My soul is thrilled and my heart is filled with gratitude as I contemplate--looking back upon six decades of eventful American Bahá'í history--the chain of magnificent achievements which, from the dawn of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the West until the present day, have signalized the birth, marked the rise and distinguished the unfoldment of the glorious mission of the American Bahá'í Community. Of all Bahá'í communities in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, with the sole exception of its venerable sister community in Bahá'u'lláh's native land, it alone may well claim to have released forces, and set in motion events, which stand unparalleled in the annals of the Faith; while in the course of the last fifty years, comprising the concluding years of the Heroic and the opening epochs of the Formative Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, it can confidently boast of a record of stewardship which, for its scope, effectiveness and splendor, is unmatched by that of any other community in the entire Bahá'í world.
The first to awaken to the call of the New Day in the western world; the first to spontaneously arise to befittingly erect the Mother Temple of the West; the first to grasp the implications, evolve the pattern and lay the basis of the structure of the Bahá'í Administrative Order in the entire Bahá'í world; the first to openly and systematically proclaim the fundamental principles of the Faith, to adopt effectual measures for its defense, to invite the attention of royalty to its teachings, to devise an adequate machinery for the translation, the publication and the dissemination of its literature and to provide the means for the creation of its subsidiary institutions; the first to champion the cause of the oppressed and to generously contribute to the alleviation of the sufferings of the needy and persecuted among the followers of Bahá'u'lláh; the first to inaugurate collective enterprises for the propagation of His Cause; the first to assert its independence in the West; the first to lay an unassailable foundation for the erection of auxiliary institutions designed to multiply its financial resources; and, more recently, the first to achieve, as befits its primacy, the initial task devolving upon it in pursuance of the newly launched World Spiritual Crusade, this community has abundantly merited, by the quality of its deeds and the magnitude of its exploits, the distinctive titles of the cradle of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, of the vanguard of His world-conquering host, of the standard-bearers of the oneness of mankind, of the chief trustees of the Plan devised by the Center of the Covenant and of the torch-bearers of an as yet unborn world civilization.
RECENT SERVICES DESERVING MENTION
The services rendered by this same community in recent years, in its capacity as the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, in the course of the second stage of the initial epoch in its evolution, are of such importance and significance as to deserve particular mention at this time. In the North American continent, throughout the republics of Latin America, in the ten goal countries of Europe, on the shores and in the heart of the African continent, the members of this community have, in conformity with the provisions of the Second Seven Year Plan, performed feats of such noble and enduring heroism as to enhance immensely their prestige, demonstrate unmistakably the caliber of their faith and qualify them to assume a preponderating share in the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan whose operations are to extend over the entire surface of the globe.
In the multiplication and consolidation of Bahá'í administrative institutions and their auxiliary agencies throughout Central America, the Antilles and every South American republic--a task supplementing the initial enterprise undertaken, in pursuance of the first Seven Year Plan, in connection with the introduction of the Faith into the republics of Latin America; in the even more rapid development of nascent institutions of the Faith in Scandinavia, in the Benelux countries, in Switzerland, in the Italian and Iberian Peninsulas; in the laying of the administrative basis of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh in the capital and in some of the major cities of each of the ten European sovereign states included within the scope of the Plan; in the convocation of a series of historic teaching conferences in the north and in the heart of the European continent--heralding the convocation of the recently held, epoch-making Intercontinental Teaching Conferences; in the translation, the publication and dissemination of Bahá'í literature in various European languages; in the still more dramatic evolution of the Faith in the African continent, culminating in the convocation of the first Intercontinental Teaching Conference of the Holy Year in the heart of Africa; in the tremendous sacrifices spontaneously and repeatedly made to broaden and reinforce the foundations of the Faith in the North American continent, to sustain the campaigns undertaken in Latin America, Europe and Africa, and to meet the many demands of the Bahá'í Temple, rapidly nearing completion in Wilmette; in the successive emergence of three national spiritual assemblies in the Western Hemisphere--an outstanding contribution to the evolution and consolidation of the structure of the world Administrative Order of the Faith; in the completion of the interior ornamentation of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the West, the provision of its accessories and the initiation of the landscaping of its grounds; in the support extended to the development of the institutions of the World Center of the Faith; in the role played by its representatives, whether as Hands of the Cause or members of the International Bahá'í Council; in the financial aid unhesitatingly given to hasten the construction, and insure the completion, of the superstructure of the Báb's Sepulcher on Mt. Carmel-- above all, in the share its national elected representatives have assumed in providing the means for the convocation of the second Intercontinental Teaching Conference of the Holy Year; in commemorating worthily the dedication to public worship of the Mother Temple of the West, on the occasion of its Jubilee; in befittingly inaugurating the launching of the World Spiritual Crusade, and in celebrating the climax of the Holy Year marking the centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission--in all these the American Bahá'í Community has fully deserved the praise and gratitude of posterity, has merited the applause of the Concourse on High and earned a full measure of the divine blessings and of the celestial sustenance of which it will stand in such great need in the course of the prosecution of still mightier and more glorious enterprises in the days to come.
