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Abstract:
A history of the Bahá’í Faith in Panama during the first and second U.S. Seven Year Plans, from the arrival of the first pioneers in 1939 to the formation of the first Regional Assembly in 1951.

Historical Background of the Panama Temple

by Ruth Pringle

published in Bahá'í News
1972 March-April

Part One

Bahá'í News, March 1972, pp. 2-5

Nineteen thirty-nine—it was a terrible year, a wonderful year! Storm clouds of ominous portent were soon to unleash a fury which would plunge practically the entire "civilized" world into a flaming, churning holocaust of hate, carnage, blood-shed and mass destruction, God's Army of Light was galvanizing its forces to burst through the darkness, resplendent and glorious, to gather together a suffering mankind, amalgamated by the tests of a firey ordeal, into a vibrant, vital, pulsating organic whole in which the little country of Panama was destined to rise to a position of world importance and a point of unity for "the North and the South, the East and the West." Here is the story of its beginnings.

‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan

In 1919 the devout followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the United States gathered in New York City for their Eleventh Annual Convention and Bahá'í Congress. During the sessions, a series of Tablets from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá now known as the Tablets of the Divine Plan, were unveiled. Among them there was one which mentioned, in order, each one of the Latin American countries. It continued: "All the above countries have great importance, but especially the Republic of Panama, wherein the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans come together through the Panama Canal. It is a center for travel and passage from America to other continents of the world and in the future it will gain great importance.[1]

"... now is the time , . . Become angels of heaven and travel and teach through all these regions."[2] Again He said, "... That place (Panama) will become very important in the future. The teachings, once established there, will unite the East and the West, the North and the South."[3]

First to Arise to the Divine Summons

While many of the assembled friends were overwhelmed by the message conferring upon that enviable nation (the United States) its great spiritual mission, only one arose in immediate obedience to the challenging summons of Latin American conquest contained in it. Martha Root, extolled by the beloved Shoghi Effendi in 1939 as "The first, finest fruit which the Formative Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has as yet produced . . ."[4] responded at once. This "foremost Hand of the first Bahá'í century"[5] blazed her historic trail throughout Latin America and then around the world. Among the many honors she won was that of being the first Bahá'í to carry the news of God's great redemptive Message to that small country "wherein the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans come together."[6]

Arriving at the port of Balboa, October 25, 1919, she exerted herself to the utmost during her stay of one week. The first articles placed by a Bahá'í appeared in the local press, public talks were given at the Ancon Club House and the Union Church in Balboa, and the "doctors of the Canal Zone ports,... the British Minister, and several... of the American Governmental officials"[7] received the Message directly from her. While it was impossible for her to visit the leper colony of Palo Seco, she sent literature and candies to these unfortunate souls.

From the date of the first tilling of the soil until May, 1939, the land lay fallow except for a sprinkling of Bahá'ís who tossed out a few handfulls of seed as they passed through Panama enroute to South American countries.

First Seven Year Plan In the United States

Meanwhile slowly and patiently the beloved Guardian during a sixteen year period, guided the highly favored North American Community in the erection of the machinery of their Administrative Order and set it into motion. By 1939 the first phase of the first Seven Year Plan (1937-1944) had been successfully executed through its instrumentality.

That year Shoghi Effendi called upon the friends assembled in the Annual Convention to arise to the second stage of the Plan—the "systematic penetration of Latin America," through a "methodical advance along the line traced by the pen of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá."[8] He urged them to bend their energies employing the newly constructed machinery in accordance with the primary purpose for which it was designed and erected, "promoting the growth and consolidating the pioneer movement."[9]

First Pioneer Teacher in Panama

Of the many assembled friends, again one soul heard the call for Panama and arose at once. Thus, Mathew Kaszab won the enviable distinction of being the first (though temporary) pioneer teacher to Panama. He plunged into the arena with a fever of activity and dedication typical of his "unforgettable" service to the Cause during the few remaining years of his gloriously tragic life.

The Arrival of a Group of Pioneers

Immediately upon his arrival in Panama (May 18, 1939) Mathew launched a vigorous proclamation campaign through the press, radio and public talks. Interested souls were attracted and by October the first permanent pioneers, Louise Caswell and Cora Oliver, arrived along with John Eichenaur (enroute to El Salvador). The first Bahá'í in Panama had been found and the story which future history will record had begun to unfold.

