LOCAL SrssuTuAL ASSEMBLIES
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“The responsibility for ceaseless teaching upon every front has devolved, during 1938- 39, upon the seventy-eight American
Assemblies with an urgency never before equalled. Charged by the Guardian to ‘stimulate the infusion of fresh blood’ into
each community, and by the National Spiritual Assembly ‘to extend their efforts to adjoining areas,’ they have attained heights of
endeavor and success which far surpass all previous accomplishments.
“On April 21st their ranks will be strengthened by the election of nine new Spiritual Assemblies. Five will be formed from the Groups
of Helena, Mont.; Scranton, Pa.; Jamestown, N. Y.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Eagle River, Wis. The remaining four have grown out of
existing Assemblies and include Huntington Park, Calif.; East Cleveland, Ohio; Wauwatosa, Wis., and Richmond Heights, Wash. The
facts, stated thus simply, fail to disclose the real heroism surrounding each such victory, nor can they impart the sentiments which stir
in every believer’s heart as he contemplates the steady progress of his beloved Faith.
“Now, as we face the prospect of the third year of this all-too-brief Seven Year Plan, are there not certain principles underlying the
Administrative framework, which, if re-estabhshed and re-inforced would give wings to our historic enterprise?
“The prime essential, the National Teaching Committee believes, is the integrity in strength and unity of each local Assembly, for it is
such integrity alone which guarantees a channel for the confirmations of Bahá’u’lllh. With unity as a base, ‘the administrative
institutions of the Faith, which are designed as vehicles for the proper dissemination of its ideals, its tenets, and its verities,’ are
equipped to throw their full weight behind the common Plan; without unity, they are powerless even to cooperate.
“The second principle, elaborated by the Guardian a year ago, will guarantee that constant expansion which is the clearest sign of
health. ‘Upon the local Assemblies, whose special function and high privilege is to facilitate the admission of new behevers into the
. . .
rests the duty ‘to desist from insisting too rigidly on the minor observances and beliefs, which might prove a stumbling
block in the way of any sincere applicant, whose eager desire is to enlist under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh.’ In this connection it is
interesting to note that,
THE BAHA’I WORLD
among sixty-two Assemblies reporting, two hundred sixty-three new Bahá’is have been enrolled. The work of certain
Assemblies appears especially remarkable, i.e., Seattle with thirteen registrants, Los Angeles with forty-four, New
York with forty-three, Chicago with twenty-nine and Lima with twenty-one (to March 15, 1939).
“A third principle, and one which supplements the foregoing paragraph, is recognition of the fireside group as a
teaching method which should be recommended to every community member. For there is ample proof that the spirit
and compelling influence of the Faith is perhaps more effectively transmitted through this medium of an informal
group of friends, than in any other way. Moreover, it permits everyone to become a teacher and to fulfill, in relation to
those souls whom he has attracted, the continuing spiritual support to which the Guardian has but recently alluded. The
sixty-two Assemblies above reported a total of one hundred thirty-one fireside meetings and all are also conducting
study classes for new believers.
“The principle which truly distinguishes the achievements of this year from all past records is that of extension
teaching,—the choice by a local Assembly of nearby cities in which it is pledged to promulgate the Faith. This has been
one of the chief goals held out for all Assemblies by the National Spiritual Assembly, and we are therefore happy to
report that of the sixty-two Assemblies reporting, sixteen have opened fifty- nine new cities with regular study classes
established in thirty-two of them. Highest praise is due all participating communities, only a few of which can be
mentioned in this restricted space.
“Lima appointed an Extension Committee of thirteen, whose members consistently worked in six surrounding towns,
relying upon prayer and well-devised tactics, which resulted in three memberships and three study classes. Binghamton
lent most generous assistance to Scranton through frequent visits of teachers and large groups of the friends, and has
also developed contacts in three other cities. The Los Angeles Extension Committee built its work around a six-lecture
series which has been scheduled
in several nearby towns and in Bakersfield, one hundred and twenty-five miles distant. Eliot sponsored extension teaching in five
cities of New Hampshire and Maine, with a weekly study group in Portland formed by a member who moved there.
