Letter of 1 March 1951
1 March 1951
To the National Spiritual Assembly
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Although he is finding it so difficult to keep up with his correspondence, owing to the increase of work here at the International Centre, he follows with interest the progress being made by the believers in Canada; and is delighted to see how your Assembly is growing in maturity and capacity to handle the problems which invariably arise in connection with administering the affairs of the Faith in such a vast area as the Dominion of Canada.
He was very happy to know that the work in connection with the Indians and the Eskimos is receiving special attention; and he would like your Assembly to please express to Miss Nan Brandle1 his deep appreciation of the unique service she is rendering the Cause, and of the exemplary spirit which is animating her. He hopes other believers will follow in her footsteps, and arise to do work in this very important field of Bahá’í activity.
The Guardian feels that, although the Canadian Bahá’ís are making excellent progress in consolidating their National Assembly and its subsidiary committees, in holding Conferences and Summer Schools, in sending forth travelling teachers, and in contacting the important minority groups, the Eskimos and Indians, that they are not making sufficient progress in the all-important field of pioneer activity. If they are to succeed in accomplishing their plan, a far greater number of Canadian Bahá’ís will have to arise and go into the pioneer field. He feels sure that they can do this, as they have already had the stirring example of how much was done in the British Isles by a Community of about their size. In comparing the problem which faced the British Bahá’ís under their Six Year Plan, and that which faces the Canadian Bahá’ís under their Five Year Plan, the friends should bear in mind that they were spared the severest ordeals of the war, the extreme restrictions and rationing which the British believers had to put up with. If the British Bahá’ís, with all their handicaps and suffering real physical and nervous exhaustion from the long war years, could accomplish so much, then surely the Canadian Bahá’ís, who were spared these conditions, are in a much better state to carry on and prosecute their tasks. What was done at the very breaking point in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales could be done—must be done—by the Canadian believers, with much less effort. Although sacrifice is required, he feels sure that the friends are ready and willing to make the necessary sacrifice, and arise to ensure that the very first Plan, the very first organized work undertaken
He assures all the members of your Assembly, and through you, the Community that you serve and represent, that your work is very dear to his heart, and that you are often remembered in his prayers. He is waiting to receive the good news that many more objectives have been achieved during this coming Bahá’í year.
With warmest Bahá’í love,
P.S. The Guardian has no objection to your publishing the excerpt from his letter dated August 25, 1939.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The energy, fidelity and courage, with which the Canadian Bahá’í Community has, in the course of this past year, faced its problems, discharged its duties and expanded the scope of its teaching and administrative activities merit the highest praise, and have greatly raised my hopes for the eventual consummation of the Plan which its members are so steadfastly prosecuting. Though unable, owing to a chain of circumstances beyond my control, to address them more frequently and convey to them my feelings of gratitude and admiration for their recent achievements, I have followed closely the course of their manifold activities, perused, with care and interest, the various publications which testify to their unremitting labours, and remembered them in my prayers in the Holy Shrines.