The first two weeks of October, 1939 were a feast of "joyous spiritual association of five Bahá'ís"[10] in Panama. John Eichenaur continued to his proposed destination, and Mathew Kaszab departed for Nicaragua, the final phase of his pioneer service and life of selfless dedication to Bahá'u'lláh. Louise and Cora began to implant their roots deep in the soil of the lives of the people, to become an integral part of their new homeland.

The first step of the new pioneers was to enroll in the National University to learn the language, make valuable friends and exploit all possibilities such associations had to offer. During the ensuing months the range of their activities was wide, cutting across all levels and strata of society. Regular study classes were organized and pursued relentlessly. A center was established. Opportunities were seized for mass proclamation. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh was carried to all levels, from the President of the Republic to the humble, the meek and the lowly. Lasting bonds of personal love and affection, and sentiments of warm sympathy for the Faith were quickly gained. However, the excitement of the entry into the Faith in great numbers was destined to be the portion of others who followed in their wake, and Cora and Louise toiled in other Central American countries. While the winning of new souls was slow, it was, nevertheless, a sure process, as time has proven by the record of service and dedication of the group of first believers.

Steady Growth of die Faith

In a very short time the significance of the Guardian's observation: "Though politically unsettled, religiously intolerant, socially backward and climatically inhospitable, these unexplored territories hold forth inestimable prizes for audacious adventures in the path of Bahá'í service,"[11] assumed new dimensions. Cora and Louise reported shortly after their arrival; "We see all races mingling in apparent harmony and on a footing of equality. However, deeper investigation has revealed that the attitude of superiority of the Zone people is subtly influencing the Panamanians in favor of light skin. Recently we saw a school parade of medieval splendor, of much formality, priestly robes, artificial flowers and a statue of the Virgin. The educators, priests and nuns belong to an age that has passed. The solemn faces of the children testify to this. The different races were grouped together and the white superiority was implied by the chosen angels who were of the white race. At the University, preference is shown, as only two members of the staff are of Negro background while the majority of the students are on the dark side. We have also learned that no dark skinned people hold high political offices. The presence of two white women attending the University exemplifies the teaching that deeds are more powerful than words. ..."

"Driven by the unforeseen forces of a benign destiny the people of Panama are as yet unaware of the fact that they are being welded into a body politic evincing the oneness of humanity."[12]

The pioneers developed "those qualities of renunciation, tenacity, dauntlessness and passionate fervor that can alone brave the dangers and sweep away the obstacles with which an infant Faith, struggling against vested interests and face to face with the entrenched forces of prejudice, of ignorance and fanaticism, must needs contend."[13]

Cora and Louise grew; the Faith grew, new pioneers came. By April 1944, the Second World War was well into its darkest hours with pain and suffering gripping the vitals of the major part of the world. In the Western Hemisphere, the light of Bahá was increasing in intensity. The Faith had been firmly launched and the direction of its course in Panama had been set. A firm group of loyal and steadfast believers had been established.

Inter-American Conference Celebrating Centenary of Declaration of the Báb

Upon Alfred Osborne fell the honor of representing Panama at the Inter-American Conference commemorating the Centenary of the Declaration of the Báb (May, 1944). The curtain was being lowered on the first stage of the first epoch of the unfoldment of the Divine Plan. God's slowly advancing army was gaining strength and preparing its associates for its future tasks of radiating the new Light to the entire world.

With the convening of the All-American Teaching Conference (May 1944) in Wilmette in association with the Centenary Celebrations, the first chapter of the Panama Story came to an end and a new chapter was about to begin. The first part of this chronicle dealt with Panama as an isolated unit. The second part knit her fate together with her sister Republics with which the next seventeen years was to be intimately associated. It was a period of internal development and external collaboration during which her star began to arise in fulfilment of her destiny.

The goal for this period as set forth by Shoghi Effendi for the deliberation of the assembled delegates was as follows:

". . , to deliberate on the measures to reinforce the ties binding them to their Sister Community, unitedly devise means for the inauguration of teaching campaigns in their respective Republics, the dissemination of Bahá'í literature, the multiplication of administrative centers as preliminary steps in the formation of Bahá'í National Assemblies, and lend impetus to the prosecution of any enterprise launched to carry still further the Plan conceived by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá for the American Bahá'í Community."[14]

As a direct result of the consultation which followed, the Literature Distribution Committee for Central America, was appointed to facilitate the flow of literature being published in Chile. Its members were Alfred Osborne (Chairman), Louise Caswell, Cora Oliver and Julie Regal. To further cement the bonds among the various countries, a Special Bulletin Committee was established with Alfred Osborne as Editor and Professor Edelberto Torres, Assistant Editor. The difficult task of gathering news from each country was begun and the first Bahá'í News Bulletin in Spanish appeared in March, 1945. Panama, along with its sisters began to contribute its share to the slowly growing volume of translations and pamphlets suitable for wide distribution. The Inter-American Committee geared itself for a fresh outpouring of pioneers and itinerant teachers.

