordinating editor and an administrative assistant—at the Bahá’í
National Center in Evanston. The Editorial Board, which holds monthly telecon-
ferences and an annual onsite meeting, continues reading and assessing articles
(some 700 on a wide variety of subjects and in varying stages of preparation are
on file) and also commissioning new articles for possible Web publication and
eventual inclusion in an A–Z encyclopedia.
In the Five Year Plan, 2006–11, the Encyclopedia Project has great potential for
fostering a culture of learning in the Bahá’í community, for providing accurate
information on the Faith to the community of interest, and for supporting vital
external affairs efforts.

Riḍván 2008
114
Research Office
The Research Office of the National Spiritual Assembly was established in 1989. Its
principal responsibilities are assisting and encouraging research on the Faith and
T he Research Office
planned a panel of
Bahá’í presentations
interfacing with academia. at the American Acad-
emy of Religion annual
Assisting and encouraging research on the Faith
meeting in San Diego,
During 2007–08, office staff participated in the Association for Bahá’í Studies California.
conference, held in Toronto in August 2007, and the ‘Irfán Colloquium at Louhel-
en Bahá’í School, in October 2007. The office continued to manage two listserv-
ers, one for Bahá’ís teaching in universities (Academics) and the other for Bahá’ís
with university affiliations (Highered), and used them actively to encourage Bahá’ís
affiliated with universities to do more for their Iranian coreligionists. The office
participated in the Tarjuman, Tarikh, and Bridges academic listservers. It responded
to several dozen research requests by Bahá’ís and interacted by email, telephone,
and in person with undergraduate and graduate students (Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í)
interested in studying the Faith as part of their professions.

Interfacing with academia


A Research Office staffer is a member of Cooperative Congregational Studies
Project (CCSP) and attended the annual CCSP planning meeting; teaches religious
studies part-time in the Religious Studies Department at DePaul University; is a
member of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB)—
which elected him to its executive committee for 2006–08—and attended their
annual meeting in Salt Lake City; and continues to serve on the advisory board of
the Pluralism Project (based at Harvard University).
The Research Office planned a panel of Bahá’í presentations at the American Acad-
emy of Religion annual meeting in San Diego, California, a conference attended
by 12,000 religious studies professionals. Three Bahá’ís presented on aspects of the
Faith to an audience of about a dozen people.

Collaborating with other scholarly efforts


A Research Office staffer is on the Editorial Boards of World Order magazine and
the Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project. This involves attending all face-to-face meetings
of their Boards, participating in all conference calls, and reviewing about 15 articles
submitted to World Order. During 2007–08, it also involved extensive work on a
task force planning the Encyclopedia Project’s soon-to-be-launched website.

Research Services
115
Office of Review
T he wide variety
of items reviewed
includes books, ar-
The review of literature, audiovisual materials, and music is carried out by the
Office of Review, in collaboration with a Review Task Force appointed by the
ticles, chapters, songs, National Spiritual Assembly and with a small but growing network of reviewers
around the country. Local Assemblies are responsible for reviewing literature that is
deepening materials, for local use only, as well as all “special materials” (artwork and graphic creations,
DVDs, CDs, children’s greeting cards, T-shirts, etc.) for local or national distribution. The purpose of re-
materials, study guides, view is to assist authors and artists in ensuring that what they publish and produce
magazines, scripts, represents the Bahá’í Faith accurately and with dignity. Anything that is published
pamphlets, sheet mu- or disseminated electronically via the Internet is not subject to review.
sic, and PowerPoint The Review Office was restructured and reorganized in 2005, when it was sepa-
presentations. rated from what was previously the Office of Research and Review. Developments
since then have focused on approaching review with an attitude of learning,
increasing efficiency in management and organization of the work, and creating
accessible resources for education on the standards of review. The primary purpose
of these changes has been to build the capacity of the office to handle system-
atically and in a timely fashion the large number and increasing complexity of
materials submitted.

A learning process
One of the aims of the office is to further educate authors and artists about the
standards and purposes of review by fostering a spirit of collaboration around the
review process. As the Universal House of Justice has written—in a letter dated
December 10, 1992—Bahá’ís should look upon review “in this early stage in the
development of the Faith [as] a species of peer review which they welcome, since
it is primarily among their fellow Bahá’ís that they would find at this time those
who would have sufficiently wide and deep understanding of the Faith and its
Teachings to raise issues of importance which they would want to consider before
publication.”
In addition to encouraging consultation on issues that arise in the course of con-
ducting reviews, steps are being taken to gradually cultivate an expanding network
of Bahá’ís who can review manuscripts and other materials. This consists primarily
of authors and artists who have themselves submitted materials for review, thus
continually building our collective capacity to apply the review standards of accu-
racy and dignity across a wide diversity of fields. This year we have seen a number
of submissions of both fiction and autobiographical works, which have raised some
important questions and helped shape new understandings about how to articu-
late and apply these standards.

Systems development
Further progress has been made during 2007–08 in systematizing the work of the
Review Office. Nearly all submissions are received in electronic form, be it a Word

Riḍván 2008
116
document or an MP3 file, which has enhanced efficiency of the workflow and al-
lowed for electronic filing and archiving. The system for monitoring the progress
of cases is functioning well. Further technical support will be needed to develop a
better system for document sharing and archiving.

Tools for education


Both the day-to-day work of the office and its educational functions have been
well served by the creation of an extensive compilation of the guidance on review.
The office responds to a steady stream of inquiries by phone and email about the
requirements and guidelines for review, which will decrease significantly as more
information becomes available on the national Administrative Website. The recent
edition of Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities includes an expanded sec-
tion on review, primarily for the guidance of Local Spiritual Assemblies reviewing
special materials.
T he purpose of
review is to assist
authors and artists in
ensuring that what they
Statistics
publish and produce
The Review Office receives approximately 160 submissions per year. The wide vari-
ety of items reviewed includes books, articles, chapters, songs, deepening materi- represents the Bahá’í
als, DVDs, CDs, children’s materials, study guides, magazines, scripts, pamphlets, Faith accurately and
sheet music, and PowerPoint presentations. Some submissions are received from with dignity.
other agencies of the National Assembly. Most reviews are completed within three
months of submission, some more quickly, and a few require an extended process
of consultation among reviewers. The office continues to work to shorten the
average time required for review of all submissions.
Serving in the Review Office, it is a privilege to witness the creativity and devotion
inspired by the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh as expressed by the talented writers, musi-
cians, and artists with which this Bahá’í community is blessed.

Research Services
117
Logistical
Conventions Office Services
The mandate for the Conventions Office, a part of the Secretariat, is to plan, coor- 119... Conventions Office
dinate, and direct the implementation of national and electoral unit conventions
121... Bahá’í Center Assistance
and to plan and coordinate any necessary boundary changes for electoral units.
122... Bahá’í Service for the Blind
As the second year of the current Five Year Plan draws to a close, the Conventions
Office is pleased to report that, in accordance with its mandate, the electoral unit 123... Human Resources
boundary changes submitted to the National Spiritual Assembly in 2006 were ap-
124... Information Technology
proved and implemented successfully by Riḍván 2007. These boundary changes af-
fected many of the 161 electoral units throughout the 48 contiguous states of the 127... Meetings and Hospitality
United States, particularly South Carolina, a state with a large number of electoral 127... Public Safety
units that historically experienced low participation in Bahá’í elections.
Also completed within the first year of the current Five Year Plan was an extensive
reorganization of electoral unit boundaries in California necessitated by the state’s
decision to eliminate judicial district boundaries.
With the assistance of the Membership and Records Office, the Conventions Of-
fice gave notification in writing to each community in the United States that was
affected by these boundary changes. Each letter provided a brief explanation of
E lectoral unit boundary
changes were approved
and implemented successfully,
the reason for the changes and included information on where individuals could
search online to find the localities included in their redrawn electoral units. The
affecting many of the 161
Unit Convention website (http://unitconvention.usbnc.org) continues to be a electoral units throughout the
helpful resource throughout the year for Local Assemblies and individuals needing 48 contiguous states.
information about the unit conventions in their area or to learn about the Bahá’í
electoral process.
Since 2002, when the National Spiritual Assembly took the decision to relieve the
Regional Bahá’í Councils of responsibility for coordinating unit conventions, the
Conventions Office has taken on the task of coordinating all 161 unit conven-
tion elections. Regional Bahá’í Councils now provide the Conventions Office with
guidance and recommendations regarding Local Spiritual Assemblies that would be
suitable choices to serve as unit convention hosts.
In 2006, the National Assembly requested that a task force be coordinated by
the Conventions Office to help to increase participation at unit conventions, held
every October in all 161 electoral units. To this end, the task force implemented a
number of exciting “firsts” including: creation of the first standalone Unit Conven-
tion website, where the friends can find valuable resources all year long pertaining
to unit convention; production of three “viral videos,” 30-second to one-minute
video shorts about the nature and purpose of the unit convention; and the
publishing of a special brochure sent to all adult believers in the United States,
encouraging them to attend unit convention, to invite their Bahá’í friends, and to
partake in the sacred nature of the electoral process. Lastly, as a follow-up to the
unit conventions held in October 2006, the National Assembly requested that a

