The American Bahá'í Community has, ever since the launching of the global Spiritual Crusade, in which it has been assigned the lion's share in view of the primacy conferred upon it by `Abdu'l-Bahá, exerted itself, in numerous and widely scattered areas of the globe, with commendable perseverance, a high sense of undeviating loyalty and exemplary consecration. The inexorable march of events, hastening its members along the path of their destiny, is steadily carrying them to the stage at which the momentous Plan, to which they have dedicated their resources, will have reached its midway point.
A prodigious expenditure of effort, a stupendous flow of material resources, an unprecedented dispersal of pioneers, embracing so vast a section of the globe, and bringing in their wake the rise, the multiplication and consolidation of so many institutions, so divers in character, so potent and full of promise, already stand to their credit, and augur well for a befitting consummation of a decade-long task in the years immediately ahead.
The opening of a large percentage of the virgin territories, scattered over the face of the planet, and assigned, under the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan, to this community and its sister and daughter communities in all continents of the globe; the allocation of vast sums, for the founding of national Haziratu'l-Quds, for the establishment of national Bahá'í endowments; and for the purchase of the sites of future Bahá'í Temples; the financial aid extended and the moral support accorded to a still persecuted sister community, struggling heroically for its emancipation, in the cradle of the Faith; the steady progress in the vital process of incorporating firmly grounded local spiritual assemblies in various states of the union; the translation of Bahá'í literature into the languages listed in the Ten-Year Plan, as well as into a number of supplementary languages, spontaneously undertaken by American Bahá'í pioneers in territories far beyond the confines of their homeland; the completion of the landscaping of the area immediately surrounding the Mother Temple of the West, in conformity with the expressed, often repeated wishes of `Abdu'l-Bahá, contributing so greatly to the beauty of an edifice, the spiritual influence of which He, repeatedly and unequivocally, emphasized; the acquisition of the site of the first dependency of that same edifice, designed to pave the way for the early establishment of the first of several institutions, which, as conceived by Him, will be grouped around every Bahá'í House of Worship, complementing, through their association with direct service to mankind, in the educational, the humanitarian and social fields, its spiritual function as the ordained place of communion with the Creator and the Spirit of His appointed Messenger in this day; the establishment of the Bahá'í Publishing Trust; the generous financial assistance extended, the administrative guidance vouchsafed and the unfailing encouragement given, by the elected representatives of this same community to the newly fledged assemblies, emerging into independent existence in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres; the substantial share which one of its members has had in the acquisition of one of the holy sites in the capital city of Bahá'u'lláh's native land; the preponderating role played by the various agencies, acting under the direction of its national elected representatives, in giving publicity to the Faith, through the proclamation of the fundamental verities underlying the Bahá'í Revelation, the airing of the manifold grievances weighing so heavily on the overwhelming majority of their coreligionists, and the appeals directed, on their behalf, to men of eminence in various walks of life, as well as to different departments of the United Nations, both in New York and Geneva; and, finally, ranking as equally meritorious to anything hitherto achieved by the members of this privileged community, the magnificent and imperishable contribution made by them, singly and collectively, to the rise and establishment of the institutions of their beloved Faith at its World Center; through the assistance given by their distinguished representatives serving in the Holy Land, in hastening the erection of the Bahá'í International Archives, through the purchase of the site of the Mother Temple of the Holy Land, the enlargement of the scope of Bahá'í international endowments on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and in the Plain of `Akká, the embellishment of the sacred precincts of the two holiest Shrines of the Bahá'í world; the formation of the Israel Branches of four national spiritual assemblies, the preparation and completion of the designs of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkars to be erected in the Asiatic, the African and Australian continents, and the setting in motion, through the instrumentality of various departments of the Israeli government, of a long-drawn-out process, culminating in the expropriation by the state of the entire property, owned and controlled by the remnants of the breakers of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, immediately surrounding His resting-place and the Mansion of Bahjí, the evacuation of this property by this ignoble band, and the final and definite purification, after the lapse of no less than six decades, of the Outer Sanctuary of the Most Holy Shrine of the Bahá'í world, of the defilement, which had caused so much sorrow and anxiety to the heart of `Abdu'l-Bahá--these are among the enduring achievements which four brief years of unremitting devotion to the interests of the Ten-Year Plan have brought about, and which will eternally redound to the glory of the champion-builders of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Order, holding aloft so valiantly the banner of His Faith in the great republic of the West.
THE HOME FRONT--BASE FOR EXPANSION OF FUTURE OPERATIONS
Though much has been achieved in the space of less than five years, though the objectives of the Ten-Year Plan, in most of its essential aspects, may be said to have been triumphantly attained long before the time appointed for its termination, through a striking display, and a remarkable combination, of American Bahá'í initiative, resourcefulness, generosity, fidelity and perseverance, the Plan, prosecuted hitherto so vigorously by the rank and file of this community, may be said to be still suffering in some of its vital aspects, from certain deficiencies, which, if not speedily and fundamentally remedied, will not only mutilate the Plan itself, but jeopardize the prizes won so laboriously since its inauguration.