Growth of the Administration

As for Panama, its first and most important task still remained—the establishment of the first of the bedrock institutions to sustain the weight of yet another of the pillars buttressing the future Universal House of Justice, Already Local Spiritual Assemblies had been established in the capital cities of Mexico, Guatemala, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa and San Jose. Panama lagged behind. Through a concerted effort on the part of pioneers, native Bahá'ís and traveling teachers, the goal was won at Ridvan 1945 with the formation of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Panama City. It was further consolidated by legal incorporation in 1947 through the voluntary assistance of a non-Bahá'í friend, Dr. Javier Laso de la Vega.

The newly established Local Spiritual Assembly arose to prove its strength in the field of extension teaching. Mrs. Louise Caswell moved to Colon where before the end of the year the first Bahá'í group was organized. A group was also formed in the Canal Zone Southern District.

While the main field of action was in Latin America, predominating roles were played by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, the Inter-American Teaching Committee and the International School in Colorado Springs, Colorado (the generous gift of Mrs. Loulie Mathews) by pioneers and traveling teachers, and in fact, the entire body of believers from that country.

The newly enrolled servants in Bahá'u'lláh's path responded. Teachers began to arise to swell the ranks beyond the frontiers of their local communities. There was need for deepening and that broader association so essential to a fuller appreciation of the power and magnitude of Bahá'u'lláh's great design.

First Latin-American Teaching Conference

The Inter-American Committee called for the first Latin-American Teaching Conference, January 20-26, 1946. In consultation with the Guardian, the honor of hosting this first important gathering was bestowed upon Panama.

Later the account of the Conference was published in the Bahá'í World, Volume X from which the following excerpts are quoted:

"Like an echo of the historic 1944 Bahá'í Centennial Celebration, similarly significant in the creative force it released and in the wide-spread repercussions it caused, the First Latin American Bahá'í Teaching Conference, held in Panama City from January 20th to 25th, 1946, will ever stand out as one of those portentous and definite milestones in the unfoldment of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan. It marked a new stage in the expansion of the Cause and in the growing strength and harmony of its already established units.

"The idea of this Conference was conceived in the summer of 1945 and enthusiastically stimulated, especially by Mrs. Loulie Mathews, whose contribution to the Inter-America teaching work, since its very beginning, has been unique.

"The National Spiritual Assembly (of the United States) and Inter-America Committee were represented officially at the Panama Conference by Mrs. Amelia Collins, a member of both of these bodies. At one of the sessions of the Conference, Mrs. Collins spoke especially on Bahá'í Administration, stressing its vital importance and clarifying many of its functions and institutions. Native believers from ten of the Latin American Centers, and eight of the North American pioneers gathered in Panama City, and in a marvelous spirit of brotherhood and unity each contributed his or her part to the well-rounded program of this Conference. Mornings were devoted to informal sessions during which an intensive study was conducted of the Guardian's latest book, God Passes By, of administration and of teaching methods.

"In the evenings public lectures were arranged with talks on some of the basic Teachings of the Faith, such as 'Unity of Religion,' 'Progressive Revelation,' 'Oneness of Mankind,' and 'Divine Art of Living.' The largest and most impressive public session was held Friday evening, January 25th, in the main auditorium of the Inter-American University which had been graciously placed at the disposal of the Conference Committee. Participating with two Bahá'í speakers, Dr. Octavio Mendez Pereira, Rector of the University and Delegate from Panama to the San Francisco Conference for the establishment of United Nations Organization, gave one of the principal addresses. Under the all-over theme of 'Peace,' Dr. Mendez Pereira spoke on the 'Problem of Peace in the Light of the San Francisco Conference' and brought out the need for a pact both more universal and more spiritual than that embodied in the U.N.O. Charter. Miss Elizabeth Cheney followed, delineating for her audience the 'Lesser Peace,' spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh. As a glorious cum ax and fitting close to this important public meeting and to the Conference itself, Mrs. Gayle Woolson, in her address on 'The Most Great Peace' unfolded the vision of that time when the 'Lesser Peace,' achieved mostly through the statesmen and rulers of the world, will be followed by the Golden Age of Bahá'u'lláh.

