BAHA’I NEWS LETTER
THE BULLETIN OF THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
Office of the Secretary
169 CHRISTOPHER STREET,NEW YORK CITY
No. 1 December, 1924
O Son of MAN!
Magnify My Cause, that I may make manifest unto thee the secret of My greatness and shine upon thee with everlasting Light.
To the Assemblies of the United States and Canada
DEAR BAHA’I FRIENDS:
In order to extend the purpose of the general letters issued by the National Assembly, and increase their usefulness as a means to completer understanding and more active unity among all the friends, it has been declded to publish them in printed form, amplifying the letter itself with details of Baha’i activities as brought to our attention by Assemblies and individual believers throughout the world.
With the assistance of local Spiritual Assemblies, a copy will be placed in the hands of every active believer. A quantity of this News Letter is being sent to each secretary on our records, and the secretaries are requested to distribute them to the believers in their Assemblies. As hitherto, the letters of the National Assembly will be sent to all isolated Baha’is; and we urgently request that the names of all believers not members of local Assemblies be sent to the National secretary at the above address. We believe also that it will be of interest to Assemblies outside of theUnited StatesandCanadato receive Copies regularly.
The subject to which all the friends are urged to give their closest attention at the present time is that of the decisions arived at by the National Assembly in consultatation with the Temple Committee and the believers who met in the studio of Mr. Bourgeois on the Temple grounds.Wilmette,Illinois, Sunday, October 19th. The purpose of this special meeting of consultation was fully explained in our general letter No. 3 dated September 25th.
Acting upon the recommendation of theTempleCommittee, the National Spiritual Assembly voted the sum of seven thousand dollars to meet the costs of the following improvements upon the Foundation Hall andTemplegrounds:
Two cloak rooms and toilets, $600.00
Partition to enclose meeting room, 400.00
Heating apparatus, 575.00
Weather-proofing roof, 1,700.00
Plank walk, 100.00
Shrubbery and vines, 400.00
Keeper’s cottage, 2,000.00
TheTempleCommitteewas requested to place contracts for this work at once, in order that these improvements may be reported as entirely completed at the National Convention of 1923. The result of this exrenditure will be to place the Foundation Hall in condition of usefulness and also to make at least a beginning upon the work of beautifying the grounds.
Of far greater significance to the success of the Temple work as a whole was the decision to request the Temple Committee to gather together all legal documents, contracts, and accounts, including all receipts and expenditures and vouchers covering every item in connection with the work of the Temple from the earliest days, Draw up a complete report based upon these records, and present this to the National Spiritual Assembly to be published for the information of all the friends in detail.
The treasurer of the National Fund was also authorized to pay five hundred dollars on each of the two outstandingTemplenotes this quarter.
An itemtzed report covering receipts and expenditures for theTemplefrom April 1, 1924 to October 16, 1924, follows on next page.
It will be noticed that theTemplestatement contains a payment on taxes amounting to $1503.13. Since that payment was made, permission has been received fromHaifato apply for tax exemption unrler the customary laws applying to property used exclusively for religious purposes, and it is improbable that any tax item will appear in theTempleReportfor 1925.
As we compare the slight improvements which it is now in our power to have done for the Temple, with that vision of a supremely gracious and beautiful edifice in completion, which has for so many years inspired the devoted friends of Abdu’l Baha throughout the world, it is only too evident that some vital spirit of executive power is still lacking among the memhers of the Cause in this country. The time has come for us to turn resolutely away from that expectation of results bestowed upon us as a gift from on high, and to deepen our own capacity to obey both the spiritual and material commands so often reiterated to us by word and by deed in the interests of the uniform World Plan, so that the advancement of the Cause in all its phases may rest upon the substantial foundation of human effort penetrated by a consciousness of the Divine Will for this age.
It is natural enough for periods of doubt and foreboding to seize upon any individual or even group. Such periods indicate that we have come to to the end of our present understanding of the Cause, and are, in fact, nothing more than opportunities to attain to a larger and more universal understanding. The pool of water left by the spring freshets will soon evaporate under the heat of the summer sun, while the spring that is fed from below will continue to give forth its pure waters throughout the year.
