Institution of the Counsellors
The Counsellors are part of the administrative order of the Bahá'í Faith, and are part of a greater administrative branch called the Institution of the Counsellors, established by the Universal House of Justice in 1968.
The Counsellors are appointed by the Universal House of Justice, and collectively in each continent are referred to as a Continental Board of Counsellors. Nine of them, referred to as International Counsellors, are specifically assigned to the International Teaching Centre, which coordinates the international efforts of all the Counsellors. The Counsellors appoint Auxiliaries collectively referred to as Auxiliary Boards in smaller regional areas, who in turn appoint their own assistants to work in localities.
The primary responsibilities of the Institution of the Counsellors are the protection and propagation of the Bahá'í Faith in all parts of the world. Each Auxiliary Board Member is assigned to either protection or propagation.
There are currently 81 Counsellors, and they are appointed for a renewable five-year term which starts on the Bahá'í Holy Day, the Day of the Covenant, 26 November.
With the eventual passing of the individual Hands of the Cause appointed by Shoghi Effendi and without a Guardian to appoint additional Hands, the Universal House of Justice saw the need for developing an institution for the purpose of performing the Hands’ function of protection and propagation of the Faith. In 1968 the Continental Board of Counselors was formed. Their duties were:
- to direct the Auxiliary Boards,
- to consult and collaborate with National Spiritual Assemblies,
- to keep the Hands of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice informed concerning the conditions of the Cause in their areas.
The remaining Hands residing in the Holy Land were instructed to act as liaison between the Universal House of Justice and the newly-formed Continental Boards of Counselors.(Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 5-8)
In 1973, the International Teaching Centre was formed, which leads the work and actitivies of the Continental Counsellors.
- Smith, Peter (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- Universal House of Justice (1996). In Marks, Geoffry W., (Ed.). Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986: The Third Epoch of the Formative Age. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-239-2.