On Saturday, May 25th, delegates from Bahá’i communities all over Ireland gathered at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin to elect a new national governing body. Conducted by secret ballot in a prayerful atmosphere with no nominations or electioneering, the election is the central focus of the annual National Convention.
“The Bahá’í Faith doesn’t have a clergy, instead we have an elected administration,” explained Alison Wortley, Secretary of the outgoing National Assembly. “In every Irish Bahá’í community – from Cork to Donegal – delegates are elected by the local Bahá’ís at Unit Conventions each year and then these delegates come to National Convention where they elect a new National Spiritual Assembly for the year.”
The people elected by the delegates gathered in Dublin to serve as members of the new National Spiritual Assembly are Brendan McNamara, Breda Nagle, Sarah Pickett, Pat Murphy, Caroline Smith, Mathew Kennedy, Alison Wortley, Ardawan Lalui and Sheena Odongo.
The election of the National Spiritual Assembly was just one of the tasks undertaken by the delegates during the two day Convention held on May 25th and 26th. On Saturday morning all those attending the Convention had the opportunity to watch a new documentary – Frontiers of Learning – a film that captures the insights and experiences of children, junior youth, youth, and adults—in Canada, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and India—whose efforts to build vibrant communities are at the frontiers of learning. This film shows how young and old, in cities and villages around the world, are taking part in a process of community building based on concepts enshrined in the Bahá’í Teachings.
The Irish Bahá’í Convention found the experiences and insights in this documentary a valuable aid to its own consultations on the subject of building community. Deeply involved with building community – both within and outside the Bahá’í community – the 2013 National Convention offered a valuable opportunity for the delegates to consult on work being done, work being planned and suggestions for ways they can, as individuals and communities, make a contribution to the wellbeing of the areas in which they live and work throughout Ireland. Life and work within the Bahá’í community, interfaith work, social action, community building and education were just some of the topics covered at this the 42nd National Bahá’í Convention to be held in Ireland.
(You can watch the documentary, Frontiers of Learning here – http://www.bahai.org/frontiers/)