"Once more, in a measure un approached since the Centenary, was the bond of unity between the followers of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the Hemisphere reinforced and a new impulse given to the Cause as a whole, creating in all those present fresh determination to join their forces to coordinate their activities and efforts, and with radiant spirits to rededicate themselves to the advancement of the Bahá'í Faith, in all of its aspects, throughout their native lands.

"To a degree far exceeding the hopes and expectations of those instrumental in its planning, this unprecedented event aided, and contributed to, the growth of the Faith in Latin America, giving a fresh impulse to the coinciding processes of consolidation and of the expansion of the Cause. In the months immediately following it became increasingly evident that a firmer bond of understanding and fellowship had welded together the component parts of the Western Hemisphere, into a unified whole. "[15]

Notes:
    1. Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 10
    2. ibid, p. 11
    3. ibid, p. 26
    4. Messages to America, p. 30
    5. ibid
    6. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá In Advent of Divine Justice, p. 5B
    7. Star of the West, Vol. XI, No. 12, p. 216
    8. Messages to America, p. 20
    9. ibid, p. 22
    10. History of Bahá'í Pioneers in Panama 1939-1940
    11. Messages to America, p. 20
    12. Notes of Interest to Bahá'ís, Panama, Oct. 1939
    13. Messages to America, p. 21
    14. ibid, p. 73
    15. Bahá'í World, Vol. XI. p. 708

Part Two

Bahá'í News, April 1972, pp. 2-4

By now the war had ceased and the hour was ripe for the next epoch in the evolution of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Master Plan. War-ravaged Europe was drawn into the scene for spiritual conquest, but not at the expense of the forward march in Latin America. The goals for Latin America under the new Seven Year Plan included a broadening of their administrative bases, fuller participation in both teaching and administrative fields in preparation for the formation of two independent Regional Spiritual Assemblies, one in Central America and the other in South America.

Measures destined to facilitate the change-over were developed and gradually put into practice. The first Regional Teaching Committees for Latin America (eight in number) were appointed. One of the eight regions grouped Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua together, with its seat in San Jose, Costa Rica. By 1947 it had become an active adjunct to the teaching work. The next step was the appointing of the first National Teaching Committee for the Territory with its seat again in San Jose. At first the effects of the National Teaching Committee were felt only in Costa Rica, but gradually the influence was extended as contact with each one of the Regional Committees was established in an effective working association. Little by little the balance began to shift from North American guidance and Latin cooperation to Latin guidance and North American cooperation. This important forerunner of the elected National Spiritual Assembly confidently began to fulfill its trust.

By 1950 the process was nearly completed, although according to explicit instructions from the beloved Guardian, the United States would continue to exercise responsibilities in the supervision and guidance of these new Regional National bodies until the end of the Seven Year Plan at which time these fledgling Assemblies would be expected to assume their full share of the load in the execution of the next plan to be launched immediately as mature associates of the Mother Community.

Panama Teaching Conference

In January, 1947 the first Teaching Conference for Central America and the Antilles was held in Panama. Again this highly favored Latin country was singled out by Shoghi Effendi to serve as the host. From then until 1950 conferences of this nature were held annually, growing in depth and quality. The friends of the Territory gathered successively in Mexico City, Guatemala City and finally in San Salvador where, under the supervision and planning of the National Teaching Committee, both the Conference and the Committee came into full bloom.

All contributions to the Faith from the Territory were now handled through the National Teaching Committee. Proclamation of the Faith through the radio and press was pursued, more literature was distributed among both believers and friends, efforts were made to secure legal incorporations for the remaining capital city assemblies, and an all out effort was exerted to hold all existing gains.

While these developments were taking place throughout the Territory, there were changes also within the boundaries of Panama. In response to the Guardian's reminders of the importance of the Indians, Manuel Gorgas (now deceased), the first Kuna Indian—in fact

the first Indian of Panama to embrace the Faith—had been enrolled and was elected as the delegate to represent Panama at the Mexican Conference (1947). Later that same year he began to work with Louise Caswell in extension teaching in Santiago. At least four other Panamanian believers had arisen as traveling teachers. A Local Spiritual Assembly had been formed in Colon.