Let us all admit that each of us on entering the Cause brought with him something at least of his previous tradition and experience. So long as this element remains in our consciousness, we cannot but believe that this Cause will be served by the same means and methods used by members of other movements. But as this mental habit is overcome, and this spiritual veil is removed by the universal forces which have their expression in and through Abdu’l Baha, our faith requires for its entire nourishment nothing outside of those stead fast assurances we have received from him.
That there exists in this country many hearts already prepared to join in the task of erecting an edifice to the Glory of God and the brotherhood of man; that there is even at this hour more than sufficient funds to give embodiment to the ideal of the Most Great Peace—and that these unknown brothers and sisters are as anxious to work side by side with us as we are to incease our own numbers—this is a fact of which we cannot have the slightest doubt. But neither can we have the slightest doubt that this assistance will be given us in but meager measure until we have fulfilled the conditions of sacrifice and love which alone can attract and convince the waiting souls.
The outer and visible point of unity corresponding to that inward and invisible oneness to which we, as Baha’is, have been called, is the National Fund. The institution of this central Baha’i Fund is yet so new and soo unprecedented that we have failed to grasp its entire significance. In one aspect, the Baha’i Fund is a protection to every believer against those enthusiastic but frequently ill-advised solicitations which are inevitable where many hundreds of people are in close association year after year. In another aspect, the Baha’i Fund is our opportunity to prove our spiritual faithfulness upon the plane of practical affairs as upon the plane of mind and heart. By the supreme witness of Abdu’l Baha’s own life, we know that faithfulness is a way of living which embraces the whole of life. Our first response to the opponunity offered us by the National Fund should be a reconsideration of our daily lives in every detail, so that they may become controlled by a new sense of order and inspired by a new purpose. The effect of our understanding of the National Baha’i Fund should be to cultivate our every resource to the utmost, for not othenwise shall we be able to feel any pride in our capacity to serve this aspect of the Cause. It is for each believer to determine for himself what portion of his income can be allotted to the Fund; it is for each believer to detennine for himself just where to draw the line between economy and extravagance—the standard of giving has been set for us once and for all.
In still another aspect, the National Baha’i Fund is deeply significant, for it means that we ourselves are willing not to decide for which specific purpose our contributions shall be used. Otherwise, those who preferred theTempleabove all other activities of the Cause would create a fund for theTemplealone; those who most deeply felt the necessity for teaching, would maintain a separate teaching fund; while those who wanted to spread the literature would be most interested in increasing a publishing fund. These separate centers of activity would inevitably, in time, while each might be perfectly legitimate in itself, lead to division and disharmony among the friends. Shoghi Effendi has given permission to specify the object of our contributions, but the ideal method is to leave this to the decision of the National Spiritual Assembly. We cannot too fully realize the fact that the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly is inseparably wrapped up with the institution of the National Fund.
Can we not, from now on, cherish as one more characteristic example of the bounty of Abdu’l Baha this privilege of uniting in one conscious loyalty the spiritual and material phases of our lives—so tragically sundered today in the lives of the great majority of mankind?
The report of the National treasurer submitted at the last meeting of the National Spiritual Assembly is given on page 2.
A later report of the Treasurer, to be given in full in our next Letter, shows that the balance at this moment is only slightly over one thousand dollars. In view of this crisis, the National Spiritual Assembly has appointed a National Finance Committee, representing all five Regional Divisions, to assist in removing the root causes for such a condition. The work of this Commitee will be taken up in detail in another Letter, but meanwhile we urge each individual believer to resolve to contriblne a minimum of one dollar a month to the National Fund during 1925.
If such results follow this statement of facts, then it will be possible to formulate some concrete plan for erecting the first external unit of theTemple. The real plan for building the Temple is surely contained in the general Letter, of Shoghi Effendi—and it is to mark a beginning of faithfulness to those Letters that we are emphasizing the solemn need for active unity as proved by deeper interest in the welfare of the National Fund.
It is hoped that every aspect of these important subjects will be thoroughly discussed by the friends in their local Assembties, and a just balance be arrived at between the local and national funds. Individuals, after contributing to their local Fund, may also contribute directly to the National Fund. Only by immediate and whole hearted response from one and all can we meet even the comparatively slight financial obligations already undertaken in behalf of theTemple—and this is but one of the several responsibilities carried by the National Fund.
