Development of the Bahá’í Community Since 1963

The following article is from bahai.org.Photo of Seat of the Universal House of Justice and surrounding gardens © 2019 Bahá’í International Community


In April 1963, the centenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration was marked by two auspicious events: the first election of the Universal House of Justice—the highest institution of Bahá’u’lláh’s Administrative Order; and, a few days afterward, the holding of the first Bahá’í World Congress in London, at which its 7,000 participants demonstrated by their very presence just how dramatically the Bahá’í world community had grown during the preceding decade.

The community that the Universal House of Justice inherited had expanded rapidly as a result of Shoghi Effendi’s first global plan for the growth and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’ís now resided in more than 14,000 localities in some 259 sovereign states, dependencies and major islands. Some 56 countries had National Spiritual Assemblies. Though still relatively small, the Bahá’í Faith was assuming the characteristics of a world religion. The cultural adaptability of the Faith and its potential to attract a wide diversity of peoples were increasingly visible; its collective life was also beginning to manifest some of the society-building potentialities enshrined in Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.

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A message from The Universal House of Justice on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb

This month we are featuring the message from The Universal House of Justice on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb. Photo © 2019 Bahá’í International Community: Shrine of the Báb viewed in between the colonnade of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice


October 2019

To all who have come to honour the Herald of a new Dawn

Dearly loved Friends,

Consider with us. Whenever a divine Educator appears in the world, a Figure Whose teachings will come to shape human thought and action for centuries thereafter—at such a dramatic, seismic moment, what would we expect?

The appearance of every such Educator, as recorded in the Sacred Texts of the world’s great faiths, is a pivotal event that propels the advancement of civilization. The spiritual stimulus each has provided throughout history has enabled the radius of human cooperation to extend from the clan, to the tribe, to the city-state, and to the nation. And each of these great Teachers promised that, in time, another divine Figure would appear, Whose advent should be anticipated and Whose influence would reform the world. No wonder, then, that the coming of the Báb, Whose Birth two centuries ago we now honour, gave rise to unprecedented ferment in the country where He was born. The moment of His appearance, like the appearance of all such Figures, precipitated the release of powerful spiritual forces—but there was no accompanying spectacle. There was instead a late evening conversation, in a modest Persian dwelling, between a student of religion and his youthful Host, during which that Host revealed that He was the Promised One, the divine Educator His guest had been seeking. “Observe attentively,” He remarked, “Might not the Person intended … be none other than I?” It is this Youth, the Báb, that we acclaim as the One Whose coming—after an interval of a thousand years—shed the light of divine guidance once again upon the human world.

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Bicentenary website to reflect worldwide celebrations

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service.


September 5, 2019 from the BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — A new international website for the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab was launched today.

The website will unfold in stages over the next eight weeks. Currently featuring artistic endeavors created for the occasion, and articles on the lives and teachings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, the site will expand dynamically over time. A special letter from the Universal House of Justice about the historic anniversary will be published. Dawn of the Light, a feature film commissioned for this upcoming bicentenary, will also be released by the end of this month. The website is available in 10 languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili.

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Walking a Spiritual Path

The following article is from bahai.org.


The Bahá’í teachings emphasize that each person is in charge of his or her own spiritual development. While institutions exist to guide and release energies, and Bahá’í community life is to be characterized by an atmosphere of cordial consultation and encouragement, the responsibility for spiritual growth ultimately rests with each individual. Indeed, there is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith; the Bahá’í community can neither be described in terms of a pastor and congregation, nor as that of a body of believers led by learned individuals endowed with authority to interpret scriptures.

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The Shrine of the Báb

The following article is from bahai.org. Photo of the Shrine of the Báb copyright © Bahá’í International Community


During the darkest nights of His incarceration, bereft of contact with His devoted followers, the Báb was refused even a lamp by His captors. Today, however, hundreds of thousands of visitors a year are able to view the luminous Shrine that encloses His earthly remains. Bathed in light, each and every night, the Shrine of the Báb is a singular point of attraction on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. The building’s location and harmonious blend of Eastern and Western architectural styles have made it a familiar and well-loved landmark on the Mediterranean coast.

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Art: A Gift of the Holy Spirit

This month we are featuring an article by Jennifer Campbell from BahaiTeachings.org.


Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso

My paternal grandmother gave neighborhood piano lessons; my paternal grandfather taught art in high school, and painted, sculpted, and played French horn. That’s why my sister and I grew up learning about art and music–and we also enjoyed making pots in Grandpa’s kiln. My family is full of artists, musicians, and educators; so the arts have always played an important part in my life.

Before I studied psychology, I majored in art (because I wanted to be an art teacher like my grandpa). Before that, I majored in English (because I wanted to be a writer, too). Like a typical college student, I changed my mind a few times about my future goals and major course of study. Despite my changing college majors, the arts were always part of my studies.

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Youth

The following article is from bahai.org.


“Although your realities are shaped by a broad diversity of circumstances, yet a desire to bring about constructive change and a capacity for meaningful service, both characteristic of your stage of life, are neither limited to any race or nationality, nor dependent upon material means. This bright period of youth you share is experienced by all—but it is brief, and buffeted by numerous social forces. How important it is, then, to strive to be among those who, in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘plucked the fruit of life’.”

— The Universal House of Justice

Youth have played a vital role in Bahá’í history. The Báb Himself declared His mission when He was but twenty-five years old and so many among the band of His followers were in the prime of their youth when they embraced His Revelation. During the ministries of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, young people were at the forefront of efforts to proclaim the message of the new Faith and to share its teachings with others.

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Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the Challenge of Climate Change

This month we are featuring a 2008 statement from the Bahá’í International Community.


“The search for solutions to climate change has revealed the limits of traditional technological and policy approaches and has raised difficult questions about justice, equity, responsibility and obligation. What is required is an approach based on the unity which connects us as the inhabitants of one biosphere, the citizens of one world and the members of one human civilization.” ~ Bahai.Org

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Featured Book: A Child’s Baha’i ABC

Please come and check out our newly reorganized bookstore at the Baha’i Center of Washtenaw County!

The bookstore at the Bahá’í Center of Washtenaw County features a variety of books of interest to the members of the Bahá’í community. Prayer books and selections from the writings make up the largest section, and you will also find books on Bahá’í history and current topics. In addition, there are books and materials in languages other than English, interfaith materials and Ruhi books for purchase, as well as a small collection of used books.

The children’s section has been moved to another area of the bookstore, with more space so that books can be easily reviewed. They are also now more accessible to children, and hopefully will generate interaction and questions from children in the community. With that in mind, our featured book this month is a children’s book:

A Child’s Baha’i ABC

By Joan A. Featherstone

This book is a typical alphabet book for young readers, but in place of the more typical objects, the author has substituted Baha’i concepts, important figures, and virtues, with an explanation for each. She has also placed a pertinent quotation from the writings on each page facing the individual letter pages. This is an illustrated book that appears simple at first, but the ideas and history presented is complex enough that a child would most probably read it over and over. The quotations add another layer that will make the book rewarding for adults as well. This book would be a welcome addition to any Baha’i child’s library.

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Participation in the Discourses of Society: A Series from the Baha’i World News Service

This month we are featuring a series of articles from The Bahá’í World News Service (BWNS) – the official news source of the worldwide Bahá’í community.


Representatives of a number of national Baha’i communities recently gathered at the Baha’i World Centre to reflect on the past several years of experience learning about participation in the discourses of society. The Baha’i World News Service took the opportunity to interview groups of representatives about the experiences and insights they have gained in this area of endeavor.


PART ONE: Contributing to social transformation—reflections on Baha’i participation in discourses

2 December 2018
 
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE — In recent years, national Baha’i institutions and regional agencies have been systematically participating in the discourses of society, such as migration and integration, social cohesion, race unity, the role of religion in society, and climate change, to name a few.

The phrase “participation in the discourses of society” is being used more and more to describe the involvement of the Baha’i community in the broad conversations focused on social betterment.

Discourses take place at different levels. Individuals can contribute to discourses in their professions or fields of study. Many individuals and communities are drawn into discourses on issues vital to their neighborhoods and villages. Non-governmental organizations inspired by the Baha’i teachings—for example, in the area of social and economic development—contribute to discourses related to their efforts. The Baha’i community’s formal involvement in discourses related to the well-being and progress of society is facilitated at the national and international levels by offices of external affairs and the Baha’i International Community, respectively.

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