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Letter of 18 July 1957
18 July 1957
To the National Spiritual Assembly
Dear Bahá’í Sister:
Your Assembly’s communications with their enclosures have all arrived safely, and the beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf, and to acknowledge receipt of your letters dated: June 28, August 26, September 25 and December 7, 14 and 17, 1956, and February 15, March 19 and 21, May 15 and 31.
It is a pity that the Canadian believers are having so much difficulty settling the question of both their Temple land and their National Headquarters. He was very surprised and distressed to learn that the Temple site you had chosen has entirely fallen through, and that you have to begin all over again looking for a Temple site. He feels that your Assembly should appreciate the fact that the important thing at this time is to acquire a Temple site. It does not have to be a very large piece of land, and, if the worst comes to the worst, at a future date, when the time comes to build a Temple in Canada, it can be exchanged or sold and a better site procured; but the question for this present National Body to settle once and for all is the purchase of a Temple plot as a beginning in order to remove from the Ten Year Plan one of its most important goals, and one the accomplishment of which has been dragging too long. He feels that your Assembly should also look around for a suitable and permanent Hazíratu’l-Quds in Toronto, and try and dispose of the one you have without loss, if
As regards the matter of those who have withdrawn from the Faith on the west coast: as you know, no one has the right to excommunicate anybody except the Guardian of the Faith, himself. Those people who have withdrawn from the Faith, though critical of it and disgruntled, are not necessarily Covenant-breakers. If they were associating with Ahmad Sohrab1 and upholding his claims actively, then they would come into an entirely different category. If this is the case, you should inform the Guardian, but otherwise the friends should be advised to just leave these people alone, for their influence can be nothing but negative and destructive, and the less they breathe the breath, so to speak, of those who have turned their back on the light of this Faith, the better.
It is not enough to bring people into the Faith, one must educate them and deepen their love for it and their knowledge of its teachings, after they declare themselves. As the Bahá’ís are few in number, especially the active teachers, and there is a great deal of work to be done, the education of these new believers is often sadly neglected, and then results are seen such as the resignations you have had recently. In this respect, the Summer Schools can be of the greatest help to the friends, new and old Bahá’ís alike, for in them they can study, and enjoy the feeling of Bahá’í companionship which is, alas, usually lacking in their home communities, owing to the smallness of their numbers.
He is very happy to see that the friends are making every effort to execute the provisions of the Ten Year Plan, as they apply to the Canadian Community. The most urgent of all tasks facing them in connection with the execution of their part of the Ten Year Plan is to increase the number of Spiritual Assemblies.
The Bahá’ís should realize that today’s intensely materialistic civilization, alas, most perfectly exemplified by the United States, has far exceeded the bounds of moderation, and, as Bahá’u’lláh has pointed out in His Writings, civilization itself, when carried to extremes, leads to destruction. The Canadian friends should be on their guard against this deadly influence to which they are so
The fortuitous combination of British solidity and good judgement and American get-up-and-go and enthusiasm, which has characterized Canada, must not be lost in the Canadian Bahá’í Community. Its members must demonstrate their outstanding abilities, and, through a greater vision, more consecration and renewed self-sacrifice, arise and attain their goals.
He is very happy over the work in the Pacific region in general, and was glad to receive word recently of the formation of the Samoan Assembly, a feat of which your Assembly can be duly proud. However, the situation in the Marquesas needs immediate attention, and every effort should be exerted to reinforce the work initiated there, at the cost of much self-sacrifice, by the first pioneer.2
The work in the north should likewise be consolidated, and every effort made to get more pioneers to join those heroic souls already labouring in such an infertile field. This applies equally to Labrador and Greenland, where Bill Carr,3 the lone Canadian pioneer, is demonstrating the Bahá’í spirit in such an exemplary manner. It is hard for the friends to appreciate, when they are isolated in one of these goal territories, and see that they are making no progress in teaching others, are living in inhospitable climes for the most part, and are lonesome for Bahá’í companionship and activity, that they represent a force for good, that they are like a light-house of Bahá’u’lláh shining at a strategic point and casting its beam out into the darkness. This is why he so consistently urges these pioneers not to abandon their posts. Apropos of this, he hopes that it will again be possible in the near future to get someone into Anticosti. It is a great pity that the friend4 who went there could not remain.
The beloved Guardian sends all the members of your Assembly his loving greetings and assures you all of his ardent prayers for your success.
