Two new members of the Universal House of Justice are chosen in a by-election
HAIFA, Israel — The worldwide Bahá’í community has elected two new members of the Universal House of Justice, its international governing body, replacing two departing members.
Stephen Birkland and Stephen Hall were chosen in a by-election held earlier this year. Their election was announced on 21 March 2010, the result of ballots sent in by members of all national Bahá’í governing bodies around the world, who serve as electors for the House of Justice.
The by-election fills two vacancies created when Hooper Dunbar and Peter Khan relinquished their positions before the end of their five-year terms, owing to their advanced age and the burden of work involved in membership. The last regular election of the nine members took place in 2008.
Mr. Birkland, 58, was serving as a member of the International Teaching Center at the time of his election. The Teaching Center, based in Haifa, is an appointed body that serves to advise the Universal House of Justice, among other duties.
Prior to his appointment to the Teaching Center in 2008, Mr. Birkland lived in Minnesota, USA, and worked as a psychotherapist and organizational consultant. He also taught at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, in its college of management for some 20 years. He also served in several voluntary Bahá’í positions, including as a Continental Counsellor, from 1993 to 2008.
Mr. Birkland possesses a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Science in counseling from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.
Mr. Birkland and his wife, Nadjla, have two grown sons.
Mr. Hall, 56, was born in Australia. He also served as a member of the International Teaching Center, a position he had held since 2005. Before that, Mr. Hall served as a Continental Counsellor for two years. Prior to that, he served as national secretary of the Australian Bahá’í community, from 1996 to 2003.
Possessing both a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Curriculum Development, Mr. Hall’s background and training are in education. Before his full time employment with the Australian Bahá’í community, Mr. Hall taught in small rural schools in New South Wales. He also worked as a curriculum consultant with the NSW Department of Education from 1986-87, working with rural and indigenous (Aboriginal) communities. Between 1988 and 1994, he was the principal of several larger schools, also in NSW.
Mr. Hall and his wife, Dicy, have four grown children.
Mr. Dunbar, 72, had served in Haifa since 1973, when he was appointed as a member of the International Teaching Centre. He was first elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1988.
Originally from Los Angeles, Mr. Dunbar’s early career was as an actor on stage, screen and television, making films with Columbia, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Twentieth Century-Fox. In 1958 he began 15 years of residence in Latin America, where he worked as a translator and educator. Mr. Dunbar served as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Nicaragua, and in 1968 he was appointed to the Continental Board of Counselors in South America.
Mr. Dunbar is an accomplished painter whose works have been shown in Europe and elsewhere. He is also an author, most recently of Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness,” published last year. Mr. Dunbar and his wife, Maralynn, have one son.
Dr. Khan, 73, was first elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1987 and has served as a member since.
Born in Australia, he earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Sydney and then went to the University of Michigan as a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow before becoming a member of the faculty there. He returned to Australia in 1975 to professorial positions, first at the University of New South Wales and then at the University of Queensland.
Dr. Khan has published widely in his profession and from 1978 to 2000 was a member of the editorial board of the journal “IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory.” He is a fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and a senior member of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
His Bahá’í service included membership on the Auxiliary Board, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia, and the Continental Board of Counselors for Australasia before his appointment in 1983 as a member of the International Teaching Centre.
With his wife, Dr. Janet Khan, he is the author of Advancement of Women: A Bahá’í Perspective.