Governance and leadership

There is no clergy, or professional pastoral or missionary work, in the Baha'i Faith. Instead, Baha’u’llah has provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected lay councils at the local, national and international levels. At the local and national level, these councils are known as spiritual assemblies. The international governing body is the Universal House of Justice, a nine-member body with its Seat at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Endowed by Baha'u'llah with the authority to legislate on matters not specifically laid down in the Baha'i scriptures, the Universal House of Justice keeps the Baha'i community unified and responsive to the needs and conditions of an evolving world.

All Baha'i elections are held by secret ballot and plurality vote. There are no candidacies, nominations or campaigning. Baha'i governing bodies make decisions using a non-adversarial form of collective decision-making known as consultation to make decisions.

Baha’is believe these governing bodies, which are part of the Administrative Order, provide a model for the effective functioning of a unified global society and the spiritual and material well-being of the world’s peoples. Baha'is 21 and older enjoy the right to vote in Baha'i elections and serve as members of Baha'i administrative institutions.

The Nineteen Day Feast serves as the basic gathering for worship, community decision-making and fellowship. On the first day of each of the 19 months in the Baha'i calendar, local Baha'i communities gather for spiritual devotions, administrative consultation and fellowship.

Devotions include reading texts from the Baha'i Faith as well as those from other faiths. Following devotions, the community usually has a period of open consultation to allow members of the community to voice their opinions on community affairs and make recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly.

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