This past week, all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Bermuda travelled to Haifa, Israel to participate in the 13th International Bahá’í Convention. Along with over 1500 National Spiritual Assemblies members from over 176 countries and territories, they were invited to the Bahá’í World Center to consult on ways to promote the world’s social and spiritual well-being, 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 International Convention was the largest ever in the 60 year history of the elected administrative body, and according to one participant was an “exceptional, once-in-a lifetime experience” to witness.
In addition to being the largest International Bahá’í Convention, this year’s event was distinguished by being the only occasion when a tie vote occurred for the 9th 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 1593 paper ballots and nearly 14,000 individual votes that had to be counted. A by-election seemed an ominous task,” according to the spokesperson for the Bermuda contingent. “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. Their determination to assure a fair, transparent process, was a testament to the spiritual nature of the Bahá’í election process”, according to our spokesperson.
“It was so moving to see this play out,” she added. “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 characterized by justice and mutual accord.
Like the worldwide Bahá’í community, the members of Bermuda’s National Spiritual Assembly are a diverse group of individuals elected to serve a term of one year. As one participant explains, “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 privileged representatives of Bermuda’s Bahá’í community for the 13th International Convention which concluded May 3rd, were: Anthony Ball, Read Currelly, Tanisha Edwards, Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo, Ozzie Hinds, Cheryl Peek-Ball, Lucille Rochester, Georgia Symonds and Blythe Walker.
“We were all very honored to be able to participate, and particularly grateful that our entire National Assembly of nine members could be present for the historic events. 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.”
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