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Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950–1957

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1971 edition
  • Pages:
  • 175
Go to printed page GO
Pages 124-131

Announcement of Series of Five Intercontinental Conferences and Appointment of Eight Additional Hands of the Cause

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the opening of the memorable Holy Year associated with the Centenary celebrations of the birth of the Mission of Bahá’u’lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán—an anniversary falling only a few months before the decade-long global Spiritual Crusade, on which the entire company of His followers have embarked, will have reached its midway point—I feel moved to announce the convocation of a series of Intercontinental Conferences, five in number, to be held successively in Kampala, Uganda, in the heart of the African continent; in the city of Sydney, the oldest Bahá’í center established in the Antipodes; 125 in Chicago, where the name of Bahá’u’lláh was publicly mentioned for the first time in the western world; in the city of Frankfurt, in the heart of the European continent; and in Djakarta, the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia.
These historic gatherings, which will recall in some of their aspects the four epoch-making Conferences which commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the inception of the Bahá’í Revelation, are to be held respectively in the months of January, March, May, July and September, under the auspices of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Central and East Africa, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States of America, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany and Austria, and the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South-East Asia.
They are to be convened by the chairmen of the aforementioned Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies for the five-fold purpose of offering humble thanksgiving to the Divine Author of our Faith, Who has graciously enabled His followers, during a period of deepening anxiety and amidst the confusion and uncertainties of a critical phase in the fortunes of mankind, to prosecute uninterruptedly the Ten-Year Plan formulated for the execution of the Grand Design conceived by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; of reviewing and celebrating the series of signal victories won so rapidly in the course of each of the campaigns of this world-encircling Crusade; of deliberating on ways and means that will insure its triumphant consummation; and of lending simultaneously a powerful impetus, the world over, to the vital process of individual conversion—the preeminent purpose underlying the Plan in all its ramifications—and to the construction and completion of the three Mother Temples to be built in the European, the African, and Australian continents.

PHENOMENAL ADVANCE ACHIEVED IN WORLD CRUSADE

The phenomenal advances made since the inception of this globe-girdling Crusade, in the brief space of less than five years, eclipses—if we pause to ponder the scope and significance of recent developments—in both the number and quality of the feats achieved by its prosecutors, any previous collective enterprise undertaken by the followers of the Faith, at any time and in any part of the world, since the close of the initial and most turbulent epoch of the Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. 126
The raising of the number of Bahá’í centers—foci and pivots of Bahá’í teaching and administrative activity—all over the globe, from twenty-five hundred to forty-five hundred; of the number of countries, both sovereign States and Dependencies, included within the pale of the Faith from one hundred and twenty-eight to two hundred and fifty-four; and of the number of Bahá’í national and regional Spiritual Assemblies—forerunners of the Universal House of Justice—from twelve to twenty-six; the substantial multiplication of Bahá’í local Spiritual Assemblies—constituting the foundation of a rising Administrative Order—throughout five continents, whose number has now passed the thousand mark; the planting of the banner of the Faith in over seventy islands, situated in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, as well as in the Mediterranean and the North Sea; the establishment of its northernmost outpost beyond the Arctic Circle, in far-off Thule, Greenland; the erection and completion, in the Holy Land itself, at the cost of over a quarter of a million dollars, of the Bahá’í International Archives, heralding the emergence, in its plenitude, of the seat of the embryonic World Order of Bahá’u’lláh on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and facing the Qiblih of the Bahá’í world; the enlargement of the scope of Bahá’í international endowments in the twin cities of ‘Akká and Haifa, constituting the World Center of the Faith, until their present value can now be estimated at over five and a half million dollars; a corresponding extension of Bahá’í national endowments in the Great Republic of the West—the stronghold of the Bahá’í Administrative Order—the value of which is fast approaching five million dollars, and of Bahá’í holdings in the Cradle of the Faith, conservatively estimated to be well over forty million túmáns; the acquisition of no less than forty-eight National Hazíratu’l-Quds—the central administrative headquarters of Bahá’í communities established in the sovereign States and chief Dependencies of the globe—involving an expenditure of over half a million dollars; the founding of Bahá’í national endowments in no less than fifty capitals and chief cities of all five continents, the cost of which may be estimated to be at least one hundred and fifty thousand dollars; the initiation of the construction of the Mother Temples of both Africa and Australia, as well as the purchase of eleven Temple sites for over two hundred thousand dollars; the incorporation of over ninety national and local Spiritual Assemblies, raising the total number of incorporated Assemblies the world over to over two hundred; the translation of Bahá’í literature into one hundred and 127 forty-eight languages, of which no less than seventy-two are over and above those called for by the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan, bringing the total number of languages to two hundred and thirty-seven; as well as a series of additional accomplishments, too numerous to recount, supplementing the objectives of that Plan, in connection with the opening of virgin territories, the acquisition of Temple sites, the inauguration of Bahá’í schools, the founding of Bahá’í local endowments, the establishment of local Hazíratu’l-Quds, the formulation of subsidiary Plans, the initiation of a Bahá’í Publishing Trust, the purchase of Bahá’í Holy Sites, and of plots for Bahá’í burial-grounds and for Bahá’í summer schools—all these can be regarded by any fair-minded observer in no other light except as the manifestations of a momentous progress as diversified in character as it is far-reaching in its import.

