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The lamentable destruction by the civil authorities of the types of the German edition of the revised Esslemont book has been
mitigated by the printing of the work in Switzerland, from a fortunately-preserved copy of the manuscript, under the auspices of the
International Bahá’i Bureau. The American Bahá’i community were privileged to contribute to the expense, with the Guardian’s
permission, through the National Fund. Copies are expected in April or May, and some will be set aside for the Inter-America
Committee to use among the German colonies in South America, while other copies can be used here. Mr. Karl Neumann’s translation
has become available in manuscript form, and its use has been referred to the Guardian.
Miss Lidia Zamenhof, who arrived as the guest of the American believers in September, 1937, left for Poland in November, 1938,
being unable to extend her permit and thus foregoing a number of special teaching opportunities which had arisen. Her activities are
reported by the Committee on International Auxiliary Language, but a word should be added to point out that her capacity as a teacher
of Esperanto, her fame as a daughter of the founder of the language, and her firmness as a Bahã’i produced a new atmosphere of
cordial unity between the Esperanto groups and the Bahã’i community which constitutes a distinct teaching opportunity.
With the Guardian’s approval, a duplicate unit of one of the beautiful details of the Temple exterior decoration is being produced for
shipment to Haifa as gift to Shoghi Effendi. A Temple model has been presented to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, through
Shoghi Effendi, at his request.
A statement prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt, based upon the
laws and ordinances of Bahá’u’lláh in matters of personal status such as marriage and inheritance, has been under consideration for
more than a year, and recently the Guardian’s permission was asked to send a duplicate copy to each local Spiritual Assembly for
study by the community. It is interesting to note that the statement was originally prepared as the result of the decision by the Egyptian
courts that the Bahá’i Faith is an independent religion. Since in Egypt and other Islamic countries, except Turkey, there is no civil law
to control matters of personal status, these matters being subject to the authority of the Qur’án, it became necessary for the National
Spiritual Assembly in that country to prepare and file the Bahá’i laws and ordinances to be applied, under its own recognized
authority, to the members of the Egyptian Bahá’i community. The legal parallel does not exist in America or other western nations,
where the civil constitution centuries ago assumed direct control over areas of human activity and relationship previously regulated by
the church. The unique situation which arose in Egypt, however, served to bring into operation a number of the laws of the Aqdas
which the American believers cannot yet apply in place of the civil code. But the restricted circulation of this intensely interesting
Bahá’i document might well serve to prepare the American Bahá’is for the future application of the laws and ordinances of
Bahá’u’lláh; and the Guardian’s view of the proposal is awaited with great interest.
Concerning the activities of American believers in other lands, reference is made to the fact that such activities, throughout Mexico,
Central America, the Islands of the Caribbean, and South America, are now reported annually in detail by the Inter-America
Committee. In other areas, grateful mention is made of Miss Martha L. Root’s teaching work in India and her recent journey to
Australia for another intensive campaign; the continued devoted services of Miss Marion Jack in Sofia, Bulgaria; the activities of Mrs.
and Miss Sharp in Tihrán; Mrs. Joel Stebbins in Europe; Miss Beatrice Irwin in England; Miss Annaken Krogh in Denmark; Mr. and
Mrs. Max Greeven in Holland; Miss Matthisen in Europe; Miss A. Josephine Kruka in Finland;
THE BAHA’i WORLD
The shop which was used by the Báb during his days in
Büshihr. It has recently been purchased by the Bahá’is of
I ran to be preserved as a sacred site.
and Mrs. Lorol Schopilocher who in February departed for teaching work in the Scandinavian countries. Mr. Mark Tobey returned
after many years in England and is now active in the Bahá’i community of Seattle.
The successive volumes of THE BAHA’I WORLD represent the one directly international Bahi’i activity which the Guardian has
centered in America during this formative period of the Faith. The gathering of the contents from the entire Bahi’i world, and the
manufacture of successive works costing each in excess of $5,000, is at once a mighty task and a correspondingly great privilege.
