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THE BAHA’i WORLD
lievers have been enrolled and three Bahá’i groups are added. Twelve States and Provinces besides have become the centers of
function for Bahá’i settlers.
“The third aspect of this mighty motion is the ceaseless activity of traveling teachers, some twenty-five of whom have labored in these
areas without Assemblies.
“Perhaps the most phenomenal advance has been gained in the Southern States, Canada, and Alaska. In 1936 the South had not as yet
fulfilled the expectations of the Master as set forth in the Divine Plan. His words written in 1917 still, in large degree, described the
condition of the Cause in that region:
. . .
‘no adequate and befitting motion has been realized and no great acclamation and acceleration
has been witnessed.’ In sixteen States there existed only eight Assemblies, two groups and forty-six isolated believers, while six of the
States possessed no Baha’is at all. In three years those statistics have been vastly altered, until today there are nine Assemblies, twelve
groups, ninety isolated friends, and no States without a believer. Last year new and intensive teaching was carried on in Miami, New
Orleans, Charleston, W. Va., Huntington, Louisville, and other cities. Twenty- five of the year’s pioneers have permanently settled in
the South, and thus ‘the fragrance of holiness (is) diffused with swiftness and rapidity.’
“The achievement in Canada has been equally notable. In 1936 there were Assemblies in Montreal and Vancouver alone, with no
groups listed and only four isolated believers. In 193 8 the Assemblies of Toronto, St. Lambert, and Moncton were organized. But in
the year just past the Faith swept like a fire across the Prairie Provinces, in public campaigns in such cities as Winnipeg, Regina,
Saskatoon, and Calgary; and in the settlement of three Vancouver Bahá’is in Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Meanwhile on the
Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia was settled by three believers; in Toronto the numbers were rapidly increased, youth work prospered, and
the meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly brought wide recognition; while in Hamilton extension teaching from Toronto,
together with the concentrated efforts of such workers as
Mabel Ives and Doris McKay, raised this
Bahá’i group almost to Assembly status.
April, 1940, will find believers in every
Province, four Assemblies, two groups, and
nineteen isolated Bahá’is.
“A third dramatic episode was the winning of Alaska, conquered last April by Honor Kempton’s move to Anchorage. The work was
further strengthened by Betty Becker who followed in Juneau; by the enrollment of Janet Whiteneck, in Fairbanks, the first Alaskan
believer; and now by the residence of Joy Allen.
“It is not our purpose in this summary to recount the experiences of our pioneers, heroes everyone, possessing such ‘qualities of
renunciation, tenacity, dauntlessness and passionate fervor’ as to carry them through every testing and cheer them in every lonely
hour. Theirs has been the high privilege to ‘brave the dangers and sweep away the obstacles,’ that the Name of Bahá’u’lláh might be
established throughout these lands. They have won the first victories. Ours now to ‘insure the security and provide for the steady
expansion of the work initiated in those territories so recently set alight from the torch of an inextinguishable Faith.’
“Perhaps the scene of greatest teaching development this year has been among the Bahá’i groups. Whereas there were 32 groups a
year ago, there are at this date 63, of which ten have already been authorized to elect Local Spiritual Assemblies on April 2 1st.
Among the ten is Omaha which will become the first Bahá’i Community in the State of Nebraska.
“Of the 63 Bahá’i groups functioning at this time, twenty were organized for the first time this year, and it is worthy of note that of
this number nine are offsprings of established communities, having conformed with the principle that where there are two or more
Bahá’is representing more than one family in a given locality, they should form a group and work toward the establishment of an
Assembly in that locality. Of these nine, two Groups (Beverly Hills and Burbank, California) are becoming Local Spiritual
Assemblies this year. Five of the twenty are in cities where no Bahá’is were living
CURRENT BAHA’I ACTIVITIES
prior to this year; namely, ‘Wilmington, Delaware; Independence, Iowa; New Orleans, Louisiana; Providence, Rhode Island; and
“Twenty-seven Bahá’i groups sent in annual reports and of this number fifteen indicated that fireside meetings constitute their most
successful teaching effort. A few are holding more or less regular meetings, the speakers being supplied through the Regional
Teaching Committee or near-by Assemblies. Very effective exhibitions of the Temple Models were arranged by eight Groups during
the year and several of them were productive of unusually fine publicity in the local newspapers and on the radio.
“In addition to their greatly accelerated teaching work this year, all Bahá’i groups have demonstrated a deep sense of responsibility for
the progress of the Faith as a whole. This has been reflected particularly in their increased support of the Bahâ’i Fund, their greater use
of the services of all national Bahá’i committees, and their whole-hearted cooperation with the National and Regional Teaching
Committees as well as their willingness to extend teaching assistance to neighboring groups and isolated Bahá’is.
