There is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith. Rather, it is administered by a unique combination of freely elected councils and a complementary institution of appointed advisers.
Guided by principles laid down in the writings of Baha’u’llah, Baha’is have established a distinctive system of global self-governance that both protects personal freedom and safeguards the prerogatives of the community as a whole, striking a singular balance between individual initiative and the common good.
In every municipality where there are at least nine Baha'is, a governing council ("local spiritual assembly" or LSA) is elected. In the Greater Victoria region there are LSAs in Oak Bay, Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, Esquimalt, Colwood, View Royal and the Highlands. There are also LSAs in the West Shore communities, and throughout Vancouver Island.
National Spiritual Assembly of Canada
The only Worldwide Election--How it works...
The election process is in many ways far more “democratic” than the methods by which most parliaments or other representational systems operate. Because of its distinctive procedures and principles, it avoids the processes of manipulation, factionalism, and disunity that have become features of other systems of governance worldwide.
Baha’i elections exclude any form of electioneering or nomination. They offer individual voters the widest possible choice of candidates because they are free to vote for any Baha'i over the age of 21, whom they feel best suited to serve. They are encouraged to choose people who are humble, trustworthy, with well-trained minds and proven experience in service to the Baha'i Faith.
These elected councils are vested by the Baha’i Sacred Writings with legislative, judicial, and executive functions. The nine members make decisions collectively, using a process of spiritual consultation taught by Baha'u'llah. There are elected Spiritual Assemblies at the local, regional, national, and international levels. These Assemblies are tasked with serving Baha'is, as well as the public at large.
There is also an appointed branch of the Baha’i administrative order, entrusted with propagating and protecting the Faith. Individuals serving in an appointed capacity counsel, educate, stimulate and encourage individual Baha’is and elected institutions.