Baha’i Convention Anticipates with Joy the Bicentennary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth

Baha’i Convention Anticipates with Joy the Bicentennary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth


During the weekend of April 27-30, Baha’i delegates representing every province and territory of Canada participated in the Baha’i National Convention in Toronto.  The 171 delegates elected the national governing council of the Baha’is of Canada, the National Spiritual Assembly. They also deliberated on plans and actions of the Baha’i community. 


As the Baha’i Faith does not have clergy, governing councils, called Spiritual Assemblies, are elected at both the local and national level annually during a twelve-day holy period, the Festival of Ridvan, at the end of April.  Every five years, the international governing council of the Baha’i world community of some six million adherents is elected.  Named the Universal House of Justice, this supreme institution of the Baha’i Faith is also elected in a democratic, confidential vote involving more than 1,500 National Spiritual Assembly members from more than 170 national Baha’i communities around the world.


This year is a special year as the six million-member Baha’i community looks forward to October when they will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah whose remarkable life and whose teachings revealed by God to Him led to the emergence of the Baha’i religion in the middle years of the 19th century. 


Deliberations of the four-day Baha’i National Convention are meant to enrich the perspective of the National Spiritual Assembly.  Delegates share insights from conversations at the grass roots, and from a special message received each year from the Universal House of Justice.  The current plight of humanity, described in that message and in an earlier message, March 1, 2017, regarding the challenge faced by the world in pursuing much greater economic justice, was the focus of much of the convention’s discussion, along with a consideration of the significance of plans underway for the country-wide observance of that bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the weekend of October 21-22.  Baha’is throughout Canada will be inviting relatives, friends, neighbours, co-workers, fellow students and other acquaintances to events and gatherings to celebrate that historic Holy Day.


Delegates also had cause, in this Sesquicentennial year of the nation of Canada, to reflect on what Canadian Baha’is take to be a sacred and prophetic view of Canada that was written by one of the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  After travelling to Montreal in 1912, and then returning to the Holy Land, in 1917 He wrote that “the future of Canada, whether from a material or spiritual standpoint, is very great.  Day by day civilization and freedom shall increase.” 


Discussion among delegates considered Canada’s future, how it remains dependent on further efforts at reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples of Canada, French-speaking, English-speaking and more recent arrivals to Canada, along with the essential work of giving continued emphasis to the education of children and youth.  Consultation at the Convention was greatly assisted by the presence and the wise advice of two members of the Continental Board of Counsellors, Ms. Shabnam Tashakor of Toronto and Dr. Borna Noureddin of Vancouver.


Those elected to the National Spiritual Assembly for the coming year were Ms. Karen McKye, Ms. Deloria Bighorn, Dr. Mehran Anvari, Mme Elizabeth Wright, Mr. Ciprian Jauca, Ms. Hoda Farahmandpour, Ms. Judy Filson, Dr. Gerald Filson and Mr. Enayat Rawhani.   Ms. Karen McKye will serve over the coming year as the Secretary, or chief executive officer of the National Assembly.  Ms. Deloria Bighorn will serve as Chair, and Dr. Mehran Anvari is the Treasurer.


The Baha’i election gives to each elector unfettered freedom to vote confidentially for those entirely of his or her own choosing among all the adults of the national community. It is a democratic process that is sacred and dignified, free from the personal ambition and partisanship by which the intrigue of nomination and propaganda of campaigning infect and distort the democratic process. The result is at once joyous and profound in its implications. It generates and sustains a healthy and mature relationship between individuals and the institutions that guide the community and tend to its administrative arrangements.


The prayerful and reflective atmosphere at the convention created a spirit of dignity, which Baha’is view as an essential element of elections, an aspect of the reciprocity and respect that should infuse the relationship between individuals, institutions and the community.