The Bahá’í World: A Biennial International Record, Volume VI, 1930–1932, comp. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada (New York: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1933).
In its annual report to the National Spiritual Assembly, the National Archives Committee stated that numerous Tablets had been received for preservation, among them “a group of twenty-five originals with translations from the Master to Miss Sarah Farmer.” These apparently had been forwarded to Shoghi Effendi.
This message is a response to the National Spiritual Assembly’s announcement that sufficient funds had been received to continue the construction of the House of Worship in Wilmette. The exterior ornamentation of the dome was expected to be completed by February 1934.
“DELEGATES REPRESENTING BAHÁ’ÍS UNITED STATES CANADA FERVENTLY DESIRE REDEDICATE LIVES WORLD ORDER BAHÁ’U’LLÁH. SUPPLICATE DIVINE CONFIRMATION THROUGH GUIDANCE BELOVED GUARDIAN. BOUNDLESS GRATITUDE FOR GLEANINGS WRITINGS BAHÁ’U’LLÁH JUST RECEIVED, AND OPPORTUNITY PARTICIPATE PROTECTION PROPERTY HOLY SHRINES AT WORLD CENTER. PRAYING ALLEVIATION PERSIAN BAHÁ’ÍS. RIḌVÁN GREETING. CONVENTION.”
This message is a response to a cable from the National Spiritual Assembly acknowledging the announcement of Shoghi Effendi’s recent marriage to Rúḥíyyih Khánum, née Mary Maxwell, of Montreal. The text of that message, sent on 28 March 1937, was as follows: “JOYOUSLY ACCLAIM HISTORIC EVENT SO AUSPICIOUSLY UNITING IN ETERNAL BOND THE DESTINY OF EAST AND WEST.”
Siegfried Schopflocher gave the Convention a message from the Guardian stressing the importance of incorporation by Local Spiritual Assemblies when sufficiently evolved, a step that would lead to the gradual accumulation of endowments for the extension of Bahá’í activities, emphasizing that Local Assemblies must acquire experience and become very proficient.
This cable appears to be a response to the following 29 April 1937 message from the National Convention to the Guardian: “AMERICAN CONVENTION GRATEFULLY CELEBRATES DUAL GIFT. MASTER’S HISTORIC VISIT AND CONSUMMATION UNIQUE UNION EAST WEST. PLEDGES UNDYING LOYALTY, RENEWED VIGOR EXTEND WORLD ORDER THROUGHOUT AMERICAS AND ALL LANDS. PROFOUND DEDICATED FELICITATIONS. BAHÁ’Í CONVENTION. TEMPLE FOUNDATION HALL, APRIL 29, 1937.”
This appears to be an allusion to the first of five successive steps Shoghi Effendi had outlined for the successful completion of the Temple enterprise. The five steps, announced in Bahá’í News, no. 110 (Sept. 1937), were as follows: (1) Preliminary investigations were to be expedited. (2) A generous donation of $100,000 by Siegfried Schopflocher was to be used to facilitate the immediate signature of a contract for the next unit of exterior ornamentation. (3) The National Spiritual Assembly was to make a nationwide appeal to the entire community to ensure the uninterrupted completion of the first unit of exterior ornamentation and the accumulation of sufficient funds to place the final contract without delay. (4) The final contract was to be signed as soon as half of the required sum for its fulfillment was available in the national treasury. (5) The National Assembly was to reemphasize the supreme obligation of the triumphant conclusion of so vital a part of the American believers’ twofold task by May 1944.
Shoghi Effendi appears to be referring to the third step of the plan for Temple construction that was intended to ensure completion of the external ornamentation by May 1944. The third step was to make a nationwide appeal to all believers to ensure the uninterrupted completion of the first unit of ornamentation and to accumulate sufficient funds to place the final contract without delay. For the other steps, see note 25.
The message to which Shoghi Effendi refers appears to be the following cable, sent 27 April 1939 from the Convention to the Guardian:
THIRTY-FIRST ANNUAL CONVENTION AMERICAN BAHÁ’ÍS, ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN ASSEMBLED DELEGATES WITH HOST VISITING FRIENDS, REVERENTLY GREET BELOVED GUARDIAN, DEEPLY CONSCIOUS INCREASED RESPONSIBILITIES OPENING THIRD YEAR INAUGURATED SEVEN YEAR PLAN, SUPPLICATE RENEWED POWER FULFILL YOUR HIGHEST HOPES, CONSOLIDATE ESTABLISHED FOUNDATIONS AND MEET CHALLENGING ISSUES BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S GLORIOUS FAITH IN WESTERN HEMISPHERE. REJOICED HISTORIC EVENT PRESENCE TWO BELIEVERS TIHRAN AND FOUR MEMBERS MEXICO CITY ASSEMBLY. THRILLED REPORT EIGHTY-ONE VOLUNTEERS PIONEER SERVICE. ENTREAT PRAYERS YOUR UNERRING GUIDANCE EXTEND RAPIDLY REVIVIFYING INFLUENCE REVEALED WORD TO SORELY DISTRACTED HUMANITY THUS ACHIEVE AMERICA’S SPIRITUAL DESTINY. UNDYING LOVE, LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE. BAHÁ’Í CONVENTION.
The National Spiritual Assembly had cabled the Guardian on 30 April 1939, “NEWLY ELECTED ASSEMBLY INFINITELY GRATEFUL YOUR EXPOSITION DIVINE PLAN, INVOKES GUIDANCE BAHÁ’U’LLÁH NEW ENTERPRISE INTER-AMERICAN ERA. REJOICED REPORT DEVELOPMENT PIONEER PLANS PANAMA, BRAZIL, HONDURAS, CUBA.…”
The Bahá’í World: A Biennial International Record, Volume VII, 1936–1938, comp. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada (New York: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1939).
