The completion of the exterior ornamentation of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Wilmette, the most hallowed Temple ever to be erected by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, and the crowning glory of the first Bahá'í century, is an event of unique and transcendental significance. Neither the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Bahá'í world, reared in the city of Ishqabad, nor any House of Worship to be raised in succeeding centuries, can claim to possess the vast, the immeasurable potentialities with which this Mother Temple of the West, established in the very heart of so enviable a continent, and whose foundation stone has been laid by the hand of the Center of the Covenant Himself, has been endowed. Conceived forty years ago by that little band of far-sighted and resolute disciples of `Abdu'l-Bahá, members of the first Bahá'í community established in the Western Hemisphere; blessed and fostered by a vigilant Master Who directed its course from the hour of its inception to the last days of His life; supported by the spontaneous contributions of Bahá'ís poured in from the five continents of the globe, this noble, this mighty, this magnificent enterprise deserves to rank among the immortal epics that have adorned the annals of the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
The debt of gratitude owed by the entire Bahá'í world to its champion-builders is indeed immeasurable. The admiration which this brilliant exploit has evoked in the breasts of countless followers of the Faith in East and West knows no bounds. The creative energies its completion must unleash are incalculable. The role it is destined to play in hastening the emergence of the world order of Bahá'u'lláh, now stirring in the womb of this travailing age, cannot as yet be fathomed. We stand too close to so majestic, so lofty, so radiant, so symbolic a monument raised so heroically to the glory of the Most Great Name, at so critical a stage in human history, and at so significant a spot in a continent so richly endowed, to be able to visualize the future glories which the consummation of this institution, this harbinger of an as yet unborn civilization, must in the fulness of time disclose to the eyes of all mankind.
That so laborious, so meritorious an undertaking has been completed a year before its appointed time is a further cause for rejoicing and gratitude, and an added testimony to the vision, the resourcefulness, and enterprising spirit of the American believers.
No need, however, to dwell at length on their past achievements, remarkable and exemplary though they have been, nor is this the time to expatiate on the superb spirit that has characterized their stewardship in the service of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. Tasks of extreme urgency, of great magnitude, of the utmost significance await them in this concluding year of the first Bahá'í century, and at this hour of great peril, of stress and trial for all mankind. The sacred--the pressing, the inescapable teaching responsibilities assumed under the Seven Year Plan must be resolutely faced as befits those whose record has shed so brilliant a light on the annals of the first Bahá'í century. The consolidation of each and every nucleus, formed so painstakingly in every republic of Central and South America, the formation of a Bahá'í Assembly in every virgin State and Province in the North American Continent, call for undivided attention, for further heroism, for a concerted, a persistent, a herculean effort on the part of the stalwart builders of that bounteous Edifice which posterity will recognize as the greatest shrine in the Western world.
Nor must the elaborate preparations in connection with the forthcoming celebration of the centenary of our glorious Faith be overlooked or neglected, if we would befittingly consummate this first, this most fecund, century of the Bahá'í era. An unprecedented, a carefully conceived, efficiently co-ordinated, nation-wide campaign, aiming at the proclamation of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, through speeches, articles in the press, and radio broadcasts, should be promptly initiated and vigorously prosecuted. The universality of the Faith, its aims and purposes, episodes in its dramatic history, testimonials to its transforming power, and the character and distinguishing features of its World Order should be emphasized and explained to the general public, and particularly to eminent friends and leaders sympathetic to its cause, who should be approached and invited to participate in the celebrations. Lectures, conferences, banquets, special publications should, to whatever extent is practicable and according to the resources at the disposal of the believers, proclaim the character of this joyous Festival. An all-American Convention, at which representatives of Bahá'í centers in every Republic in Central and South America will be invited to participate, and to which, for the first time, all isolated believers, all groups, and all communities already possessing local Spiritual Assemblies will have the right to appoint delegates and to share in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly, will, moreover, have to be held to commemorate this epoch-making event. A dedication ceremony, in consonance with the solemnity of the occasion, and held beneath the dome of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, on the very day and at the very hour of the Báb's historic Declaration, followed by a public session, consecrated to the memory of both the Báb and `Abdu'l-Bahá, should constitute the leading features of this historic Convention.
For it should be borne in mind that in the year 1944 we celebrate not only the termination of the first century of the Bahá'í Era, but also the centenary of the birth of the Bahá'í Dispensation, of the inception of the Bahá'í cycle, and the birth of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and commemorate as well the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Bahá'í Faith in the Western world.
No effort, nor any sacrifice can be deemed too great to insure the
decisive, the brilliant success of the celebrations which this historic year,
of such manifold significance, must witness. He Who in the past has, in
diverse ways and on so many occasions, graciously and unfailingly guided,
blessed and sustained the members of this privileged community will, no doubt,
continue to aid and inspire them to carry to a victorious conclusion the
unfinished tasks which still confront them, and will enable them to crown their
labors in a manner that will befit their high destiny.
March 28, 1943