Volume VII is now on the press. The believers are urged to realize that each volume adds to the growing solidarity of the new spiritual
commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh, and affords ample evidence of its universal character and wide range of thought and activity. Such a
work at present cannot be made to repay its cost, and therefore it is viewed by the National Assembly as a con-
tribution to the general field of teaching. Whatever the Committees, Assemblies and individual believers can do toward extending its
distribution will be a distinctive service to the Faith. It is the one place where we can, as it were, meet face to face our fellowBahá’is
of other country, race, class and inherited creed. It should be noted that the publication of the new volume has been greatly assisted by
a special donation of
The local influence of the House of Worship has been strikingly revealed this year in two ways: the selection by the Wilmette
postmaster of the Temple design for “Air Mail Week,” which meant that the design was carried on letters to many parts of the world;
and the action of the president of the Village board in writing the Illinois State Commission to recommend that the Temple model be
exhibited in the Illinois State Building at the New York World’s Fair.
While the important details concerning
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
Bahá’i properties are reported separately by the Trustees, it should be noted that the Green Acre Trustees have received the gift of a
cemetery lot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from Mrs. Loulie A. Mathews.
Through the initiative and thoughtfulness of Mr. Charles Mason Remey, the American Bahá’i community was represented by a floral
tribute at the memorial meeting conducted for the late Queen Marie of Rumania, the first member of royalty to be confirmed in the
Faith of Bahi’u’lláh, at the National Cathedral at Washington, D. C., on July 25, 1938.
A new instrumentality for teaching has been developed by the Temple model made by the John J. Earley Studios. Not only is the
model on exhibit continuously at a number of local Bahá’i Centers, but has been featured in such public gatherings as the Canadian
National Exposition, Cornell University; the Art Gallery, Binghamton, New York; the International Youth Congress, Vassar College,
Flint, Michigan; Flower Show, American Furniture Company store, Albuquerque, New Mexico; the New Mexico State Fair; florist
shops at Lima, Ohio, and Port Huron, Michigan; and in the Biltmore Hotel and Hotel Arcady, Los Angeles. A model is now part of the
permanent exhibit of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.
A national committee has been requested to report a definite plan for exhibiting the model at State Fairs throughout the country.
The Book Exhibit held at Santa Paula, Cahfornia, as illustrated in BAHA’I NEWS for October, 1938, represents still another
possibility for a new form of public teaching which will undoubtedly be developed by local Assemblies and groups.
Most impressive of undertakings in public teaching at present are the plans adopted for the World’s Fairs to be held during 1939 at
San Francisco and New York. At San Francisco, space has been taken for a display of the Temple model and Bahã’i literature, and a
beautiful design for the background and for the pedestal of the model has been developed. In addition, the model has been accepted by
the Temple of Religions for exhibit in a building devoted to a historical religious exhibit, and Bahá’i meetings will be held in the
Temple of Religions. Photo-
graphs and further important details will be available before the Convention opens.
Conditions at the New York World’s Fair were found to be definitely less liberal. The Temple of Religion, under construction from
funds specially donated, is under the supervision of a committee representing Protestants, Cathohcs and Jews. Its meetings are to be
restricted to the exposition of religious themes which will in no way deviate from a conception of tolerance based upon the theory that
the rights of every existing church are to be preserved. It is a tolerance limited to the acceptance of the estabhshed ecclesiastical bodies
and their creeds, and apparently not open to the declaration of universal principles capable of uniting humanity in “one Order and one
Faith.” No religious exhibits are permitted in the Temple of Religion. Moreover, a ruhng was adopted two years ago excluding any
directly religious exhibit in the Educational Building or other buildings controlled by the Fair. The separate structure raised by the
Christian Science Church was apparently arranged before that ruling was adopted.
It appears possible, however, for the Bahâ’is to secure space in the Communications Building for an exhibit laying chief emphasis
upon publications, with a display of the Temple model a subsidiary feature. The details, at this writing, are awaiting approval by the
National Spiritual Assembly.
The Bahf’is, on the other hand, have made apphcation to the Temple of Religion for the use of Bahá’i speakers in its public meetings,
have offered a Temple model to the Illinois State Commission for its State Building, and have made a similar offer to the United
States Steel Corporation, whose interest in the Temple as an outstanding example of the new possibilities of cement construction was
indicated by the use of the Temple as front cover illustration of
in March, 1937.
The attitude of the New York World’s Fair has been reported because it seems typical of a policy which the BahI’is are likely to find
confronting them more and more in North America as the lines are drawn between the old order and the new. Such a conception of
tolerance surely represents a final effort at defence raised by those who
THE BAHA’i WORLD
identify the church with religion and overlook the true interests of mankind. Bahá’i teachers may well consider these facts and prepare
themselves to deal with situations arising from them in future years.