Logistical Services
119
summary of recommendations and suggestions from unit conventions be shared
with the rest of the Bahá’í community. These summaries appeared in the March
2007 issue of The American Bahá’í and in the journal’s online edition. The office
hopes to maintain this special focus on the sacredness of the Bahá’í electoral pro-
cess every year prior to unit convention and to reinforce the message throughout
the remainder of the year.
In 2007, a secure online program for registration was made available to delegates
to Bahá’í National Convention. This newly created program has the potential for
many more uses, including the registration of agencies and committees.
In the years ahead, the Conventions Office hopes to make more multimedia op-

A secure online
program for regis-
tration, made available
tions available, enabling delegates and all participants to experience Bahá’í Na-
tional Convention on a multitude of levels.

to delegates to Bahá’í
National Convention,
has the potential for
many more uses.

Riḍván 2008
120
Bahá’í Center Assistance
Bahá’í Center Assistance (BCA) was created to support the growth and develop-
ment of the Faith by providing a systematic program of education, training, and
B CA collected sam-
ples of documents
that provide helpful
technical assistance to communities whose goal is to lease, purchase, and main-
tain Bahá’í Center properties. BCA is a financially self-supporting agency of the information on how to
National Spiritual Assembly. lease a Center, create
During 2007–08, the Local Bahá’í Centers Technical Assistance Manual was a Center endowment,
extensively revised. The newly revised manual clarifies the role of Bahá’í Centers in contract with a care-
the Five Year Plan in light of guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly dated taker, etc.
November 28, 2007. Additional topics covered in the manual include community
readiness, organization and processes, planning and feasibility, selecting a loca-
tion and property, fundraising, financing, legal considerations, construction and
renovation, operations and maintenance, and environmental considerations. The
appendix includes new forms for the use of communities considering the lease or
purchase of a Bahá’í Center. The manual is available for free downloading from the
BCA website (www.bahaicenterassistance.org).
This year BCA collected samples of documents that are already in use by commu-
nities with facilities. These documents provide helpful information on how to lease
a Center, create a Center endowment, contract with a caretaker, etc., all of which
can be used by other communities as examples of possible approaches to these
areas of concern.
As of this writing, during 2007–08, BCA responded to contacts from 30 communi-
ties in 14 states and consulted in depth with more than 12 of these communities.
Also, as in previous years, BCA conducted workshops at the National Treasurers
Forum.
BCA has also toured 11 Bahá’í Centers thus far this year to increase its under-
standing of how they are being used to advance the Five Year Plan and support
an outward-looking orientation to their respective communities’ activities. These
meetings are deliberately held in various states to learn the various methods used.
Lessons learned from these visits are made available to other communities in the
manual and in a column recently begun in the monthly Treasurer’s Bulletin.
More information is available on BCA’s website (www.bahaicenterassistance.org).
BCA can also be contacted via email (info@bahaicenterassistance.org), telephone
(847-425-7940), fax (847-425-7941), or surface mail: Bahá’í Center Assistance,
1233 Central St., Evanston IL 60201-1611.

Logistical Services
121
Bahá’í Service for the Blind

T hrough the efforts


of the Service’s
all-volunteer staff, the
The Bahá’í Service for the Blind continued during 2007–08 to pursue its mission
to provide the literature of the Faith in various media to those who are unable to
use normal print due to a disability. The three media currently available are Braille,
number of titles avail- cassette tape recordings, and Large Print. The Service makes a lending library of
able in the three me- these materials available to Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís alike. The Service also ensures
dia has been steadily that The American Bahá’í is regularly available on cassette tape, free of charge.
increasing, and demand Through the efforts of the Service’s all-volunteer staff, the number of titles avail-
for materials has re- able in the three media has been steadily increasing. This year, 10 new items in
mained steady. Braille were added, as were 18 new titles on cassette tape. The Service has also
begun to both increase its collection of Large Print titles and to improve the col-
lection’s quality.
Demand for the Service’s materials remained steady. During 2007–08, 56 books
were sold: 43 books in Braille, five books on tape, and eight books in Large Print.
An average of 50 individuals receive The American Bahá’í on cassette tape. The
Service’s website (www.BahaiServiceForTheBlind.org) provides information about
its work and an up-to-date listing of all its materials.

Riḍván 2008
122
Human Resources
The Office of Human Resources (HR) continues to attract scores of applicants to
serve at the Bahá’í National Center and its off-site locations. Of 234 applications
T he National Spiri-
tual Assembly has
asked the Office of
for employment received during 2007–08, 58 individuals were hired, and 93 per-
cent of available staff positions are currently filled. Human Resources to
work closely with the
In addition to posting job vacancies on the national Administrative Website and
in the pages of The American Bahá’í, members of the office this year made Regional Bahá’í Coun-
recruiting trips to North Carolina and Georgia. Special appeals were circulated cils to assist with their
throughout the American Bahá’í community via the National Spiritual Assembly’s human resource needs.
LSAi system, and lists of job vacancies were made available to delegates to Bahá’í
National Convention—as they were to members of Local Spiritual Assemblies when
visiting the National Center as part of the Special Visitors’ Program.
As part of the office’s staff development efforts, orientations for newly hired
personnel are held quarterly, and representatives from the Information Technology
and Public Safety offices, as well as from the Secretariat and Human Resources,
provide an overview of the nature of service at the National Center.
The HR Benefits Administrator provides one-on-one consultations regarding the
outstanding and affordable benefits package available to staff. During the past
year, the Administrator arranged several seminars on topics related to health and
retirement benefits.
By working with a local blood bank, LifeSource, the HR Office Manager arranged
for a bloodmobile to be brought on-site, enabling some 30 National Center em-
ployees to donate blood. All involved felt the event to be an overwhelming success.
The Office Manager also coordinated a series of on-site training sessions for Books
2, 6, and 7 of the Ruhi curriculum. She continues to update monthly and quarterly
phone directories and arranged this year for a change of format, making it possible
for all staff to receive electronic versions of the directories. Human Resources also
regularly works with the Meetings and Hospitality Office to coordinate staff events,
such as the annual 4th of July staff picnic and Ayyám-i-Há celebration.
The National Center’s Mailroom and Switchboard fall under the supervision of Hu-
man Resources. Thousands of calls and mailings, both incoming and outgoing, are
handled on a daily basis by a small staff and devoted volunteers. In addition, the
hundreds who visit the Bahá’í National Center every year receive their first greet-
ings from members of this office.
The National Spiritual Assembly has asked the Office of Human Resources to
work closely with the Regional Bahá’í Councils to assist with their human resource
needs. Over the course of the last year, several collaborative meetings were held
with representatives of the Councils, which it is believed will prove helpful to them
as they strive to carry out their most important work.

Logistical Services
123
Information Technology

I n the first two


months of 2008,
enrollments recorded
The mission of the Information Technology (IT) Department is to provide the
computing and communications hardware, network, and software necessary
to support the technology needs of the offices and agencies of the National
at the National Center Spiritual Assembly, both today and into the future. The IT Strategy Commit-
have shown a marked tee, which provides strategic guidance to the Chief Information Officer (CIO),
increase. These num- consists of three National Assembly members, the Chief Financial Officer, and
the National Teaching Office director. This committee met several times dur-
bers, however, do not
ing 2007–08 to address issues such as data access and security, a document
yet reflect many of the management strategy, business continuity, and disaster recovery planning.
enrollments and child In addition, recommendations to further automate the recognition of Local
registrations reported Spiritual Assembly formations, enrollments, and the registrations of Bahá’í
from intensive pro- children were forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly for their review
grams of growth in and approval.
recent months. A reorganization of the department, accomplished during 2007–08, resulted
in more focused attention being paid to IT’s daily operations as well as to
its work in the applications development area. Accomplishments for the year
include arrangements for the provision of:
• Increased Internet bandwidth to the National Center and all external sites
providing improved response time.
• A new long distance telephone provider, resulting in lower rates.
• A new online course management system for the Wilmette Institute.
The IT department is composed of several offices or teams, each working to
support the efforts of individuals, communities, and institutions to achieve the
goals of the Five Year Plan.

