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J. 

Hampson Fogg.  

Our first attempt was a direct application to the Board of Trade for incorporation by Royal Charter. The attempt failed, 

but produced good results. The secretary was, interviewed by officers of the Board and was able to remove many false 

impressions about’ the Faith, and a complete and authentic statement of its aims, history, and teachings, now rests in 

the Board’s files. The chief reason for the failure of this attempt was the smallness of our number and the absence of 

any substantial increase during the past few years. Here is a challenge to every believer.  

Upon receipt of the Board’s refusal, Mr. Drury immediately advised us to incorporate as an unlimited company. The 

work of drawing up the articles and memorandum of association was begun at once and we are able to report that the 

document is now here, complete. It will have to be checked for technical corrections and can then be signed and 

presented to the Court.  

The effect of this document will be to give the National Spiritual Assembly legal personality and rights. It may enter 

contracts, receive bequests, hold property under certain restrictions, and exercise all the rights and privileges accorded 

by law. In addition its constitution has been defined exactly according to Bahá’i Administration; the principles 

governing its operation according to the explicit commands of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahã have been written into the 

memorandum; and its powers in relation to local Spiritual Assemblies and to the Faith in the British Isles have been 

defined. The method of Bahá’i elections has been preserved and provision made for the annual Convention. The 

enterprise is non-profit making and has no share capital. Liability is accepted by the individual members of the N. S. A. 

in equal proportions, and provision has been made for the transferring of this liability when new members are elected.  

This is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in the history of the Faith in the British Isles, and in spite of the 

primary disappointment, will, we know, delight the 

 

heart of our beloved Guardian, whose continual encouragement has lightened the task.  



The Bahd’I Publishing Trust  

The Publishing Trust is now established as the chief subsidiary of the N. S. A. and its right hand in teaching. It was 

started with the sum of £234 Os. 8d. specially contributed for that purpose, and in addition has taken possession of all 

books and literature previously held by the N. S. A. It acts as distributor for all Bahf’i literature, and publishes whatever 

the N. S. A. requires. The chief publications this year have been a revised edition of Dr. Esslemont’s pamphlet 

Bahd’u’llcih and His Message and a brief life of Bahá’u’llih by H. M. Balyuzi. Both these pubhcations have been 

purchased abroad and have made a good impression. In addition a small calendar, showing the Bahá’i Feasts and 

Anniversaries has been printed.  

A new prayer book will shortly be available. The manuscript is now with the Guardian. It is hoped to be able to sell it at 

a shilling. A new book by Mr. Townshend will soon be out, called at present, The Heart of the Gospel. It is a startling 

exposition of the Bible in the hght of the Kitáb-ilqán, and is of vital importance not only to Bahá’is but to the whole of 

Christendom.  

We hope to publish soon Lady Blomfield’s book, excerpts of which the friends have been privileged to hear on one or 

two occasions. It is a compilation from Lady Blomfield’s own notes, given to her by the Greatest Holy Leaf and other 

ladies of the Holy Family, referring to the Báb, Bahá’u’llah, and the Master. Shoghi Effendi has approved it.  

A sister volume to Mr. Balyuzi’s life of Bahã’u’lláh is expected very soon; a life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. And after that a life 

of the Báb.  

During the ensuing year the literature of the Faith should be considerably enriched.  

Publicity  

The International Esperanto Congress took place in London during the summer, and a Bahi’i session was held on 

August 1st. A number of the visitors were entertained at the London Centre and many individual contacts were made. 

 

CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES 



 

163 


 

Attempts were made to arrange publicity in the form of a stand, an exhibition, or simply of literature, at the Glasgow 

Exhibition, but were unsuccessful.  

An exhibition was held at Notting Hill Gate, London, in connection with the new magazine. It was kept open for a 

month, and although the cost was fairly high it was undoubtedly a wise and fruitful expenditure. The premises were 

made available through the generosity of Miss Nockold. The window was made very attractive and a large number of 

people came in to enquire. Many took literature, some came to the Centre, some attended fireside meetings. The 

properties used in this exhibition are still available and the N. S. A. recommends this form of publicity.  



Archives  

The National Archives have been properly organised, with each object tabulated and described. The Archives have 



been moved to a place outside London for safety in case of air raids.  

A robe worn by the Blessed Beauty, several original Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and various other objects of historical 

importance have been preserved.  

The American N. S. A. has kindly agreed to retain in its archives original Tablets which were sent there by English 

believers, until such time as it seems advisable to have them sent over here.  

The N. S. A. once again stresses the importance of entrusting articles of value to it, for proper preservation. Directly the 

N. S. A. is incorporated it can make legal claim to the Archives and thus ensure them for posterity. Not only original 

Tablets, but all articles associated with the Founders of the Faith, or with its early history, should be preserved.  



