The fourth year of the Seven Year Plan enters upon its course in circumstances that are at once critical, challenging, and unprecedented in their significance. The year that has passed has in so far as the rise and establishment of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the Western Hemisphere is concerned, been one of the most eventful since the Plan began to operate and exercise its potent and beneficent influence. Both within and without the Community of the Most Great Name, the events which the last twelve months has unfolded have in some mysterious way, whether directly or indirectly, communicated their force to the Plan's progressive unfoldment, contributed to the orientation of its policy and assisted in the consolidation of the diversified undertakings, both primary and subsidiary that fall within its orbit. Even the losses which the ranks of its stout-hearted upholders have sustained will, when viewed in their proper perspective, be regarded as gains of incalculable value, affecting both its immediate fortunes as well as its ultimate destiny.
The successive international crises which agitated the opening months of the year that has elapsed, culminating in the outbreak of the war in Europe, far from drowning the enthusiasm or daunting the spirit of the prosecutors of God's Plan, served by deflecting their gaze from a storm-tossed continent, to focus their minds and resources on ministering to the urgent needs of that hemisphere in which the first honors and the initial successes of the heroes of the Formative Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh are to be scored and won.
The sudden extinction of the earthly life of that star-servant of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, Martha Root, who, while on the last lap of her fourth journey round the world--journeys that carried her to the humblest homes as well as the palaces of royalty--was hurrying homeward to lend her promised aid to her fellow-countrymen in their divinely-appointed task--such a death, though it frustrated this cherished resolution of her indomitable spirit, steeled the hearts of her bereaved lovers and admirers to carry on, more energetically than ever, the work which she herself had initiated, as far back as the year 1919, in every important city in the South American continent.
The subtle and contemptible machinations by which the puny adversaries of the Faith, jealous of its consolidating power and perturbed by the compelling evidences of its conspicuous victories, have sought to challenge the validity and misrepresent the character of the Administrative Order embedded in its teachings have galvanized the swelling army of its defenders to arise and arraign the usurpers of their sacred rights and to defend the long-standing strongholds of the institutions of their Faith in their home country.
And now as this year, so memorable in the annals of the Faith, was drawing to a close, there befell the American Bahá'í community, through the dramatic and sudden death of May Maxwell, yet another loss, which viewed in retrospect will come to be regarded as a potent blessing conferred upon the campaign now being so diligently conducted by its members. Laden with the fruits garnered through well-nigh half a century of toilsome service to the Cause she so greatly loved, heedless of the warnings of age and ill-health, and afire with the longing to worthily demonstrate her gratitude in her overwhelming awareness of the bounties of her Lord and Master, she set her face towards the southern outpost of the Faith in the New World, and laid down her life in such a spirit of consecration and self-sacrifice as has truly merited the crown of martyrdom.
To Keith Ransom-Kehler, whose dust sleeps in far-off Isfáhán; to Martha Root, fallen in her tracks on an island in the midmost heart of the ocean; to May Maxwell, lying in solitary glory in the southern outpost of the Western Hemisphere--to these three heroines of the Formative Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, they who now labor so assiduously for its expansion and establishment, owe a debt of gratitude which future generations will not fail to adequately recognize.
I need not expatiate on other, though less prominent, events that have contributed their share to the furtherance of the Seven Year Plan, or marked its systematic development. The association of the Fund, specifically inaugurated for its prosecution, with the hallowed memories of both the Mother and Brother of `Abdu'l-Bahá; the establishment of at least one pioneer in each of the Republics of Central and South America; the ushering in of the last phase of the external ornamentation of the Temple; the conjunction of the institutions of the Haziratu'l-Quds and the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in the heart of the North American continent; the founding of yet another institution designed as a training school for Inter-America teaching work; the steady rise in the number of groups and Assemblies functioning within the Administrative Framework of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh--these stand out as further evidences of the animating Force that propels the Plan towards its final consummation.
Varied and abundant as have been the past manifestations of this driving, resistless Force, they cannot but pale before the brilliant victories which its progressive and systematic development must achieve in the future.
The American believers, standing on the threshold of the fourth year
of the Seven Year Plan, pursue their God-given task with a radiance that
no earthly gloom can dim, and will continue to shoulder its ever-growing
duties and responsibilities with a vigor and loyalty that no earthly power
can either sap or diminish.
April 15, 1940