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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 82-87

Letter of June 28, 1950

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand.
June 28, 1950.
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters of August 9, 19; September 14, 22; November 7, 10, 21; of 1949; January 19; February 28; March 8, 31; April 11; May 2 (two), 1950, have been received by our beloved Guardian and he has instructed me to answer them on his behalf. The many enclosures and material forwarded have, likewise, been safely received.
It has been impossible for our Guardian to keep abreast of his correspondence and other work this Winter and Spring. It is only during the last week that he has been able to turn to the mountain of mail, representing the correspondence of the various National Assemblies, and commence replying. The reason for this regrettable delay is that in order to get the arcade of the Shrine of the Báb finished in time for the centenary of His Martyrdom he had to undertake extensive excavations into the solid rock of the mountain behind the Shrine—the new edifice being much larger than the precious original building it is designed to enshrine and protect. This work he personally supervised in order to ensure the Shrine was in no way damaged, and to see the cost was kept within bounds. You can imagine this was a very exacting and tiring ordeal for him.
Then, just as he had hoped to take up his overburdening correspondence, Mr. Maxwell, the architect of the Shrine, at the beginning of April became desperately ill, and for ten weeks absorbed the anxious care and attention of us all, as his condition was seemingly hopeless. Thanks to the Mercy of Bahá’u’lláh and the determination of the Guardian, he is recovering, and our lives are getting back to normal routine.
The Guardian regrets very much the conduct of Mr. …; it seems now fairly clear that he is a former Bahá’í from India who misconducted himself there over a period of years and then 83 showed up, under a different name, in Australia. No one who conducts himself as he has can remain a voting member of the Bahá’í Community for—in spite of his wide knowledge of the Faith and his belief in it—his acts are contrary to its teachings and bring not only confusion into the Community and create inharmony, but disgrace the Cause in the eyes of non-Bahá’ís.
The Guardian fully realizes that the process of splitting up large communities into smaller ones, each existing within its own civil units, has been difficult for the Australian friends. What they do not seem to fully appreciate is that this has been done in Canada and the United States as well, and is only in order to organize the assemblies on a logical basis, and one with a firmer legal foundation. The fact that this may create more assemblies in the end, and that it sometimes breaks up existing ones, is only incidental; the important point is to consolidate the communities on a sound basis, i.e. every assembly within the limits of the Municipality its members reside in.
As Mrs Axford requested Mrs Thomas to write about her Bahá’í life there is every reason to respect her wishes. This in no way precludes the New Zealand Community from writing about her services and life and keeping this record in the National archives. The Guardian feels the Auckland Assembly should be consulted, as her, (Mrs Axford’s), home community, by Mrs Thomas. He hopes this In Memoriam article, about so dear and tireless a servant of the Faith, will produce a spirit of love and co-operation amongst all concerned.
The gift by Miss Perks of an additional piece of land to the Yerrinbool School is deeply appreciated. It enriches the endowments already held by your Assembly. Please thank Miss Perks, on behalf of the Guardian, for this generous contribution, to the institutions of the Faith in Australia, and tell her he does not feel any name should be given the property other that of Yerrinbool School, of which it will form a part, and that she will always be remembered as the donor of it.
The acquisition of the site for the New Zealand Summer School was a great step forward in the progress of the Faith there, and he was very pleased about it. He was also delighted to hear of the formation of the Devonport Assembly, and he hopes next year there will be still more.
I would also like to answer here a question raised in Mrs 84 Bolton’s letter of March 8: the Guardian feels that no annual fixed pilgrimage should be made to the grave of Father Dunn. The friends will naturally always want to go there, when and how they like, but it must not become a ceremony, otherwise it will contitute a precedent for similar things in the future.
It is premature, and will weaken the national and local work, for delegates to be elected by State elections rather than by assemblies. There is no question involved about believers losing their voting rights: all the time believers are gaining and losing their voting rights by becoming members of communities with assemblies or moving out into places where they are isolated believers. The friends should not dwell on these minor details, but concentrate on teaching the Cause and exemplifying the Bahá’í life. Voting is a purely administrative detail, but teaching and serving are vital spiritual obligations. Regarding the change of the By-Laws: the Guardian considers the letter he wrote you about this subject is final. He is considerably surprised by the fact that of all the National Bodies in the Bahá’í World, operating under these By-Laws, it is only the Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, evidently acting under pressure from their legal committee, that constantly raises the question of changing them. This he considers is going too far, and is not necessary. He holds very bright hopes for the future of your work, and urges you, and through you all the believers, to concentrate on your glorious teaching tasks and forge ahead to win new victories for the beloved Faith.
With Bahá’í love,
R. Rabbani.
P.S. Your letter of June 9 has been received, and the Guardian deeply appreciates the contribution you sent. Please find receipt enclosed. The map you forwarded will be published in the next volume of “Bahá’í World” as the progress it shows will be of great interest to all readers.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The remarkable progress achieved by the Bahá’í communities in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania in promoting the Plan, designed to further the interests of the Faith in the Antipodes, is most encouraging, and will, when consummated, mark 85 the opening of a new and glorious chapter in the history of the Faith in that continent. The varied and welcome evidences of the steady extension in the range of the manifold activities of these communities, the multiplication of Bahá’í institutions and their rapid consolidation, are particularly gratifying and merit the highest praise.