Membership and Records


Responsible for maintaining the official records for all American Bahá’ís and
the official records of the National Spiritual Assembly, the Membership and
Records office processes enrollments, registrations of children, and interna-
tional transfers both to and from the United States, in addition to recording
changes in marital status, addresses, and the verification of deaths. In the first
two months of 2008, enrollments recorded at the National Center have shown
a marked increase. These numbers, however, do not yet reflect many of the
enrollments and child registrations reported from intensive programs of growth
in recent months. Enrollments and registrations are not officially counted until
the new believers are added to our membership database by the Local Assem-
bly or the forms are received and processed by the Membership office.
In March 2007, the introduction of eMembership gave Local Spiritual Assembly
secretaries the ability to maintain the official membership data for their com-

Riḍván 2008
124
munities and report Assembly formations and by-elections online. The use of
eMembership has grown steadily. Well over half of the 1,100 Local Spiritual As-
semblies have utilized eMembership during the past year, accounting for over a
third of the membership changes recorded.
The use of eMembership at the local level not only results in the recording of
more accurate and timely information for the National Center, but can elimi-
nate printing and postage expenses incurred for mailing membership lists and
election documents. As our national rate of growth increases, having new
enrollments and child registrations entered at the local level will ensure the
prompt recording and recognition of these new believers.

Operations Center
The Operations Center is responsible for the daily operations of the technology
T he use of eMember-
ship at the local
level not only results in
infrastructure for the Bahá’í National Organization (BNO) and is the hub of the
the recording of more
department, ensuring the continued secure and timely operation of:
accurate and timely
• 5,300 email accounts for Local Assemblies and Registered Groups. information for the
• 800 email accounts for BNO staff and associates. National Center, but
• 345 workstations and 101 printers in 16 locations. can eliminate printing
and postage expenses
• 80 servers at eight locations.
incurred for mailing
• 500 telephones. membership lists and
• 700 network accounts. election documents.
• 10,000 Web pages.
This group responds to thousands of service requests each year and provides
technical support in such diverse areas of application as the deployment of
the Statistical Report Program (SRP); the operation of the bookstore inventory
management software at the House of Worship; online registration and other
needs of Green Acre, Louhelen, and Bosch Bahá’í Schools; the increasing use
of eMembership by Local Spiritual Assembly secretaries; and the assistance of
Seeker Response Specialists located around the country.

Information Systems
The Information Systems group supports the enterprise applications for the
National Spiritual Assembly, including eMembership, Seeker Response, RTI
Tracker, and the Fund Entry System to manage pledges and contributions. One
of the group’s most significant accomplishments during 2007–08 has been the
deployment of UnityWeb, the new Web-based membership and local commu-
nity database that replaced both UnityInfo, an application used by BNC staff,
and UnityNet, the application used by members of national and regional Bahá’í
institutions for access to membership and locality information.

Summary
Acquiring and retaining qualified staff continues to present a challenge to
the entire IT department, resulting in a high level of dependence on contract
staff to fill mission-critical positions. While the department has been able to
decrease its use of contract staff considerably over the past year, it seems clear
that strategies including increased automation of manual processes, vendor-
supported applications, and outsourcing must be pursued to reduce the reli-
ance on in-house staffing for ongoing support.

Logistical Services
125
Pending availability of funds, goals for the coming year include new applications
to increase the efficiency and security of school registrations for the permanent
and seasonal Bahá’í schools, the improvement of the organization’s document
management, and an online “self-service” application for the friends to report
address changes. Efforts to increase the use of eMembership by Local Assemblies
to report enrollments, child registrations, and election results will continue, as will
steps to utilize electronic communications in place of printed materials that must
transmitted through the mails. In addition, we will be reviewing our compliance
with industry data security standards and strategies for disaster recovery and busi-
ness continuity planning.

G oals for the coming


year include new
applications to increase
the efficiency and secu-
rity of school registra-
tions, the improvement
of the organization’s
document management,
and an online “self-
service” application for
the friends to report
address changes.

Riḍván 2008
126
Meetings and Hospitality
The Meetings and Hospitality Office provides on-site and off-site meeting plan-
ning services for the National Spiritual Assembly and its offices and agencies, at-
tending to meals and the provision of hospitality for all regular and special meet-
ings of the National Spiritual Assembly, special programs at the Bahá’í House of
Worship, meetings at the Bahá’í National Center with members of the Continental
Board of Counselors, Auxiliary Board members, the Regional Bahá’í Councils, and
other special guests, including those participating in the Special Visitors’ program.
The office also assists with arrangements for Bahá’í National Convention. In all
these efforts, the office strives to provide high quality, loving, and caring support
while managing in an efficient and cost effective manner to protect the interests
of the National Fund.

Public Safety
The Department of Public Safety provides safety and security services to the
National Spiritual Assembly, the staff of the Bahá’í National Center, and Bahá’í
and non-Bahá’í guests who visit National Center facilities throughout the year.

A
These services are provided by 10 public safety officers who patrol on foot and by
state-of-the-art
vehicle, and through physical and electronic security systems.
video security
During 2007–08, Public Safety moved from its former offices at 112 Linden Av- system allows Public
enue to new offices in the foundation level of the Bahá’í House of Worship. Avail-
able space was remodeled into two new offices to serve Public Safety, into which
Safety officers to ob-
a state-of-the-art video security system was installed. It allows officers to observe serve all five facilities
all five facilities comprising the Bahá’í National Center—at the same time, allowing comprising the Bahá’í
electronic control of door access to each facility. National Center.
Officers also provide a wide variety of services to the
many thousands of visitors to the House of Worship,
often being called upon to act as on-the-spot guides
as they make their rounds within the gardens and
grounds. To ensure that they can provide accurate
information to visitors, officers study aspects of the
history and meaning of the House of Worship and its
gardens. As they are often the first contact visitors
have at the House of Worship, the office is continu-
ally striving to present a professional demeanor and a
good first impression. In an effort to present a softer,
warmer image, the officers’ uniforms were changed
this year to feature a white shirt.
Public Safety meets routinely with the Village of
Wilmette police and fire departments and continues
to maintain a close working relationship with both.

Logistical Services
127
Properties Office Properties
The National Spiritual Assembly’s Properties Office is responsible for the main- 129... Properties
tenance of all properties at the Bahá’í National Center. In addition, the office
assists in the management of 19 other properties in the United States, includ- 130... Bahá’í House of Worship
ing the three permanent Bahá’í schools in Maine, Michigan, and California; the Restoration
Native American Bahá’í Institute in Arizona; the Louis G. Gregory Bahá’í Insti-
tute in South Carolina; the Dublin Inn in New Hampshire; the Wilson House in
Massachusetts; and the Wilhelm Properties in New Jersey. Properties Office staff
consists of all maintenance, custodial, and Concrete Studio employees.
Oversight of these National Spiritual Assembly properties includes regular in-
spections, routine maintenance, minor repairs and alterations, custodial services,
grounds and gardening work, and budget preparation and coordination. All
construction projects at all National Spiritual Assembly properties, whether in-
volving new construction or remodeling, are coordinated through the Properties
Office. The Properties Office coordinates capital project budgeting and contract

I
management for construction with the administrators of the Bahá’í schools and n addition to the Kingdom
institutes. The office also evaluates, manages, and sells estate and gift proper-
ties acquired by the National Spiritual Assembly. The Kingdom Project and the
Project, several renovation
new Visitors’ Center construction are being coordinated through the Properties and improvement projects
Office. were coordinated through
In addition to the Kingdom Project, several renovation and improvement projects the Properties Office during
were coordinated through the Properties Office during 2007–08. The Temple 2007–08.
Concrete Studio received a new roof as well as an asphalt overlay of its storage
area. The national Ḥaẓíratu’l-Quds received a new roof, water sealing, caulking,
and interior painting; the Bahá’í House of Worship service entrance and entrance
hallway for the disabled was renovated, properly lighted, and carpeted; new
offices for Public Safety personnel were completed; windows and doors at the
Temple’s upper level were caulked, sealed, and painted; a new auditorium sound
system was installed; and several interior areas were painted. The interior of
the Bahá’í National Center building was painted and partially supplied with new
carpeting; its heating and air conditioning control system was replaced and its
second-floor kitchenette remodeled.
The Properties Office also developed specifications for and managed the restora-
tion of the Wilson House in Malden, Massachusetts, and provided supervision of
the caretakers of the Dublin Inn and Wilhelm Properties, which included regular
reviews of maintenance, repair, and budgeting for future projects.

