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Bahá’ís of Bermuda in Israel for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ forum

The nine-member National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Bermuda travelled to Haifa, Israel for the 13th International Bahá’í Convention. Pictured there are Anthony Ball, Read Currelly, Tanisha Edwards, Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo, Ozzie Hinds, Cheryl Peek-Ball, Lucille Rochester, Georgia Symonds and Blythe Walker (Photograph supplied)

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Bermuda travelled to Haifa, Israel this week for the International Bahá’í Convention.

More than 1,500 national spiritual assemblies from over 176 countries and territories met at the Bahá’í World Centre to consult on ways to promote the world’s social and spiritual wellbeing, and to uphold the sacred duty of electing the nine-member Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body for the worldwide Bahá’í community.

This year’s convention was the largest ever in the 60-year history of the elected administrative body, and according to one participant, an “exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experience” to witness.

It was also distinguished by being the only occasion when a tie vote occurred for the ninth position, which was resolved by a by-election.

“This outcome came as quite a surprise to the delegates on the morning we were expecting to hear the election outcome. We were told that there were 1,593 paper ballots and nearly 14,000 individual votes that had to be counted. A by-election seemed an ominous task,” said a spokesperson for Bermuda’s National Spiritual Assembly.

“The harmonious and efficient way the tie vote was managed by the 19 delegates assigned to be tellers was an amazing demonstration of the process of consultation and was a vision of unity. The efforts to enable every single delegate – even those many time zones away – a chance to vote again went into the wee hours of the morning.”

A set goal of assuring “a fair, transparent process” fell in line with the “spiritual nature of the Bahá’í election process”, the spokesperson added.

“It was so moving to see this play out. This election, which occurs without discussion, nomination, electioneering or campaigns, stands in stark contrast to the election process observed in secular society. It is a private, spiritual undertaking, whereby the individual elector seeks to become fully informed of their fellow members within the global Bahá’í community, and then privately votes, by secret ballot, according to their conscience.”

The newly elected members of the Universal House of Justice will serve for five years, offering guidance, leadership in service, and inspiration to approximately 8 million worldwide followers of the teachings of Baháʼu'lláh, whose central aim is to create peaceful communities characterised by justice and mutual accord.

The nine members of Bermuda’s National Spiritual Assembly are a diverse group of individuals elected to serve a term of one year.

As one participant explained: “We come from several different places and have varied backgrounds, but all call Bermuda home and want to serve our community. We all just happen to be fortunate enough to serve on the National Assembly during the year of an International Bahá’í Convention.”

The 13th International Convention concluded on Wednesday.

“We were all very honoured to be able to participate, and particularly grateful that our entire National Assembly of nine members could be present for the historic events,” the spokesperson said.

“The value of participating in the consultations about community-building, and conversing with a broad array of humanity, all striving to improve the social and spiritual conditions of their communities, was extremely powerful.”

• For more information on the 13th International Bahá’í Convention visit news.bahai.org/. For information on the activities of the Bermuda Baha’i community, see www.bermudabahai.org

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Published May 06, 2023 at 6:58 am (Updated May 06, 2023 at 6:58 am)

Bahá’ís of Bermuda in Israel for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ forum

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