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Advancing Beyond the Rabbani Charitable Trust Bahá’í Conference in Orlando

Dear Friends of the Trust,

Early in 2013 the Rabbani Charitable Trust announced its decision that it was timely to bring to a close the annual event known as the Rabbani Trust Bahá’í Conference in Orlando and that the 20th such Conference held in December 2012 would be the final one of the series.

That communication went on to say that the Trust and the National Spiritual Assembly were embarking on a process of active consultation, pursuant to the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, concerning the evolution and continuing development of the Trust’s services to the Faith. And further that “our goal is unity of vision, purpose and action – and as these consultations bear fruit over the coming months, we will be pleased to report on the results.”

A subsequent update made mention of the Trust’s continuing active exploration of other options of service and continuing consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. A significant number of months now having passed, we felt it timely to provide another update.

After exploring a number of possibilities for the future direction of the work of the Trust, the Trustees concluded that the guidance from the Universal House of Justice to “...more directly support the progress of the Faith” could best be achieved by seeking a way to support the work of the Five Year Plan in a direct and coherent manner. In consultation with Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly Kenneth Bowers, we jointly concluded that the fundamental questions for our focus were: How can the Trust (and/or others outside the administrative order) complement the work of the Institutions? (and) If this is feasible, by what process could we determine the contribution to be made? It was agreed that the approach to be used to try to discover the answers to these questions would include participation in one of the Baha'i Social Action Seminars, followed by a visit to one of the learning sites, followed by another consultation with Mr. Bowers.

Having participated in one of the National Spiritual Assembly sponsored Social Action Seminars, which involved intensive study of and consultation concerning OSED’s 2012 Statement on Social Action, and having completed an extensive visit to the East Valley learning site in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona, followed by another consultation with Mr. Bowers, we have emerged with some significant insights. These include a much greater understanding of the vision of the Universal House of Justice (and consequently the NSA) regarding Social Action.

It has been a long road of discovery and prayerful reflection, but we are now attaining some clarity about the answers to the fundamental questions mentioned above. We have gained the conviction that it is possible for much good to be done by entities outside the administrative order and that such entities are a resource that should not be ignored. And it seems very clear that the highly dynamic process (characterized by continuous learning and being guided by the Institutions) of evolution and growth we have observed continuously unfolding around us does not lend itself to solitary decision-making by an entity, such as the Trust, seeking to complement the work of the Institutions.

If an entity such as the Trust wishes to complement the work of the Institutions in a way that is fully coherent, timely and provides maximum value, there must be close collaboration and consultation as the basis for identifying a path of service.

If this collaboration is to work effectively, such an entity must also find ways to stay close to the learning that is taking place in the advanced sites, because that’s where the Institutions are focused. Entities could then, from a position of being well-informed about developments at the forefront, consult with the NSA on how best to contribute means or services that are fully coherent with that institution’s work.

This spirit of consultation with the Institutions to facilitate coherent collaboration is clearly and beautifully expressed in the words of Shoghi Effendi, as shared with us in the 2010 guidance we received from the House of Justice.

“Nothing short of the spirit of earnest and sustained consultation with those whom we have prayerfully and of our own accord placed in the forefront of those who are the custodians of the priceless heritage bequeathed by Bahá’u’lláh; nothing less than persistent and strenuous warfare against our own instincts and natural inclinations, and heroic self-sacrifice in subordinating our own likings to the imperative requirements of the Cause of God, can insure our undivided loyalty to so sacred a principle—a principle that will for all time safeguard our beloved Cause from the allurements and the trivialities of the world without, and of the pitfalls of the self within.”

The Trust, in conjunction with the National Spiritual Assembly, is now pursuing this approach. As this process of learning and collaboration proceeds, we welcome your prayers on our behalf and any feedback, comments or suggestions you may wish to offer. Just email us at email [at] rabbanitrust.org.

With loving greetings,

The Rabbani Charitable Trust

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