It is, on the other hand, exceedingly gratifying to reahze that the American Bahá’i community has become able to undertake such large
tasks as are represented by these two World’s Fairs. Both will bring together millions of visitors, many of whom will be prepared to
recognize the evidences and proofs of a World Faith. The experience acquired in handling affairs of this magnitude will be a valuable
asset for the future.
The National Assembly has this year appealed to the local Assemblies to lay great emphasis upon their observance of the Anniversary
of the Birth of Bahá’u’llah on November 12, and upon the subject of the
in their public gatherings during the
month of January, 1939. The response in both cases has been profoundly gratifying.
Indeed, as we pay attention to the Guardian’s consummate wisdom in evoking the latent powers of the Bahá’i community, we realize
the important role played by social symbolism in the formation of a new spiritual community. The successive Anniversaries and
Nineteen Day Feasts, organic parts of the Bahá’i hfe, are themsleves examples of the need for special occasions devoted to a release of
the forces of ardor and consecration. Further experience may justify some plan under which the programs of the local Assembhes are
occasionally coordinated by the National Assembly to concentrate effort upon some particular aspect of the Teachings or some special
condition in the civilization of which we are a part. It would be impressive, for example, to set aside some date each year for meetings
in which special welcome would be extended to groups of the foreign-born. America has many of these groups. They are grievously
affected by the increasing international disturbances, and as yet we have no systematized method or technic for directing their
attention to Bahá’u’lláh’s Plan of world accord and the reconcilliation of national, racial and religious traditions in one all-embracing
The three Summer Schools have continued
their rapid progress in the establishment of facilities for Bahá’i education and the training of Bahl’i educators. Their combined effect
has already produced a remarkable improvement in the public teaching activities maintained throughout North America. Both
functions have been necessary, and both are closely interrelated, yet as the local communities evolve the education of believers in the
Teachings will no doubt fall primarily upon the local Assemblies, while the training of educators—the function of the normal school
in the civil community—will become specialized in the Summer Schools. The privilege of attendance is very real, and it is hoped that
isolated believers and members of local groups will make particular effort to enroll at one of the Schools.
As the date of the annual local elections approaches, it is gratifying to record that the following groups have qualified to form a new
Spiritual Assembly on April 21: Knoxville, Tennessee; Jamestown, New York; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Helena, Montana; Huntington
Park, California; Eagle River, Wisconsin; Wauwatosa, Wisconsin; East Cleveland, Ohio, and Richmond Highlands, Washington. The
number of local bodies in North America identified with the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh will thus become eighty-seven after April 21,
The local incorporations as approved by the Local Committee during the past year include: Cincinnati, San Francisco, Vancouver,
Phoenix, Columbus, Philadelphia, Lima, Portland, and Jersey City.
Through the generous spirit of Miss Martha L. Root we have received a donation of many copies of her new book,
Tdhirih the Pure,
published in Karachi, India, under the auspices of the National Assembly of India and Burma. In this book we have a new and more
complete record of that great Bahá’i soul whose martyrdom has been acclaimed by liberals throughout Europe. Gratitude is expressed
for Miss Root’s achievement and her thoughtful donation to the American Fund.
These and many other actions, such as are recorded by the national committee in their individual Annual Reports, indicate something
of the power with which the American Bahá’i community is advancing toward its goal.
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
A Bahá’i year, however, is to be understood not so much by any series of definite actions as by the fundamental possibilities and
implications revealed for us and established for us by the Guardian of the Faith. We must learn how to parallel our capacity of
response with the power of progress, both inward and outward, released through the Guardian’s messages, and employ each definite
achievement only as a measure of the greater thing to be accomplished.
In order to enable the friends to realize more clearly the accumulative force of Shoghi Effendi’s instructions, advices and appeals
directed to America in this era of the Faith, the National Spiritual Assembly presented those received from January 10, 1936 to
September 24, 1938 in a compilation enclosed with BAHA’i NEWS for November last.
“While we have all read and meditated on these messages singly,” it was pointed out in announcing this compilation, “their meaning
and power as a whole are overwhelming. In letter after letter, cablegram after cablegram, Shoghi Effendi has developed the theme of
devotion, sacrifice, understanding and mighty action for this very period of the severest danger humanity has ever suffered. The
existence of the Bahá”i Community itself, and its destined capacity to become the instrument for the release of God’s blessing of
world order and peace, depend entirely upon our individual and collective response to these directions, warnings and supreme appeals
“Therefore the National Spiritual Assembly, conscious of the gravity of the hour, implores the local Assemblies, communities, and
groups to grasp and incorporate in their very souls the vital import of the Guardian’s words. Shoghi Effendi has created a new and
higher reality for the American Bahá’is
To the 1938 Convention he cabled:
let them, delegates, visitors alike, draw nigh unto Bahá’u’lláh, that He may draw nigh unto them.”