Finance  

At the beginning of the year the N. S. A. made a budget of estimated expenditure and published it in the Journal, with 

an appeal to the friends to supply the required amount. This amount was not subscribed, but fortunately expenses were 

kept well within the amount budgeted. Early in the year a donation of £500 was received and put to capi ta 

 

fund. It has been necessary to draw on this fund for publicity expenses. During the year the National Fund has received 



from subscriptions £114, 19s. 

od. 


which is £63 6s. Sd. less than the amount received last year. Last year the 

Publishing Trust made special demands, but the Teaching campaign requires an even greater effort, and if it is to 

continue there must be a larger income.  

National Service  

Increasing tension in world affairs made it necessary for the N. S. A. to define the attitude of Bahá’is to the various 

snilitary measures being undertaken by the country. The Guardian’s instruction was obtained and published in Bahcl’I 

Journal. It was to the effect that while we should do everything to obtain exemption from active combatant service, we 

should volunteer for all services of a humanitarian nature, such as Red Cross,  

A. R. P., stretcher-bearing, etc. Within the last three days Conscription has been introduced by the Government, and it 

is recommended that the incoming N. S. A. should consider the position of Bahá’i Youth in relation to this.  

Two of the original behevers in this country have departed to the realms of their beloved Master during the year. Mrs. 

Thorn- burgh-Cropper and Mrs. Scaramucci. May they continue to serve Him in their new life.  

A word should now be said about the internal relationships of the community, as reflected in the activities already 

described. There has undoubtedly been a continuance of that sense of unity to the awakening of which we have called 

attention in previous years. The Nineteen Day Feasts have become more significant, and there is, especially among the 

youth, a growing sense of the significance of the Cause in the world today. The actual work of the administration still 

falls too heavily on a few people, although here the N. S. A. must express its thanks to those members of the London 

Youth Group who have helped in typing, addressing and mailing.  

An examination of the reports of local Spiritual Assemblies indicates that there is 

 

164 



 

THE BAHA’i WORLD 

 

very often a lack of support for measures initiated by them. Some of this is due to the fact that a few of these measures 



have not impressed the believers as either important or useful to the Faith, and a few have not been understood. We feel 

that there is room for development in the relationship between the community and its Spiritual Assembly. The 

community is too often inclined to carry over into the Bahá’i world the traditions and sanctions of its previous 

background. On the other hand the Spiritual Assembly has the duty of educating, encouraging and explaining, in all 

matters relating to Bahá’i procedure. It should initiate new plans, and make departures from accepted methods within 

the framework of the Administration, but these plans should be fully explained to the community in order to enlist its 

full support. The Nineteen Day Feast is the proper occasion for this. The community is called to exert every effort to 

assist the Spiritual Assembly in its work, by frank discussion of difficulties, by endeavouring to understand the 

mysterious processes by which a Bahá’i community functions, and by a willingness to adopt the new kind of life which 

the Spiritual Assemblies attempt to foster.  

The obligation, in the end, rests with each individual. To the extent to which each one penetrates the mystery of the 

Faith, under- 

 

stands its place in the history of our time, becomes impelled by love of Bahá’u’lláh to greater and greater devotion in 



its service, to this extent shall we become significant and be able to affect the destiny of our country and of all 

mankind. Prayer and meditation, study of the Writings, constant association with all the activities of the Faith, are the 

food and drink for every soul who would become an active member of this teaching organism.  

Our record for the year, and our outlook for the future are summarised in these words of the Guardian:  

“A splendid beginning has been made. A firm foundation has been established. Perseverance is now required to bring 

these devoted, painstaking and concerted efforts to full and speedy fruition. The path you are treading is beset with 

formidable obstacles, but the invincible power of the Faith will, if you remain faithful and steadfast, enable you to 


surmount them. My prayers will continue to be offered on your behalf. May Bahá’u’llah fulfill every hope you cherish 

in the service of this Faith. Your true and grateful brother, Shoghi.” 

 

Faithfully, 



 

In His Service, 

 

NATIONAL SPIRITUAL AssnvtnLv DAVID HOFMAN, 

Secretary. 

 

CURRENT BAHA’t ACTIVITIES 



 

165 


 

BAHA’IS  

rTHE year through which we have just  

passed must stand as a permanent witness to the mysterious working of the almighty power of the Manifestation of God 

in His Day. His Creative Word, consciously recognised by a numerically insignificant community, instils into it a 

vigour and unity which enables it to forge ahead in the midst of chaos, to consolidate its painfully wrought institutions 

and extend the range of its major activities in the heart of a society which has been engulfed in the most destructive war 

of history. Such a catastrophe, overwhelming mankind, and now directly affecting our own nation, cannot but have an 

effect on the individual and collective life of the Bahá’i community. But it is this very impact of distintegration in the 

world around us which discloses the source of our strength. For while the circumstances of our life have been 

disrupted, the Cause which we serve and the vision which we hold has become stronger in our hearts and has evoked an 

expression of community effort greater than any we have made previously.  

