The Universal House of Justice has considered your letter … and perceives therein a deep concern to uphold the best interests of the Faith and an earnest desire to labor for its advancement. We have been directed to reply to your letter as follows.…
You have asked a number of clearly formulated questions related to the development of Local Spiritual Assemblies. But, in fact, the essence of the answers to these questions is contained in many of your own statements. Therefore the House of Justice wishes merely to clarify, in brief, a few points you have raised.
It is true that the development of Local Spiritual Assemblies is of paramount importance to the worldwide Bahá’í community. As you are aware from the messages written by the House of Justice regarding the Four Year Plan, the successful unfoldment of the Plan will depend upon the actions to be taken by three participants—the individual believer, the institutions, and the local community. It is to be expected, then, that the development of all three will have to be addressed by National Spiritual Assemblies everywhere. The manner in which this development occurs, however, may vary from region to region within a country, and even from locality to locality.
Awareness of particular needs and of the importance of applying certain principles is only one consideration, albeit a significant one, in devising programs of action. The resources available, the capacity of those who will carry the action out, the methods that have been discovered and refined at any given moment—these must also be taken into account when one is deciding what to do. That after so many years of constant effort throughout the Bahá’í world methods and approaches have been found to train at least a certain number of believers enrolled from among the receptive masses themselves—to deepen their knowledge of the Teachings of the Faith and to help them acquire skills and abilities to serve it effectively—is no small accomplishment, and these methods and approaches should now be fully exploited and utilized more extensively. Therefore, the emphasis on the establishment and operation of training institutes in the Four Year Plan is not only the expression of a great need in the Faith but also an acknowledgement of the capacity within the worldwide Bahá’í community to meet it on a large scale.
Clearly this emphasis does not imply that the work of strengthening Local Spiritual Assemblies should be neglected. Care must be taken, however, that over-concern about the role of the Local Assembly in community affairs not inhibit the friends from doing those things that can be done and which, in the long run, will lead to the development of the local community and its institutions. The holding of Bahá’í children’s classes, which you mention, is a case in point. Naturally, the successful establishment of weekly children’s classes under the guidance of the Local Spiritual Assembly would be one of the outcomes of a comprehensive approach to community development. Yet the lack of the desired method at any given moment should not be used as an argument against pursuing programs that help individuals to establish children’s classes in the villages when this is perhaps their only developed skill. It should be remembered that, in the final analysis, all those activities carried out with a sincere desire to serve the Faith and with purity of heart will bring results and contribute to the development of dynamic Bahá’í communities.
During the years ahead, institutes in … and elsewhere will be training large numbers of believers to perform a wide range of services to the Faith. Those devising program content will teach methods, including those for community development, known to them. As the number of active workers for the Faith increases and experience is gained, the content of the training itself will improve, and gradually the human resources will become available to help strengthen fledgling Local Assemblies in greater numbers. At this stage, the friends everywhere should not allow their anxieties, which arise only from their intense love for the Faith, to hamper them and should act with confidence.