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Bahá’í Administration

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition
  • Pages:
  • 196
Go to printed page GO
Pages 57-60

Letter of January 4th, 1924.

To the members of the American National Spiritual Assembly.
My dearest friends:
On November 28th I received the following communication from the President of the National Spiritual Assembly of Great Britain:
“I have now to bring to your notice, though possibly you are already aware of it, a matter which is of the first importance in the opinion of the National Spiritual Assembly as you will see from one of the paragraphs of the enclosed minutes of its first meeting, which was held on October 13th. So far the programme of the conference on the ‘Living Religions within the British Empire’ is in a somewhat nebulous condition, but I have ascertained from Miss 58 Sharples, the honorary secretary of the committee of organization, that the conference has been approved by the authorities of the British Empire Exhibition 1924 and will last for ten days, covering the last week of the month of September and the first three days of October. It is proposed that all religions taught and practiced throughout the British Empire shall be represented at the conference, including the Christians, Muhammadans, Buddhists, Brahma Somaj, Theosophists and others, and that each one in turn shall have at its disposal a day or part of a day for a meeting to expound its principles and deal with its organization and objects.”
In their last letter, the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Great Britain further informed me that the idea of the above-mentioned conference has originated with the Theosophical Society, but these having later dropped its management, the organization of the conference passed into the hands of the School of Oriental Studies and the Sociological Society. You will also note from the enclosed copy of a letter addressed by the same Miss Sharples to the President of the British National Spiritual Assembly that the time offered to the Bahá’í representatives will be very limited, and that most probably the allotted time will be just sufficient to read their papers or deliver their address and engage in the discussion that might arise after their formal presentation of the Cause.
As the British Empire Exhibition, of which this conference forms a part, is itself a semi-official undertaking, and receives actually the generous support and active participation of the government authorities throughout the British Empire, I feel that the opportunities now offered to the Bahá’í world should not be missed, as this chance, if properly utilized, might arouse and stimulate interest among the enlightened public.
As so much will depend upon the nature and general presentation of the theme, rather than upon the personality of the reader or speaker, I feel that, first and foremost, our attention should be concentrated on the choice and thorough preparation of the subject matter as well as on the proper drafting and the form of the paper itself, which might possibly have to be submitted afterwards to the authorities of the conference.
I feel the necessity of entrusting this highly important and delicate 59 task to a special committee, to be appointed most carefully by the National Spiritual Assembly of America, and consisting of those who by their knowledge of the Cause, their experience in matters of publicity, and particularly by their power of expression and beauty of style will be qualified to produce a befitting statement on the unique history of the Movement as well as its lofty principles.
I am enclosing an article on the Bahá’í Movement which I trust might serve as a basis and example of the paper in question. An account of the most salient features of the history of the Cause, a brief but impressive reference to its many heroes and martyrs, a convincing and comprehensive presentation of its basic principles, and a characteristic survey of the Master’s life, as well as a short but graphic description of the present position and influence of the Movement both in the East and the West, should, in my opinion, be included and combined into one conclusive argument. Its length should not surpass that of the enclosed article, and its general tone, expression and language should be at once dignified, sober and forceful.
The greatest care and caution must be exercised in choosing those who can best provide and fulfill the above mentioned requisites and conditions.
I shall be most pleased to offer my views and suggestions once the paper has assumed its final shape, and wish you to obtain the assistance and advice of those whom you think able to judge amongst the friends in England and elsewhere.
Mr. Simpson, the President of the British National Spiritual Assembly, writes that Miss Grand from Canada has suggested the names of Dr. Watson and Mr. J. O. McCarthy of Toronto to represent the Canadian Bahá’ís. I would be pleased to receive your views as to who should represent Canada at the Conference. India is the only other country within the British Empire that can send a native Bahá’í representative to the conference, and it is rather unfortunate that the United States of America should have to be excluded, as the speakers at the conference must necessarily be subjects of the British Empire.
I am enclosing recent translations 1 of the prophetic and most remarkable words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which I trust 60 you will all find of great value and interest in the great work you are doing for the Cause.
May this great project yield an abundant harvest for the Cause, and your efforts be richly blessed by the guiding Spirit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Your fellow-worker,
Haifa, Palestine,
January 4th, 1924.
1. Published in “The Star of the West.”   [ Back To Reference]