ADDED RESPONSIBILITIES IN PROPAGATING THE DIVINE PLAN
The stage is now set, and the hour propitious, for a deployment of forces, and for the revelation of the indomitable spirit animating this community, on a scale and to a degree unprecedented in the entire course of American Bahá'í history. To the Antilles and the seventeen republics of Central and of South America--the scene of the initial exploits of a community inaugurating the opening phase of its world-girding mission--to the ten sovereign states of Europe which, at a subsequent stage in the unfoldment of that mission, the members of this community enthusiastically and determinedly arose to open up and conquer; to the African territories which, in addition to their allocated task under the Second Seven Year Plan, they spontaneously endeavored to win to the all-conquering Cause of Bahá'u'lláh--to these numerous islands and archipelagos, bordering the American, the European and African continents; dependencies extensive, well-nigh inaccessible, and remote from the base of their operations throughout the Asiatic continent; lastly, the South Pacific area, the home of the one remaining race not as yet adequately represented in the Bahá'í world community, occupying spiritually so strategic a position owing to its proximity to the Bahá'í communities already firmly entrenched in South America, in the Indian subcontinent and in Australasia, at once challenging the resources of no less than eight national spiritual assemblies, and the theater destined to witness the noblest and the most resounding victories which the chosen executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan have been called upon to win in the service of the Cause of God--all these have now, in accordance with the requirements of an irresistibly unfolding Plan, been added, completing thereby the full circle of the world-wide obligations devolving upon a community invested with spiritual primacy by the Author of the immortal Tablets constituting the Charter of the Master Plan of the appointed Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant.
"The moment this Divine Message," He Who penned these Tablets and conferred this primacy has most significantly affirmed, "is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion." Then, and only then, will, as He Himself has so remarkably prophesied, "the whole earth" "resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness."
Now, indeed, is the time, after the lapse of two score years; following the triumphant conclusion of two successive historic Plans, marking the opening stages of the first epoch in the unfoldment of that same Master Plan; on the morrow of the brilliant celebrations climaxing the world-wide festivities of a memorable Holy Year; and while a triumphant community, in the first flush of enthusiasm, has just garnered the first fruits of its campaigns in four continents of the globe and is laden with its freshly won trophies, for this community to bestir itself, and, assuming its rightful preponderating share in the conduct of a newly launched World Spiritual Crusade, to demonstrate, through a supreme and sustained effort embracing the entire surface of the planet, its ability to safeguard that primacy, to enrich immeasurably the record of its stewardship and to bring to a majestic conclusion the opening epoch in the evolution of a Plan destined to reveal the full measure of its potentialities, not only throughout the successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, but in the course of the vast reaches of time stretching into the Golden, the last Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation.
A LASTING INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN COMMUNITY AND NATION
This decade-long global Crusade must mark a veritable turning point in American Bahá'í history. It must prove itself to be, as it develops, a force so pervasive and revolutionary in its character as to leave a lasting imprint not only on the destinies of the American Bahá'í Community but on the fortunes of the American nation as well. It must, even as a baptismal fire, so purge its members from self as to enable them to scale heights never as yet attained. It must, in its initial stages, witness a dispersal, combined with a consecration, reminiscent of the dawn of the Heroic Age in Bahá'u'lláh's native land. It must, as it gathers momentum, awaken the select and gather the spiritually hungry amongst the peoples of the world, as well as create an awareness of the Faith not only among the political leaders of present-day society but also among the thoughtful, the erudite in other spheres of human activity. It must, as it approaches its climax, carry the torch of the Faith to regions so remote, so backward, so inhospitable that neither the light of Christianity or Islam has, after the revolution of centuries, as yet penetrated. It must, as it approaches its conclusion, pave the way for the laying, on an unassailable foundation, of the structural basis of an Administrative Order whose fabric must, in the course of successive crusades, be laboriously erected throughout the entire globe and which must assemble beneath its sheltering shadow peoples of every race, tongue, creed, color and nation.