“The resistless appeal of Shoghi Effendi has again stirred our hearts and caused in our midst that restlessness and urgent desire which
are the propulsive forces of our Faith. Again we are to break the hmitations that bind us, achieve a new goal which shall be the
foundation of a yet more glorious stage. For the Guardian has called for one hundred Local Spiritual Assemblies by April
1st! At this
hour we can name but ten of the required ‘newly-fledged Assemblies’; yet we await the date with hopefulness, knowing well that the
capacity resides in the American community if this challenge but release
“When we contemplate that these ‘various Assemblies, local and national, constitute today the bedrock upon the strength of which the
Universal House is in future to be firmly established and raised,’ we can appreciate with clearer vision the absolute necessity of this
expansion, and must derive fresh hope from the quickening vitality which our
Assemblies have so strikingly exhibited this year. Both at home and afield, ‘through all the resources at their disposal they are
promoting the growth and consolidation of that pioneer movement for which the entire machinery of their Administrative Order has
been primarily designed and erected.’
“The concept of pioneering at home is a development of the past few months, a chan-. nd through which those unable to leave their
homes and responsibilities may yet share in the glorious World Mission. A definition of this form of pioneering was carried in
for October, 1939, based upon a plan originated by the Milwaukee Spiritual Assembly. We quote: ‘The suggestion is that each
Assembly, alive to its responsibility within its own city limits and in nearby communities, should survey these areas which so literally
depend upon its resourcefulness and conscientious administration of the teaching program for that news which is the priceless
introduction to God’s guidance and Word. Through the use of a map, mounted on cardboard and displayed for all to see, the soldiers
of the campaign could be charted, just as we chart the centers of Bahá’i life throughout the continent. Based on the position of each
believer, as well as upon those factors which determine normal regions of activity in any city, the Assembly could then outline its
pioneer plan. Contacts could be made, neighborhood newspapers utilized, firesides established, teaching circuits arranged; in fact, all
the techniques of our national and international work could be locally applied. Such a program, comprehensive in scope, effective in
method, aimed to cut down and eventually to obliterate the blank spaces of our Bahâ’i maps, could well rally and direct the energies of
every individual. Thus each Spiritual Assembly, at the head of its own “army of life,” might join the heroic campaign in which our
valiant brothers are already engaged.’
“We are advised that twenty-four Assemblies adapted the plan to their own communities and sixteen have reported fine results,
particularly in the growth of fireside groups in new sections of their cities.
“The ingenuity of the friends in discovering opportunities for pioneering is perhaps the most cheerful part of this program.
THE BAHA’l WORLD
Three exhibitions of the model of the Bahá’i Temple which is in its final stage of construction at Wil-. mette, Illinois.
Above: Exposed in a florist shop at Binghamton, N. Y. Below, left: Display at the New Mexico State Fair in
Albuquerque, N. M. Below, right: Exhibited in a florist shop window in
Port Huron, Mich.
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
Berkeley wrote: “We tried to imagine what could happen if all of us who have worked here so long were removed and one fresh
pioneer Bahá’i arrived
. . .‘
The result was a series of nineteen firesides in both Bahá’i and non-Bahá’i homes, with a total attendance of
393, of whom 225 were not believers. In Los Angeles the city was divided into nine sections with a plan for firesides in each,
conducted by ‘teachers of experience, preferably the newer ones, accompanied by a relatively inexperienced assistant,’ and stressing
‘hospitality and warmth.’ Thirty BahI’i registrations were the outcome, the highest number achieved by any Local Assembly. New
Haven based its efforts upon ‘The Advent of Divine Justice,’ with ‘a deliberate attempt
. . .
to attract the negro race in this city.’ It also
pioneered among the blind by placing Bahã’i Braille books with the State Board of Education for the Blind. Chicago experimented
with a group of 150 contacts, visitors to the Temple exhibits at Treasure Island and the Wisconsin State Fair, and through a series of
entertainments and meetings, gradually transmuted their curiosity into genuine interest and a desire to study. “We are greatly
encouraged with the result of this continuity of effort
. . .‘
New York reached a wide audience of strangers by providing speakers for
churches, clubs, museums, and Latin American groups, as did twenty-nine other Assemblies. It also sponsored a teaching campaign
within the Polish population. That these and many other methods of pioneering at home attained success is evidenced by the fact that
sixty-five Assemblies enrolled 249 new members within the year.
“There is almost unanimous agreement that the fireside meeting is the heart of teaching vitality and the source of future growth.