{Section Title}
Properties
129
Bahá’í House of Worship Restoration

M onumental steps
are installed in
six of the Temple’s nine
Restoration of the Bahá’í House of Worship’s terrace, stairs, and gardens con-
tinued throughout 2007–08. The Temple Concrete Studio continued to pro-
duce outstanding architectural precast concrete components for the extensive
sectors. Concrete pav- restoration work. Contractors at the Temple site completed four new sections
ers grace the landings of the terrace, installed six sections of monumental stairs, and began work
on the three still-to-be-restored gardens and terraces. A completely new and
outside the auditorium
innovative heating and air conditioning system was installed in the Temple.
doors and the terrace in The new Visitors’ Center building progressed through the design phase, the
four sectors. creation of necessary construction documents, and the first phase of obtaining
permits.
Monumental steps are installed in six of the Temple’s nine sectors. Concrete
pavers grace the landings outside the auditorium doors and the terrace in four
sectors. Although the trapezoidal pavers appear similar, there are 150 unique

Riḍván 2008
130
shapes. Joints between the pavers create lines that circle around and radiate
outward from the center of the Temple.
Four sections of the terrace wall have been finished with an ornamental con-
crete cladding that matches the sparkling quartz concrete used in the approach
stairs and in the terrace border pavers. A delicate design of sculpted relief was
created on the terrace cladding by combining geometric patterns from the
House of Worship’s ornamentation and a flower motif from the Shrine of the
Báb.
A new terrace railing trims the terraces’ outer edge. The stainless steel railing
reflects the rhythm, color, and patterns of the original railing while meeting
current safety codes. The railings from the terrace flow gently down the ap-
proach steps. A new heating,
ventilation, and
air conditioning system
New stainless steel handrails guide visitors to the Temple up the monumental
stairs. In compliance with safety codes each of the nine auditorium doors will for the House of Wor-
have a set of the handrails. Four of the nine sets are installed. ship was installed this
The bronze frames of the auditorium’s windows were completely refinished. past year. This is the
The remaining two auditorium doorways were disassembled and rebuilt. All first time that either
nine doors now have new structural concrete at the threshold, stainless steel the auditorium of the
flashing, complete waterproofing systems, rebuilt door frames with top- House of Worship or
mounted closure mechanisms, new safety glass, new sealants, and beautifully
Foundation Hall has
finished bronze surfaces.
ever been cooled by air
Demolition of the three remaining old gardens was completed in November, conditioning.
just before freezing weather made further work impossible until March. Many
trees and shrubs from the old gardens were relocated to our nursery, where
they will be nurtured until the new gardens are ready for their return. Two
sections of the old terrace and the old monumental stairs were also demol-
ished.
Next year’s construction will include demolition and rebuilding of the main
entrance into the gardens and into the Foundation Hall level of the Temple.
Because emergency exiting from the Foundation Hall level will be severely re-
stricted, the National Spiritual Assembly recently took the decision to close the
Visitors’ Center and Foundation Hall for 11 months, beginning in June 2008.
A new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system for the House of Wor-
ship was installed this past year. This is the first time that either the auditorium
of the House of Worship or Foundation Hall has ever been cooled by air con-
ditioning. For minimal energy usage and best economy, the air conditioner’s
chiller makes ice during the nighttime and stores the ice in insulated tanks
located within the boiler room. During the daytime, the system melts the ice
to cool the Temple silently, maintaining the peaceful serenity of the House of
Worship’s interior and gardens. The system’s innovative design required no
outside equipment and, thus, no space was taken from the gardens to imple-
ment this long-wished-for improvement.
In July 2007, the National Spiritual Assembly approved the final design
package for the new Visitors’ Center Building. The team of consultants then
completed the necessary documents for application to the Village of Wilmette
for special use approval. Engineering and architectural details continued to be
assembled and construction documents were prepared.

Properties
131
Affiliated
Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America Organizations
The Association for Bahá’í Studies—North America is a membership organization 133... Association for Bahá’í
serving Alaska, Canada, and the United States. Its Executive Committee is ap- Studies—North America
pointed by and operates under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly
135... Association of Friends of
of the Bahá’ís of Canada. Its office in Ottawa, Ontario, is staffed by two full-time
Persian Culture
employees. The association has about 1,751 individual members and 72 institu-
tional members worldwide. There are 18 affiliates in other areas functioning under 137... Bahá’í Association for Mental
the jurisdictions of their respective National Assemblies. Health

New mission statement 140... Bahá’í International Radio


Service
The mission of the Association for Bahá’í Studies (ABS) is “to stimulate scholarly
study of the Faith and its teachings, to promote a sound understanding of the 142... Health for Humanity
Cause in academic circles and to demonstrate its relevance to the study of social
issues”; and “to stimulate an appetite for learning within the Bahá’í community
generally.” Bahá’í scholarship is to be pursued “in the context of unreserved par-
ticipation in the global plans of the Faith and in a spirit of dedication to promot-
ing the Cause.”
To advance this mission, the Executive Committee is currently focusing on initia-
B ahá’í scholarship is to be
pursued “in the context
of unreserved participation in
tives to further develop:
the global plans of the Faith
• Bahá’í scholarship among students and young adults.
and in a spirit of dedication to
• University courses across disciplines on diverse aspects of the Bahá’í Faith. promoting the Cause.”
• Opportunities for the exchange, publication, and circulation of diverse forms of
Bahá’í scholarship.
• The Journal of Bahá’í Studies as an outstanding forum for Bahá’í scholarship
that finds acceptance in academic circles and is also accessible to wider audi-
ences.
• Extension activities that stimulate Bahá’í scholarship through grassroots initia-
tives (e.g., Area Committees, Special Interest Groups, Bahá’í schools).
• An outward-looking orientation that engages diverse leaders of thought in
dialogue and collaboration through symposia, seminars, etc.
• The ABS Annual Conference to serve the broad learning mandate of the asso-
ciation and advance the association’s other major initiatives.

Recent developments
Highlights of ABS development during 2007–08 include:
A ppointment of Executive Director. Dr. Pierre-Yves Mocquais was recently ap-
pointed Executive Director for the Association of Bahá’í Studies, with such func-
tions as arranging for the holding of conferences and symposia other than the

{Section
Affiliated Title}
Organizations
133
annual conferences, developing systems for the mentoring of young students,
and pursuing opportunities for courses on the study of the Faith in universities.
Collaboration with Wilfrid L aurier University P ress (WLUP). The first volume
in the new Bahá’í Studies Series from WLUP co-published with ABS has just been
released: Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb, by Nader
Saiedi (available for purchase on the ABS website, www.bahai-studies.ca).
Working with Students and Young A dults. A number of the 20 Campus Associa-
tions for Bahá’í Studies (CABS) in Canada organized activities relating to Bahá’í
scholarship or publicizing the denial of education to Bahá’ís in Iran. In the United
States, the ABS Mid-Atlantic Area Committee organized a symposium for youth