Seconded by the neighboring fully fledged Canadian Bahá'í Community flourishing beyond the northern frontier of its homeland; supported by the newly emerged Latin American communities established in the Antilles and in each of the central and southern republics of the Western Hemisphere; ably aided by its sister community vigorously functioning in the heart of a far-flung empire, and destined to lend its inestimable assistance in the spiritual conquest of the numerous and widely scattered dependencies of the British Crown; reinforced by the oldest and youngest national Bahá'í communities on the European mainland which are to play a prominent part in the eastern and southern regions, and across the frontiers of Europe, along the shores and in the islands of the Mediterranean; assisted by its venerable sister community in the cradle of the Faith and by the second oldest national community in the Bahá'í world actively engaged in the propagation of the Faith in the Asiatic continent; confident of the help of its Egyptian and Indian sister communities, whose destiny is closely linked with the African continent and southeast Asia respectively, and, lastly, assured of the unfailing cooperation of yet another national community in the Antipodes which, owing to its geographical position, is bound to assume a notable share in the introduction of the Faith in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean, the American Bahá'í Community must, as befits its rank as the chief executor of the Divine Plan, play a dominant and decisive role in the direction and control of the manifold operations involved in the prosecution of the North American, the Latin American, the European, the African, the Asian and the South Pacific campaigns of this World Crusade, and insure, by every means at its disposal and in conjunction with its junior partners, its ultimate and total success.
Within its own sphere, extending to every continent of the globe, embracing no less than twenty-nine virgin territories and islands, the members of this stalwart and preeminent community are called upon, among other things and within the relatively brief span of a single decade, to create nuclei, around which will crystallize future assemblies, in no less than eleven territories and islands of Africa, eight of Asia, six of Europe, four of America; to inaugurate the establishment of the future dependencies of the Mother Temple of the West, and to terminate the landscaping of its grounds; to consolidate and broaden the basis of the Administrative Order already laid in twenty-three territories and islands distributed in four continents of the globe and situated in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; to assist in the erection of no less than thirty-six pillars, twenty in Latin America, twelve in Europe, two in Asia, one in the North American continent and one in Africa, designed to help in sustaining the weight of the crowning unit of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, and in the establishment of national Bahá'í headquarters, of national endowments, and of national incorporations in all of these continents; to lend its aid for the acquisition of land in anticipation of the erection of four Temples, two in Europe, one in Africa and one in Central America; to lend an impetus to the progress of the Faith in its homeland through raising to three hundred the number of local spiritual assemblies and to one hundred the number of incorporated assemblies, as well as through the founding of a Bahá'í Publishing Trust and the proclamation of the Faith through the press and radio; to enroll in the ranks of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh members of the Indian, of the Basque and Gypsy races; to assume responsibility for the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature in twenty languages, ten in the Americas and ten in Europe; and to contribute to the consolidation of the Faith in eight of the European goal countries through the establishment of local incorporations, as well as through the quadrupling of the number of local assemblies and the trebling of the number of local Bahá'í centers in each one of them.
While this colossal task, which in its magnitude and potentialities transcends any previous collective enterprise launched in the course of American Bahá'í history, is being energetically carried out, it should be constantly borne in mind--and this applies to all communities without exception participating in this World Crusade--that the twofold task of extension and consolidation must be supplemented by continuous and strenuous efforts to increase speedily not only the number of the avowed followers of the Faith in both the virgin and opened territories and islands included within the scope of the Ten Year Plan, but also to swell the ranks of its active supporters who will consecrate their time, resources and energy to the effectual spread of its teachings and the multiplication and consolidation of its administrative institutions.
The movement of pioneers, the opening of virgin territories, the initiation of Houses of Worship and of administrative headquarters, the incorporation of local and national elective bodies, the multiplication of assemblies, groups and isolated centers, the increase in the number of races represented in the world Bahá'í fellowship, the translation, publication and dissemination of Bahá'í literature, the consolidation of administrative agencies and the creation of auxiliary bodies designed to support them, however valuable, essential and meritorious, will in the long run amount to little and fail to achieve their supreme purpose if not supplemented by the equally vital task--which is one that primarily concerns continually and challenges each single individual believer whatever his rank, capacity or origin--of winning to the Faith fresh recruits to the slowly yet steadily advancing army of the Lord of Hosts, whose reinforcing strength is so essential to the safeguarding of the victories which the band of heroic Bahá'í conquerors are winning in the course of their several campaigns in all the continents of the globe.