By 1949 the National Teaching Committee which had been transferred to Panama City was now composed almost entirely of Panamanian believers. There had been much shifting of Bahá'í teachers and pioneers. Stout-hearted Louise Caswell was now in Costa Rica and except for Cora Oliver, all the other North American pioneers had returned to their homes. This loss, however, was offset by the arrival of Elizabeth Cheney, at the request of the Central American Teaching Committee, to assume duties as its secretary. In November, she was replaced by Raquel de Constante. Natalia Chaves from Honduras was now serving in the pioneer field in Panama and was joined by Maria Rivera, also from Honduras, who settled for a brief period in Colon. These teachers were assisted by a growing group of loyal and capable local teachers which included Alfred Osborne, Raquel de Constante, Blanco de Campos, Manuel Gorgas, James and Mazie Facey and Iola Edwards.

Growing Pains

Whereas the Teaching Conferences had contributed greatly to the progress of the Faith and the raising up of native teachers and administrators, its immediate effects were limited primarily to those few who attended as the elected representatives of their respective countries. Because of distances and expenses involved, few others had been able to attend these highly stimulating and spiritually rewarding gatherings as visitors. Hence a special corps of teachers was trained to carry the material to all Local Assembly Communities throughout the territory in month-long institutes. In May, 1950 the first institute of this nature for the training of teachers was held in Panama, directed by Mrs. Dorothy Baker. The material was collected, arranged and prepared for publication by those teachers in attendance and served as the basis for the local institutes. The work was entitled El Plan Divino. It dealt with the majesty and greatness of the Cause, the Covenant and Divine Institutions of Bahá'u'lláh's slowly evolving World Order.

The accomplishments in this short period of time were truly astounding, and perhaps no one is more capable of appreciating this than those who labored as pioneers in virgin areas around the world. Great as the accomplishments were, it should not be imagined that it was achieved without severe tests and at times near overwhelming reversals. From 1946 until shortly before the actual birth of the Regional National Spiritual Assembly, there were many times when the issue was in doubt and except for the promises of Bahá'u'lláh and the confirmation of the Divine Plan some might have been tempted to concede defeat. The whole territory was in a state of crisis, Growing pains became acute. Assemblies were lost, regained and lost again. There was the inevitable falling away of certain elements. Spurred on by the beloved Shoghi Effendi, in their deep love for him, the spiritual fighters charged on. As the zero hour approached, excitement and activity reached an unprecedented peak. Functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies were established in each country. The goal was assured! By the time the delegates to the first Annual Convention of the Bahá'ís of Central America, Mexico, Panama and the Antilles assembled in Panama, the tree of the Faith had been greatly pruned and was beginning to regain new vitality. During this difficult period, Panama probably fared much better than some of her sister countries where the Faith had arisen with meteoric splendor during the initial phases. In contrast, Panama's gains, for the most part, had been modest but the roots of her foundation had been deeply and firmly fixed in preparation for her future role of leadership as the Mother Assembly for Central America and the Antilles.

Because of her unique geographical position, from the outset, Panama was blessed by numerous visitors, pioneers enroute to their posts and traveling teachers between the Americas. Except for them, it is doubtful that the banner of the Faith would ever have been firmly planted.

Regional Assembly Formed

By 1951 when the conflict between East and West had settled into the "Cold War" North America and Latin America had drawn closer together. The Community of the Greatest Name was jubilant. Preparations had been well laid. The Plan had been consummated and was about to give its predestined fruit. Some twenty-seven delegates representing the eleven countries of the Caribbean area victoriously assembled in Panama City April 22 to enter into deliberations which would be climaxed in the election of that first Regional Spiritual Assembly which would, within another ten years, divide into completely independent units. As representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, in order to witness the birth of a daughter institution, were Dorothy Baker and Horace Holley. On this occasion the hearts of North America and Latin America were fused together more strongly than ever and linked to the Source of their mutual love through the inspiring Message from that descendant of the Twin Holy Trees, Shoghi Effendi, to whose patience, wisdom, constant encouragement and infallible guidance they all owed so much gratitude. Listen how he lifted them up!

