Dearly loved friends,
 With great joy in our hearts and high
expectations, we come to this Ridván season at a change of time,
when a new state of mind is evident among us all. Abroad in our world
community there is a heightened awareness of the value of process, the
necessity of planning and the virtue of systematic action in fostering
growth and in developing the human resources by which expansion can be
sustained and consolidation assured. The coherence of understanding
about these prerequisites of progress cannot be overvalued, nor can the
importance of perpetuating them through well-ordered training be overestimated.
And so the arrival of our community at such a moment of consciousness is
an occasion of significance for us. We are deeply grateful to the
Blessed Beauty to be able to recognize and acclaim it at the very beginning
of the global enterprise being launched during these festive days.
 The power of will generated by this
consciousness characterized the conference of the Continental Counsellors
and the members of their Auxiliary Boards who gathered here last January
in the Holy Land. The event produced so illuminating an experience
as to signalize the Faith's entry into a new epoch, the fifth of it's Formative
Age. Such a freshness of vitality as was displayed at this historic
gathering came to be understood as a manifestation of the rising quality
of activity throughout the community. Pursuit during the past year
of the essentials for advancing the process of entry by troops confirmed
this observation. The path was thus paved for the Five Year Plan,
the first venture being entered upon in the Fifth Epoch.
 In augmenting major efforts of the
previous Four Year Plan that brought into being more than 300 training
institutes, the Twelve Month Plan achieved its purpose. It gathered
significance through the notable responses of institutions and individuals
to the call for a greater focus on the spiritual nurturing of children
and the involvement of junior youth in Bahá'í community life..
The training of teachers of children's classes and the inclusion of junior
youth in the institute process have become a regular part of Bahá'í
activities in a number of countries. Despite its brevity, the Twelve
Month Plan had an importance beyond the objectives specifically assigned.
The Plan was a dynamic link between a highly eventful epoch in Bahá'í
history and the immensely promising prospects of a new one, for which its
achievements have so well prepared the community. It has been etched
in our annals, too, for the enduring effects of the Faith's activities
at the end of the twentieth century -- a century that deserves to be reflected
upon by any Bahá'í who wishes to understand the tumultuous
forces that influenced the life of the planet and the processes of the
Cause itself at a crucial time in
humanity's social and spiritual evolution.
As an aid to so worthy an effort, Century of Light , a review of
the twentieth century, was prepared at our request and under our supervision.
 On many occasions during this one-year
endeavour, the external affairs of the Faith were especially visible.
Consider, for example, the instances of Bahá'í representatives'
having participated prominently in the millennial events that took place
in May, August and September at the urging of the Secretary-General of
the United Nations. The implications of so close and conspicuous
an involvement of the Bahá'í International Community with
the processes of the Lesser Peace will require the passage of time to be
properly understood. Among other highlights was the Continental Colloquium
organized in India by the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, a
new agency operating under the aegis of the Bahá'í International
Community. Adopting the theme of "science, religion and development",
the conference featured the participation of leading non-governmental organizations
of India, as well as that of institutions of such reknown as UNESCO, UNICEF,
WHO and the World Bank. In October, the Bahá'í World
News Service (BWNS) was launched on the Internet with the intention of
reaching both Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í audiences
with news stories about developments throughout the Bahá'í
 The intensive activities at the Bahá'í
World Centre during the last year were, for the most part, made known to
the friends through previous reports that included references to such achievements
as the occupation by the International Teaching Centre of its permanent
seat on Mount Carmel; the Conference of Continental Counsellors and the
members of their Auxilliary Boards held in the Holy Land last January;
and the completion of the Mount Carmel projects, which are now receiving
finishing touches in preparation for the celebratory events in May.
Last October, for the first time, pilgrims and visitors were received at
the new Reception Centre in Haifa, which became fully operational.
At Bahjí the embellishment of the sacred site through the development
of its gardens has proceeded continually; the effort has, however, received
a boost from the new project initiated last year to construct a Visitors'
Centre towards the northern end of the property beyond the Collins Gate.
Scheduled for completion in the next few months, the structure is fully
in place, and work is progressing in all areas, including finishing and
landscaping. The new facilities will improve the ability of the World
Centre to receive increasing numbers of pilgrims, short-term Bahá'í
visitors, and special guests.
 To conclude this summary of the year,
we rejoice in informing you that, after the lapse of almost three decades,
the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Indonesia
was restored at the National Convention held in Jakarta last Ridván..
A ban imposed on Bahá'í activities in August 1962 severely
restricted the actions of Indonesian Bahá'ís for all that
time, but they remained steadfast and wise in their long-suffering until
changed circumstances in that country resulted in the lifting of the ban.
May we not venture to hope, then, that a similar happy report concerning
our beleaguered co-religionists in Iran, Egypt and other countries will
not be too far distant ?