“Examples could be endlessly multiplied, but these are sufficient to demonstrate what an adventurous Assembly may accomplish in
pioneer role. One factor of vital importance must not be overlooked, namely, the need to formulate follow-up plans and to carry on
without interruption until the permanent establishment of the Cause.
“This review would be incomplete without mention of the use of radio by more and more communities. The recent meeting of the
National Spiritual Assembly in Los Angeles was preceded by seven related broadcasts. Lima has conducted a daily morning program
entitled ‘Bahá’i School of the Air,’ Vancouver, for the second time, organized a series of fireside groups in various homes with
discussions centered about a radio presentation of the Faith. A definite result of the Springfield radio work was the registration as a
Bahá’i of one whose first knowledge of Bahá’u’llah came through this channel. It would be impossible to estimate the accruing
benefits which wider use of radio must bring.
“One very important aspect of teaching work to which Assemblies must devote themselves more diligently is the development and
training of teachers. We are rapidly approaching the time prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Baha when we will not have sufficient teachers to
meet the demands from the multitudes ‘who are dying to be led to unity.’ Classes should be instituted for teacher training and every
assistance and encouragement should be given to those new souls who are eager to develop their capacities along this line.
“The Summer Schools, carrying as they do, various courses to deepen the knowledge of the Faith and train the student in the proper
presentation of the Teachings, have become an important teacher training institution and in the words of the Guardian, ‘everyone
without exception is urged to take advantage of attending it (the Summer School).’
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
REGIONAL TEACHING COMMITTEES
“The twelve Regional Committees appointed this year have, under the instructions of the National Spiritual Assembly, directed their
particular attention to the stimulation and assistance of isolated believers, Bahá’i Groups, and study groups; while the extension of the
Faith into new cities has become a major responsibility of local Assemblies. Although the jurisdiction of these respective agencies is
thus clearly defined, a high degree of cooperation has, in certain areas, strengthened teaching programs and led to a greater efficiency
“At the same time, the Regional Committees have functioned as valued agents of the National Teaching Committee, dealing with local
situations upon request, amplif ying the national viewpoint, sending in suggestions, and in general making possible an immediate
contact with the diverse teaching needs of this vast continent.
“That the work of the Regional Committees has been most efficient and constructive, no one who has followed the reports in BAHA’i
Nuws can doubt, and the National Teaching Committee feels both pride in and gratitude for their devoted services. Although limited
as to space, two or three of their most striking achievements warrant notice.
“The Committee of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia used its weekend meetings as opportunities to confer with the
believers and assist in pioneer teaching. Each such meeting was scheduled in a different locality, and included a regional conference
for Bahã’is and a public or fireside meeting in a nearby city which lacked an Assembly. This Committee undertook to coordinate,
route, and maintain up-to-date information on available teachers. It sent out bulletins to isolated believers. It cooperated with the
Vancouver Assembly in broadcasting for ten weeks on a station strong enough to reach regional fireside groups. As a result of its wide
and persistent interests, the scope of Bahá’i influence in the Northwest has been notably increased.
“The Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois Regional Committee successfully organized teaching circuits in Michigan and Illinois, based
upon the volunteer services of four
teachers who were available to all Groups and study classes. One of the year’s most outstanding projects was carried on
in this Region, when Mrs. Marziah Nabil Carpenter gave forty-three lectures in thirteen towns surrounding the
Louhelen Summer School, all to non-Bahá’i organizations upon Bahá’i subjects.
“The Committee for New England has experimented with radio, in cooperation with the Radio Committee, to bring aid
to small study classes in remote areas.