To the National Assembly he cabled on June 6: “Rejoice, thankful, initiative, resourcefulness (of) newly-elected National Assembly
prompting them signalize inauguration period (of their) stewardship by
launching third stage in progressive unfoldment (of the) Seven Year Plan.”
he wrote: “The Pen of Bahá’u’lláh, the voice of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, have time and again, insistently, and in terms unmistakable,
warned an unheeding humanity of impending disaster. The Community of the Most Great Name, the leaven that must leaven the lump,
the chosen remnants that must survive the rolling up of the old, discredited, tottering order, and assist in the unfoldment of a new one
in its stead, is standing ready, alert, clear-visioned, and resolute. The American believers, standard- bearers of this worldwide
community and torch-bearers of an as-yet unborn civilization, have girt up their loins, unfurled their banners and stepped into the
arena of service. Their Plan has been formulated. Their forces are mobilized. They are steadfastly marching towards their goal.”
On September 10: “I feel truly exhilarated as I witness the ever-recurrent manifestations of unbroken solidarity and unquenchable
enthusiasm that distinguish every stage in the progressive development of the nation-wide enterprise which is being so unflinchingly
pursued by the whole American Bahã’i community. The marked deterioration in world affairs, the steadily deepening gloom that
envelops the storm-tossed peoples and nations of the Old World, invest the Seven Year Plan, now operating in both the northern and
southern American Continents, with a significance and urgency that cannot be overestimated.”
The cablegram received September 24 conveyed tremendous significance: “Loyalty (to) World Order (of) Bahá’u’lláh, security (of) its
basic institutions, both imperatively demand all its avowed supporters, particularly its champion builders (in the) American continent,
in these days when sinister, uncontrollable forces are deepening (the) cleavage sundering peoples, nations, creeds, classes, resolve
despite pressure (of) fast— crystallizing public opinion, abstain individually, collectively, in word, action, informally as well as in all
official publications, from assigning blame, taking sides, however indirectly, in (the) recurring political crises now agitating,
ultimately engulfing, human society. Grave apprehension lest cumulative
THE BAHA’I WORLD
effect (of) such compromises disintegrate (the) fabric, clog (the) channel (of the) Grace that sustains God’s essentially supranational,
supernatural Order so laboriously evolved, so recently established.”
In reply to a question received concerning the application of this instruction, the National Assembly informed the inquirer that
believers should take part in no pobtical or economic measures aimed at international situations except such as are commanded by
their civil government.
the Guardian cabled:
“(The) virtual termination (within the) appointed time (of the) gallery section (of the) Mashriqu’l-Adhkar triumphantly ushers in (the)
final phase (of the) major task courageously shouldered (by the) champions (of the) Seven Year Plan
. . .
(The) poignant memory (of
the) ever-loved Greatest Holy Leaf, inseparably linked to (the) American believers’ Temple exertions, impels me (to) offer, (at) this
decisive hour, one thousand pounds in her name and as token (of) her debt of gratitude for their response (to) her last appeal addressed
to them (in the) evening of her life. (I am) confident (that the) Temple Construction Fund, which from now on will ever bear her name
and be consecrated (to) her memory, will, following this offering, swell (to) such proportions as will carry forward (the) stupendous
undertaking (to a) glorious consummation.”
In a letter dated at the same time, he wrote: “The initial contract, proclaiming the opening of the final phase of a work that embodies
the finest contribution ever made by the West to the Cause of Bahá’u’llah, is now ready for your signature. The fourth of the
successive steps outlined in my previous message1 is punctually being taken. The fond hopes cherished on the assumption of your
exalted office are being amply fulfilled. The heroism displayed by the members of the American Bahá’i Community in the face of
these recurring, constantly widening opportunities is growing more apparent every day.”
The Guardian’s letter of November
contained an important instruction concerning the Bahá’i calendar which was published in the
January, 1939 issue of
Then came those messages calling for the extension of the teaching work to all unoccupied areas and laying greater emphasis on
establishing the Faith in other countries of the Americas. The cablegram received January
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