Even the brief summary of the current events of the Cause given below will reveal how successiullv the friends of Abdu’l Baha, are carrying the Message to the public in these stirring days. In later News Letters more space will be devoted to these happenings, so that all may be fully informed.
Yours in service to Abdu’l Baha.
National Spiritual Assembly.
by: Horace Holley, Secretary.
REPORT OFTEMPLEDIVISIONOF THE NATIONAL BAHA’I FUND
From April 1, 1924 to October 16, 1924
April 1 — Balance from W. H. Randall, Treasurer, $1,191.23
April 30 — Contributions in April, 3,705.75
May 31 — Contributions in May, 4,886.57
June 3O — Contributions in June, 61.00
July JI — Contributions in July, 1,031.l7
Aug. 31 — Contributions in August, 402,92
Sept. 30 — Contributions in September, 683.55
Oct, 16 — Contributions to October to date, 2O5,03
Total received, $12,167.22
April 1 — A. E. Lunt, Secretary, $75.00
1 — L Bourgeois, salary April, May and June, 750,00
10 — Mrs. True, expenses, 200.00
12 — Telegraphing Convemion, 19.30
21 — Paid onacct.Templenote, 2,500.00
21 — Paid interest and stamps on same, 70.50
30 Discount on checks at bank, 8.59
May 2 — A. E. Lunt, Secretary, 75.00
2 — Telegrams at Convention, 16.13
5 — Taxes onTemplepropertry, l,503.13
5 — Paid on acct. Bourgeois Note, 2,000.00
12 — Building material, 421.50
14 — Check returned protested, 21.43
19 — Mrs. True, expenses, 200.00
31 — Exchange on checks, 1.18
June 17 — Mrs. True, expenses, 200.00
July 1 — L. Bourgeois salary, July, Aug, & Sept, 750.00
9 — Mrs. True, expenses, 200.00
15 — Paid onacct.TempleNote, 500.00
15 — Interest on same, 57.49
29 — Paid on acct. Bourgeois Note, 500.00
29 — Interest on same ($73.13, $50.00), 123.13
Aug, 21 — Mrs. True, expences, 100.00
21 — A. E. Lunt, expenses toChicago, 150.00
30 — Mrs. True, expenses for September, 200.00
Sept. 30 — S. Janas, Trucking, 133.00
Oct. 4 — Mrs. True, expenses for October, 200.00
8 — L. Bourgeois, salary for October, 250.00
Total Paid, $11,225.39
Balance Temple Fund Account, $941.83
NATIONAL BAHA’I FUND
Report No. 4 — From August 30, 1924, to October 17, 1924
Aug. 30 — Balance (Report No. 4), $4,189.22
Sept. 30 — Collections for September, 1,353.35
Oct. 16 — Collections for October (to date), 599.24
Total Receipts, $6,141.81
Aug. 30 — Mr. Vail (September), $150.00
30 — Mr. Gregory (September), 125.00
30 — Mrs. True, 200.00
30 — Stanwood Cobb (Star), 102.50
30 — Mrs. Randall (advanced Mrs. Haney’s expenses to Green Acre to consult N. S. A. about Star of the West), 43.60
Sept. 17 —Punjab,Indiagroup, 400.00
30 — S. Janas, truckman, 133.00
Oct. 4 — Mrs. True for October, 200.00
Mr. Gregory (October), 125.00
Mr. Vail (October), 150.00
International Baha’i Fund, 95.00
Secretary’s expenses for September, 96.64
8 — L. Bourgeois, October salary, 250.00
Total Balance, $4,071,07
Submitted byFlorenceMorton, Treasurer
WORK OF NATIONAL COMMITTEES
For many years past, the Archives Committee has been collecting original copies of Tablets and other irreplaceable documents and souvenirs of the Cause, and keeping them properly safeguarded in bank vaults atChicago.
All the beautiful messages from Abdu’l Baha made accessible to us through the three printed volumes of Tablets were origionally collected by the Archives Committee. Had this work not been done, the publication of those three volumes could never have been accomplished.