 Dear Friends: Two decades from
now the Bahá'í world will celebrate the centenary of the
inception of the Formative Age. We look back at the dawning of the
Age from the vantage point of attainments that could hardly have been imagined
at the outset. Up ahead are horizons that urgently summon the community
to even greater achievements in the short span separating it from that
centennial. Those heights can and must be scaled. The Five
Year Plan, to which we call the urgent and sustained attention of the friends
throughout the world, is intended to meet this challenge. It constitutes
the first of a series of campaigns that will be pursued during these twenty
years. This Plan marks the next phase in the aim to accomplish a
significant advance in
the process of entry by troops. It demands an acceleration of this
vital process and, furthermore, insists upon continuity in systematic endeavour
on the part of its three constituent participants: the individual,
the institutions, and the community.
 No need to elaborate on the requirements
of the Plan, for these were set out in our message to the assembled Counsellors
in the Holy Land and subsequently shared with all National Spiritual Assemblies.
Soon after their conference, the Counsellors began consulting with the
National Assemblies about the execution of the Plan in their respective
jurisdictions. The Plan's direction is therefore well known to the
friends everywhere, as regional and local preparations for pursuing its
major aim are underway. There is a general awareness by now that
efforts will be made to effect a deeper penetration of the Faith into more
and more regions within countries. For example, where circumstances
permit, local communities that exist in close proximity to each other will
be mobilized to participate in intensive programmes of growth. Other
approaches will require methodical opening of new areas for which homefront
pioneers must be raised up in the same consecrated spirit that prompted
those who scattered abroad at earlier times to open virgin territories
across continents and seas. Suffice it to say that the process animating
this divinely driven enterprise will eventually expand as related features
are gradually introduced and systematically integrated into its operation.
A feature of the Fifth Epoch will
be the enrichment of the devotional life of the community through the raising
up of national Houses of Worship, as circumstances in national communities
permit. The scheduling of these projects will be determined by the
Universal House of Justice in relation to the advancement of the process
of entry by troops within countries. This development will unfold
throughout successive stages of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan.
Upon the completion of the Mother Temple of the West, the Guardian started
a programme of constructing continental temples. The first among
these were the Mash
kárs in Kampala, Sydney
and Frankfurt, which were built in response to Ten Year Plan goals.
The Universal House of Justice continued along these lines with the building
of Temples in Panama City, Apia, and New Delhi. But this continental
stage has yet to be completed: one more edifice remains to be built.
It is with profound thankfulness and joy that we announce at this auspicious
moment the decision to proceed with this last project. During the
Five Year Plan, erection of the Mother Temple of South America in Santiago,
Chile, will commence and thus fulfil a wish clearly expressed by Shoghi
Meanwhile, the time is propitious
that further steps be taken at the World Centre to develop the functions
of the institutions occupying the new edifices on the Arc. The International
Teaching Centre having advanced significantly in its work, attention will
be given particularly to organizing the work of the Centre for the Study
of the Texts. Enriching the translations into English from the Holy
Texts will be a special object of this attention. The purpose
of the institution is to assist the Universal House of Justice in consulting
the Sacred Writings and to prepare translations and commentaries on the
authoritative texts of the Faith. Moreover, in the Holy Land,
a continued effort will be devoted towards the devising of measures to
make possible a further increase in the number of pilgrims and visitors
to the Bahá'í World Centre.
 In our Ridván message five
years ago, we announced the holding of a major event at the World Centre
to mark the completion of the projects on Mount Carmel and the opening
of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb to the public.
The moment is upon us, and we exult in the anticipation of welcoming the
friends from virtually all countries to programmes that will extend over
a five-day period, 21 - 25 May. We are also happy to say that
steps are being taken to connect the Bahá'í world to the
proceedings through live transmissions on the World Wide Web and by satellite,
about which information is being provided. As the World Centre focuses
on the preparations, excitement is building up among the public in Haifa,
where municipal authorities have undertaken to publish a book entitled
Bahá'í Shrine and Gardens on Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel:
A Visual Journey to coincide with the event. Moreover,
the Israel Postal Authority is pursuing its decision to release at the
same time a commemorative stamp featuring the Terraces. The
significance of the occasion lies principally in the pause it will allow
for a review of the remarkable distance the Cause has covered in its development
during the twentieth century. It will be time, too, for considering
the future implications of the phenomenal accomplishments symbolized by
the rise of the monumental structures on God's holy mountain -- a rise
that opens the spiritual and administrative centres of our Faith to the
gaze of the world.
 As our community rejoices in these
thrilling considerations, let every member bear in mind that there is no
time for resting on laurels. Humanity's current plight is too
desperate to allow for even a moment's hesitation in sharing the Bread
of Life, which has come down from heaven in our time. Let there
be no delay, then, in advancing the process that has every promise of success
in ushering to the banquet table of the Lord of Hosts the souls of all
that hunger after truth.
 May He Who keeps watch over the destiny
of His divine System guide and direct and confirm every effort you make
towards the realization of the urgent tasks set before you.
[Signature:] The Universal House of Justice