I n the United States,


the ABS Mid-At-
lantic Area Committee
entitled “MindSpace: How to Be Smart, Get Rich, & Do Good,” focusing on
Bahá’í scholarship and planning careers of service. A new feature of the Annual
Conference was a daylong special program for university students and faculty,
organized a sympo- both as separate groups and together, for study and consultation. The student
session included small-group work on sections of a newly developed workbook
sium for youth entitled
entitled “Scholarship, Service and Social Action in the Context of the Divine
“MindSpace: How to Plan” (available for download from the ABS website).
Be Smart, Get Rich,
A dvancing The Journal Of Bahá’í Studies. The Association published one issue of
& Do Good,” focusing The Journal of Bahá’í Studies (Volume 16, Number 1/4, March–December 2006).
on Bahá’í scholarship Articles from back issues of the Journal continue to be posted on the associa-
and planning careers of tion’s website. Due to budget constraints, the part-time position of Journal
service. Managing Editor, initiated in 2006, was eliminated and other arrangements were
made to carry out this function. The Journal has been in a state of editorial
transition for a few years, but the appointment late in the year of an Edito-
rial Committee holds the promise now of not only accelerating the publication
schedule, but also taking it to a new stage in its development.
R efining the A nnual Conference. The 31st Annual Conference of the Associa-
tion for Bahá’í Studies was held in Toronto (Mississauga), Ontario, August 16–19,
2007, on the theme “Scholarship and Community Building.” The 1,100 partici-
pants from 13 countries participated in over 60 breakout and eight plenary
sessions. Programs organized by Special Interest Groups were integrated into the
overall conference planning process as “tracks,” so that all might benefit from
the specialization, peer support, and ongoing networking capacity provided by
the SIG system.
The Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture was delivered by Dr. Will van den Hoo-
naard on “Emerging from Obscurity: The Journey of Sociology in the Bahá’í Com-
munity.” Eminent author and scholar Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon reflected on his
latest book, The Upside of Down. A panel of younger scholars spoke on learning
in the academy and through practice.
The two recipients of the Award for Excellence were Dr. Todd Lawson, for advanc-
ing Bahá’í studies through research and publications, and the Bahá’í Institute for
Higher Education. The Patricia Locke Scholarship, to encourage conference partici-
pation by a Native youth, was given to Moses Cappo of Regina, Saskatchewan.
The 2008 ABS Annual Conference will be held August 29–September 1 in San Di-
ego (La Jolla), California, on the theme of “Religion and Social Cohesion.” Further
information is posted on the website.

Riḍván 2008
134
Association of Friends of Persian Culture
Background
In 1991, the Persian-American Affairs Office received permission from the Na-
T he Conference of
the Association
was attended by an
tional Spiritual Assembly to establish an organization devoted to the promotion of unprecedented 2,549
Persian arts and culture. Later, the name of the organization was changed to the
Association of Friends of Persian Culture.
individuals. Although
most were from North
Objectives America, many people
The main objectives of the Association are to: from across Europe,
• Assist Bahá’ís of Iranian descent to remain in contact with the cultural, artistic, Australia, Asia, and
and literary heritage of Iran. South America also at-
• Encourage Bahá’í children, youth, and young adults to learn the Persian lan- tended.
guage.
• Familiarize all members of the Bahá’í community with the culture of Iran, the
cradle of the Bahá’í Faith, so that they can better appreciate the sacred writings
and the history of their Faith.
• Involve ever-increasing numbers of friends of the Faith, particularly Iranian
scholars and artists, in the Association’s activities.

Association activities
A nnual Conference. The Association organized and conducted its 17th Annual
Conference on Labor Day weekend, 2007, in Schaumburg, Illinois. At the opening
session, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly conveyed the enthusiastic
support of the Assembly for these conferences. During the conference, different
aspects of Persian culture (particularly as they relate to the Bahá’í Faith) were
discussed, artistic programs were presented, exhibitions of the work of Persian
artists were organized, and participants were informed of the results and conclu-
sions of recent studies about Persian culture. The conference was attended by an
unprecedented 2,549 individuals (1,977 adults, 290 college students, 108 youths,
and 174 children and junior youths), the majority of whom were of Persian ori-
gin. Although most were from North America, many people from across Europe,
Australia, Asia, and South America also attended.
The Association’s Board of Directors was assisted in conducting the conference by
task forces for arts, children, junior youth, youth, and English programs.
The conference included sessions in Persian and English, as well as sessions for
young adults, junior youth, and classes for children ages 3–5, 6–8, and 9–10.
Three-day workshops on poetry recitation and family issues related to junior youth
were also offered. We had the honor of hosting former Universal House of Jus-
tice members Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam and Mr. ‘Alí Nakhjavání, as well as Mrs.

Affiliated Organizations
135
Shafigheh Fatheazam and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavání, all of whom addressed the
conference with inspiring remarks.
Three well-known friends of the Faith from the U.S. and Canada accepted the
invitation of the Association and addressed the audience. Their presentations were
well received and they, in turn, were very impressed by the atmosphere and the
quality of the conference. The number of Iranian friends of the Faith in atten-
dance was noticeably larger than in previous years.
Plans for the 18th Annual Conference of the Association have been set in mo-
tion. Judging from hotel reservations so far, the number of attendees promises to

I n response to re-
quests from several
communities, the Board
outstrip all expectations. Seven renowned speakers and artists who are friends of
the Faith are scheduled to present at this conference. In addition, efforts are under
way to increase attendance by friends of the Faith. A major feature of this confer-
ence will be the presentation of an award to the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Educa-
of Directors of the As- tion in Iran.
sociation is considering
R ecognition of Scholarship. During the latest annual conference, Dr. Armin
the creation of regional Eshraghi, a young scholar from Germany, presented his work on “Modernity and
chapters or of the link- the Bábí Religion.” He was presented with an award in recognition of his schol-
ing of existing Persian arly studies of Bábí and Bahá’í history.
conferences to the P ublications. Efforts at publishing the proceedings of the conferences and other
Association. pertinent material continue. Two titles are available and it is hoped that more
will be produced as this process gathers momentum.
New Website. With invaluable advice from experts in the field of Web design, a
new website is being designed for the Association. The website will make readily
available information about the Association and its activities and will feature
online registration and access to conference presentations and other materials.
Targeted Conferences. The possibility of holding smaller conferences—for more
in-depth, academic-style presentations on Persian culture related to Bahá’í
themes—is being considered by the Association.
R egional Chapters. In response to requests from several communities, the Board
of Directors of the Association is considering the creation of regional chapters or
of the linking of existing Persian conferences to the Association.

Finances
Consistent with its status as a nonprofit corporation, the Association has oper-
ated completely independent of the National Bahá’í Fund for the past two years.
Sources of income include the registration fee and other income from the annual
conferences, sales of materials, and contributions from individuals.

Riḍván 2008
136
Bahá’í Association for Mental Health
The Bahá’í Association for Mental Health (BAMH) is a nonprofit, Bahá’í-inspired
organization designed to serve the intellectual, social, and spiritual needs of prac-
T he purpose of the
BAMH’s latest an-
nual conference was
titioners, researchers, and theoreticians who desire to apply the insights contained to explore the impact
in the Bahá’í writings to the mental health professions. It is incorporated in the
of the values held by
State of Illinois as a nonprofit corporation, and the National Spiritual Assembly
serves as its “sole member,” with the organization’s Board of Directors serving at
institutions and com-
its appointment. munities on the mental
health of individuals.
During 2007–08, BAMH carried out the agenda set for the organization by its
Board:
1. Maintaining a membership of approximately 70, comprising both mental health
professionals and friends with an interest in spirituality and mental health.
2. Attaining status as a provider of continuing education units from the American
Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers, which
permitted CE credits to be offered at BAMH’s 2007 annual conference.
3. Holding an annual conference—in 2007 at Louhelen Bahá’í School—on the
theme of “The Human Spirit and the Social World.” The purpose of this latest
of the organization’s annual conferences was to explore the impact of the val-
ues held by institutions and communities on the mental health of individuals,
and conference presentations and performances explored this interface. Present-
ers were:
• Ms. Elizabeth Marquardt, nationally recognized writer and author of Between
Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, addressing the impact
of divorce on children.
• Dr. John Grayzel, on “Cross-Cultural Paradigms in Mental Health.”
• Dr. William Roberts, speaking about the Black Men’s Gathering.
• Dr. Barbara Johnson and Dr. Rick Johnson, with “A Facilitated Experiential
Exploration of The Four Valleys for Education and Social Health.”
• Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano, on “The Role of Purpose in Positive Human Devel-
opment.”
• Mr. Jack Guillebeaux, on “Social Injustice and Internalized Oppression: Strat-
egies for the Cluster.”
• Dr. Elena Mustakova-Possardt, on “The Systemic Nature of Social Health,
Unhealth, and More Health: Building Authoritative Communities.”
• Counselor Steven Birkland, on “The Relationship of Individuals and Institu-
tions.”

Affiliated Organizations
137
4. Holding a pre-conference seminar on “Spirituality and Sexuality,” a subject
which BAMH members made a special request to have addressed by the as-
sociation, and which was presented by Mary K. Radpour.
5. Nominating members to the BAMH Board at the annual meeting to replace
two members whose terms of office had ended. This year the new nomina-
tions were for Dary Ekhtor and Jack Guillebeaux. Several months after the
annual meeting, Chair Phillipe Copeland regretfully submitted his resigna-
tion from the Board, and Dr. Michael Penn was named by the Board to an
interim Board appointment.

