The following article is from bahai.org.Photo of Delegates to the first International Bahá’í Convention in Haifa, in front of the International Archives Building, May 1963 © 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.