The Secretariat was located in New York before it was transferred to Wilmette, Illinois. The National Assembly’s meetings had been held in West Englewood, New Jersey, where the work of its Treasurer was conducted and its records were stored. Other facilities were maintained according to where the Assembly’s officers resided. For an account of the decision to move the Secretariat and establish a Ḥaẓíratu’l-Quds adjacent to the House of Worship, see “Important Developments in the Bahá’í Community of North America,” in The Bahá’í World 8:96–97.
Bahá’ís in many parts of the world were experiencing severe hardships and persecution at the time this message was written. In Iran, Bahá’í marriages were not recognized as legitimate, yet the Bahá’ís were given no acceptable means to legitimize their unions in the eyes of the law without compromising their faith. Those who were married according to Bahá’í law were often arrested and either fined or imprisoned. There were also restrictions against holding Bahá’í meetings, Bahá’í records were occasionally confiscated by government officials, and some believers were banished from their hometowns. In Iraq, some Bahá’ís were accused of being communists and were arrested and tried, then acquitted. In ‘Ishqábád Bahá’ís were arrested, their homes were searched, and Bahá’í records and literature were confiscated. Furthermore, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of that city was confiscated for government use. Many of the believers were exiled and sought refuge in Iran, only to be denied work. In the Caucasus, all Bahá’í administrative institutions had to be disbanded, and many Bahá’ís were exiled to Siberia. Bahá’ís in Egypt had recently experienced outbreaks of public violence in connection with their efforts to give proper Bahá’í burial to their dead. In Nazi Germany, the Faith was officially banned and its activities were forbidden.
On 13–15 October 1939 the National Spiritual Assembly met with the Teaching Committee and the Inter-America Committee to consult about recent messages from the Guardian, plans for the third year of the Seven Year Plan, progress of the Temple construction, and current teaching activities in North and South America. A cable from the National Assembly to the Guardian reported, “ASSEMBLY ENCOURAGED SAN FRANCISCO MEETINGS. CONTRIBUTION BAHÍYYIH KHÁNUM FUND ASSURES CONTINUANCE TEMPLE WORK. LATIN AMERICAN TEACHING EXPANDING. PIONEERS NOW SETTLED PANAMA, SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, NICARAGUA, CUBA, JAMAICA. PLANS CONCLUDED DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, COSTA RICA. PUERTO RICO, COLOMBIA AND TRINIDAD. PREPARED SETTLE HAITI, DELAYED PENDING INVESTIGATION CONDITIONS THERE. VERY SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC MEETINGS.”
Martha Root left New York on 22 July 1919 on a teaching journey through South America that took her to Para (Belém), Brazil; Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Valparaiso, Chile; and other places.
In September 1939 Mrs. Loulie Mathews donated the title to some property at Pine Valley, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the purpose of developing a school for training Bahá’ís for international teaching. The first session of the school, known as the Bahá’í International School, was held 12–24 June 1940.
A section of exterior ornamentation of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette was presented to Shoghi Effendi by the American Bahá’ís to be placed in the gardens surrounding the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. For a photograph of the section in the gardens, see The Bahá’í World 8:20.
The Bahá’í Centenary 1844–1944, a record of America’s response to Bahá’u’lláh’s call to the realization of the oneness of humanity, comp. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1944).
Some locks of Bahá’u’lláh’s hair arranged and preserved by the Greatest Holy Leaf had been sent by Shoghi Effendi as a gift to the American Bahá’í community on the occasion of the 1938 National Convention as a token of his gratitude.
Shortly after May Maxwell’s death in March 1940, plans were made for the construction of a befitting memorial at her gravesite. Designed by her husband, Sutherland Maxwell, and approved by Shoghi Effendi, the memorial was dedicated on 30 May 1943 by the Bahá’ís of Buenos Aires at Quilmes Cemetery on behalf of the Bahá’ís of North and South America. For a photo of the memorial, see Bahá’í World 9:62.
The one remaining responsibility was to complete the “establishment of at least one center in every state of the American Republic and in every Republic of the American continent” not yet enlisted under the banner of the Faith. There remained seven virgin states and provinces: Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, South Carolina, and South Dakota.
In Germany, the Faith and its administration had been banned by the Nazi regime since 1937. In Burma, the Bahá’ís of Mandalay and Rangoon, who had sought refuge in the Bahá’í village of Daidanaw during the Japanese invasion, were attacked by Burmese hoodlums taking advantage of the British retreat in 1942. Many Bahá’ís were killed, their properties were looted, and survivors were left destitute, their homes having been burned.
Miss Zamenhof and her family, who were Jewish, had been arrested and taken to a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. Two years later, in August 1944, Lidia died in the death camp at Treblinka. Commemorative observances were held for her in Bahá’í communities throughout Canada and the United States in October 1946.
Shoghi Effendi had established an International Bahá’í Relief Fund with an international trustee in Ṭihrán. By March 1946 the National Spiritual Assembly had dispatched approximately $2,500 to the fund.
This message was a reply to a cablegram sent to the Guardian by the National Spiritual Assembly during a meeting in October 1946, reporting, “… HELPFUL CONFERENCE TEMPLE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE EUROPEAN PIONEERS DEPARTED SOLVEIG CORBIT, ETTY GRAEFFE, JETTY STRAUB, RITA VAN SOMBECK AND COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN EDNA TRUE FOR SURVEYS CONFERENCES MR. MRS. NEILSEN SCHEDULED SAIL OCTOBER EIGHTEENTH. FIRST PUBLIC MEETING MINNEAPOLIS ATTRACTED OVERFLOW AUDIENCE. NATIONAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN AROUSING INTEREST.…”