June 30, 2017

Functions of Regional Bahá'í Councils – described by the Universal House of Justice

The functions of a Regional Bahá'í Council and the degree of authority conferred upon it are within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly. However, they should not be limited to those of a national or regional committee for, in such a case, there would be no justification for bringing into being a Regional Bahá'í Council rather than appointing a national or regional committee. The functions and responsibilities generally envisaged for a Regional Bahá'í Council are as follows:
  • 1. To carry out the policies of the National Spiritual Assembly and to supervise, on behalf of the National Assembly, the smooth and efficient execution of the plans and projects for its region.
  • 2. To keep the National Spiritual Assembly regularly informed of the Council's activities and of the conditions of the Faith throughout the region. Regional Bahá'í Councils are allowed to develop their own strategies and programmes, and to carry out their day-to-day work without having to obtain further approval from the National Spiritual Assembly. However, through their frequent reports and the minutes of their meetings, the National Assembly is kept informed of their activities and maintains its overall supervision of the affairs of the Cause in all parts of the country.
  • 3. To take initiative in the promotion of the Faith in the region and to carry out its decisions within the range of authority vested in it by the National Assembly. The National Assembly allows the Council a wide latitude for autonomous action, intervening in its work only in matters which the Assembly regards as being of major importance. The main task of a Regional Bahá'í Council is to devise and execute expansion and consolidation plans in close collaboration with the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the believers within its area of jurisdiction. Its goal is to create strong Local Spiritual Assemblies which will be the focal centres of Bahá'í activity, will exercise their vitally important role in the development of the Faith and will demonstrate their ability to regulate the affairs of their local communities.
  • 4. To deal with both teaching and administrative matters within the region including the appointment of committees for issues within its terms of reference, such as external affairs and the translation, publication and distribution of Bahá'í literature.
    • 1. In the area of teaching, a Regional Bahá'í Council may be given authority by the National Assembly to appoint, direct and supervise the work of a number of area or district teaching committees. In those cases where a Regional Bahá'í Council has to carry out a wide range of functions, it may also be authorized by the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a regional teaching committee to be responsible to it for the teaching work in the region as a whole and for the direction and supervision of the area or district teaching committees.
    • 2. A Regional Bahá'í Council may be asked by the National Spiritual Assembly to arrange and supervise the unit elections for delegates to the national convention.
    • 3. The working relationship between the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the National Spiritual Assembly in an area where there is a Regional Bahá'í Council will depend upon the range of functions and responsibilities conferred by the National Assembly upon the Council. In any case the authority to deprive a believer of his or her administrative rights, or to restore them, remains with the National Assembly. The right of direct access to the National Assembly by a Local Spiritual Assembly is preserved.
  • 5. To be responsible, under the general guidelines and policies established by the National Spiritual Assembly, for conducting, on behalf of the National Assembly, the external affairs of the Faith at the level of the region, representing the Bahá'ís of the region in relation to the civil authorities of that region.
  • 6. To take part, under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly and in consultation with the Counsellors or their deputies, in the formulation of a plan for its region as part of the national plan within the framework of each worldwide Plan.
  • 7. To devise, for the approval of the National Assembly, its own expansion and consolidation programmes for the achievement of the plan for its region, within the overall framework of the national plan.
  • 8. To formulate an annual budget for the region, in consultation with the Counsellors or their deputies when advisable, and to submit this budget to the National Spiritual Assembly for its approval.
    • 1. Alternatively, should the conditions indicate the advisability of such a method, the annual budgets of Regional Bahá'í Councils may be specified by the National Spiritual Assembly.
  • 9. To administer the budget for the region, sending regular reports and financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly.
  • 10. A Regional Bahá'í Council can be authorized by the National Spiritual Assembly to act as its agent in operating a regional branch of the national Bahá'í fund. In this respect the Council may perform the following functions.
    • 1. It encourages believers within its region to contribute to various funds of the Cause, including the regional branch of the national fund, with the aim that, in due course, the entire expenditure for the region would be provided by the believers in the region.
    • 2. If the whole of the budgeted expenditure for a year cannot be met by contributions from the believers in the region, the Council may apply to the National Spiritual Assembly for an allocation from the national Bahá'í fund.
    • 3. It is also within the discretion of the Counsellors to allocate financial assistance to a Regional Bahá'í Council from the funds at their disposition.
  • 11. Under normal conditions, correspondence between Regional Bahá'í Councils and the Bahá'í World Centre should be addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly, which would then convey the communication to its intended recipient. 
    • 1. If, because of local conditions, the Universal House of Justice authorizes certain Regional Bahá'í Councils to correspond directly with it, copies of all such correspondence should be sent to the National Assembly.
    • 2. Copies of the Bahá'í International News Service and of certain circular letters may be mailed from the Bahá'í World Centre directly to all Regional Bahá'í Councils.
    • 3. When Regional Bahá'í Councils publish Bahá'í literature or regional newsletters, copies of such publications should be sent directly to the Bahá'í World Centre under the same guidelines as apply to national Bahá'í publications. 
    • 4. Although, in general, Regional Bahá'í Councils can be authorized to correspond directly with the World Centre in order to share current information about the activities of their respective communities, this should not be misconstrued as a means to bypass the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly in matters requiring guidance or decision.
  • 12. In most countries the legal status of Regional Bahá'í Councils would seem to be adequately covered by the National Assembly's incorporation.
  • 13. Just as Counsellors have direct consultative relations with National and Local Spiritual Assemblies, so they also have direct relations with Regional Bahá'í Councils.
    • 1. Whenever the Counsellors feel it necessary or desirable, they are free to deputize one or more Auxiliary Board members to represent them in consultations with a Regional Bahá'í Council. Also, occasional meetings should be arranged between a Regional Bahá'í Council and the Auxiliary Board members responsible for areas within its region, for the discussion of the vision and strategies for the work. A regular and free exchange of information between Auxiliary Board members on the one hand and Regional Bahá'í Councils on the other is encouraged. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 30 May, 1997)