A n intensive con-
sultation by the
Board was aimed at
6. Inviting the participation of non-Bahá’í presenters and attendees at the
conference—expressed, in one significant instance, through the invitation to
present extended to Ms. Elizabeth Marquardt, who, we are happy to report,
is now an enrolled member of the Bahá’í community.
articulating a shared
vision of the relation- 7. Maintaining the BAMHP website (www.bamhp.org) with conference reports,
abstracts of presentations, and presentation papers, as well as the organiza-
ship between spiritual- tion’s statement of purpose and various other useful documents.
ity and mental health,
8. Auditing of the BAMHP books.
with hopes that this
shared vision may ulti- 9. Planning and promotion of the upcoming 2008 conference on the theme
mately have an impact “An Exploration of the Therapeutic Process: Spiritual Literacy, Ethics, and
Intimacy,” to be held again at Louhelen Bahá’í School.
on the larger mental
health community. 10. Continuing promotion of the booklet Some Guidance for Spiritual Assem-
blies Regarding Mental Illness and Its Treatment through offering it as a
gift to new members and through the website.
11. Consulting with a member of the Continental Board of Counselors, Mr. Ste-
phen Birkland, regarding service to the Bahá’í community by this associa-
tion.
12. Consulting jointly with the members of the Coordinating Committee of the
Bahá’í Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addiction and Abuse—a committee of
the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada—with regard to
collaboration on matters of shared concern.
Several new initiatives were also undertaken. Included were:
• The preparation of a position paper articulating the concerns of BAMH
membership related to the nature of mental health and current barriers to the
effectiveness of treatment.
• The use of “Survey Monkey” to survey BAMH’s membership and gather and
analyze data regarding its professional qualifications. The survey also served
to establish a database of professionals who can be called upon when natural
disasters and other catastrophic events occur.
• An intensive consultation by the Board aimed at articulating a shared vision
of the relationship between spirituality and mental health, with hopes that
this shared vision may ultimately have an impact on the larger mental health
community.
• Changing the name of the organization from the Bahá’í Association of
Mental Health Professionals to the Bahá’í Association for Mental Health—a
change that reflects the membership’s concern that BAMH not be seen as
an exclusive preserve of professionals, but of interest to all those concerned
with mental health.

Riḍván 2008
138
Some remaining goals will require further analysis and reflection:
• Achieving greater participation by minorities in the work of BAMH.
• Stimulating fuller participation by non-Bahá’ís in BAMH conferences and
initiatives.
• Exploring further how BAMH can have an impact on the larger mental health
community.

Affiliated Organizations
139
Bahá’í International Radio Service

N ine new radio


programs and
four new TV segments
Payam-e-Doost radio and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í television programs
Bahá’í International Radio Service oversees the operation of Payam-e-Doost, the
were introduced, mostly Bahá’í radio program in Persian that started as a weekly AM program in the Wash-
ington, D.C., area on March 21, 1994, and commenced worldwide broadcasting on
designed to appeal to
April 21, 2001. Since that date, its 45-minute daily programs have been broadcast
youth and young adults on shortwave to Iran and the Middle East, as well as on two satellite systems. One
in Iran. system transmits the signal to Europe, parts of South Africa, the Middle East, and
areas of Central Asia, while the other beams the programs to the United States,
Canada, and parts of Central America. Payam-e-Doost programs are also heard on
the Internet (www.bahairadio.org).
The first Bahá’í teleradio service was initiated on July 1, 2002. Through this ser-
vice, Persian-speaking individuals can access Payam-e-Doost radio programs 24
hours a day by dialing 212-990-6397.
Weekly television programs in Persian under the title of Á’ín-i-Bahá’í commenced
broadcasting in July 2005. These programs are aired on AFN-TV and Channel
One, both of which are Persian television programs broadcasting on HotBird 8
and Telstar 12. HotBird is the satellite system most watched in Iran. Á’ín-i-Bahá’í
programs may also be viewed on the Internet (www.bahaiview.org).
Under the guidance and direction of the Bahá’í World Center, achievements during
2007–08 include the following:
• Nine new radio programs were introduced to Payam-e-Doost broadcasting
since the programs shifted toward a “magazine” format. In addition, four new
TV segments were introduced to Á’ín-i-Bahá’í. New programming elements are
mostly designed to appeal to youth and young adults in Iran.
• The content of radio and TV segments was aligned with the goals of the Five
Year Plan and focused on introducing and reporting on the four core activities
around the world and inviting listeners and viewers to explore these activities.
• New segments were developed to cover current affairs; those that addressed
events in Iran were designed to be of interest and importance to the targeted
audience in Iran.
• Radio and TV segments were developed to continuously increase the awareness
among Iranians of the abuses of the human rights of Bahá’ís and others in Iran.
This included the reading of excerpts from the messages of the Universal House
of Justice addressed to the Bahá’í youth of Iran.
• Collaboration with a number of task forces has increased the production of
various segments for both Payam-e-Doost radio programs and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í
television programs.

Riḍván 2008
140
• To further the creation of alliances with like-minded Iranian organizations and
individuals, radio and TV interviews were conducted with friends of the Faith
and reports were broadcast reflecting their activities and how Bahá’ís, in concert
with others, could take part in building the Iran of the future.
• Videos of Á’ín-i-Bahá’í programs are posted on Google Video, and soon vari-
ous segments of Á’ín-i-Bahá’í programs will be posted on YouTube so they can
be easily be accessed by youth and young adults.
• 24-hour satellite broadcasting of both Payam-e-Doost programs and of the
audio for Á’ín-i-Bahá’í programs on HotBird was launched in November 2007.
This broadcasting includes six-hour cycles of current and archived programs
that are repeated four times daily.
In the coming year, Payam-e-Doost and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í plan to continue introduc-
V ideos of Á’ín-i-
Bahá’í programs
are posted on Google
ing new programs for their targeted audience and to increase collaboration with
various task forces and friends of the Faith around the world. We hope that, as Video, and soon vari-
before, Payam-e-Doost and Á’ín-i-Bahá’í will continue to draw the hearts of ous segments of Á’ín-i-
their audiences to the message of Bahá’u’lláh and advance the process of entry by Bahá’í programs will be
troops. posted on YouTube.

Affiliated Organizations
141
Health for Humanity

T his new focus chal-


lenges the orga-
nization to broaden
Shift in focus
When Health for Humanity (HH) was established in 1992, the first document the
its scope and fully organization produced was The Statement of Philosophy. Its opening sentence
states: “Health for Humanity is a not-for-profit charitable corporation, created
embrace the dual mis- to enable all interested professionals to offer their services for the promotion of
sion that embodied the health throughout the world.” The document goes on to define the spiritual val-
vision of HH’s found- ues that would guide the organization’s efforts toward achieving healthier com-
ers. It promises service munities. Health for Humanity has thus always had the dual mission of building
opportunities for many sustainable capacity and of providing a vehicle for service for health professionals.
In its efforts to learn how to apply spiritual principles to the achieving of sustain-
physicians and other
able health development, however, the organization gradually became focused on
professionals who are those activities that fostered capacity building for local partner institutions and
engaged in the delivery on achieving sustainable results. Providing service opportunities became second-
of health care. ary and, over the years, the opportunities for service for the vast majority of HH
members dwindled. This part of HH’s mission was, therefore, never fully realized.
Following consultation during 2007–08 between the Bahá’í World Center’s
Office of Social and Economic Development and HH Executive Director May
Khadem, and Chairman of the Board Kamyar Jabbari, a decision was made to
recommit the organization to providing more service opportunities for health
professionals. This does not mean that HH’s commitments to capacity building
and sustainability are being compromised. On the contrary, increased emphasis
on volunteer placement— fulfilling the longing of many members to serve in the
field—can also serve as a stimulus to more focused capacity-building efforts. For
example, as HH volunteers repeatedly visit the same institution for short-term
service in continuing medical education or clinical skills training, opportunities
for capacity building and development of a specialty health area may naturally
emerge through the initiatives of the local partner. Whenever such opportuni-
ties arise, HH will embrace them and will help its partner to develop institutional
capacity for sustainable services using the model that HH has evolved through
16 years of tested field experience.
This shift in focus may take several forms. One form may be through partner-
ships with local hospitals or with other medical facilities to strengthen their
continuing medical education programs or assist with short-term skill-building
in multiple specialties. Health for Humanity has already enjoyed long-term
relationships of this kind with institutions such as Hospital Bayan in Honduras
and, currently, with a hospital in Yueyang, China. Another form may be through
partnerships with like-minded health organizations that offer more opportunities
for volunteers, such as Project Concern International, Health Volunteers Over-
seas, or Remote Area Medical (RAM), each of which HH has worked with before
in Guyana. HH is presently exploring these and other opportunities.

