The Purpose of the Convention
Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated November 18, 1933 written on his behalf, specifies that Bahá'í National Convention has a "twofold function of electing the body of the National Spiritual Assembly, and of offering any constructive suggestions in regard to the general administration of the Cause."
The Development of Units
Do you know how Unit Conventions began?
In 1943 at the dawn of the celebration for the completion of the ornamentation of the Temple in Wilmette and the upcoming centenary celebration, Shoghi Effendi announced the need for a "new basis for election" of National Convention delegates for the coming year.
As the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies in North America is steadily increasing, and will soon reach a point when it will be impracticable to apportion the 171 delegates among them, and as the number of delegates should not at present be further increased, the Guardian considers it advisable to introduce a new basis for election on the occasion of this historic Convention. This new principle will enable all Baha'is, whether belonging to communities that have an Assembly or to groups, and even all isolated believers, to participate in the election of delegates for the National Convention. (Bahá'í News, 164, July 1943, p.2)
One year later coinciding with the centenary of the Declaration of the Báb, delegates who had been selected by believers at state and provincial conventions rather than Local Assemblies attended the National Convention. The end of the celebrations of the centenary also signaled the end of the First Epoch of the Formative Age.
(– From Bahá'í Unit Conventions, Educational Materials from the Office of Assembly Development)
What was happening in the early 1900s?
- 1892: The Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh
- 1894: The first Bahá'í community in North America is formed in Chicago
- The first prayer book and first compilations of Bahá'í writings are published in the West. The Chicago community reorganizes by selecting a ten-member Board of Council
- 1902: Construction begins on the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of 'Ishqabad with the laying of its cornerstone
- 1903: Inspired by the news of the 'Ishqabad Temple project, the Chicago House of Spirituality asks 'Abdu'l-Bahá for permission to construct a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. They receive a letter from 'Abdu'l-Bahá giving His approval for the building of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in North America.
- 1909: The first American Bahá'í Convention opens in Chicago with 39 delegates from 36 cities. The convention establishes the Bahá'í Temple Unity which holds the title to the Temple property and provides for its construction.
- 1922: Bahá'í Temple Unity renamed National Spiritual Assembly of the United States on the instructions of Shoghi Effendi
Question: What was the purpose of the first National Convention?
Question: What is the purpose of the National Convention of today?
Next edition: Encouraging participation in Unit Convention.
If you have ideas to share, please send them to email@example.com.