ANOTHER CONTINGENT OF HANDS OF THE CAUSE OF GOD

So marvelous a progress, embracing so vast a field, achieved in so short a time, by so small a band of heroic souls, well deserves, at this juncture in the evolution of a decade-long Crusade, to be signalized by, and indeed necessitates, the announcement of yet another step in the progressive unfoldment of one of the cardinal and pivotal institutions ordained by Bahá’u’lláh, and confirmed in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, involving the designation of yet another contingent of the Hands of the Cause of God, raising thereby to thrice nine the total number of the Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth, who have been invested by the unerring Pen of the Center of His Covenant with the dual function of guarding over the security, and of insuring the propagation, of His Father’s Faith.
The eight now elevated to this exalted rank are: Enoch Olinga, William Sears, and John Robarts, in West and South Africa; Hasan Balyuzi and John Ferraby in the British Isles; Collis Featherstone and Rahmatu’lláh Muhájir, in the Pacific area; and Abu’l-Qásim Faizí in the Arabian Peninsula—a group chosen from four continents of the globe, and representing the Afnán, as well as the black and white races and whose members are derived from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Pagan backgrounds.
This latest addition to the band of the high-ranking officers of a fast evolving World Administrative Order, involving a further expansion of the august institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, calls for, in view of the recent assumption by them of their 128 sacred responsibility as protectors of the Faith, the appointment by these same Hands, in each continent separately, of an additional Auxiliary Board, equal in membership to the existing one, and charged with the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith, thereby complementing the function of the original Board, whose duty will henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting the prosecution of the Ten-Year Plan.
At these five Intercontinental Conferences the Hands of the Cause, whether previously or recently appointed, particularly those associated with the Conference being held in the continent they represent, as well as members of their Auxiliary Boards, and representatives of the Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies primarily concerned with the opening of the virgin territories included in the continent to which they belong and of the islands situated in the neighborhood of that continent, as well as all believers, wherever their residence may be, are invited to be present.
To the Kampala Conference a representative of each of the United States, the British, the Persian, the North-East African, the Indian and the Iráqí National Spiritual Assemblies; to the Chicago Conference a representative of each of the United States, the Canadian, and Latin American National Spiritual Assemblies; to the Frankfurt Conference a representative of each of the British, the German, the Italo-Swiss and the United States National Spiritual Assemblies; and to the Djakarta Conference a representative of each of the United States, the Canadian, the Persian, the Indian, the Australian and the Iráqí National Spiritual Assemblies, should be sent in the capacity of an official participant.
Any other members of these Assemblies, as well as any of the members of the newly established National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, are welcome to be present at these five successive Conferences.

