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Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Australia, 1971 reprint
  • Pages:
  • 140
Go to printed page GO
Pages 76-81

Letter of August 22, 1949

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand.
August 22, 1949
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters dated February 23; March 14, 16; April 4, 5, 11; May 2, 13, 27; June 1, 7, 21 (3 of this date), 24; have all been received, as well as their enclosures, and the material sent under separate cover, and our beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
He has gone over the copy of the By-Laws of a local assembly which you sent him, and he approves of the slight changes you have made in the wording, as well as the additions at the very 77 beginning, providing you consider the addition essential in order to secure the government recognition you are going to seek in the future. However, he feels that Article VI is not correct in the form you have given it, because you state “all persons resident … who have attained the age of 15 years”. The original New York By-Laws are more correct, because they differentiate clearly between all members of the Community and voting members who are 21 years of age or more. In other words children under 15 are Bahá’ís according to the New York version, which is correct, but according to your version only people over 15 years are Bahá’ís which is not correct. He thinks you should go back to the New York version. The declaration of faith by children when they reach the age of 15 in the United States is in order to enable the American Youth to apply for exemption, under the American laws, from active military service. It has no other purpose, but in that country is expedient. It is not necessary to add such a clause to your By-Laws.
Other points which he feels are not necessary and should be deleted are those heavily underlined portions in Section 5 of Article XII and Article XIII. In both these cases the New York By-Laws should be followed and not added to. Likewise he feels that in Article XIV, under the heading “These By-Laws” (on page 11) B and C should be deleted as they are not in the New York original and not necessary. Naturally, all Assemblies are under N.S.A. jurisdiction, but this need not be included.
He wishes the essentials to be maintained as per the New York By-Laws, but not amplified and added to, as this will gradually lead, all over the Bahá’í world, to a steady addition of unessential rules and restrict the freedom and plasticity of the Cause. As he has repeatedly told the American and other National assemblies, it is much better to deal with situations and new requirements as they arise, and not to have it all down in black and white and rigid before hand.
He is very happy to see you are steadily working towards the goal of having local assemblies empowered to hold property legally and to perform Bahá’í marriages. No doubt the act of the Canadian Parliament recently passed, and giving the Canadian N.S.A. legal status will act as an important precedent when the time is ripe for you to present your own petitions to your Government. 78
The news that there is now a spiritual assembly in every capital city of the various states in Australia pleased him immensely. This is an historic land-mark in your progress out there, and must act as a keen incentive to further exploits on the part of the Australian Bahá’ís.
He was also delighted to see that certain of the Bahá’ís have received official permission not to work on Bahá’í Holy Days. He admires the initiative these believers have shown, and hopes many others will follow their example.
Likewise, he was very pleased to see you are holding your N.S.A. meetings in various centers, as this will greatly stimulate the local work, draw the friends closer to your body, and promote unity and enthusiasm amongst them.
The Act of your Assembly in depriving Mr. … of his voting rights was wise and correct. Unless he demonstrates an entire change of character he certainly cannot claim to be a member of any Bahá’í Community.
He appreciated the Secretary’s forwarding to him copies of the Bishop’s letters acknowledging receipt of “God Passes By”—though their answers in no way imply any spiritual wakefulness on their parts, alas!
He was very happy to see that New Zealand friends were present at the Convention. In general the work in New Zealand is certainly progressing, and beginning to show really promising signs for the immediate future.
The generous donation of land to Yerrinbool School by Mr. Styles will certainly re-inforce that valuable Bahá’í property, and the Guardian very much appreciated this act of his.
His confidence in, and admiration for, the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand is steadily increasing, as he witnesses the enthusiasm and self-confidence of the believers out there, and the increased capacity of their National Body to handle wisely and capably the affairs of the Cause.
He assures you all, and through you the believers, of his loving prayers for your success and the attainment of all the goals of your historic Plan.
