Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives for his assistance."
The American Bahá'í community, crowned with imperishable glory by these signal international services of Martha Root, was destined, as the first Bahá'í century drew to a close, to distinguish itself, through the concerted efforts of its members, both at home and abroad, by further achievements of such scope and quality that no survey of the teaching activities of the Faith in the course of that century can afford to ignore them. It would be no exaggeration to say that these colossal achievements, with the amazing results which flowed from them, could only have been effected through the harnessing of all the agencies of a newly established Administrative Order, operating in conformity with a carefully conceived Plan, and that they constitute a befitting conclusion to the record of a hundred years of sublime endeavor in the service of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
That the community of His followers in the United States and Canada should have carried off the palm of victory in the concluding years of such a glorious century is not a matter for surprise. Its accomplishments during the last two decades of the Heroic, and throughout the first fifteen years of the Formative Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, had already augured well for its future, and had paved the way for its final victory ere the expiration of the first century of the Bahá'í Era.
The Báb had in His Qayy˙mu'l-Asmá, almost a hundred years previously, sounded His specific summons to the "peoples of the West" to "issue forth" from their "cities" and aid His Cause. Bahá'u'lláh, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, had collectively addressed the Presidents of the Republics of the entire Americas, bidding them arise and "bind with the hands of justice the broken," and "crush the oppressor" with the "rod of the commandments" of their Lord, and had, moreover, anticipated in His writings the appearance "in the West" of the "signs of His Dominion." `Abdu'l-Bahá had, on His part, declared that the "illumination" shed by His Father's Revelation upon the West would acquire an "extraordinary brilliancy," and that the "light of the Kingdom" would "shed a still greater illumination upon the West" than upon the East. He had extolled the American continent in particular as "the land wherein the splendors of His Light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled," and affirmed that "it will lead all nations spiritually." More specifically still, He had singled out the Great Republic of the West, the leading nation of that continent, declaring that its people were "indeed worthy of being the first to
build the Tabernacle of the Most Great Peace and proclaim the oneness of mankind," that it was "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."
The first act of His ministry had been to unfurl the standard of Bahá'u'lláh in the very heart of that Republic. This was followed by His own prolonged visit to its shores, by His dedication of the first House of Worship to be built by the community of His disciples in that land, and finally by the revelation, in the evening of His life, of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, investing His disciples with a mandate to plant the banner of His Father's Faith, as He had planted it in their own land, in all the continents, the countries and islands of the globe. He had, furthermore, acclaimed one of their most celebrated presidents as one who, through the ideals he had expounded and the institutions he had inaugurated, had caused the "dawn" of the Peace anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh to break; had voiced the hope that from their country "heavenly illumination" may "stream to all the peoples of the world"; had designated them in those Tablets as "Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh"; had assured them that, "should success crown" their "enterprise," "the throne of the Kingdom of God will, in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established"; and had made the stirring announcement that "the moment this Divine Message is propagated" by them "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," and that "the whole earth" would "resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness."
That Community had already, in the lifetime of Him Who had created it, tenderly nursed and repeatedly blessed it, and had at last conferred upon it so distinctive a mission, arisen to launch the enterprise of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár through the purchase of its land and the laying of its foundations. It had despatched its teachers to the East and to the West to propagate the Cause it had espoused, had established the basis of its community life, and had, since His passing, erected the superstructure and commenced the external ornamentation of its Temple. It had, moreover, assumed a preponderating share in the task of erecting the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith, of championing its cause, of demonstrating its independent character, of enriching and disseminating its literature, of lending moral and material assistance to its persecuted followers, of repelling the assaults of its adversaries and of winning the allegiance of royalty
to its Founder. Such a splendid record was to culminate, as the century approached its end, in the initiation of a Plan--the first stage in the execution of the Mission entrusted to it by `Abdu'l-Bahá--which, within the space of seven brief years, was to bring to a successful completion the exterior ornamentation of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, to almost double the number of Spiritual Assemblies functioning in the North American continent, to bring the total number of localities in which Bahá'ís reside to no less than thirteen hundred and twenty-two in that same continent, to establish the structural basis of the Administrative Order in every state of the United States and every province of Canada, and by laying a firm anchorage in each of the twenty Republics of Central and South America, to swell to sixty the number of the sovereign states included within its orbit.