THE GUARDIAN’S REPRESENTATIVES AT THE CONFERENCES

The following five Hands, who, in their capacity as members of the International Bahá’í Council, are closely associated with the rise and development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center, have been chosen to act as my special representatives at this second series of Intercontinental Conferences: Amatu’l-Bahá, Rúhíyyih, accompanied by Lutfu’lláh Hakím, member of the International Council, at the Kampala Conference; Mason Remey, at the Sydney Conference; Ugo Giachery, at the Chicago Conference; 129 Amelia Collins, at the Frankfurt Conference; and Leroy Ioas, at the Djakarta Conference.
To three of them, attending the Kampala, the Sydney and the Frankfurt Conferences, I shall entrust a portion of the blessed earth from the inmost Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, a lock of His precious Hair, and a reproduction of His Portrait, to be exhibited by them to the assembled friends at these Conferences. Two of these representatives will be instructed to deposit, on my behalf, the blessed earth in the foundations of the two Temples to be erected in the African and Australian continents, while the other sacred gifts will be delivered for safe keeping by these representatives to the Central and East African Regional Assembly and the Australian and German National Spiritual Assemblies. A fourth portrait of Bahá’u’lláh will be entrusted to my representative, Leroy Ioas, to be exhibited at the Djakarta Conference, and returned for safe keeping to the Holy Land, while to Ugo Giachery, representing me at the Chicago Conference, will be assigned the duty of exhibiting the portraits of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb, already entrusted to the United States National Spiritual Assembly.

FOURTH PHASE OF TEN-YEAR PLAN

The holding of this second series of Intercontinental Conferences, marking the halfway point of the greatest Crusade ever embarked upon for the propagation of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in both the eastern and western hemispheres, signalizes the opening of the fourth phase of the Ten-Year Plan. The first phase, covering the initial twelve months of this stupendous enterprise, will forever be associated with the carrying of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to no less than a hundred countries of the globe. The second phase, lasting twice as long as the first, witnessed the acquisition of a remarkably large number of national Hazíratu’l-Quds, and the establishment, in numerous countries, of Bahá’í national endowments, complementing, through the process of administrative consolidation, the striking enlargement of the orbit of the Faith in the course of the initial phase of the Plan. The third phase, equal in duration to the preceding phase, has been made memorable by the striking multiplication of Bahá’í centers, and the formation of no less than sixteen Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies.
The fourth phase, the opening of which is now approaching, must be immortalized, on the one hand, by an unprecedented increase in the number of avowed supporters of the Faith, in all the 130 continents of the globe, of every race, clime, creed and color, and from every stratum of present-day society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number of Bahá’í centers, and, on the other, by a swift progress in the erection of the Mother Temples of Africa and Australia, as well as by the initiation of the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Europe.
The phase which the valiant prosecutors of a Crusade, endowed with such tremendous potentialities, are about to enter must, as this divinely propelled, this highly beneficent, mysteriously unfolding enterprise hastens past its midway point, and approaches the closing stages of its world-wide operations, witness, in both the teaching and administrative spheres, and in consequence of the impact, which, it is ardently hoped, the deliberations and resolutions of the attendants at these forthcoming Conferences will have upon the immediate destinies of this Crusade, an upsurge of enthusiasm and consecration, before which every single as well as collective exploit, associated with any of the three previous phases, will pale.
I call upon each and every Hand of the Cause of God, previously or now appointed, upon the entire body of the believers participating in this Crusade, and, in particular, upon their elected representatives, the members of the various Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies in both the East and the West, and, even more emphatically, upon those privileged to convene and organize these history-making Conferences, to bestir themselves, and, according to their rank, capacity, function and resources, befittingly prepare themselves, during the short interval separating them from the opening of the first of these five Conferences, to meet the challenge, and seize the opportunities, of this auspicious hour, and insure, through a dazzling display of the qualities which must distinguish a worthy stewardship of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the total and resounding success of these Conferences, dedicated to the glorification of His Name, and expressly convened for the purpose of accelerating the march of the institutions of His world-redeeming Order, and of hastening the establishment of His Kingdom in the hearts of men.
—Shoghi

[October, 1957] 131