“Regional work this year has confirmed the opinion that there are endless opportunities for growth in those localities
where the Faith has been firmly rooted through the residence of one or a few believers. Even more ingenuity must be
used, however, in the future; more personal contact with isolated Bahá’is is urgently required; and the harvest of newly-
established Assemblies may well be greatly increased by next April through sustained and well-planned aid to our
rapidly expanding Groups.
“Starting the year with twenty-seven groups, we have seen the organization of fourteen more in the following localities:
Tuskegee, Ala.; Atascadero, Calif.; Three Rivers, Mass.; Marysville, Mich.; Atlantic City, N.
Jamestown, N. Y.;
Scranton, Pa.; San Antonio, Texas; Knoxville, Tenn.; Hinsdale, N. H.; Arlington, Va.; Bexley and Circleville, Ohio;
and Eagle River, Wis. Of the total, six have attained their goal and will elect Spiritual Assemblies on April 2 1st.
“A remarkable vitality has been demonstrated by most of the Groups, together with a new understanding of their
responsibilities in the Administrative Order. Teaching activities, contributions to the National Fund, and Bahá’i
registrations have all alike been increased.
“Certain examples come to mind most forcibly. The Duluth friends, assisted by Miss Josephine Kruka, sponsored a
threeweeks’ campaign for Mr. Philip Marangella, including five public talks and several engagements with clubs. The
Group in Albuquerque arranged an exhibit of the Temple model at the New Mexico State Fair and another at a local
store, and in addition has
THE BAHA’f WORLD
held regular study and social meetings. The Marysville Group sponsored four radio broadcasts and three exhibits of the Temple model
in excellent business locations. Two radio talks were scheduled by the Madison believers, who have also been active in other fields of
teaching. The Knoxville Group was very active on the occasion of the meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly in that city,
gaining a remarkable impetus therefrom. It has observed all Feasts and Anniversaries, held several regular classes, presented various
outstanding Bahá’i speakers, and is now organizing an Assembly.
“We cannot, as American Bahá’is, enter the new year without real hopefulness at the thought of our thirty-two existing Groups, and a
keen desire to consolidate them speedily into thriving Spiritual Assemblies.
“Isolated believers, of whom there are three hundred and forty-three registered in two hundred and twenty-seven cities of forty-two
states and five provinces, are truly the frontiersmen of the Cause. They share, with those strong spirits who have chosen to pioneer, the
inestimable privilege of laying the foundations, and establishing a nucleus from which a thriving Group and, in due course, a local
Assembly may arise. Surely the bounties and confirmations, promised to all pioneers, go with them as support for every lonely or
discouraging hour. To each of them is specialized the opportunity to write, with his own hands, the unfolding history of this all-
conquering Faith, and to exhibit such qualities of steadfastness and spiritual fortitude as are well-nigh impossible to the believer in
more settled parts.
“Some of the year’s most valued work has developed through the efforts of isolated friends. Miss Lydia J. Martin, a teacher of the A.
M. and N. College of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was able to schedule Mr. Louis G. Gregory as speaker and advisor for that school’s
Religious Emphasis Week. Mrs. Horace Tillyer and Mr. Lloyd Byars of Bakersfield, California, completed a major share of the
arrangements for a Regional Conference, public meeting, and two radio talks, which were supported by eighty-eight Bahá’is from
sixteen communities. Mrs.
Marion Little of Covington, Louisiana, spon sored study groups during the visit of Mrs. Loulie A. Mathews, and was elected chairman
of the Fellowship House donated to the city by Mrs. Mathews, at a dedication attended by sixty leading citizens.
“There have been fifty-nine new registrations during the year, thus enormously strengthening the outposts of our Cause. Not one of
these, nor of the other isolated Bahá’is, can fail to contribute a unique and precious service to the Seven Year Plan, if each will but
labor with confidence and energy. In the words of Shoghi Effendi, ‘Let the doubter arise and himself verify the truth of such
“The Temple is the great silent teacher. In an early Tablet, the Master stated that some material things have spiritual significance and
that the Temple is one of these material objects having great spiritual effect. Symbolizing as it does the highest ideals of Bahá’i
devotion, as well as the social principles of the Faith, none but can be affected by this visible evidence of the rise of the Faith
throughout the land.