This community, though still in its infancy, is manifesting,
in the course of the first years of its existence as an independent
administrative entity, a virility, a steadfastness of
purpose, a dedication to the Cause it serves, an organizing
ability in the administration of its affairs that augur well for
the glorious destiny disclosed by the Pen of the Author of the
Divine Plan in His epoch-making Tablets. Already in the early
stages of its life, when its administrative machinery was still
merged with the institutions evolved by the followers of the
It was a Canadian,4
extraction, who through his
vision and skill was instrumental in conceiving the design,
and delineating the features, of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of
the West, marking the first attempt, however rudimentary, to
express the beauty which Bahá’í art will, in its plenitude, unfold
to the eyes of the world. It was a Canadian woman,5
of the noblest in the ranks of Bahá’í pioneers, who alone and
single-handed, forsook her home, settled among an alien
people, braved with a leonine spirit the risks and dangers of
the world conflict that raged around her, and who now, at an
advanced age and suffering from infirmities, is still holding
the Fort and is setting an example, worthy of emulation by all
her fellow pioneers of both the East and the West. It was a member6
of that same community who won the immortal
of being called upon to be my helpmate, my shield in warding
off the darts of Covenant-breakers and my tireless collaborator
in the arduous tasks I shoulder. It was a Canadian subject, 7
the spiritual mother of that same
community, who, though
fully aware of the risks of the voyage she was undertaking,
journeyed as far as the capital of Argentina to serve a Cause
that had honoured her so uniquely, and there laid down her
life and won the everlasting crown of martyrdom. It was, moreover,
more recently achieved the immortal
A community which, in the course of less than fifty years, has to its credit such an imperishable record of international service, and standing now on the threshold of a new epoch in its evolution, recognized as a self-governing member of the family of Bahá’í national communities, functioning according to a Plan of its own conceived for its orderly and efficient development, must, if it is to maintain the standard of excellence it has already attained, display on a still wider front, and continue to demonstrate, a no less profound spirit of dedication, as it forges ahead, in the years to come, along the road laid down for it by the Centre of the Covenant Himself in His historic Tablets.
As co-partner with the American Bahá’í community in the execution of the Divine Plan, it must evince in both the administrative and pioneer fields, a heroism that may be truly worthy of its high calling. In the remote and inhospitable regions of the North, amidst the Eskimos of Greenland and the Indians of the Dominion of Canada; throughout the Provinces of a far flung territory where newly fledged Assemblies, and nuclei of future Bahá’í institutions in the form of groups and isolated centres, lie scattered; in its relationships and negotiations with the local, provincial and national representatives of civil authority in issues affecting matters of personal status and the independence of the Faith and the establishment of its endowments; in its contact with the masses and in its effort to publicize the Faith, enhance its prestige and disseminate its literature, this community, so young, so vibrant with life, so laden with blessings, so rich in promise, must rise to such heights and achieve such fame as shall eclipse the radiance of its past administrative and pioneer achievements.
Then and only then will this community acquire the spiritual
potentialities that will enable it to discharge, as befits a
co-heir of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, the tremendous responsibilities,
May this community, the leaven placed by the hands of Providence in the midst of a people belonging to a nation, likewise young, dynamic, richly endowed with material resources, and assured of a great material prosperity by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, play its part not only in lending a notable impetus to the world-wide propagation of the Faith it has espoused, but contribute, as its resources multiply and as it gains in stature, to the spiritualization and material progress of the nation of which it forms so vital a part.
|1.||Nan Brandle—beginning in 1950 served several years as a pioneer to the native people in Department of Indian Affairs hospitals at Fisher River and Hodgson, Manitoba and at Moose Factory and Ohsweken, Ontario. [ Back To Reference]|
|2.||Jameson Bond—first pioneer to the Canadian Arctic (District of Keewatin 1950–53, District of Franklin with Mrs. Gale Bond, 1953–63). They were named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh for Franklin. Jameson served on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada 1967–82. [ Back To Reference]|
|3.||The Tablets of the Divine
Plan, revealed by |
|4.||Louis Bourgeois—architect of the Mother Temple of the West, in Wilmette, Illinois, the construction of which was the first collective enterprise undertaken by the Bahá’ís of America. He died in 1930. [ Back To Reference]|
|5.||Marion Jack—“immortal heroine” and “shining example to pioneers”, who remained at her post in Sofia, Bulgaria from 1930 until her death in 1954. Her imperishable services are recorded in The Bahá’í World Vol. XII, 674–677, In Memoriam. [ Back To Reference]|
|6.||Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum Rabbani (Mary Maxwell)—daughter of May and Sutherland Maxwell, became the wife of Shoghi Effendi in 1937, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1952. [ Back To Reference]|
|7.||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]|
|8.||William Sutherland Maxwell—architect of the Shrine of the Báb, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1951, died in Montreal in 1952. His “saintly life” is described in The Bahá’í World Vol. XII, 657–662, In Memoriam. [ Back To Reference]|