Such a steady flow of reinforcements is absolutely vital and is of extreme urgency, for nothing short of the vitalizing influx of new blood that will reanimate the world Bahá'í community can safeguard the prizes which, at so great a sacrifice involving the expenditure of so much time, effort and treasure, are now being won in virgin territories by Bahá'u'lláh's valiant Knights, whose privilege is to constitute the spearhead of the onrushing battalions which, in diverse theaters and in circumstances often adverse and extremely challenging, are vying with each other for the spiritual conquest of the unsurrendered territories and islands on the surface of the globe.
This flow, moreover, will presage and hasten the advent of the day which, as prophesied by `Abdu'l-Bahá, will witness the entry by troops of peoples of divers nations and races into the Bahá'í world--a day which, viewed in its proper perspective, will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in nature, and which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the spiritual authority of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
MOST VITAL OBJECTIVE IN THE CRUSADE'S OPENING YEAR
Of all the objectives enumerated in my message to the representatives of this community, assembled on the occasion of the celebration of the climax of the Holy Year, of the convocation of the second Intercontinental Teaching Conference, of the inauguration of the Mother Temple of the West and of the launching of the World Spiritual Crusade, the most vital, urgent and meritorious, in this the opening year of the initial phase of this world-embracing enterprise, is, without doubt, the settlement of pioneers in all the virgin territories and islands assigned to this community in all the continents of the globe, with the exception of the few which, owing to present political obstacles, cannot as yet be opened to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. This process already so auspiciously inaugurated, which, in the course of the first eight months of the Holy Year has gathered such splendid momentum, and which bids fair to astonish, stimulate and inspire the entire Bahá'í world, must, during the concluding months of this same year and the one succeeding it, be so accelerated as to insure the attainment of this paramount objective before the lapse of two years from the official launching of this World Crusade.
While this goal is being vigorously pursued, close attention must be directed to the preliminary measures for the establishment of the first dependency of the Mother Temple of the West, as well as to the completion of the landscaping of its grounds, a double task that will, on the one hand, mark the termination of the fifty-year-old process of the construction of the central Bahá'í House of Worship, and proclaim, on the other, the commencement of another designed to culminate in the establishment in its plenitude of the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár as conceived by Bahá'u'lláh and envisaged by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Moreover, immediate consideration should be given to two other issues of prime importance, namely the purchase of land, which need not exceed for the present one acre, in anticipation of the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of South Africa, and the prompt translation of a suitable Bahá'í pamphlet into the American and European languages allocated to your assembly, and its publication and wide dissemination among the peoples and tribes for whom it has been primarily designed.
The followers of the Most Great Name, citizens of the great republic of the West; constituting the majority and the oldest followers of His Faith in a continent wherein, in the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "the splendors of His (Bahá'u'lláh's) Light shall be revealed" and "the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled," addressed by Him in His Tablets of the Divine Plan as the "Apostles" of His Father; the recipients of the overwhelming majority of these same Tablets constituting the Charter of that Plan; conquerors of most of the territories, whether sovereign states or dependencies, already included within the pale of the Faith; the champion-builders of a world administrative system which posterity will regard as the harbinger of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, must, if they wish to retain their primacy and enrich their heritage, insure that, ere the opening of the second phase of this World Crusade, the names of the first American Bahá'í conquerors to settle in virgin territories and islands will, as befits their primacy, be inscribed on the Scroll of Honor, now in process of preparation, and designed to be permanently deposited at the entrance door of the Inner Sanctuary of Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Tomb, that the limited area of land required for the erection of four future Bahá'í Temples, in Rome, Stockholm, Panama City and Johannesburg, will be bought, that the landscaping of the grounds of the Temple in Wilmette will be completed, and that the translation and the publication of the aforementioned pamphlet in the specified languages will be accomplished.
The two years that lie ahead, three months of which have already elapsed, will swiftly and imperceptibly draw to a close. Tasks even more onerous, equally weighty and requiring in a still greater measure the expenditure of effort and substance, lie ahead, which will brook no delay, which will carry the Faith to still higher levels of achievement and renown, which will enlarge, through the forging of fresh instruments, the framework of a steadily rising world Administrative Order, and which will eventually, if worthily discharged, seal the triumph of the most prodigious, the most sublime, the most sacred collective enterprise launched by the adherents of the Cause of God in both hemispheres since the early days of the Heroic Age of the Faith--an enterprise which in its vastness, organization and unifying power, has no parallel in the world's spiritual history.