HAIL (WITH) JOYOUS HEART CONVOCATION (OF) FIRST TWIN HISTORIC CONVENTIONS (OF) FOLLOWERS (OF) FAITH (OF) BAHA'U'LLAH (IN) CENTRAL AMERICA, MEXICO, (THE) ANTILLES (AND) SOUTH AMERICA, ASSEMBLED (TO) ELECT TWIN NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES CONSTITUTING SUSTAINING PILLARS (OF) DIVINELY APPOINTED ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER (IN) LATIN AMERICA CONGRATULATE ASSEMBLED DELEGATES (FOR THE) CULMINATION OF THE FOURTEEN YEAR OLD PROCESS LINKING (THE) CONCLUDING YEARS (OF THE) FIRST WITH (THE) OPENING DECADE (OF THE) SECOND BAHA'I CENTURY. ACCLAIM FULFILLMENT (OF THE) VITAL OBJECTIVES (OF THE) TWO MOMENTOUS CAMPAIGNS SUCCESSIVELY LAUNCHED BEYOND (THE) CONFINES (OF THE) NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT BY (THE) AMERICAN BAHA'I COMMUNITY (IN) CONFORMITY (WITH) ‘'ABDU'L-BAHA'S DIVINE PLAN. GRATEFULLY RECOGNIZE IN THESE EPOCH-MAKING ASSEMBLAGES HELD SIMULTANEOUSLY (IN) PERU (AND) PANAMA, REPRESENTING WELL-NIGH FOUR SCORE LOCALITIES SPREAD OVER (AN) AREA STRETCHING (FROM) MEXICO (TO THE) MAGALLANES, EMBRACING INCORPORATED COMMUNITIES (IN) ALMOST ALL CAPITAL CITIES (OF) LATIN AMERICAN REPUBLICS (THE) INITIAL REPERCUSSIONS (OF THE) CLARION CALL VOICED EIGHTY YEARS AGO (BY) BAHA'U'LLAH (IN THE) MOST HOLY BOOK ADDRESSED COLLECTIVELY (TO THE) RULERS (OF THE) REPUBLICS (OF THE) WESTERN HEMISPHERE. (I) APPEAL (TO THE) INCOMING ASSEMBLIES STANDING (ON THE) THRESHOLD (OF THE) SECOND EPOCH NOW UNFOLDING (IN THE) EVOLUTION (OF THE) FAITH (OF) BAHA'U'LLAH (IN) LATIN AMERICA (TO) ARISE (IN) COMPLETE UNITY, EXEMPLARY FIDELITY, GREATEST WISDOM, UTMOST DEDICATION, UNSWERVING RESOLVE, HEROIC SELF-SACRIFICE (TO) BEFITTINGLY DISCHARGE (THEIR) THREE-FOLD, SACRED, INESCAPABLE RESPONSIBILITIES, FIRST, (TO) CONSOLIDATE (THE) TWO NEWLY ERECTED PILLARS (OF THE) WORLD ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER (OF THE) FAITH; SECOND, (TO) STIMULATE (THE) PROPAGATION (OF) ITS TEACHINGS; THIRD, (TO) ENRICH (THE) SPIRITUAL LIFE (AND) DEEPEN (THE) UNDERSTANDING (OF) ITS AVOWED SUPPORTERS. (I HAVE) DISPATCHED THROUGH (THE) DISTINGUISHED CO-WORKER, AMELIA COLLINS, TWO LOCKS (OF THE) BLESSED HAIR (OF) BAHA'U'LLAH AS INAUGURAL GIFTS (TO THE) LATIN RACES, ATTAINING MATURITY (AND) ACHIEVING DISTINCTION THROUGH (THE) FORMATION (OF) INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES, TO BE DEPOSITED (IN AND) PRE-SRVED (FOR) POSTERITY (IN) TWO SPECIALLY-INSTITUTED NATIONAL ARCHIVES DESIGNED (TO) COMMEMORATE (THE) TWIN, OUTSTANDING SPIRITUAL ADMINISTRATIVE VICTORIES WON (IN THE) COURSE (OF THE) FORMATIVE AGE (OF THE) BAHA'I DISPENSATION (AND) SHEDDING GREAT LUSTRE (ON THE) ANNALS (OF THE) OPENING DECADE (OF THE) SECOND BAHA'l CENTURY.

The members of this historic first Assembly were: Srta. Raquel J. Francois, Chairman; Mrs. Cora H. Oliver, Vice-Chairman; Srta. Elena Marsella, Secretary; Srta. Natalia Chavez, Recording Secretary; James V. Facey, Treasurer; Srta. Zenayda Jurado C.; Mrs. Louise Caswell; Dr. David Escalante; Artemus Lamb.

Even before the Convention closed, these highly honored chosen representatives and "Trustees of the Merciful" turned their faces towards their difficult task of administering in conformity to the Guardian's instructions, the affairs for an area almost as vast in its extension as continental United States, much of it separated by expanses of water with its attendant transportation problems, widely varied in the ethnic groups, cultures and languages of which it was composed, extremely poor, much of it illiterate or semi-literate but united by a common bond, the healing Message of Bahá'u'lláh; strengthened by the power of the Covenant; and unerringly guided by the Guardian Shoghi Effendi.

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