Message from the National Spiritual Assembly to Unit Conventions, 24 January 2018

Posted: 2018/01/26

To the Bahá’ís of Canada

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

In its Ridván 2017 message, the Universal House of Justice spoke of the year of the bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s Birth as “the single greatest worldwide opportunity there has ever been for connecting hearts to Bahá’u’lláh.” We were called to be mindful and alert to this precious opportunity, giving “creative thought to the conversation that could now unfold with every kind of person.”

In response to a series of messages to the believers and their collaborators, the National Spiritual Assembly began to hear inspiring stories of your determination to arise and seize this moment, so full of grace. You took to heart the need for a “concerted effort to convey a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world”[i]. Conscious of the transformative effect of weaving worship and service together, you reached out to a wide cross-section of society, inviting old and new-found friends to community-building activities and to the celebration of the Twin Holy Days.

By our closest count, at least 30,000 souls celebrated the Glory of God in a myriad intimate, creative, inspiring ways across Canada. As was the case worldwide, in many of these spaces guests outnumbered the Bahá’ís. Let us imagine for a moment what occurred, how many conversations took place and where, for this unprecedented number to have assembled.

In many cases, this movement had its beginnings in your efforts to make a simple list of friends and neighbours, to which you returned over many months. In workplaces and school corridors, over dinner tables and at coffee shops, at Feasts and in devotional gatherings a conversation born of a simple strand of love for Bahá’u’lláh and a desire to translate that love into action, deepened. Indeed, one of the friends described these conversations across the land as parts of one song, one symphony that gathered strength and power as the bicentenary approached. In the last few weeks before the Twin Holy Days, the tempo quickened, with long-planned celebrations finalized and others quickly taking shape.

Though indeed countless, we know from experience that for over 30,000 lovers of Bahá’u’lláh, seekers of truth, builders of community, friends and family to have gathered around the weekend of the Holy Days, well over 100,000 conversations took place. It is to both the circle of friends who celebrated together, and to this larger circle with whom you have already connected that we now turn our attention. As you reflect on the implications for the progress of the Cause, drawing on the 31 October 2017 message of the Universal House of Justice and the 2017 Ridván message, your experience, insights and recommendations will inform the delegates to this year’s National Convention.

  • The numbers of 30,000 participants in the celebrations and 100,000 who were invited represent your lists of friends and family, connections you already have, potential protagonists in the community-building process. A protagonist is a central figure, a leader, a hero. What does this vision imply? In what practical ways does it affect our actions?
  • A large proportion of those who celebrated the Glory of God were Canada’s youth, of every background. What is needed to support the widening circle of young ones who long to arise to serve?
  • Among the capacities that have developed in the community are the ability to act with intensity and purpose; to work together in groups, plan and organize; to invite and welcome friends and strangers alike; to teach directly, confidently and systematically. How will these capacities be channeled to continue expanding in each of the seven cycles that remain until the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb?
  • The human resources and material means required for this next stage will be substantial, and are linked. “The act of contributing to the Fund, then, is imbued with profound meaning: it is a practical way of hastening the advent of that civilization, and a necessary one, for as Bahá’u’lláh Himself has explained, ‘He Who is the Eternal Truth—exalted be His glory—hath made the fulfilment of every undertaking on earth dependent on material means.’”[ii] What is needed to nurture a deeper appreciation of the responsibility for all believers “to support the work of the Faith through their own means and, further, to manage their financial affairs in the light of the teachings to contribute to the Funds of the Faith”[iii]?

Dear friends, the House of Justice refers to the fortitude that will be required in the coming months to water the seeds you have planted and nurtured. Definitions of the word “fortitude” include reference to courage, endurance, resilience, the strength to withstand adversity. In the human body, periods of rapid growth are both full of promise and challenging. In your efforts this last year the National Assembly has seen, with humble gratitude to Him who sustains you, your ability to breathe in the fragrances of guidance, act on it with focus and faithfulness, and face challenges with confidence and creativity. The new and promising landscape in Canada is in the hands of experienced, enkindled gardeners.

You are in our prayers at all times, and we look eagerly forward to news of your deliberations at the unit conventions.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

[signed: Karen McKye, Secretary]

[i] 18 May 2016, Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies

[ii] 29 December 2015, Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors

[iii] ibid