[Wilmette--Chicago, May 1953]
With a heart overflowing with joy and thankfulness I acclaim, at this hour marking the climax of the world-wide festivities of this Holy Year, the convocation, in the heart of the North American continent and under the shadow of the newly consecrated Mother Temple of the West, of the second and, without doubt, the most distinguished of the four Intercontinental Teaching Conferences commemorating the Centenary of the inception of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh. On the occasion of the opening of this epoch-making conference, at which members of the United States, the Canadian, the Central American and South American National Spiritual Assemblies, as well as representatives of the Bahá'í communities in the states of the American Union, in the provinces of the Dominion of Canada, in Alaska, and in the republics of Latin America, are assembled, I recall the unique, the historic, the highly significant and profoundly moving summons issued by the Author of the Bahá'í Faith Himself, and enshrined for all time in the Mother-Book of His Revelation and repository of His laws, and addressed collectively to the rulers of the entire Western Hemisphere, conferring upon them an honor such as has not been conferred by Him on the rulers of any other continent of the globe. With a throbbing heart I call to mind, at a distance of more than a century, since the Herald of the Faith bade in His Qayyúmu'l-Asma' the "peoples of the West" to "issue forth" from their "cities" to aid His Cause, the long series of events which have illuminated the annals of Bahá'í history in the course of six memorable decades stretching from the time when the name of Bahá'u'lláh was first publicly mentioned on the American continent to the present hour when the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the West has finally been dedicated to public worship on the occasion of the celebrations signalizing the termination of the first century since the birth of His Mission. I can but, at this juncture, touch upon certain outstanding episodes which, viewed in their proper perspective, may well be regarded as landmarks in the rise and development of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the Americas. I am particularly reminded of the holding of the World Parliament of Religions of Chicago in September 1893; of the arrival of the first American Bahá'í pilgrims in the Holy Land in December 1898; of the inception of the Temple enterprise in June 1903; of the opening of the first American Bahá'í Convention in March 1909; of `Abdu'l-Bahá's arrival in America in April 1912; of the laying by Him of the cornerstone of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in May 1912; of the unveiling of the Tablets of the Divine Plan in April 1919; of the birth and rise of the Bahá'í Administrative Order on the morrow of `Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension; of the official inauguration of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Plan through the launching of the first seven-year teaching enterprise in April 1937; of the completion of the exterior ornamentation of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, on the eve of the centenary celebrations of the Founding of the Faith, in May 1944; of the inception of the Second Seven-Year Plan in April 1946; of the formation of an independent National Spiritual Assembly in the Dominion of Canada in April 1948; of the establishment of the National Spiritual Assemblies of Central and South America in April 1951; and of the completion of the interior ornamentation of the Temple in October 1952.
SIX DECADES OF ACHIEVEMENT
So remarkable a development in the course of the past six decades, spanning the concluding phase of the Heroic and the opening decade of the Formative Age of the Faith, and encompassing the length and breadth of a continent, so greatly blessed, so richly endowed, has resulted in the extension of the ramifications of a nascent Administrative Order to every state of the American Union, to every province of the Dominion of Canada, and to every republic of Central and South America; in the construction, the ornamentation, and the dedication to public worship of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the western world; in the erection of no less than four pillars destined with others to sustain the weight of the final and crowning unit of the administrative structure of the Faith; in the establishment of over ninety centers in the Dominion of Canada, of over an hundred centers in Latin America, and of over twelve hundred centers in the great republic of the West, covering a range that stretches from the Arctic Circle in the North to the extremity of Chile in the South; in the founding of local and national endowments estimated at over three million dollars; in the incorporation of no less than four national, and of more than fifty local Bahá'í spiritual assemblies; in the recognition by eighteen states of the American Union of the Bahá'í marriage certificate; in the establishment of two national administrative headquarters, one in the Dominion of Canada and the other in the heart of the North American continent; in the framing of national Bahá'í constitutions; in the inauguration of summer schools; and in a notable progress in the translation, the printing and the dissemination of Bahá'í literature.