Through these informal groups which any believer may start, with his own friends and contacts as nucleus, inquirers are imbued with
the desire for study classes. Such classes, as a rule, are conducted under the direction of the Local Assemblies; through consistent and
intensive lessons they provide the basis for Bahã’i membership and expand the knowledge of those who are already supporters of the
Faith. Sixty Assemblies sponsored such study classes, while more
than 175 individuals held regular fireside meetings in fifty-seven communities.
“Local Spiritual Assemblies have also exerted great influence through extension teaching work. Here again various methods have
been followed. Sixteen Assemblies have opened twenty-seven new cities to the Faith, with the help of over fifty Bahá’i teachers. In
addition, seventy-nine other individuals became isolated believers, and of these thirty-eight moved to cities without Bahá’is. There
were, moreover, another 161 believers representing forty-two Assemblies who made teaching trips.
“This motion of communities outward to other centers has in some cases involved real sacrifice. The loss of capable individuals to the
pioneer field has meant redoubled effort at home, and the necessity to train fresh workers to replace them. Vancouver and Miami are
examples of Assemblies which have contributed most remarkably to pioneer settlement. Through the establishment of Bahá’i Groups,
Assembly rolls have also been diminished, as in the case of Detroit with twelve members, five of whom withdrew to form a Group in
Grosse Pointe, five in Dearborn, and two in Lincoln Park. This ‘meant re-election to the Spiritual Assembly and reorganizing of
committees.’ Still another method was the removal of believers to a given center to create a Bahá’i Group where none had existed.
Thus the Los Angeles community, having some membership in Beverly Hills, sufficiently increased the numbers in that city to
organize a Local Assembly this year.
“Difficult as this process may be, the rewards of extension teaching are high, for through these very sacrifices the Faith is broadcast,
finds root, and firmly establishes itself in untouched regions; while at home latent capacity is aroused and a surpassing goal set and
“At this time the Local Spiritual Assemblies face a tremendous challenge and opportunity. Their eighty-five Bahá’i communities
actually embrace 250 cities! When will the Faith be independently secured in each?
“With three hundred and sixty-three isolated Bahá’is in the United States and
THE BAHA’i WORLD
Canada, the outposts of the Faith are penetrating all regions. When we consider that the ‘pioneers,’ who have forsaken hpme ties and
Bahá’i associations, become active isolated believers in difficult areas, we can appreciate the value of the services of the isolated
believers, who have kept the Light of the Faith burning, in less difficult areas, for these many years. With the assistance of the
Regional Committees, these isolated believers can so enrich the Faith by their persistent teaching efforts, that the future is very bright
for the building up of new groups, and finally Spiritual Assemblies. Perhaps the isolated Bahá’is do not realize the great bounty that
can be theirs if they redouble their efforts, as without breaking ties of home and friends, they have the possibility of achieving the
same victories for the Faith, as the pioneer. In addition to this they can secure immediate assistance from nearby Assemblies or
groups, or the Regional Committee.
“The isolated Bahá’is during the past year have shown renewed devotion, and have achieved new goals, in their paths of service. The
pulsating life of ‘pioneering’ has reached them in full force, and has produced a deepening of understanding, and a greater
appreciation of responsibility, and the attending glorious opportunity it affords.
“The National Teaching Committee feels particular pride in the vigorous functioning of the thirteen Regional Committees, to whose
consistent and able administration the National Assembly has entrusted the development of Bahá’i groups and isolated believers.
Mindful of the Guardian’s words, these Committees have truly felt ‘the vital and urgent necessity of insuring, within as short a time as
possible, the formation
. . .
of groups, however small and rudimentary, and of providing every facility within their power to enable these
newly-formed nuclei to evolve, swiftly and along sound lines, into properly functioning, self-sufficient, and recognized Assemblies.’
Not only have they, as responsible agents, relieved the National Committee of a vast burden of work, but through their own initiative
they have originated valued methods, undertaken wider in-
terests, trained and utilized a growing army of teachers, and helped to produce the Local Spiritual Assemblies for which the Guardian
“In an attempt to portray their manifold activities, a monthly column, ‘Afield with Our Regionals,’ was instituted in BAHA’i
The present account can hope to mention only a few of the more striking accomplishments.
“The Committee for Cahfornia, Arizona, and Nevada succeeded this year in contacting personally almost every group and isolated
friend in California. This involved travel on the part of the Secretary from San Diego to Lakeport, a distance one way of eight hundred
miles. During this ambitious teaching journey, in which she was joined at various points by local Bahã’is, Mrs. Valeria Thornton
visited 10 groups, 50 isolated believers, and several additional towns where interested persons were reported; she spoke in firesides,
distributed literature, enlisted support for teaching plans, modernized the concepts of many Bahá’is who had been out of touch with
the main stream of the Cause for years, and was able to determine which areas would best respond to intensive work. The National
Committee followed her course with deep interest, for it has long been apparent that some such survey should be made in every part of
the United States and Canada.