Many and diverse forces combined now to urge the American Bahá'í community to strong action: the glowing exhortations and promises of Bahá'u'lláh and His behest to erect in His name Houses of Worship; the directions issued by `Abdu'l-Bahá in fourteen Tablets addressed to the believers residing in the Western, the Central, the North Eastern and Southern States of the North American Republic and in the Dominion of Canada; His prophetic utterances regarding the future of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in America; the influence of the new Administrative Order in fostering and rendering effective an eager spirit of cooperation; the example of Martha Root who, though equipped with no more than a handful of inadequately translated leaflets, had traveled to South America and visited every important city in that continent; the tenacity and self-sacrifice of the fearless and brilliant Keith Ransom-Kehler, the first American martyr, who, journeying to Persia had pleaded in numerous interviews with ministers, ecclesiastics and government officials the cause of her down-trodden brethren in that land, had addressed no less than seven petitions to the Sháh, and, heedless of the warnings of age and ill-health, had at last succumbed in Isfahán. Other factors which spurred the members of that community to fresh sacrifices and adventure were their eagerness to reinforce the work intermittently undertaken through the settlement and travels of a number of pioneers, who had established the first center of the Faith in Brazil, circumnavigated the South American continent and visited the West Indies and distributed literature in various countries of Central and South America; the consciousness of their pressing responsibilities in the face of a rapidly deteriorating international situation; the realization that the first Bahá'í century was fast speeding to a close and their anxiety to bring to a befitting conclusion
an enterprise that had been launched thirty years previously. Undeterred by the immensity of the field, the power wielded by firmly entrenched ecclesiastical organizations, the political instability of some of the countries in which they were to settle, the climatic conditions they were to encounter, and the difference in language and custom of the people amongst whom they were to reside, and keenly aware of the crying needs of the Faith in the North American continent, the members of the American Bahá'í community arose, as one man, to inaugurate a threefold campaign, carefully planned and systematically conducted, designed to establish a Spiritual Assembly in every virgin state and province in North America, to form a nucleus of resident believers in each of the Republics of Central and South America, and to consummate the exterior ornamentation of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár.
A hundred activities, administrative and educational, were devised and pursued for the prosecution of this noble Plan. Through the liberal contribution of funds; through the establishment of an Inter-America Committee and the formation of auxiliary Regional Teaching Committees; through the founding of an International School to provide training for Bahá'í teachers; through the settlement of pioneers in virgin areas and the visits of itinerant teachers; through the dissemination of literature in Spanish and Portuguese; through the initiation of teacher training courses and extension work by groups and local Assemblies; through newspaper and radio publicity; through the exhibition of Temple slides and models; through inter-community conferences and lectures delivered in universities and colleges; through the intensification of teaching courses and Latin American studies at summer schools--through these and other activities the prosecutors of this Seven-Year Plan have succeeded in sealing the triumph of what must be regarded as the greatest collective enterprise ever launched by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the entire history of the first Bahá'í century.
Indeed, ere the expiry of that century not only had the work on the Temple been completed sixteen months before the appointed time, but instead of one tiny nucleus in every Latin Republic, Spiritual Assemblies had already been established in Mexico City and Puebla (Mexico), in Buenos Aires (Argentina), in Guatemala City (Guatemala), in Santiago (Chile), in Montevideo (Uruguay), in Quito (Ecuador), in BogotÓ (Colombia), in Lima (Peru), in Asunci˛n (Paraguay), in Tegucigalpa (Honduras), in San Salvador (El-Salvador), in San JosÚ and Puntarenas (Costa Rica), in Havana (Cuba) and in Port-au-Prince (Haiti). Extension work, in which newly
fledged Latin American believers were participating, had, moreover, been initiated, and was being vigorously carried out, in the Republics of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama and Costa Rica; believers had established their residence not only in the capital cities of all the Latin American Republics, but also in such centers as Veracruz, Cananea and Tacubaya (Mexico), in Balboa and Christobal (Panama), in Recife (Brazil), in Guayaquil and Ambato (Ecuador), and in Temuco and Magellanes (Chile); the Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of Mexico City and of San JosÚ had been incorporated; in the former city a Bahá'í center, comprising a library, a reading room and a lecture room, had been founded; Bahá'í Youth Symposiums had been observed in Havana, Buenos Aires and Santiago, whilst a distributing center of Bahá'í literature for Latin America had been established in Buenos Aires.
Nor was this gigantic enterprise destined to be deprived, in its initial stage, of a blessing that was to cement the spiritual union of the Americas--a blessing flowing from the sacrifice of one who, at the very dawn of the Day of the Covenant, had been responsible for the establishment of the first Bahá'í centers in both Europe and the Dominion of Canada, and who, though seventy years of age and suffering from ill-health, undertook a six thousand mile voyage to the capital of Argentina, where, while still on the threshold of her pioneer service, she suddenly passed away, imparting through such a death to the work initiated in that Republic an impetus which has already enabled it, through the establishment of a distributing center of Bahá'í literature for Latin America and through other activities, to assume the foremost position among its sister Republics.
To May Maxwell, laid to rest in the soil of Argentina; to Hyde Dunn, whose dust reposes in the Antipodes, in the city of Sydney; to Keith Ransom-Kehler, entombed in distant Isfahán; to Susan Moody and Lillian Kappes and their valiant associates who lie buried in Tihrán; to Lua Getsinger, reposing forever in the capital of Egypt, and last but not least to Martha Root, interred in an island in the bosom of the Pacific, belong the matchless honor of having conferred, through their services and sacrifice, a lustre upon the American Bahá'í community for which its representatives, while celebrating at their historic, their first All-American Convention, their hard-won victories, may well feel eternally grateful.
Gathered within the walls of its national Shrine--the most sacred Temple ever to be reared to the glory of Bahá'u'lláh; commemorating at once the centenary of the birth of the Bábí Dispensation, of the
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