With Bahá’í love,
R. Rabbani. 79
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The notable progress achieved in recent months, in so many fields and in spite of adverse circumstances, demonstrates afresh the vitality of the faith and the soundness of the outlook, of the members of the fast-advancing and steadily consolidating community of the followers of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. This remarkable process of expansion and consolidation augurs well for the ultimate success of the Plan to which the combined resources of this community are committed. The various reports, both local and national which I have perused with sustained interest and quickened admiration, attest the rapid and sound development, of the institutions of a Faith that is so rich in promise, and whose interests are being promoted with such devotion, energy, loyalty and consecration by the members of this community.
What has been achieved, in both the teaching field and in the administrative sphere of Bahá’í service, however is but a stepping stone to the still greater victories which the gradual unfoldment of the Plan must inevitably produce. The multiplication of the groups and assemblies that constitute the bedrock of the Faith, must accompany the consolidating process which must bring in its wake, on the one hand, the incorporation of these assemblies and their recognition by the civil authorities, and the establishment, on the other, of Bahá’í local endowments and the right of these assemblies to execute, officially, the fundamental laws of the Most Holy Book regarding both marriage and divorce that constitute the distinguishing feature of this most holy and august Dispensation.
The task undertaken is immense, fraught with momentous possibilities, highly delicate in nature, and bound to have far-reaching repercussions, not only in the West, and particularly in the continent of Europe, where the institutions of Bahá’u’lláh’s Administrative Order are emerging with such rapidity and showing such promise, but on the continent of Asia, where the overwhelming majority of the followers of the Most Great Name, have endured such grievous afflictions, and are faced with grave peril, and are battling so heroically against the forces of darkness with which they are encompassed.
The nature of the work in which this wide-awake, untrammelled unprejudiced, freedom-loving community, is so energetically 80 engaged, cannot, therefore, be regarded as a purely local and isolated enterprise, but is vitally linked with the fortunes of a world-encircling Order, functioning mysteriously in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, highly organized in its administrative machinery, sensitive in its mechanism, far-flung in its ramifications, challenging in its features, revolutionizing in its implications, and destined to seek increasingly, as it expands and develops, the good-will and assistance of the civil authorities in every continent of the globe.
The number of pioneers, both from among the veterans of the Faith who have participated in the early establishment of this infant Order in the Antipodes, and the new believers who have embraced its Cause, must, if this task is to be successfully carried out, be substantially increased. The flow of funds to both the local and national treasuries must correspondingly be augmented and systematically sustained. The heroism and self-sacrifice of those who prosecute the Plan, both as administrators and pioneers, must attain greater heights and engender still more powerful forces in the spiritual life of this community.
The relationship binding it to the civil authorities of the Australian Commonwealth, the Dominion of New Zealand and the Island of Tasmania, must be assiduously fostered. The ties linking it with the members of the world-wide community of the adherents of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, must be rapidly strengthened and multiplied. The unity and solidarity of its constituent members must be simultaneously reinforced, its roots permanently planted in the soil of the Covenants of both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, its branches spread out irresistibly to the furthest ends of that far-off continent, its vision clarified, its determination reaffirmed and its consecration deepened.
Obstacles, varied and numerous, will no doubt arise to impede the onward march of this community. Reverses may temporarily dim the radiance of its mission. The forces of religious orthodoxy may well, at a future date, be leagued against it. The exponents of theories and doctrines fundamentally opposed to its religious tenets and social principles may challenge its infant strength with persistence and severity. The Administrative Order—the Ark destined to preserve its integrity and carry it to safety—must without delay, without exception, claim the attention of the members of this community, its ideals must be continually 81 cherished in their hearts, its purposes studied and kept constantly before their eyes, its requirements wholeheartedly met, its laws scrupulously upheld, its institutions unstintingly supported, its glorious mission noised abroad, and its spirit made the sole motivating purpose of their lives.
Then and only then, will this community, so young, so vibrant with life, so rich in promise, so dedicated to its task, be in a position to discharge adequately its weighty responsibilities, to reap the full harvest it has sown, acquire still greater potentialities for the conduct of subsequent stages in the crusade on which it has embarked, and contribute, to a degree unsuspected as yet by its members, its full share to the World-wide establishment of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the emancipation of its Oriental followers, the recognition of its independence, the birth of its World Order and the emergence of that world civilization which that Order is destined to create.
Your true brother,