It will be remembered that Volume Three of the Tablets appeared in 1915, while many of Abdu’l Baha’s most important communications to individuals and groups in this country were received between 1915 and 1921, a period which gave us the Tablets of the Divine Plan and likewise Abdu’l Baha’s final messages of exhortation and of love.
To make possible in the near future a fourth and final volume of authoritative Tablets, it is most essential that all believers and Assemblies possessing original Tablets shall as soon as possible entrust them (accompanied by the original signed translation, if possible) to the Archives Committee. Otherwise, within the lapse of a few years, as the recipients inevitably pass away, many priceless Tablets will be lost to the Cause, and the task of collecting the other Tablets will be increased a hundredfold.
As it is precisely those final Tablets of which we all have need to ponder at this time. the National Spiritual Assembly joins with the Archives Committee in urging individual believers and Assemblies to lose no time in placing their Tablets at the disposal of all the friends by sending them to the Archives Committee. The secretary of this committee is Miss Gertrude Buikema,1827 W. Roosevelt Road,Chicago,Illinois. The official receipt of the Archives Committee will be forwarded to the sender without delay, and a detailed report of the work of this committee will be presented at the National Convention of 1925.
Under the experienced and capable edirorship of Stanwood Cobb, Mariam Haney and Jinabi Fadil, the Baha’i Magazine (Star of the West), has since May been presenting the Message in a universal way that cannot fail to attract the attention of interested people. With rhe expansion of the Cause it has become necessary for the magazine to develop away from the point of view of membership in a limited group toward a broad and fundamental interpretation of current problems reflecting the spirit of the teachings rather than the passing events of the Movement.
The Baha’i Magazine today should be regarded as a teacher in the real sense of the word, and as such deserving of our cordial support not merely to the extent of our own personal subscription, but by means of additional subscriptions and copies to be passed on where they are likely to accomplish the most good. Five months’ subscription to a new subscriber, one dollar; yearly subscription, three dollars; two subscriptions to one address, five dollars. Address Baha’i News Service,P. O. Box 283,Chicago,Illinois.
The work of the Library Committee has also been very rapidiy developing. This committee has placed Baha’i literature in hundreds of public libraries throughout the country, and at the present time has nearly one thousand libraries on its active list. Supported entirely from the National Fund, the work of this committee is among the most far-reachmg efforts being made to serve the Cause in this country, and as the resources of the National Fund permit, many thousands of additional volumes will be placed in public libraries by this comnittee, thus bringing the Message Within reach of a vast number of people. Those desiring to assist the Library Committee should address the secretary, Miss Elizabeth Hopper,1105 Park Road, N.W. Washington, D. C.
The Publishing Committee have recently issued a new catalog, copies of which have been sent to all Assembly librarians on its list. Copies can be obtained by addressing Baha’i Publishing Committee,169 Christopher Street.New York City.
The following new books can now be obtained: Shoghi Effendi’s translation of the Hidden Words, 25c; The Book of Assurance (Ighan), $1.50: Baha’u'llah and the New Era by Dr. Esslemont, $1.50: The Wisdom of Abdu’l Baha (Paris Talks), 4Oc; Prayers and Tablets of Abdu’l Baha, translated by Shoghi Effendi, 15c; Episodes in My Life, by Moneereh Khanum, translated by Ahmad Sohrab, 35c; Abdu’l Baha’s First Days in America, from the diary of Juliet Thompson, $1.00; Baha’u'llah and His Message, a pamphlet by Dr. Esslemont, 2Oc; photo-engravings from photographs of Abdu’l Baha and also the Baha’i Temple, lOc each. A selection of the general letters ot Shoghi Effendi will be published within a few weeks. 15c.
“The time is indeed ripe ior the manifold activities, Wherein the servants and handmaids of Baha’u'llah are so devoutly and earnestly engaged, to be harmonized and conducted with unity cooperation and efficiency, that the effect of such a combined and systematized effort, through which an All-Powerful Spirit is steadily pouring, may transcend every other achievement of the past, however glorious it has been, and may stand, now that, to the eyes of the outside world the glorious Person of the Master is no more, a convincing testimony of the potency of His everliving Spirit.”