Riḍván 2008
142
A systematic approach to volunteer recruitment and to the identification of new
opportunity sites will obviously be central to HH’s new focus. Recognizing the
critical nature of these two functions as they relate to the future growth and
health of the organization, the HH Board of Directors, during its December 2007
meeting in Chicago, established the Volunteer Service Opportunities Committee
(VSOC), which includes a minimum of three Board members. Other HH members
may also be asked to join the committee.
VSOC will focus on four areas of activity:
1. Increasing the numbers of volunteer service sites
2. Developing guidelines for selection of service sites
3. Recruiting volunteers I ncreased emphasis on
volunteer placement—
fulfilling the longing of
4. Developing volunteer orientation and screening guidelines
many members to serve
Since service opportunities include continuing medical education, the Board in the field—can also
delegated this responsibility to the committee. In the past, continuing medical
education initiatives were the responsibility of the International Exchange Task serve as a stimulus to
Force. This task force is replaced by the new committee. more focused capacity-
This new focus challenges the organization to broaden its scope and fully
building efforts.
embrace the dual mission that embodied the vision of HH’s founders. It prom-
ises service opportunities for many physicians and other professionals who are
engaged in the delivery of health care. The Board is aware of the immense un-
tapped potential that exists in the national HH community and appreciates the
noble intent of all those who wish to serve humanity in this manner. The Board
hopes that these changes will inspire many who did not see a direct avenue for
service within HH in the past to embrace this new path, contact the HH office,
and offer their volunteer services.

2007–08 Health for Humanity International Projects


• Albania Blindness Prevention Project initiated in 1992, Tirana, Albania
Overall Goal: Reduce blindness in Albania by improving the capacity for
modern eye services, with particular focus on cataract surgery and pediatric
ophthalmology.
• China Pediatric Rehabilitation Project initiated in 1999, Chengdu, China
Overall Goal: Improve the quality of life for children with disabilities by de-
veloping the capacity for pediatric rehabilitation services.
• China Continuing Medical Education initiated in 1999, Yueyang, China
Overall Goal: Improve the skills of Chinese physicians by supporting the
Chinese government’s commitment to continuing medical education through
lectures and clinical training experiences.
• Mongolia Blindness Prevention Project initiated in 2002, Ulaanbaatar,
Mongolia
Overall Goal: Reduce blindness in Mongolia by developing capacity for
modern cataract surgery and vitreo-retinal surgery at the two major referral
centers in Ulaanbaatar as part of Mongolia’s National Blindness Prevention
Plan.
• Mongolia Continuing Medical Education initiated in 2004, Ulaanbaatar,
Mongolia
Overall Goal: Improve the skills of Mongolian physicians by supporting con-
tinuing medical education through lectures and clinical training experiences.

Affiliated Organizations
143
2007–08 Health for Humanity Domestic Activities
• Ohio Wellness Club initiated in 1997, Youngstown, Ohio
Overall Goal: Improve the quality of life and health of community seniors by
providing health education seminars.
• Portland Smoking Prevention in Elementary Schools initiated in 2006, Portland,
Oregon
Overall Goal: Improve the health of children by decreasing the number of
elementary school students who begin smoking.
• HH Networks are regional groups of HH members who serve together to pro-
mote HH and general wellness as well as support international projects in Metro
D.C., Ohio, and Portland.

Riḍván 2008
144
Affiliated Organizations
145
Appendix: Appendices
Annual Report of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace, 147... Annual Report of the Bahá’í
Chair for World Peace,
University of Maryland University of Maryland
150... Membership of the National
Mission
Spiritual Assembly and
The Bahá’í Chair is an academic institution at the University of Maryland that the Regional Bahá’í Councils
works to build global peace, universal education, social and economic justice, hu-
man security, and institutional capacity building. 151... Membership of key
consultative and
Interactive dialogue directorial bodies
At the November 29, 2007, Annual Dinner, Secretary-General Kenneth E. Bowers
presented University President C.D. Mote, Jr., with a major contribution from the Na-
tional Spiritual Assembly, articulating the nature of the sacred trust with which Bahá’í
funds are allocated and talking about the university’s valued support of the Chair.
The Interactive Dialogue, which followed the dinner, addressed the theme: “Inte-
grating People and Diplomacy: A Necessity for Peace in the Twenty-first Century?”
and was moderated by the Chair professor, Dr. John Grayzel. The dialogue, at-
tended by some 350 guests, featured five distinguished speakers:
• Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. De-
partment of State’s Bureau for African Affairs
• Suheil Bushrui, Director of the Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace Project
at the University of Maryland
• Charles Doleac, Co-chairman of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Com-
mittee
• Badí Foster, President of the Phelps Stokes Fund
• Joseph Montville, former diplomat and Director of the Beyond Fundamentalism
project

Partnerships, collaborations, and facilitations


H ealth for Humanity. In three trips to Mongolia, the Chair professor, in concert
with Nur University, provided service to this Bahá’í-inspired nongovernmental
organization to develop and adapt a methodology of “research and reflection”
for Mongolian ophthalmologists.
I nitiative for Education for P eace, Cooperation and Development (IEPCD). With
colleagues from the university’s School of Education and Confucius Center, the
Chair created an initiative to bring together academic efforts to understand
(education), acquire skills (cooperation), and put into action (development) ef-
forts that recognize peace as greater than simply “an end to conflict.”

Appendices
147
P helps Stokes Fund. The Chair established collaboration with the Phelps Stokes
Fund, with the Chair professor being appointed a Phelps Stokes Senior Fellow.
The two offices are working together to establish a Ralph Bunche Society at the
university to assist minority and other students in becoming involved in interna-
tional activities and careers.
The Chair professor also periodically participated on international development
panels of the Council on Foreign Relations.

New capacities
Ms. Sahar Sattarzadeh holds the Chair’s first graduate assistantship for Peace
Education. Co-supervised by Dr. Grayzel and Professor Jing Lin of the School of
Education, her responsibilities include coordinating IEPCD activities and managing
the Global Learning Portal online.

Research and publications


To galvanize a dialogue on establishing peace as the foundation for U.S. foreign
policy, the Chair conducted a review of archives at the Eisenhower Presidential
Library in Abilene, Kansas. The result is a draft scholarly article entitled “Waging
Peace: Eisenhower’s Doctrine of Mutual Security and the Revitalization of Foreign
Assistance Today.”
The Chair is also working on:
• A trade book, tentatively entitled “From International Development to Mutual
Aid: The Greatest Opportunity in the World.”
• An essay on “Youth Leadership and Intergenerational Learning for a Sustainable
Future,” to be published in a scholarly journal.
• An essay for a publication on the language of peace.
• A compiled “Lexicon of Peace,” sponsored by the IEPCD. The Chair is using the
Global Learning Portal (GLP, www.glp.net/web/ptc/) to assist in this process.

Classes
Dr. Grayzel teaches two core classes:
• Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and International Development:
a foundation course for students in the International Development Minor pro-
gram.
• Creating Alternative Futures: an Honors seminar that examines various histori-
cal and current efforts to create new societies and requires students to apply an
empirical methodology to “create” their own alternative futures.
The Chair also sponsors a course taught by Professor Suheil Bushrui:
• Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race: an Honors seminar that offers students
the opportunity to study religious experience from a multicultural and global
perspective.

Interviews
During 2007–08, the Chair participated in an interview for World Order magazine:
• Grayzel, John A. “The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace—The Second Phase.” Inter-
view by Betty J. Fisher, Monireh Kazemzadeh, and Robert H. Stockman. World
Order, vol. 38, no. 1: 18–27.

