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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLETerm Limits for Members of Spiritual Assemblies
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTQuotations from Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice on matters regarding Bahá'í elections, and why there are no term limits for members of Bahá'í assemblies.

1. Question sent to the Universal House of Justice

Dear friends,

I would like to know if the Universal House of Justice has ever commented on whether or not the members of a Spiritual Assembly have the latitude to set term limits on the tenure of their service on that body. For instance, would a Local Spiritual Assembly be at liberty to enact a general bylaw stating that no member shall serve for more than ten consecutive years? (I am familiar with the existing guidance on resignation from Spiritual Assemblies as laid out in Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities, which seems not to touch on this specific question.)

I ask this question in light of the following comment made on behalf of the beloved Guardian:

Shoghi Effendi has never said that the members of the National Assembly have to be renewed partially every year. The important thing is that they should be properly elected. It would be nice if there should be new members elected, for new blood always adds to the energy of the group and will keep up their spirit. But this depends entirely upon the will of the delegates as represented in the result of their voting. [Emphasis mine] (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 67, October 1932, p. 4)
As the World Center is undoubtedly aware through the reports it regularly receives, it is all too easy for the members of a given community to grow complacent with the existing membership of a Spiritual Assembly, such that there is typically little to no change from year to year. In such cases, incumbents will go on to serve for several years at a time, even full decades. While there are certainly benefits to having long-standing members of these bodies—the wisdom and experience gained, the harmonious dynamics that often develop with time—their protracted incumbency does nonetheless preclude (at worst) or curtail (at best) the infusion of "new blood," and prevents other qualified friends in the community from having the opportunity of rendering this service. ...

(sent 2021 May 20, by [name on file])

Reply from the Universal House of Justice

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