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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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2019

October 9, 2019

October’s bookclub meeting included discussions of several books presented by individual members. Two members brought the same book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. This book looks at the criminal justice system by following the story of an African-American man on death row, with a focus on injustice in sentencing and imprisonment, especially regarding the death penalty. Readers found it readable and very informative, but challenging due to the upsetting nature of its subject.

The second presentation was the August 18, 2019 issue of the New York Times Magazine, which focuses exclusively on the 1619 Project. The goal of this project is to re-examine the legacy of slavery in our country, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the arrival in America of the first slaves. Its stated goals include telling the story of America truthfully, and learning accurate history as foundational to America’s identity. It also examines and catalogs contributions coming from the portion of Americans who were brought here involuntarily and their descendants.

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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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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2019

September 11, 2019

At September’s meeting, members discussed The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez. This is a story about two immigrant families who become connected in unexpected ways through the relationships of their teenage children. The characters in the story hailed from several countries in South and Central America and described the close-knit community they formed in their new American home. The reasons for immigrating were as varied and diverse as the characters and their traditions and culture provided an intimate view of Latinos living in America. It was revealing to see how some Hispanic immigrants view Americans and how immigrants, in turn, are viewed by their American neighbors.

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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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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for July 2019

July 11, 2019

July’s meeting was a consultation on how the bookclub will proceed for the next several months. The discussion was animated and lively. Although the group did not initially decide on a theme, after picking several books we noticed that many of the suggestions are about migration or displaced people in various parts of the world. There were so many book title suggestions that we have decided to offer two (2) books per month. For each month members can read either book, and then discuss the book with the club. We decided to continue to have Personal Choice selections for some months.

The upcoming schedule is as follows:

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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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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for June 2019

June 12, 2019

June’s meeting was a discussion of the book Becoming by Michelle Obama. Most members were able to finish the book, but a couple came to hear about it in advance of reading it. Response to the book was overwhelmingly positive. Readers felt that Ms. Obama was a good writer, portraying events clearly as seen through her eyes, with power, honesty, and grace. They felt the book was easy to read and well worth the time.

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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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