The territories in which these communities conduct their meritorious, strenuous and highly promising activities with such diligence, resolution, fidelity and devotion, are admittedly vast and constitute a direct challenge to those who are called upon to diffuse the light of the Faith, and lay an unassailable foundation for its rising administrative Order, throughout the length and breadth of these territories.
The Plan, now operating with increasing momentum in that far-off continent, is designed to enable its prosecutors to lay the first foundations of the structure which the members of these communities must rear in the years to come. As these primary pillars of a divinely ordained steadily evolving, spiritually propelled order are successively erected and sufficiently consolidated, and the agencies designed for the launching of a systematic campaign aiming at the future proclamation of the Faith to the masses inhabiting these far-flung territories multiply, a simultaneous effort should be exerted, and measures should be carefully devised, by the national elected representatives of these same communities, for the launching of the initial enterprises destined to carry the Message of the Faith, beyond the confines of these territories, to the Islands of the Pacific, lying in their immediate neighbourhood.
For whatever may be the nature of the future successive crusades which the American and Canadian Bahá’í communities, may, under the Divine Plan of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, launch in the course of the opening decades of the second Bahá’í century, and however extensive the range of their operations, and no matter how far-reaching the future campaigns which the Bahá’í community, centered in the heart of the British Isles, may undertake throughout the widely-scattered dependencies of the British Crown, the responsibility devolving upon the National elected representatives of the Bahá’ís of the Australasian continent for the introduction of the Faith and its initial establishment in the Islands of the Pacific, linking them, on the one hand, with their 86 sister communities in the American continents and on the other hand, with the communities in South-Eastern Asia, remains clear and inescapable.
As the various Bahá’í national communities, labouring directly as well as indirectly, under the impulse of a Divine Plan, broaden and consolidate the base of their operations in their respective homelands, and acquire the potentialities that will empower them to lend, in an ever-increasing measure, their share, and participate in the world-wide propagation of the Faith, the Australian and New Zealand believers must, for their part, contribute worthily to the overseas teaching activities and accomplishments of these communities. Already the Bahá’í community in the Great Republic of the West, the vanguard of the irresistibly marching army of Bahá’u’lláh, has launched its twin crusades in Latin America and the continent of Europe. Its collaborator in the execution of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, the Canadian Bahá’í community is busily engaged in establishing the Faith beyond the Canadian mainland and further north in the vast territory of Greenland. The Persian and Iraqi Bahá’í communities are, moreover, assiduously labouring in the adjacent territories of the Arabian Peninsula and the Kingdom of Afghanistan, while their sister-communities in the sub-continent of India are pushing the frontiers of the Faith as far as Ceylon in the South and Siam and Indonesia to the North and Southeast of that subcontinent. More recently the members of the British Bahá’í community, having brought to a successful conclusion their first historic Plan, are devising the necessary measures for the launching of a teaching enterprise in the heart of Africa, supplementing the work already accomplished by the Egyptian Bahá’í community in that continent. Shortly, and at its appointed time, yet another national community, already established in the heart of the European continent, will, as soon as the present obstacles are removed, and its internal activities are sufficiently consolidated, embark on a campaign, beyond the borders of its homeland, that will carry the light of the Faith to the adjoining Balkan territories, the Baltic states and, across the eastern frontiers of Europe, into Asia.
In this stupendous and laudable collective enterprise, world-wide in its range, divinely propelled, world-redemptive in its purpose, in which National Bahá’í communities, already sufficiently 87 consolidated from within, are participating, each in accordance with the provisions of its own specific plan and constituting, in its proportions and potentialities, the mightiest spiritual crusade launched since the inception of the Formative Age of the Faith,—in such an enterprise the Bahá’í communities of Australia and New Zealand can neither afford to remain inactive or play a negligible part. The situation they occupy, the unnumbered virgin territories lying in their neighbourhood, the vitality and adventurous spirit the members of these communities have so strikingly manifested—all demand that they arise, as soon as the process of internal consolidation is sufficiently advanced, to play their part in this world-encompassing crusade now unfolding itself in, and constituting the brightest feature of, the opening years of the second Bahá’í century.
With this glorious vision before them, assured that a full measure of Divine guidance and sustenance will be vouchsafed to them when they embark on the second stage of their collective activities, let them concentrate, in the years immediately ahead, on the tasks that require their earnest and undivided attention. The prosecution of the Plan, in all its aspects, is their primary obligation. Whatever contributes to the broadening and reinforcement of the Administrative Base, designed to guide, coordinate and extend the ramifications of their future enterprises overseas, should be unhesitatingly welcomed and carried out at the present hour and during the opening phase of their collective unified endeavour in the service of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
May they seize every opportunity that presents itself, surmount every obstacle that may confront them in the future, and pave the way for a befitting inauguration of the subsequent phase of their historic and rapidly unfolding mission.