“Exhibits of the beautiful model of the Temple give the teaching work great impetus in any area. Being tangible, it is something that
can be easily grasped and discussed and it thus provides unending opportunity to present the Teachings through publicity and directly
to large groups.
“The results of these exhibits at fairs, conferences, and congresses cannot be measured or over-emphasized, and the Teaching
Committee would urge all Assemblies, teachers, and Regional Committees not to overlook any opportunity to arrange for a display of
a Temple model. The National Spiritual Assembly has made five models available to the Teaching Committee for this purpose and it
is important that they be kept in constant use.
“During the past year exhibits of the Temple model were arranged at Cornell University, at Vassar College, during the World Youth
Congress at Toronto during the Canadian National Exposition, at Albuquerque at the New Mexico State Fair, at Urbana on the
occasion of the meetings
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
of the National Spiritual Assembly in that city, at Port Huron, Flint, and Marysville in Michigan, at Santa Barbara, California,
Wichita, Kansas, at the Temple of Religion and in the Bahá’i booth at the World’s Fair in San Francisco.
“Various Assemblies throughout the country have purchased models and use them most effectively in local and extension teaching
“Stressing the great importance of these exhibits, the following is quoted from a recent letter from the Guardian to the National
‘The Guardian is delighted at the steps which the N.S.A. has taken to arrange for a Bahá’i exhibit at the World’s Fair to be held in San
Francisco next spring, and also at the New York World’s Fair; on both of which occasions, he hopes, the Faith will be befittingly
represented and given effective and widespread publicity. He would urge your Assembly never to miss such opportunities of
presenting the Cause to the general public, and would in particular recommend that such Bahá’i exhibits should in future be frequently
and regularly held in various parts of the country, as they can be of far- reaching benefit to the teaching work in America.’
“The friends throughout the country received encouragement in their teaching work when they received through the air, shortly after
the Convention of 1938, an air mail letter dispatched from Wilmette, carrying as the cachet a picture of the Bahã’i Temple. Air-mailed
from that center, this message of love, bearing the testimony of the city of Wilmette, marked an interesting milepost in the progress of
the Faith. In the early days the people of Wilmette were apprehensive and some were even opposed to the construction of the Bahá’i
House of Worship. Now they not only refer to it as ‘our Temple’ but they use its replica to attract attention to their city. The
Postmaster, writing to the National Assembly concerning the use of the Temple for this air mail cachet, said:
‘We felt that in choosing this (Temple) for our design, we were taking the outstanding building, not only of Wilmette, but of the
world, seeing that there is no other to coin- pare with it in architecture.’
NORTH AMERICA TEACHING
“The third year of the Seven Year Plan has witnessed, not only the settlement of ‘Holy Souls’ in every State and
Province, but a tremendous movement of pioneers into all parts of the country.
“The new spirit released by the Guardian, three years ago, in inaugurating the Seven Year Plan, has during this, the
third year of the Plan, brought such energy and enthusiastic service, that the entire Bahâ’i Community has arisen as one
unit to spread over the entire country, the ‘elixir that is life itself.’ This year has found isolated believers becoming
veritable Light Houses in the surrounding darkness; groups are growing in numbers, and assuming more and more
administrative activity; Assemblies have intensified the creative aspect of their functions by increasingly successful
teaching efforts and extension of their benign influence into surrounding cities; and above all, the spirit of zeal and
daring of our pioneers has been an unending example of Bahã’i fortitude and sacrificial service. Throughout the entire
country the spiritual victories which have been achieved, and the divine confirmations which have descended in such
torrents, have astonished even the participants themselves. Has the third year of the Divine Plan laid the foundation for
the rearing of the divine edifice in America, contemplated by the Master in the Divine Plan?
