For more information, please visit: http://www.bahai.us/
To become a Baha'i is to respond to the call of God for this day and to join a global fellowship committed to helping humankind reach the long-promised age of global peace, justice and unity. A person becomes a Baha'i by recognizing Baha'u'llah as the Messenger of God for this age and striving to follow His laws and teachings. (To become a member of the Baha'i Faith, go to join.bahai.us. Outside of the United States, visit the international Baha'i website for contact information in your country.)
Some of the features and requirements of living a Baha'i life are:
Governance and leadership:
There is no clergy, or professional pastoral or missionary work, in the Baha'i Faith. Instead, Baha'u'llah has provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected lay councils at the local, national and international levels. The Universal House of Justice is the nine-member, elected governing body of the worldwide Baha'i community. Endowed by Baha'u'llah with the authority to legislate on matters not specifically laid down in the Baha'i scriptures, the Universal House of Justice keeps the Baha'i community unified and responsive to the needs and conditions of an evolving world. All Baha'i elections are held by secret ballot and plurality vote. There are no candidacies, nominations or campaigning. Baha'i governing bodies (assemblies) make decisions using a non-adversarial form of collective decision-making known as consultation to make decisions. Baha'is 21 and older enjoy the right to vote in Baha'i elections and serve as members of Baha'i administrative institutions. The Nineteen Day Feast serves as the basic gathering for worship, community decision-making and fellowship. On the first day of each of the 19 months in the Baha'i calendar, local Baha'i communities gather for spiritual devotions, administrative consultation and fellowship.
Teaching the Baha'i Faith:
Baha'is are enjoined to take individual initiative in teaching the Baha'i Faith to others. However, the Faith forbids any form of psychological pressure or material inducements to effect conversion, based on a profound belief that each person has the right and responsibility to investigate the truth for him or herself. Baha'is strive to share Baha'u'llah's message with their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, with the understanding that "that which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith." Another avenue for Baha'is to teach the Baha'i Faith is to move to another country or community as a "pioneer." Baha'i pioneering differs from traditional missionary work in that those undertaking it are expected to pursue their own careers, be self-supporting and integrate themselves into their adopted communities.
For Baha'is, service to others gives life meaning and purpose. Any work or profession carried out in a spirit of service to humanity is considered the highest form of worship. Educating one's children and caring for one's family also are considered laudable forms of service and worship. In addition to these personal forms of service, the Baha'i community undertakes collective service projects in accordance with priorities and goals set by the Universal House of Justice. Such acts of service may include tutoring adult study circles, teaching children's classes, mentoring youth groups and hosting devotional programs. Baha'is are also involved in a wide variety of social and economic development projects to uplift the material and spiritual well-being of humanity.
Giving to the Baha'i funds:
Giving to Baha'i funds is considered a sacred obligation and privilege. It is also a private, voluntary act that is restricted to Baha'is; no funds or contributions are accepted from those who are not members of the Faith. Solicitation or assessment of personal donations are not permitted. Regularity in giving and a spirit of sacrifice are emphasized over the size of the contribution.