Two members of Universal House of Justice leaving after decades of service

March 22, 2010
Dr. Peter Khan, left, and Mr. Hooper Dunbar

HAIFA, Israel — Two members of the Universal House of Justice, Mr. Hooper Dunbar and Dr. Peter Khan, are leaving Haifa after decades of service at the Baha'i World Centre.

The results of a by-election to replace them on the nine-member House of Justice were announced on 20 March, with the change effective immediately. The Universal House of Justice, which has its permanent seat in Haifa, is the head of the Baha'i Faith.

The last regular election of the nine members took place in 2008. All have five-year terms, but the House of Justice gave permission to Mr. Dunbar and Dr. Khan to relinquish their positions owing to their advanced age and the burden of work associated with membership.

Mr. Dunbar, 72, has served in Haifa since 1973 when he was called to the Baha'i World Centre as a member of the International Teaching Centre. He was first elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1988 and since then has been elected to successive terms.

Originally from Los Angeles, as a young man he was 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 Baha'is of Nicaragua before being named to the Auxiliary Board for Protection. In 1968 he was appointed to the Continental Board of Counselors in South America and served in that position five years until moving to the Holy Land.

He is an accomplished painter whose works have been shown in Europe and elsewhere. He is the author of a book-length study guide to the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude), one of the major works of Baha'u'llah, and of "Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness," published last year. Mr. Dunbar and his wife, Maralynn George Dunbar, have one son. They will be establishing their new residence in California.

Dr. Khan, 73, was first elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1987 and has served as a member since that time.

Born in New South Wales, Australia, he earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Sydney and then went to the University of Michigan in the United States as 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 Baha'i service included membership on the Auxiliary Board, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia, and the Continental Board of Counselors for Australasia before his appointment in 1983 as a member of the International Teaching Centre in Haifa. He served in that capacity until his election to the House of Justice.

Dr. Khan has lectured widely on Baha'i subjects and has written numerous articles on the Baha'i Faith. With his wife, Dr. Janet Khan, he is the author of "Advancement of Women: A Baha'i Perspective." They will now make their home in Australia.

The next regular election of all nine members of the Universal House of Justice will be at the International Baha'i Convention in Haifa in 2013.