‘Now strive ye that the Collective Center of the sacred religions—for the inculcation of which all the Prophets were
manifested and which is no other than the spirit of the Divine Teachings—be spread in all parts of America, so that
each one of you may shine forth from the horizon of Reality like unto the morning star, divine illumination may
overcome the darkness of nature, and the world of humanity may become enlightened. This is the most great work!
Should you become confirmed therein, this world will become another world, the surface of the earth will become the
delectable Paradise, and eternal Institutions be founded.’
“The teaching work during the third year
The Bahá’i booth in the Communications building of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Behind the Temple model
is shown a detail of the design for the dome ornamentation.
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
of the Seven Year Plan developed in every direction and from every standpoint. Most outstanding of the fields of accomplishment,
were the collective efforts in the following types of service:
The development of pioneer services in virgin areas. Not only early in the year were the nine remaining States and Provinces
settled with Bahá’i, but a total of 44 souls moved into virgin areas on the North American continent.
The growth in numbers and activity of the groups. This year has witnessed groups taking on the responsibilities of
Community Life, including fireside teaching; extension teaching work, active support of the National Fund; and active local teaching.
The number of groups has increased to 63 at this writing, at least ten of which will become Assemblies April 2 1st.
The intensification of teaching by Assemblies. The creative or teaching aspect of our Assembly life has been greatly
augmented, resulting in more Fireside Gatherings than previously; more public teaching campaigns, more study classes, and more
extension work than ever before. The pioneer spirit has caught the imagination of the Friends and in Assembly life is manifesting itself
in the ‘Pioneer at Home’ movement. This bids fair to become one of the most important of our Assembly teaching activities.
The increasingly important services of our Regional Committees. So excellent have the activities of these teaching arms of
the Faith become, that the National Assembly has authorized a section of the BAHA’i NEWS to report their work, designated ‘Afield
with our Regionals.’ The Regional Committees are corresponding individually with the 363 Isolated Believers, encouraging and
assisting the 63 groups; and particularly serving the pioneers.
The exhibits of the models of the Temple, particularly at the ‘World’s Fairs in San Francisco and New York, and the
Canadian International Exposition at Toronto. The importance of these exhibits may be understood when we learn that at the two
World’s Fairs alone, some 300,000 pieces of literature were distributed.
The great spirit of loving and unified service which the Seven Year Plan is
developing. Perhaps for the first time the Administrative channels of the Faith, can successfully canalize the spirt and achievements of
the Friends, for the welfare of the Faith as a whole. The attitude of the ‘Good Shepherd,’ in dealing with all problems brings healing
and spiritual strength and carries the realization that all the Institutions of the Faith at this time are to intensify the teaching services of
“The spirit of pioneering, almost without our notice, has penetrated more and more the heart of each believer, and the activities of
every local and national administrative agency. Almost the entire emphasis of teaching work during the past twelve months has been
pioneer; the reports which have appeared in BAHA’I Nuws have been vitalized by the words and achievements of our fellow-workers
who have ventured into untouched territories, there to discover that the promises so long given by the Master are now literally
fulfilled; the deliberations of the National and Regional Teaching Committees have centered about the extension and consolidation of
work in these areas newly-claimed for the Cause; even in local communities, where circumstances have prevented many valiant souls
from hastening to answer the pioneer call, the friends have found means to turn their thoughts and plans to pioneering goals. The
whole American Community throbs with this new energy, propelled by the dynamic messages of the Guardian into the initial stage of
a World Mission, the harvest of which is ‘foreordained, incalculably rich, everlastingly glorious.’
“The conquest of North America moves through successive waves of effort and sacrifice. First, in every State and Province yet
unsettled, by Convention time of 1939 a preliminary line of defense had been established. After them throughout the year followed a
larger number of valiant soldiers to strengthen every outpost area. The attached summary indicates the positions held by these forty-
four settlers and the victories already won. In six of the ten original pioneer territories—Alaska, Delaware, Rhode Island, South
Carolina, Utah, and Manitoba—be-
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