With warm Bahá’í love,
Dear and valued co-workers:
The opening of the second year of the third phase of the Ten Year Bahá’í spiritual Crusade presents the entire Canadian Bahá’í Community, and, particularly, its elected representatives, with an opportunity, and brings them face to face with a challenge, unique since its inception over half a century ago.
The achievements that have distinguished the record of its stewardship, ever since its founding, and particularly since the launching of the World Bahá’í Crusade, both on the homefront and beyond its confines, have been such as to ennoble the annals of the Faith to which it is so whole-heartedly dedicated, and to arouse in the hearts of all those who have watched, throughout succeeding decades, its rise, its emergence into independent existence, and its rapid consolidation, feelings of profound admiration, of pride and of thankfulness.
The distance that has been traversed, in the course of the four brief years since the inauguration of the Ten Year Plan, by a community, still highly restricted in numbers and circumscribed in resources, and faced with tremendous responsibilities, as a result of the colossal task it has willingly shouldered, is admittedly great, and augurs well for its further advancement along the path traced for it by the pen of the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant in His immortal Tablets.5
The utmost care and vigilance, however, should be exercised
by this youthful and dynamic community, so richly laden
with the prizes it has so deservedly won, lest the momentum,
so painstakingly gained in recent years, in both the teaching
and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity, be lost or reduced.
The standard of dedication and of efficiency, attained,
while pursuing the goals it has pledged itself to achieve, must
never be allowed, through apathy, neglect or faint-heartedness,
to be lowered. The vision that has fired its members, on the
occasion of the centenary celebrations which witnessed the
launching of the Ten Year Plan must, no matter how prolonged
or arduous the task, never grow dim. Their unswerving fidelity
The few remaining years, separating the steadfast and high-minded members of the Canadian Bahá’í Community, striving so assiduously to achieve their goals, from the time fixed for the termination of a swiftly unfolding Crusade, are rapidly slipping by. A community which, ever since its inception, has, through the instrumentality of its most distinguished members, and particularly its founder7 and those nearest to her, as well as a number of her spiritual children and associates, won such prizes at the World Centre of the Faith, in Latin America, in Europe, in Africa and in the Pacific area—such a community, at this crucial hour, cannot afford to either stand still, falter or hesitate. As this World Crusade sweeps majestically forward and draws nearer to its close, exploits, as superb as those its sons and daughters have successively achieved in widely scattered areas of the globe, must continue to distinguish and ennoble the imperishable record of its services.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prophetic words regarding the future of its homeland, spiritually as well as materially—the initial evidences of which are becoming more apparent every day, must not be lost sight of for a moment, however exacting and all-absorbing the strenuous task ahead, however complex the problems its prosecution involves, however burdensome the preoccupations which it must needs engender.
Afire with that same love that burned so brightly in the
hearts of its earliest pioneers, holding fast to the strong cord of
the spiritual precepts and administrative principles of the Faith
it bas so whole-heartedly espoused, confident of its ability to
achieve, in its entirety, the Mission entrusted to it by the Author
of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, this community must
forge ahead, with undeviating loyalty, with indomitable courage,
with unbreakable unity, and exemplary consecration,
striving to scale loftier heights, and widening constantly the
range of its operations, on the American mainland as well as
in neighbouring and distant islands, until each and every objective
|1.||Ahmad Sohrab—former secretary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, declared a Covenant-breaker by the Guardian, died 1958. [ Back To Reference]|
|2.||Greta Jankko—Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for the Marquesas Islands (1954). See The Bahá’í World Vol. XV, 543–545, In Memoriam. [ Back To Reference]|
|3.||William Carr—Canadian pioneer to Thule Air Base, Greenland 1955–72. From 1958 to 1963 Mrs. Kaya Holck, a Danish believer, pioneered among the Greenlanders. [ Back To Reference]|
|4.||Mary Zabolotny (McCulloch)—Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for Anticosti Island (1956), passed away 1996. [ Back To Reference]|
|5.||The Tablets of the Divine Plan, revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1916–17, and addressed severally to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, constitute the authority for the successive Plans inaugurated by the Guardian for the spread of the Faith and the establishment of its Institutions throughout the world. [ Back To Reference]|
|6.||The decision by the Superior Court in Montreal in 1958 which recognized the independent character of the Bahá’í Faith and exempted the Bahá’í Shrine from taxation is recorded in The Bahá’í World Vol. XIII, 662–664. [ 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]|