“Another heroic journey was accomplished in the South last June by the Committee for Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi,
and Louisiana. Four dauntless teachers,—the Secretary, Miss Nellie Roche, Mrs. Georgia ‘Wiles, Mrs. Louise Caswell, and Mrs.
Terah Smith—organizing themselves as a Bahá’i Institute, carried the benefits of Summer School to the Bahá’i communities of
Knoxville, Atlanta, and Augusta. They traveled twelve hundred miles, finding everywhere ‘the greatest spirit of enthusiasm and
dedication to the Cause of Bahá’u’llah
“Able planning and execution has been the keynote of success of the Committee for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. Each member
accepted responsibility for a section of the region and frequent meetings were scheduled in all of the responsive Groups. The teachers
were prepared with a series of
CURRENT BAHA’i ACTIVITIES
at least five talks, ‘to be given as intensive campaigns in these cities, attracting a few people who might be developed into study
groups.’ Special emphasis was given the work in ‘Waukegan, Madison, and Batavia, as well as in Ann Arbor, Marysville, and several
other groups. Concrete results were the preparation for Assemblies in Waukegan and Madison. Two exhibits of the Temple model
were arranged, with the help of Local Bahá’i Assemblies, at the Illinois and Wisconsin State Fairs.
“The Committee for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island achieved a remarkable success
in several fields. The circuit of the Temple model for exhibits in Providence, West Haven, Rutland, Keene, Springfield, Boston,
Portsmouth, Dover, Portland, and (possibly) Bangor was unparalleled throughout the country. Its intercommunity conferences and
library placements of Bahá’i books; its spontaneous cooperation with the two Bahá’i pioneers of Vermont and Rhode Island; its
sustained assistance to groups through a series of four lectures, together with radio broadcasting; these and other activities gave high
distinction to the year’s work.
“Space will not permit the mention of all of our Committees. Yet the prospect of these diverse undertakings must redouble our faith in
‘the invincible army of Bahá’u’lláh which, however insignificantly small and poorly equipped materially it may appear, is endowed
nevertheless with such celestial strength as will undoubtedly enable it to break down one by one every barrier it may encounter in its
spiritual conquest for the redemption and guidance of human souls.’
“The most outstanding methods of publicixing the Faith, and teaching both directly and indirectly, was the exhibit of the model of the
Temple. Indeed, we have found, that even before the completion of the Temple, the Master’s promises that ‘the Temple would become
the first and most important teacher’ has become fulfilled.
“At the World’s Fair in New York, a Bahá’i Booth was arranged displaying a model of the Temple and Bahá’i literature.
Attendants were present at all times, to explain the significance of the Temple, and the distinguishing features of the Faith, as well as
distribute teaching literature. Millions of people were attracted to the beauty of the Temple, and thousands inquired concerning the
Faith. Free teaching literature was distributed to the extent of some 200,- 000 pieces.
“At the World’s Fair in San Francisco, a Bahá’i Booth was arranged, uniquely displaying a model of the Temple. Attendants were
present at all times and unending opportunity permitted ‘conveying the message’ to thousands. Over 60,000 pieces of free literature
“A second exhibit of the Temple model was arranged in the World’s Fair in San Francisco, in the exhibit rooms of the Temple of
Religion and Tower of Peace. It was not possible to distribute literature at this exhibit; but inasmuch as the Temple occupied a very
conspicuous position, practically everyone who entered the exhibit rooms, viewed the Temple model. The Temple of Religion
Officers estimate over 600,000 people viewed the exhibits.
“The Bahá’i Booth at the Canadian International Exposition attracted thousands, giving the attendant opportunity to teach, and
resulting in many fine contacts. Over 15,000 pieces of free literature were distribtsted.
“Perhaps the outstanding exhibit of the Temple model at State Fairs, was the one arranged by the Milwaukee Assembly, at the
Wisconsin State Fair. Attendants were present at the Booth responding to the many teaching opportunities presented. There were some
18,000 visitors at the Booth, and about 2500 pieces of literature were distributed.
“Another outstanding exhibit, was that in Sacramento, Calif., at the annual flower show. This exhibit, prepared by the Junior Garden
Clubs of Sacramento, under Bahá’i direction, portrayed the Temple in a garden with flowers from all countries of the world. It was
especially mentioned by the Management, and won one of the first prizes.
“At Newark, New Jersey, the model was displayed at the ‘Fair-o-scope’—a model
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