AN APPEAL TO ALL ENGAGED IN THE CRUSADE
To them, and indeed to the entire body of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, engaged in this global Crusade, I direct my appeal to arise and, in the course of these fast-fleeting years, in every phase of the campaigns that are to be fought in all the continents of the globe, prove their worth as gallant warriors battling for the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, from this very hour until the eve of the Most Great Jubilee, each and every one of those enrolled in the Army of Light must seek no rest, must take no thought of self, must sacrifice to the uttermost, must allow nothing whatsoever to deflect him or her from meeting the pressing, the manifold, the paramount needs of this preeminent Crusade.
"Light as the spirit," "pure as air," "blazing as fire," "unrestrained as the wind"--for such is Bahá'u'lláh's own admonition to His loved ones in His Tablets, and directed not to a select few but to the entire congregation of the faithful--let them scatter far and wide, proclaim the glory of God's Revelation in this Day, quicken the souls of men and ignite in their hearts the love of the One Who alone is their omnipotent and divinely appointed Redeemer.
Bracing the fearful cold of the Arctic regions and the enervating heat of the torrid zone; heedless of the hazards, the loneliness and the austerity of the deserts, the far-away islands and mountains wherein they will be called upon to dwell; undeterred by the clamor which the exponents of religious orthodoxy are sure to raise, or by the restrictive measures which political leaders may impose; undismayed by the smallness of their numbers and the multitude of their potential adversaries; armed with the efficacious weapons their own hands have slowly and laboriously forged in anticipation of this glorious and inevitable encounter with the organized forces of superstition, of corruption and of unbelief; placing their whole trust in the matchless potency of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, in the all-conquering power of His might and the infallibility of His glorious and oft-repeated promises, let them press forward, each according to his strength and resources, into the vast arena now lying before them, and which, God willing, will witness, in the years immediately lying ahead, such exhibitions of prowess and of heroic self-sacrifice as may well recall the superb feats achieved by that immortal band of God-intoxicated heroes who have so immeasurably enriched the annals of the Christian, the Islamic and Bábí Dispensations.
On the members of the American Bahá'í Community, the envied custodians of a Divine Plan, the principal builders and defenders of a mighty Order and the recognized champions of an unspeakably glorious and precious Faith, a peculiar and inescapable responsibility must necessarily rest. Through their courage, their self-abnegation, their fortitude and their perseverance; through the range and quality of their achievements, the depth of their consecration, their initiative and resourcefulness, their organizing ability, their readiness and capacity to lend their assistance to less privileged sister communities struggling against heavy odds; through their generous and sustained response to the enormous and ever-increasing financial needs of a world-encompassing, decade-long and admittedly strenuous enterprise, they must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, vindicate their right to the leadership of this World Crusade.
Now is the time for the hope voiced by `Abdu'l-Bahá that from their homeland "heavenly illumination" may "stream to all the peoples of the world" to be realized. Now is the time for the truth of His remarkable assertion that that same homeland is "equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world and be blest in both the East and the West," to be strikingly and unmistakably demonstrated. "Should success crown" their "enterprise," He, moreover, has assured them, "the throne of the Kingdom of God will, in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established."
Would to God that this community, boasting already of so superb a record of achievements both at home and overseas, and elevated to such dazzling heights by the hopes cherished and the assurance given by the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, may prove itself capable of performing deeds of such distinction, in the course of the opening, as well as the succeeding phases of this World Spiritual Crusade, as will outshine the dedicated acts which have already left their indelible mark on the Apostolic Age of the Faith in the West; will excel the enduring, the historic achievements associated, at a later period, with this community's memorable contribution to the rise and establishment of the world Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh; will surpass the magnificent accomplishments which, subsequently, as the result of the operation of the first Seven Year Plan, illuminated the annals of the Faith in both the North American continent and throughout Latin America and will eclipse the even more dramatic exploits which, during the opening years of the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of the prosecution of the Second Seven Year Plan, have exerted so lasting an influence on the fortunes of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the Antilles, throughout the republics of Central America, in each of the ten republics of South America, in no less than ten sovereign states in the continent of Europe, and in various dependencies on the eastern and western shores, as well as in the heart of the African continent.
[July 18, 1953]