The following is reposted with permission from USENET's soc.religion.bahai: RECENT HISTORY AND CURRENT STATUS Abdu'l-Baha stated in his Will and Testament that leadership of the Baha'i community was to be passed on to his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who became the "Guardian" of the Baha'i community after Abdu'l-Baha died. Shoghi Effendi lead the Baha'is until his passing in 1957. It was under Shoghi Effendi's leadership that the Baha'i Faith spread to all corners of the world. Today there are Baha'is in over 200 countries and territories and Baha'i literature has been translated into over 700 different languages. There is no professional clergy in the Baha'i Faith. This is primarily due to the Baha'i principle of independent investigation of truth. No one individual Baha'i can interpret the Baha'i writings and force that interpretation on other Baha'is. However there are Baha'i institutions today that govern the administrative affairs of the Faith. At the local level is the Local Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member board elected by the Baha'is in their locality annually. At the national level there is the National Spiritual Assembly, also consisting of nine members elected annually by representatives of the Baha'is in their country. At the international level is the Universal House of Justice, which is centered in Haifa, Israel (just across the bay from the prison city of Akka where Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha were imprisoned). The Universal House of Justice consists of nine members and is elected every five years by members of the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world. It is the Universal House of Justice which has final responsibility for overseeing the Inter- national Baha'i Community.