Riḍván 2008
148
Presentations and participations
The Chair was active in presenting in a number of different forums during
2007–08:
2007
• Green Acre Bahá’í School Workshop. Presented on sovereignty and new under-
standings and applications of it in a global community.
• UN High-Level Interfaith Council Presentation. Attended as representative of
the Bahá’í International Community United Nations Office.
• Bahá’í Association for Mental Health (BAMH) 2007 Conference. Presented on
“Cross-Cultural Paradigms in Addressing Issues of Mental Health,” emphasizing
African perspectives on mental health.
• Beijing Youth University International Summit, Beijing, China. Presented on
new models for youth leadership.
• India and U.S. Conference. Organized and moderated panel on Indo-American
collaboration in science and technology.
• Republic of China-Sponsored RAND Corporation Meeting. Participated, by
special invitation of organizers, in a focus group considering future develop-
ment priorities of the Tientsin area of China.
• Social and Economic Development (SED) Conference on Spiritual Indicators,
Orlando, Florida. Presented on “Reflections on the Systematic Role of Reflec-
tion.”
2008
• University of Maryland Confucius Center conference on “The Contemporary
Significance of Confucianism.” Presented closing address.

Sponsored events
The Chair sponsored the following events as part of the Center for International
Development and Conflict Management’s (CIDCM) “Dialogues of Deeper Mean-
ing”:
• “Reading the Other Mind: Lost Messages Between the East and the West.”
Presentation by visiting scholar Alireza Rabi.
• Findings from CIDCM’s publication Peace and Conflict. Presentation by Jo-
seph Hewitt, Jon Wilkenfeld, co-editors.

Appendices
149
Appendix: Membership of the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá’ís of the United States, 2007–2008
Muin Afnani Dorothy W. Nelson
Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary-General William L.H. Roberts, Treasurer
Juana C. Conrad, Deputy Secretary-General Erica Toussaint
Robert C. Henderson David F. Young, Vice-Chair
Jacqueline Left Hand Bull, Chair

Membership of the Regional Bahá’í Councils in the United States


Central States Northwestern States
Yvonne Billingsley Carol Brooks
Marianne Geula, Treasurer Derek Cockshut
Jena Khadem Khodadad Henri Cross
Patricia Kubala Frederick Delgado, Secretary
Behrad Majidi Rhett Diessner, Recording Secretary
Alison Milston, Secretary Randie Gottlieb
Becky Smith, Cluster Advancement Liaison Shannon Javid, Treasurer
Emily Ternes, Regional Training Institute Liaison Celia Johnson, Vice-Chair
William Wieties, Chair Omid Meshkin, Chair

Northeastern States Southern States


Nina Dini, Assistant Secretary for Cluster Lupita Ahangarzadeh, Vice-Chair
Advancement Jack Guillebeaux
Bruce Grover Robert James, Chair
Neal McBride, Treasurer Ahmad Mahboubi
Chester Makoski, Secretary Carole Miller
Mary K. Makoski Mahyar Mofidi, Secretary
Barbara Markert, Vice-Chair Karen Pritchard, Treasurer
Joel Nizin, Chair Janice Sadeghian, Assistant Secretary
Vickie Nizin, Assistant Secretary for Administration James Sturdivant
Katherine Penn

Southwestern States
Shad Afsahi, Treasurer
Fariba Aghdasi, Deputy Secretary–Cluster
Advancement
Jerry Bathke, Vice-Chair
Gary Bulkin
Randolph Dobbs
Keyvan Geula
Marsha Gilpatrick, Secretary
Charleen Maghzi, Deputy / Recording Secretary
James F. Nelson, Chair
Membership of key consultative and directorial bodies
National committees and task School and institute advisory Other advisory boards
forces committees Bahá’í Service for the Blind
Office of Review Task Force Bosch Bahá’í School Robert Dickson
Shahin Borhanian John Davey-Hatcher Bill Peary
Charles Carnegie George Halaholo Lynne Peary
Gary Matthews Donna Hosseini John Simpson
Richard Schickele Neda Jam Laurie Simpson
Martha Schweitz Chela Lucas
Matthew Weinberg Venustiano Olguin
Anthony K. Reid Financial Advisory Group
Joannie Yuille Shad Afsahi
Bahá’í Center Assistance Board Ruhiyyih Yuille Nava Ashraf
Ted Amsden Richard Bauman
Tandis Arjmand Ray Cameron
Shariar Eshragh (retired) Green Acre Bahá’í School Robert Cook
Farzad Ferdowsi Mark Cabot Zeeba Dalal
Farshad Monfared LaRae Davis Shariar Eshragh
Sharon Dixon Peay Wandra Harmsen Faran Ferdowsi
Lee Ratcliff Rabi Musah Ridvan Gurmu
Virginia Rogers Farhad Rassekh Michael Hampton
Mahdad Saniee Paul Robbins Grant Kvalheim
Johanna Toloza-Parrish Keivan Towfigh Ron Lillejord
Wanda Wood, Program James Markert
Administrator Neal McBride
Native American Bahá’í Institute Casey McCants
Alice Bathke Sharon Dixon Peay
Young Adult Task Force Jerry Bathke Karen Pritchard
Paul Omeed Arbab Alvin Bitsilly Maideh Radpour
Ryan Armour Nanabah Foguth Schumann Rafizadeh
Everett Ayoubzadeh Rahan Khozein William Silva
Nadia Ayoubzadeh Elizabeth Louis Mehrdad Rassekh
Nathan Bushey Brad Rishel Virginia Rogers
Elizabeth Davis Robert Turner Rebecca Wilson
Jason Ighani Johan Wong
Joseph Maloney
Kia Roberts Wilmette Institute
Roger Dahl Chilean Temple Initiative Core
Nancy Davis Advisory Group
Manuchehr Derakhshani Alemash Asfaw
Betty J. Fisher Jocelyn Baral
Gayle Morrison Kalim Chandler
Keyvan Nazerian Connee Davis
Mark Rossman Andra Grant
Robert H. Stockman David Landesman
Geoff Wilson Neda Mohtadi
Membership of key consultative and directorial bodies (continued)
Contributors to Young Editorial boards Affiliates’ boards and executive committees
Believers Programs World Order Association for Bahá’í Health for Humanity
Peter Adriance Betty J. Fisher Studies—North America Board of Directors
Ryan Armour Arash Abizadeh Executive Committee
Jacqueline Ayorinde Val Abbassi
Monireh Kazemzadeh Roshan Danesh Gity Banan-Etemad
Kiser Barnes Diane Lotfi
Katie Bishop Lisa Dufraimont, Jennifer Chapman
Kevin A. Morrison Vice-Chair Richard Czerniejewski,
Lindsey Cameron Robert H. Stockman
Anna Castelaz Stephen Friberg, Vice-Chair
Jim Stokes Recording Secretary Kamyar Jabbari, Chair
Mary Chamberlin Herbert Woodward
Rich Chamberlin Michael Karlberg, Steve Jackson
Martin, Consultant in Secretary William McMiller
Cynthia Crampton Poetry
Shabnam Daneshgar Mehran Kiai, Treasurer Robert Phillips
Aaron Emmel Pierre-Yves Mocquais, Sabra Reichardt
Lacey Graves Gerard Executive Director John Safapour, Secretary
Encyclopedia Project
Michael Gerard Kim Naqvi, 2008 Geoff Wilson, Treasurer
Larry Bucknell Conference Program
Anne Gillette Betty J. Fisher
Nazaneen Grant Chair
Firuz Kazemzadeh Mehrzad Khorsandi Sahba Bahá’í Association for
Michael Greenlee Todd Lawson Mental Health Board
Bill Groetzinger Martha Schweitz, Chair
Heshmat Moayyad Dulamdary Enkhtor
Marylyn Harrison Gayle Morrison
Lea Iverson Jack Guillebeaux
Sholeh Quinn Journal of Bahá’í Studies Jason Ighani
Bayan Jalalizadeh Martha L. Schweitz Editorial Committee
Rohan Jalalizadeh Elena Mustakova-
Robert H. Stockman (Carey) Alexander McGee Possardt
Ryan Jenkins Will C. van den Hoonaard
Andrew Johnson Redwan Moqbel Michael Penn
Arilan Karczag Peter Terry Mary K. Radpour
Mary Lou Katz Phyllis Perrakis
Sholeh Loehle Deborah van den
Luthando Mazibuko Hoonaard
Patricia McGraw
Emiliano Morondos Association of the Friends
Shannon Reddy of Persian Culture
Hashem Selph Board of Directors
Azita Shahidi
Kamal Siegel Goli Ataii
Wendy Thomas Guitty Ejtemai
Samah Tokmachi Changiz Geula
Ronald Tomanio Hermien Hoveydai
Erik Unterschuetz Jaleh Joubine-Khadem
May Walker Manuchehr Khodadad
Gavin Welch Fuad Ziai