The preparation, encouragement, and guidance which the Guardian has bestowed upon us, both in his general letters 

and in messages to the National Spiritual Assembly, becomes more significant as the forces of the age move swiftly to 

a climax. In 

The Unfoldment of World Civilisation 

he drew attention to the two processes of disintegration and 

construction operating side by side throughout the world. The constructive process, he showed to be directly associated 

with the rise and consolidation of the Faith of Bahá’u’llâh. In the light of this analysis of the Age of Transition it is not 

insignificant that the Incorporation Certificate of the National Spiritual Assembly was received one month before the 

outbreak of war. For two years prior to this we had, as our Annual Reports mention, been striving to achieve an organic 

life in the national community which would enable us to go f or- ward as one body in our great task of Teach- 

 

ing. That this has, in some measure, been achieved is proved by the spirit of the Summer School and Teaching Conference, as well as 



by the extension of teaching work to new centres. It is only on the basis of such spiritual achievements that we can ever think to play a 

part in the reshaping of human society, or try to comprehend the generous praise and thrilling promises which the Guardian has 

recently showered upon us. “I wish to re-affirm my deep sense of gratitude and admiration for the splendid manner in which the 

English believers are discharging their duties and responsibilities in these days of increasing peril, anxiety and stress. Their tenacity, 

courage, faith and noble exertions will as a magnet attract the undoubted and promised blessings of Bahá’u’lláh. They have, at a time 

when the basis of ordered society itself is rocking and trembling, laid an unassailable foundation for the Administrative Order of their 

Faith. Upon this basis the rising generation will erect a noble structure that will excite the admiration of their fellow-countrymen. My 

prayers for them will continually be offered at the holy Shrines.” Such a message is the greatest challenge and bounty to us, for no one 

dare accept it unless it be true in intention, but when it is accepted its promise will be assured.  

Let us not, however, present a picture which would exaggerate the size of our achievements or our effectiveness. We can as yet make 

no claim to influence consciously, the spiritual or moral life of our nation. Far from it. We are a small community just beginning to 

achieve the necessary unity for effective action; we are still in a state of preparation and purification for our greater task. We have yet 

to win to our cause people of capacity and influence, and the Name of Bahá’u’lláh is as yet unproclaimed to our fellow-countrymen. 

Certain weaknesses in ourselves must be overcome before we can successfully accomplish this task. Chief among these weaknesses is 

an 

 

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE  



NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE  

OF THE BRITISH ISLES  

1939-1940 

 

166 

 


THE BAHA’I WORLD 

 

insufficient support of the Bahi’i Fund, an inadequate knowledge and understanding of the administrative processes of the Faith, and 



and a too casual response to measures initiated by the National Spiritual Assembly.  

First and foremost of our activities has been Teaching. At the last Convention it was recommended that we should concentrate on five 

cities with a view to establishing communities there whenever possible. The National Spiritual Assembly adopted this plan but only 

two of the cities mentioned by the delegates, Leeds and Bournemouth, were included in the list. Other places, Nottingham and 

Brighton, presented better opportunities through the presence of resident believers, so these were included. One city, Newcastle, where 

there are no Bahã’is at all, has been given special attention.  

In Leeds the Bradford Spiritual Assembly has continued teaching work throughout the year, and there is every prospect of success 

here. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Wilkinson have made their home there, bringing the number of resident believers up to four. Meetings have 

been held, and the Military Tribunal there granted the application of a Bahá’i for exemption from combatant service, which resulted in 

some publicity.  

Three believers have moved to Bournemouth and the Group there now numbers ten. The Feasts and anniversaries are observed and it 

is hoped to have a Centre as the chief aid to a teaching campaign.  

In Nottingham excellent work has been done through the efforts of the resident believer, Esther Richardson. She has arranged 

meetings with the Esperantists and the Theosophists which have been addressed by visiting teachers, and has gathered together a 

number of her friends and aroused their keen interest. It is expected that a few of them will come to Summer School.  

Work in Brighton is hampered by the small amount of time at the disposal of the resident believers, Mr. and Mrs. Lee. A member of 

the London community lived there for a few weeks, but a planned and sustained campaign is needed.  

New ground has been broken in Newcastle and much interest aroused. A teacher spent five weeks there before Christmas, and 

 

three months after Christmas. Many clubs and societies were addressed, and a series of public lectures given from the 



platform of the Theosophical Society. Contacts were made in the University, a number of study meetings were held, a 

good deal of literature has been purchased by interested inquirers and 



it 

is hoped that some of them will come to 

Summer School. The last report of the work there states: “The situation now requires steady and continual work. About 

two hundred people have heard of the Faith directly, and a regular study meeting is required.”  

