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Letter of 4 November 1948
4 November 1948
To the National Spiritual Assembly
Dear Bahá’í Sister:1
Now that your Assembly is formed, and is embarking on its independent existence as a National Body, he wishes to emphasize a point which he is constantly stressing to other National Bodies: you must avoid issuing rules and regulations. The fundamentals laid down in the Bahá’í Administration must, of course, be adhered to, but there is a tendency for Assemblies to constantly issue detailed procedures and rules to the friends, and he considers this hampers the work of the Cause, and is entirely premature. As far as is possible cases which come up should be dealt with and settled as they arise, and not a blanket ruling be laid down to cover all possible similar cases. This preserves the elasticity of the Administrative Order and prevents red tape from developing and hampering the work of the Cause. You must likewise bear in mind that you are now a wholly independent National Body, and must consider the administration of the affairs of the Faith within your jurisdiction as your separate problem. There is no more need for you to follow every single rule laid down by the American National Spiritual Assembly, than there is for the British or the Australian and New Zealand National Spiritual Assemblies to do this. Uniformity in fundamentals is essential, but not in every detail. On the contrary, diversity, the solving of the local situation in the right way, is important.
He will be very happy to receive reports of the measures you are taking to carry out your important Five Year Plan. You have
The Guardian has high hopes for the achievements of the Canadian Bahá’ís. Their national character, which so fortuitously combines the progressiveness and initiative of the Americans, and the stability and tenacity of the British, fits them to make great contributions to the progress of the Faith, both in Canada and throughout the world.
He urges you to keep in close touch with him, and assures you that you, and your labours, are very dear to his heart, and he is ardently praying for your success in every field of your manifold activities.
With warm Bahá’í love,
P.S. Unfortunately your letter was not received in time to cable your October 14th meeting an answer.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
I hail with a joyous heart and confident spirit the truly
compelling and almost simultaneous evidences of the creative,
the irresistible power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh as witnessed
by the formation of the first Canadian National Bahá’í Assembly
and the inauguration of the Five Year Plan, designed to
orient its members toward and canalize the energies of the
entire Canadian Bahá’í Community in support of the immediate
tasks lying before them. So auspicious a beginning, in
the life of a community attaining adulthood, under the influence
of the processes set in motion as the result of the progressive
unfoldment of the Divine Plan, in a territory of such vast
dimensions, blessed through both the mighty utterances, and
the personal visit of the One Who fostered it from the hour of
its birth, and Whose Plan enabled it to reach maturity, may
The responsibility shouldered by an institution ranking as one of the sustaining pillars of the future Universal House of Justice is indeed staggering. The Plan entrusted to its infant hands is, in both its magnitude and implications tremendously vast. The anxieties, the strenuous exertions attendant upon the proper guidance, the effectual development and the sound consolidation of a community emerging into independent national existence, are inevitably trying. The numerical strength of that community, the immensity of the area serving as the field for the operation of its Plan, the meagerness of the resources now at its disposal, the relative inexperience of its newly-recruited members, the perils overhanging the territory in which they reside in the event of a future global conflict, the intensity of opposition which the unfoldment of its mission may provoke in the strongholds of religious orthodoxy inimical to the liberalizing influences of the Faith it represents—all these offer a challenge at once severe, inescapable and soul uplifting.
The eyes of its twin-sister community in the North American
continent, which assisted it in achieving its independence,
are fixed upon it, eager to beho1d, and ready to aid it in its
march to glory. Its sister communities in Latin America, whose
coming of age is as yet unattained, watch with mingled curiosity
and envy, its first strides along the steep path which they
themselves are soon to tread. Other sister communities in the
European, African, Asiatic and Australian continents, some of
venerable age, others rich in experience, and resources, still
others tried and tested by the fires of persecution, observe with
keen anticipation in their hearts and benediction on their lips,
the manner in which this youngest recruit to their ranks will
launch upon its career, the resolution with which it will face
its problems, the spirit which will animate it in its battles and
the stupendousness of the efforts required to win its victories.
The Five Year Plan, now set in motion, must under no circumstances be allowed to lag behind its schedule. A befitting start should be made in the execution of the Plan in all its aspects. The initial steps should be relentlessly followed by additional measures designed to hasten the incorporation of your Assembly, to accelerate the multiplication of Local Assemblies, groups and isolated centres, throughout the Provinces of the Dominion, to insure the stability of the outpost of the Faith which must be established in Newfoundland, and to incorporate a steadily growing element, representative of both the Indian and Eskimo races, into the life of the community.
Obstacles, however formidable, will have to be determinedly
surmounted. Any reverses that sooner or later may be suffered
should be met with stoic fortitude, and speedily offset by victories
in other fields. The glorious vision now unveiled to your
eyes must never be dimmed. The illuminating promises enshrined
in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets should not be forgotten for a
Your true brother,
|1.||Laura Davis—Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 1948–54, passed away 1990. [ Back To Reference]|
|2.||The city of Montreal, Quebec, visited by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá August 30—September 12, 1912. [ Back To Reference]|
|3.||May Ellis Maxwell—spiritual mother of the Canadian Bahá’í community, became a believer in 1898, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa in 1899 and returned to Paris to found the first Bahá’í centre on the European continent, married Sutherland Maxwell and settled in Montreal in 1902, achieved “the priceless honour” of a “martyr’s death” in Argentina in 1940. For a review of the vast range of her contributions to the Faith in Europe and America, see The Bahá’í World Vol. VIII, 631–642, In Memoriam. [ Back To Reference]|