Bahá’ís in Arlington and across the world are preparing for the election of their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA). In every locality where 9 or more Bahá’í adults live, on the April 20th the Local Spiritual Assembly is elected. The only communities where Local Spiritual Assemblies will not be elected are in Iran, since the government of Iran in 1983 called for the dismantling of the Bahá’í administrative structure. Therefore in 1983 the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran dissolved itself and the rest of the Bahá’í administrative structure in the country as a demonstration of goodwill towards the government.
There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith, rather the LSA is the elected administrative body that provides pastoral care and coordinates the affairs of the community at the local level. The institutions of a National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) and the Universal House of Justice coordinate the affairs of the Bahá’í community at a national and the international level respectively. Therefore the Local Spiritual Assembly in addition to providing guidance for the Bahá’í community at a local level, is the grassroots centerpiece of a democratic local, national, and international election processes.
The secret ballot election takes place in a prayerful atmosphere, void of nominations or campaigning. All Bahá’ís over the age of 21 who reside with in the particular geographic jurisdiction are eligible to vote and to be elected to serve. Individual elected members have no special authority, status, or power outside the Assembly itself.