To the beloved of God and the handmaids of the Merciful, the
delegates and visitors to the Bahá'í Convention, Green Acre,
Maine, U.S.A. Fellow-laborers in the Vineyard of God:
Once again the hand of divine power has gathered together the chosen representatives of the American believers, assembled this time amid the pleasant surroundings of a blest and beloved spot, to deliberate upon the most effective measures that will insure the advancement of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. I feel it a pleasure and privilege to offer you these few thoughts as my humble contribution to the proceedings of your annual Convention.
May I at the outset reaffirm my feelings of gratitude and keen appreciation for the eminent share which the friends in America, individually as well as by their collective efforts, have contributed to ease the burden of responsibility and care that has so often oppressed my heart. Your steadfastness, your unsparing devotion; your self-sacrifice in upholding and fostering the institutions of the Cause; the notable advance you have achieved in the coordination of your activities; the remarkable solicitude you have shown, and the magnificent response you have made on behalf of the oppressed and needy among your brethren; the measures you have initiated, the hindrances you have removed and the means and methods you have perfected--these and others beside have established you in the confidence, the esteem and the admiration of all the Bahá'í world. I personally appreciate and am thankful for your unfailing supplications and special prayers on my behalf. I am deeply touched by your expressions of unwavering faith, of loyalty and affection, and fully reciprocate your brotherly sentiments and your keen desire and readiness to collaborate with me more closely and effectively than ever before.
Purpose of Convention
And now regarding this forthcoming Convention, I feel that the dominating purpose inspiring the assembled friends, delegates and visitors alike, should be a two-fold one. The first is a challenge to the individual, the second a collective responsibility. The one seeks to reinforce the motive power of our spiritual activities, the second aims at raising the standard of administrative efficiency so vitally needed at this advanced stage of our work. We should first and foremost endeavor by every conceivable means to revitalize our precious Cause, rudely shaken by the constant vicissitudes attending the outward departure of a vigilant and gracious Master. Our next object should be to seek to approach, through more intimate association, fuller and more frequent consultations, and a closer familiarity with the character, the mission and the teachings of the Cause, that standard of excellence which should characterize the cooperative efforts of Bahá'í Communities in every land.
High aims and pure motives, however laudable in themselves, will surely not suffice if unsupported by measures that are practicable and methods that are sound. Wealth of sentiment, abundance of good-will and effort, will prove of little avail if we should fail to exercise discrimination and restraint and neglect to direct their flow along the most profitable channels. The unfettered freedom of the individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice, and the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and a fuller devotion to the common weal.
National Spiritual Assembly
It would be impossible at this stage to ignore the indispensability or to overestimate the unique significance of the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly--the pivot round which revolve the activities of the believers throughout the American continent. Supreme is their position, grave their responsibilities, manifold and arduous their duties. How great the privilege, how delicate the task of the assembled delegates whose function it is to elect such national representatives as would by their record of service ennoble and enrich the annals of the Cause! If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Bahá'í Assemblies, as enumerated in `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets, we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the all-conquering spirit of His grace and power. Hence it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience. May the incoming National Spiritual Assembly--the privileged and chosen servants of the Cause--immortalize their term of stewardship by deeds of loving service, deeds that will redound to the honor, the glory and the power of the Most Great Name.
The Cornerstone of Service
I would also earnestly entreat all the delegates at this coming Convention, and through them I appeal to the larger body of believers whom they represent, to ever bear in mind the supreme injunction of `Abdu'l-Bahá, to teach unceasingly until the "head cornerstone of the foundation" of the Cause of God is firmly established in every heart. Let those whose time, resources and means allow, travel throughout the length and breadth of that vast continent, let them scatter to the most distant regions of the earth and, fired with enthusiasm and detachment, hand on the torch of God's undying flame to the waiting multitudes of a sadly-stricken world.
One word more in conclusion. Let the West, and particularly the Great Republic of the New World, where a quarter of a century ago Bahá'u'lláh's Banner was firmly implanted, realize that upon it now rests the responsibility of achieving the universal recognition of the Bahá'í Faith, of fulfilling `Abdu'l-Bahá's fondest hopes.
Persia, the cradle of an unfolding world civilization, is still bereft of her freedom, sunk in ignorance, a prey to contending policies and factions, beset on one hand by the powers of orthodoxy and sectarian fanaticism and assailed on the other by the forces of materialism and unbelief. In her evil plight she is radiantly confident that the Flame she had kindled in the world will, in the fullness of time, blaze forth in the heart of the mighty West and shed redeeming illumination upon the silent sufferers of a distracted country. Will it be America, will it be one of the nations of Europe, that will seize the torch of Divine Guidance from Persia's fettered hands and with it set the western world aflame? May your Convention, by its spirit, its resolutions and its accomplishments, give to that country's urgent call a noble and decisive answer.
Your brother and fellow-worker,
June 3rd, 1925.