NATIONAL BAHA’I ASSEMBLY
MOUNTFORT MILLS, Chairman
HORACE HOLLEY, Secretary
FLORENCE MORTON, Treasurer
ALFRED E. LUNT, Assistant Treasurer
AGNES S. PARSONS
ROY C. WILHELM
Office of the Secretary
169 CHRISTOPHER STREET
NEW YORK CITY
Office of the Treasurer
5 WHEELER AVENUE
NEWS OF THE CAUSE
Space does not permit in this number of the News Letter to give an adequate survey of the many important meetings that have been held during the past few months.
On September 26th, 27th and 28th, under the chairmanship of Mrs. Cooper, the Teaching Committee of the Western States Region held its second annual Baha’i Conference and Congress, at the California Club,San Francisco. The sessions of the Conference were attended by delegates from twenty-one Assemblies, includingHonoluluandBritish Columbia. It was the Western States Region which first inaugurated this ideal method of linking together the local Assemblies for consultation in response to Abdu’l Baha’s advices in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. No other method can overcome the inherent difficulties. presented by the size of this country andCanada, and as time goes on we can confidently expect that such regional conventions will assume a significance second only to that of the National Convention itself. The public meetings presented the teachings to many interested people, the addresses being delivered by Willard P. Hatch, Howard MacNutt, George Latimer, and the Baha’i Juniors under the direction of Mrs. Kathryn Frankland.
On October 17th and 18th, the Teaching Committee of the Central States held a Convention in the Foundation Hall of the Temple at Wilmette, preceded by a feast given by the Chicago Assembly in the studio of Mr. and Mrs. Bourgeois.
During the sessions of this Convention, effective methods of presenting the Message were explained by experienced teachers, particularly with relation to the Baha’i education of the young. A public meeting was held in the Foundation Hall on Sunday, October 19th, with addresses by Charles Mason Remey, Mrs. Stuart W. French and Jinabi Fadil. The teaching work now being carried on by Jinabi Fadil in the western states will be described in a later number of the News Letter.
The recent general letter of the Philadelphia Assembly gave us all inspiring news of the success of the Convention for Amity held inWitherspoonBuildingon October 22nd and 23rd. Since Mrs. Parsons received the original instructions from Abdu’l Baha concerning the importance of these meetings of reconciliation between the white and colored races inAmerica, four Amity Conventions have been held. In the face of deep-rooted prejudice, the Philadelphia Assembly gave a demonstion of the new spirit of unity which made a deep impression on all who had the privilege to attend these meetings. The Baha’i Message was presented at the first session by Albert Vail and at the second session by Hooper Harris.
The Montreal Assembly reports a most successful public meeting held in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton on Friday, October 24th, Sutherland Maxwell chairman. Dr. John Herman Randall ofNew York Cityspoke on the Cause and afterward declared that he had never felt a more responsive audience. Given due preparation, and effective speakers, the Message of Baha is the most powerful magnet in the world. The Assemhlv which once experiences this power can never again be satisfied with small, private meetings.
Since the return of Shoghi Effendi to Haifa, the most important news of the Cause outside this country has been the great interest with which the two papers on the Baha’i Cause were received by the audience attending the Conference of Some Living Religions within the British Empire, held at the Imperial Institute, London, from September 22nd to October 3rd. Quoting from a general letter from the Spiritual Assembly of London, dated November 12th: “The paper which presented the Baha’i Message was the product of consultation and cooperation, and was read by Mr. Mountfort Mills, the delegate from the Canadian Baha’is, in clear and reverent tones reaching every part of the large hall, and was listened to with wrapt attention. Through the guidance of Abdu’l Baha the text was clearly inspired by his spirit, which was felt by all the believers.
“Ruhi Afnan then spoke in faith and wisdom, his youth and enthusiasm winning all hearts to a close attention to the Baha’i teachings he gave with sincerity and conviction. The power of the spiritual Presence was like a baptism. We felt the outpouring which Abdu’l Baha foretold would awaken the world with the Divine Message, and this must have been reflected in all hearts who were praying with us for the illumination of the world on that day of great oppormnity.”
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