As I have already forewarned the energetic prosecutors of the global Crusade in the North American continent, the home front, from which have sprung, since the inception of the Formative Age of the Faith, the dynamic forces which have set in motion, and directed the operation, of so many processes, in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá'í activity, and which must continue to act as a base for the steady expansion of future operations in every continent of the globe, and the extension of their ramifications to the uttermost corners of the earth, and which must be increasingly regarded, as the forces of internal disruption and the stress and danger of aggressiveness from without gather momentum, as the sole stronghold of a Faith which cannot hope to escape unscathed from the turmoil gathering around it--such a home front must, at all costs, and in the shortest possible time, be spiritually reinvigorated, administratively expanded, and materially replenished. The flame of devotion ignited and the enthusiasm generated, during the celebrations which commemorated the centenary of the birth of the Mission of the Divine Author of our Faith, and which, in the course of the years immediately following it have carried the members of the American Bahá'í Community, so far and so high, along the road leading to their ultimate destiny, must, in whatever way possible, be fanned and continually fed throughout the entire area of the Union, in every state from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboards, in every locality where Bahá'ís reside, in every heart throbbing with the love of Bahá'u'lláh. The spirit that sent forth, not so long ago, in such rapid succession, so many pioneers to such remote areas of the globe, must at all costs and above everything else, be recaptured, for the twofold purpose of swelling the number, and of ensuring the continual flow, of pioneers, so essential for the safeguarding of the prizes won in the course of the several campaigns of a world-girdling Crusade, and of combatting the evil forces which a relentless and all-pervasive materialism, the cancerous growth of militant racialism, political corruption, unbridled capitalism, wide-spread lawlessness and gross immorality, are, alas, unleashing, with ominous swiftness, amongst various classes of the society to which the members of this community belong.
The administrative strongholds of a Faith, bound to be subjected on the one hand, to a severe spiritual challenge from within, through the inevitable impact of these devastating influences on its infant strength, and, on the other, to the onslaught of ecclesiastical leaders, the traditional defenders of religious orthodoxy from without, must be multiplied and reinforced for the purpose of warding off the inevitable attacks of the assailants, of vindicating the ideals and principles which animate their defenders, and of ensuring the ultimate victory and ascendency of the Faith itself over the nefarious elements seeking to undermine it from within, and its powerful detractors aiming at its extinction from without.
Nor must the material resources, so vitally required to meet the challenge of a continually expanding Faith, be, for a moment, either ignored, neglected, or underestimated--resources which a home front, materially and adequately replenished by a steady and marked influx of active and wholehearted supporters from all ranks of society, can, in the long run, provide. As the imperative needs of a Faith, now irresistibly advancing in every direction, multiply, a corresponding increase in the financial means at the disposal of its national administrators directing and controlling its operations, within and beyond the confines of their homeland, to meet these essential and urgent requirements, must be ensured, if its onward march is not to be either halted or slowed down.
MIGHTY AND HISTORIC ENTERPRISES
It is upon the individual believer, constituting the fundamental unit in the structure of the home front, that the revitalization, the expansion, and the enrichment of the home front must ultimately depend. The more strenuous the effort exerted, daily and methodically, by the individual laboring on the home front to rise to loftier heights of consecration, of self-abnegation, to contribute, through pioneering at home, to the multiplication of Bahá'í isolated centers, groups and assemblies, and to raise, through diligent, painstaking and continual endeavor to convert receptive souls to the Faith he has espoused, the number of its active and wholehearted supporters, the sooner will the vast and multiple enterprises, launched beyond the confines of the homeland, and now so desperately calling for a greater supply of men and means, be provided with the necessary support that will ensure their uninterrupted development and hasten their ultimate fruition, and the lighter will be the burden of the impending contest that must be waged, sooner or later, within the borders of the Union itself, between the rising institutions of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic divinely appointed Order, and the exponents of obsolescent doctrines and the defenders, both secular and religious, of a corrupt and fast-declining society.
The fourth phase of the Ten-Year Plan, which the prosecutors of a world-encompassing Crusade are about to enter, must witness on the one hand, on every home front, and particularly within the confines of the American homeland, this same spiritual reinvigoration, administrative expansion, and material replenishment, constituting the triple facets of a task which can brook no further delay, and, on the other, an acceleration, particularly in connection with the construction of the Mother Temples of Australia and Germany (the needs of the Mother Temple of Africa having, to all intents and purposes, been met) in the contributions to be made, by individual believers as well as national spiritual assemblies, to ensure the uninterrupted progress and the early completion of these mighty and historic enterprises.
