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Messages to Canada

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Canada Publications
  • Pages:
  • 276
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Pages 127-131

Letter of 23 June 1950

23 June 1950

To the National Spiritual Assembly

Dear Bahá’í Friends:

He feels sure you will understand the reason for the delay in answering your letters—and, indeed, all the other National Spiritual Assemblies’ letters—when he explains that not only has this been a terrific winter of work in connection with the construction of the Shrine, but since the beginning of April my dear father, Mr. Maxwell,1 has been dangerously and desperately ill. The anxiety this caused us all, and the constant coming and going of doctors, nurses, and two periods in hospital, has necessitated putting aside all correspondence for months. Now, however, thank God, Mr. Maxwell is slowly improving, and the threads of normal existence can be taken up again by us all.

The Guardian is immensely pleased over the settlement of pioneers2 in Newfoundland; this has accomplished one of the specific desires of the beloved Master, and will redound to the glory of the Canadian Bahá’ís.

The next, most important task is to get Miss Gates3 into Greenland. This is fraught with many difficulties, but he urges your Assembly to persevere and exert its utmost to remove every obstacle. He will specially pray that a way may open for her to enter that country.

Concerning the points your Assembly raised in the letter of December 20,1949:

1. The Guardian considers this a purely secondary question of administrative procedure which your Assembly can decide upon for itself.
4 He is very anxious that no new rules and regulations should be introduced. As far as possible each National Spiritual Assembly should decide secondary matters for itself, and not try to lay down a rule general in application. 2. No fixed rule should be laid down about this either.5 3. Bahá’u’lláh gives no right of appeal to the law that both parents must give permission to the marriage, if they are living. Bahá’í marriages should be referred to Assemblies to officiate; where there is no Assembly to officiate your body is free to decide what procedure should be followed. Whether it is the chairman or secretary or some other person who actually conducts the marriage is, likewise, a matter for your body to decide. The Guardian feels that next Convention you should permit only Assemblies to send delegates. This will encourage the various Provinces to ensure they do have an Assembly and consequently a delegate, or delegates.
The work being done by various Bahá’ís, including our dear Indian believer6 who returned from the United States in order to pioneer amongst his own people, in teaching the Canadian Indians, is one of the most important fields of activity under your jurisdiction. The Guardian hopes that ere long many of these original Canadians will take an active part in Bahá’í affairs and arise to redeem their brethren from the obscurity and despondency into which they have fallen.

The desire of your Assembly to remain in the closest touch with the Guardian pleases him very much—he assures you that the desire is mutual!

With the assurance of his loving prayers for you all,

Yours in His service,

R. Rabbani

The maps you forwarded were of great interest, and he thanks you for them. He intends to have one of them published in the next edition of Bahá’í World.

[From the Guardian:]

Dear and valued co-workers:

The progress achieved in various fields by the members of the Canadian Bahá’í Community under the direction of its national elected representatives, since the inception of the Five Year Plan, merits the highest praise, and augurs well for its success in the years that lie immediately ahead. The spontaneity with which the members of this community, on the morrow of its having attained an independent national existence, have arisen to execute the Plan designed for the furtherance of its interests and the consolidation of its newly-born institutions, the zeal and resolution which have characterized the prosecution of the task entrusted to their care, the notable success they have already achieved in the initial stages of their enterprise, have served to heighten my feelings of admiration for those who have directed its course and participated in its unfoldment, and to evoke the unstinted praise of all sister communities in both the East and the West.

Though much has been achieved in the course of the two years that have elapsed since the formulation of the Plan, the objectives that the members of this struggling, youthful and valiant community have set themselves to attain are still far from being fulfilled. Though the process of the multiplication of Bahá’í centres, over the length and breadth of so vast a territory, has been, steadily and speedily, gathering momentum, the number of groups that have achieved Assembly status is still relatively insignificant, while the pioneer activity designed to awaken and stimulate the interest of the Eskimos in the Faith and enlist their support may hardly be said to have been vigorously and adequately launched. The call to which this newly-fledged community has been summoned is admittedly urgent and challenging. The character of the tasks allotted to it is, in many respects, unique. The resources at its disposal for the discharge of its peculiar responsibilities are no doubt as yet inadequate. The obstacles that stand in its way and obstruct its path seem almost insurmountable. Its membership, when viewed in relation to the range over which it operates, is no doubt wholly inadequate. Yet the spirit which has consistently animated the members of the entire community, and the energy and determination which have distinguished their elected representatives in the discharge of their sacred duties, are such as to fortify the hopes which I, as well as their fellow-workers in both hemispheres, have cherished in our hearts, since the inauguration of their first collective enterprise in a land so rich in promise, so vast in its potentialities, and so honoured by the visit of the Centre of the Covenant Himself as well as by the glowing references made to it by Him in His immortal Tablets.

As the centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophetic Mission approaches, as the first historic Plan, signalizing the birth and rise of a highly privileged community, the sole partner of its great sister community in the South in the prosecution of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, gathers momentum and enters the concluding stages in its evolution, a dedication even more conspicuous than that already manifested in the hour of the launching of the Plan must needs be displayed by all those who are called upon to participate in its prosecution. A sterner resolve, a nobler heroism, a greater unanimity in sacrifice, a further intensification of effort must be manifested, as the first stage in the evolution of the mission of the Canadian Bahá’í Community draws to a close, and paves the way for the inauguration of still more splendid enterprises along the path laid down for them by the unerring hand of the Author of the Divine Plan.

That this community will never relax in its high endeavours, that the vision of its glorious mission will not be suffered to be dimmed, that obstacles, however formidable, will neither dampen its zeal or deflect it from its purpose, is my confident hope and earnest prayer. He Who watches over its destinies, from Whose pen testimonies so significant and soul thrilling have flowed, will no doubt continue to direct its steps, to shower upon it His loving bounties, to surround it with His constant care, and to enable it to scale loftier heights on its ascent towards the summit of its destiny.

With a heart brimful with gratitude for all that this community has so far achieved, and throbbing with hope for the future exploits that will distinguish its record of stewardship to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, I pray that by its acts, this community will prove itself worthy of the trust confided to its care, and the station to which it has been called,

Your true and grateful brother,


1.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]
2.Although Newfoundland was first visited by Marion Jack and Kate Cowan Ives in 1917, the first pioneers to Newfoundland, arriving in 1949, were Margaret Reid, Dorothy Sheets, and Doris Skinner (who remained there until 1955).  [ Back To Reference]
3.Nancy Gates—American pioneer to Denmark who attempted to pioneer to Greenland, but was unable to do so.  [ Back To Reference]
4.The question concerned tie votes when motions are introduced in Assembly meetings.  [ Back To Reference]
5.The question concerned who should chair Feasts.  [ Back To Reference]
6.James and Melba Loft—Mohawk and Ojibwa believers who returned to Canada from the United States to pioneer to the Tyendinaga (Mohawk) Indian Reserve, near Shannonville, Ontario, in 1949, where James passed away in 1973, and Melba in 1985. Melba was the first Canadian native believer. See The Bahá’í World Vol. XVI, 514–516, and Vol. XIX, 687–699, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]