The local communities have maintained fireside and other teaching meetings. A series of regular study meetings was 

held in Altrincham during the summer by the Manchester Spiritual Assembly, and a successful meeting was arranged 

with the Rover Scout Crew by Miss Ada Williams, when the interest of about twenty young men was aroused. The first 

extension work of the Torquay Spiritual Assembly was in Exeter when Mrs. Stevens addressed the Psychology Club.  

We have begun to teach as a community, co-ordinating local effort and using national resources, but there is great 

scope for more individual effort. Two years ago the Guardian cabled us to “subordinate all activities (to) teaching 

objective.” In our community effort we have attempted to do this, but this command, voiced by Bahá’u’llih, the Master, 

and now by the Guardian, surely apphes to our personal lives as well.  

Minute 47 of the National Spiritual Assembly’s meeting on December 3 

0th 


reads as follows: “The whole teaching 

campaign was reviewed. It was suggested that the plan adopted at the Convention of concentrating on five centres, 

tended to make the growth of a Bahã’i community artificial and hasty. It was suggested that a longer plan— such as 

achieving 19 Spiritual Assemblies by 



1944, 

would not only increase the scope of the National campaign, but prevent 

undue pressure from being exerted on new communities, which would develop far more strongly and healthily by a 

slower and more natural process of unfoldment. The meeting expressed agreement with this plan, but decided to refer 



it 

to Convention for general discussion.” 

 

CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES 



 

167 


 

Incorporation  

This task was nearly complete at last Convention, and it only remains to record that our Certificate was obtained on August 5th. Legal 

records are maintained at the London centre, and our first annual return has been made to the Registrar of Companies, and to the 

Income Tax authorities.  

The National Spiritual Assembly, by virtue of its Loan Account, was chief cteditor of a business owned by one of the Bahá’is. It was 

able to use its influence to prevent the business being forced into bankruptcy, and to make an arrangement which it is hoped will 

eventually benefit both the debtor and the creditors.  

The Bradford Spiritual Assembly, upon presentation of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, was granted exemption from 

the payment of rates on its Centre. This same document has been of use to the Publishing Trust when entering business contracts, for 

which guarantees would otherwise have been required.  



Military Service  

Following the Guardian’s instructions and upholding the principles of the Faith, Bahá”s young men who have been conscripted have 

applied for exemption from combatant service, at the same time stating their unqualified readiness to serve in any non-combatant 

capacity which the Government may indicate. In order to make this application, it is necessary to register as a conscientious objector, 

a term which does not accurately describe the Bahã’i attitude. So far one young man has appeared before a tribunal. His apphcation 

was granted and the local newspapers printed accounts of a new Faith.  

Three Bahã’is are already serving in the forces, a number are awaiting their tribunals, and a few are in reserved occupations. A great 


many members of the community are serving the country in one or other form of National Service such as A.R.P., ambulance driving, 

etc.  


Publicity  

The chief effect of the ‘War has been, so far, to bring to a stop our plans for publicity. At the last Convention it was recommended that 

the N. S. A. should examine the 

 

possibilities of wide publicity, such as buying time on the wireless. Plans had been made for a Bahá’i stand at the 



Sunday Times Book Fair last autumn, and negotiations were in progress for obtaining a model of the Temple from the 

American National Spiritual Assembly. The latter was not available and the Book Fair was cancelled because of the 

war. At the same time the commercial broadcasting stations closed down, so that no publicity was possible in that 

direction.  

The Torqnay Spiritual Assembly paid for a brief notice about the Faith in a local paper, and report that their regular 

meetings are advertised. Meetings have also been advertised in Bradford and Newcastle with good results.  

The Faith was represented at the South- port Convention of Religions, when a good deal of interest was aroused. 

Several of those present have subsequently come to meetings in othet parts of the country.  

A number of books have been sent to the agency for distributing books among the services.  

Mr. Townshend’s book, The Heart of the Gospel, was very favourably reviewed in the Irish papers, and has had a good 

reception there.  

Bahd’I Publishing Trust  

The establishment of the Publishing Trust has proven to be a sound and invaluable undertaking. It must surely be 

included in “the unassailable foundation” of which the Guardian speaks. With the incorporation of the N. S. A., the 

three original Trustees resigned their office, and the N. S. A. became Trustee. The chief work this year has been the 

following publications:  

A new edition of Bahd’u’lldh and the New Era, Dr. Esslemont’s standard work on the Faith. With the permission of 

Mrs. Esslemont a few alterations and some slight additions were made. It is now available at half a crown.  

The Heart of the Gospel. A brilliant and scholarly work by the author of “The Promise of All Ages.”  

Bahd’i Prayer Book, published in a complete and abridged form. The abridged copy has been found very acceptable 

by nonBahá’is. 

 



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