The hour has now struck for the national Bahá'í communities dwelling within the confines of the Western Hemisphere--the first region in the western world to be warmed and illuminated by the rays of God's infant Faith shining from its World Center in the Holy Land--to arise and, in thanksgiving for the manifold blessings continually showered upon them from on high during the past six decades and for the inestimable bounties of God's unfailing protection and sustaining grace vouchsafed His Cause ever since its inception more than a century ago, and in anticipation of the Most Great Jubilee which will commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Bahá'u'lláh's formal assumption of His prophetic office, launch, determinedly and unitedly, the third and last stage of an enterprise inaugurated sixteen years ago, the termination of which will mark the closing of the initial epoch in the evolution of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan. Standing on the threshold of a ten-year-long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade these communities are now called upon, by virtue of the weighty pronouncement recorded in the Most Holy Book, and in direct consequence of the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, to play a preponderating role in the systematic propagation of the Faith, in the course of the coming decade, which will, God willing, culminate in the spiritual conquest of the entire planet.
It is incumbent upon the members of the American Bahá'í Community, the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, the members of the Canadian Bahá'í Community acting as their allies, and the members of the Latin American Bahá'í Communities in their capacity as associates in the execution of this Plan, to brace themselves and initiate, in addition to the responsibilities they have assumed, and will assume, in other continents of the globe, an intercontinental campaign designed to carry a stage further the glorious work already inaugurated throughout the Western Hemisphere.
SPECIAL TASKS OF FOUR NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES
The task, at once arduous, thrilling and challenging, which now confronts these four Bahá'í communities involves: First, the formation, under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, and in collaboration with the two existing national assemblies in Latin America, of one national spiritual assembly in each of the twenty Latin American republics as well as the establishment of a national spiritual assembly in Alaska under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America. Second, the establishment of the first dependency of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Wilmette. Third, the purchase of land for the future construction of two Mashriqu'l-Adhkars, one in Toronto, Ontario; one in Panama City, Panama, situated respectively in North and in Central America. Fourth, the opening of the following twenty-seven virgin territories and islands: Anticosti Island, Baranof Island, Cape Breton Island, Franklin, Grand Manan Island, Keewatin, Labrador, Magdalen Islands, Miquelon Island and St. Pierre Island, Queen Charlotte Islands and Yukon, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada; Aleutian Islands, Falkland Islands, Key West and Kodiak Island assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; Bahama Islands, British Honduras, Dutch West Indies and Margarita Island, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central America; British Guiana, Chiloe Island, Dutch Guiana, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Juan Fernandez Islands, Leeward Islands, and Windward Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South America. Fifth, the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature in the following ten languages, to be undertaken by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America: Aguaruna, Arawak, Blackfoot, Cherokee, Iroquois, Lengua, Mataco, Maya, Mexican and Yahgan. Sixth, the consolidation of Greenland, Mackenzie and Newfoundland, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada; of Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands and Puerto Rico allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; of Bermuda, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central America; and of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South America. Seventh, the incorporation of the twenty-one above-mentioned national spiritual assemblies. Eighth, the establishment by these same national spiritual assemblies of national Bahá'í endowments. Ninth, the establishment of a national &Haziratu'l-Quds in the capital city of each of the aforementioned republics, as well as one in Anchorage, Alaska. Tenth, the formation of two national Bahá'í publishing trusts, one in Wilmette, Illinois, and the other in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Eleventh, the formation of an Israel branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, authorized to hold, on behalf of its parent institution, property dedicated to the holy shrines at the World Center of the Faith in the state of Israel. Twelfth, the appointment during Ridván 1954, by the Hands of the Cause in the United States and Canada, of an Auxiliary Board of nine members who will, in conjunction with the four national spiritual assemblies participating in the American campaign, assist, through periodic and systematic visits to Bahá'í centers, in the efficient and prompt execution of the plans formulated for the prosecution of the teaching campaign in the American continent.
PORTRAIT OF Bahá'u'lláh SENT
Mindful of the magnificent services rendered during over half a century by the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, within a territory that posterity will regard as the cradle of the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh and the stronghold of its nascent institutions, and confident that this vast and historic assemblage, over which the national elected representatives of this privileged community are presiding, will prove to be the harbinger of still greater victories, I have been impelled to transmit, through my special representative, who will participate on my behalf in the proceedings of this conference and act as my deputy at the official dedication of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, a reproduction of the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, made in the prime of His life, whilst an exile in Baghdád, as a token of my admiration for this community's unflagging and herculean labors, and as a benediction and inspiration for those who, whether officially or unofficially, are participating in the proceedings of a conference that will go down in history as the most momentous gathering held since the close of the Heroic Age of the Faith and will be regarded as the most potent agency in paving the way for the launching of one of the most brilliant phases of the grandest crusade ever undertaken by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh since the inception of His Faith more than a hundred years ago.
[May 3, 1953]