As the members of the valiant American Bahá'í Community have, in the space of more than four years, blazed the trail, and vindicated their primacy, through the share they have had in opening the chief remaining virgin territories of the globe, in contributing to the furtherance of the interests of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center, and in hastening the acquisition of national Haziratu'l-Quds, the establishment of Bahá'í national endowments, and the purchase of sites for future Bahá'í Temples, so must they, if they be intent on safeguarding that primacy, and on preserving, intact and untarnished, the noble example they have already set the Bahá'í world, maintain their enviable position, as the vanguard of the army of Bahá'u'lláh's crusaders, in rescuing, while there is yet time, their home front from the precarious position in which it now finds itself, and in displaying for the purpose of ensuring the erection of the Mother Temples of three continents--tasks which tower far above any of the national enterprises hitherto undertaken--be they Haziratu'l-Quds, endowments or Temple sites--that selfsame generosity and self-abnegation which have distinguished their stewardship to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in the past.
The year, the opening of which will mark the midway point of this World Spiritual Crusade, must be distinguished from all previous years, by the special allotment of a substantial sum from the national budget that will adequately meet the urgent needs of these Houses of Worship, and particularly those that are to be erected in the European and Australian continents.
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY, A GLORIOUS CHALLENGE
The forthcoming convocation of no less than five intercontinental conferences, marking the passing of half of the time allotted for the prosecution of a World Crusade, and to be held, in five continents of the globe, for the purpose of paying homage to the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation for His protection, guidance and blessings, of focusing attention on the achievements of the immediate past and the pressing requirements of the immediate future, will, it is my ardent hope and prayer, provide a fresh stimulus for the adequate discharge of these two afore-mentioned responsibilities, which constitute the distinguishing features of the fourth phase of a rapidly unfolding Plan.
At four of these five conferences, in the proceedings of which four, the members of the American Bahá'í Community--the principal executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan and the keepers and defenders of the stronghold of the Bahá'í Administrative Order--will participate, through their official representatives, the voice of the champion-builders of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Order, who can well claim to have had a decisive share in the great strides made by this Crusade, should be raised in a spirit and manner that will galvanize these conferences into action, and produce such results as will reverberate round the world.
A golden opportunity, a glorious challenge, an inescapable duty, a staggering responsibility, confront them, at this fresh turning point in the fortunes of a Crusade, for which they have so unremittingly labored, whose Cause they have so notably advanced, in the further unfoldment of which they must continue to play a leading part, and in whose closing stages, they will, I feel confident, rise to heights never before attained in the course of six decades of American Bahá'í history.
Once again--and this time more fervently than ever before--I direct my plea to every single member of this strenuously laboring, clear-visioned, stout-hearted, spiritually endowed community, every man and woman, on whose individual efforts, resolution, self-sacrifice and perseverance the immediate destinies of the Faith of God, now traversing so crucial a stage in its rise and establishment, primarily depends, not to allow, through apathy, timidity or complacency, this one remaining opportunity to be irretrievably lost. I would rather entreat each and every one of them to immortalize this approaching, fateful hour in the evolution of a World Spiritual Crusade, by a fresh consecration to their God-given mission, coupled with an instantaneous plan of action, at once so dynamic and decisive, as to wipe out, on the one hand, with one stroke, the deficiencies which have, to no small extent, bogged down the operations of the Crusade on the home front, and tremendously accelerate, on the other, the progress of the triple task, launched, in three continents, and constituting one of its preeminent objectives.
HIS WATCHFUL POWER AND UNFAILING GRACE
May He, Who through the irresistible operation of the will of His almighty Father, called this community into being, nursed it in its infancy through the inestimable benefits conferred by a divinely appointed Covenant, infused through His personal contact with its members, and the proclamation of His Own Station, a new spirit into their souls; conferred, subsequently, through the revelation of His Tablets, the spiritual primacy designed to enable them to assume a preponderating role in the propagation of His Father's Faith; graciously aided them, following His ascension, to inaugurate their God-given mission by fixing the pattern, creating the institutions, and vindicating the purpose, of a divinely appointed Administrative Order and by launching subsequently the preliminary undertakings in their homeland, as well as in all the republics of Latin America, in anticipation of the formal inauguration of a systematic World Crusade for the furtherance of His Father's Cause; and more recently assisted them to embark, in concert with their brethren in other continents of the globe, upon the first stage of their world-encompassing mission, and to win a series of victories unprecedented in the annals of the Faith in their homeland--may He, through His watchful care and unfailing grace, continue to sustain them, individually and collectively, in the course of the remaining stages of the Plan, and enable them to bring to a triumphant termination the initial epoch in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan which He has primarily entrusted to them and on the successful prosecution of which their entire spiritual destiny must depend.
[September 21, 1957]