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FEAST MESSAGES

The Blueridge Baháʹí Cluster is located in Virginia in the United States of America and as such fall under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) of the United States . For each of the nineteen Feasts within the calendar year the NSA for the Baháʹís of the United States releases a message for the Baháʹís of the nation. This page reproduces them.

Feast of ‘Azamat 176 B.E.

posted May 15, 2019, 2:49 AM by Charles Thilking

May 16, 2019

 

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of ‘Azamat

 

Dearly loved Friends,

 

Our message comes to you this month in the afterglow of the recently completed 111th US Bahá’í National Convention, which in many of its most satisfying features testified to the progress our community made in advancing the aims of the Five Year Plan in the preceding administrative year.

 

The gathering was pervaded by a special spirit of joy and poignancy, inspired by the Universal House of Justice’s Ridván message conveying news of the worldwide growth and development of the Bahá’í community and sharing the wondrous announcement of the newly inaugurated project to build the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This stirring message created a deeply spiritual atmosphere for substantive discussions about the affairs of the Faith in our country. Highlights of these discussions included the:

 

·         Advancement of additional clusters to the third milestone on the continuum of growth, for a national total of 19an increase of 11 since the beginning of the current Plan and reflecting a worldwide trend about which the House of Justice commented in its Ridván message. One of the most exciting features of these clusters is the participation of hundreds, many of whom are not members of the Faith, in the life of the community. The prospects for other clusters to make notable progress, perhaps in the months between now and the next bicentenary, are promising.

 

·         Steady growththrough a process of regular study, action, and reflectionin the community’s capacity to engage in meaningful conversations on themes of spiritual significance and to walk a path of service with others. As a result, the friends are becoming more and more adept at inviting others into the life of the community, into the sequence of courses, and into collective efforts for the common good. In many clusters, such interactions have led in a natural way to abundant opportunities for direct sharing about Bahá’u’lláh and the Bahá’í teachings, resulting in invitations to formally enroll in the Faith.

 

·         Success in the settling of hundreds of the friends as homefront pioneers or in their serving as visiting tutors among populations that have shown special receptivity to the Bahá’í teachings. Genuinely thrilling progress is being made among peoples with a unique and rich legacy, such as African Americans and American Indians, as well as among newly arrived immigrant populations. Substantive consultation also took place on the potential of the Plan’s framework for action to address issues of race and class in our society.

 

·         Jubilant celebration of the achievement of our $38 million National Bahá’í Fund goal for the fiscal yearanother testament to the vitality and devotion of this greatly blessed community!


 

These are but a few of the highlights of the Convention weekend, as much as we can comfortably fit within the brief span of a letter. We strongly encourage those of you who would like to know more to attend the meetings to report on Convention that will be convened by the delegate(s) from your respective electoral unit. We also encourage you to visit the Convention reportage accessible here (after entering your Bahá’í ID number and password), through the portal at the top of the landing page of our member services website.

 

With hearts uplifted and inspired by the proceedings of this gatheringcentral to our divinely ordained system and its electoral processwe turn our attention, with eager anticipation, to the community’s achievements in the months between now and the bicentenary of the Blessed Báb’s Birth, and to a new momentum in our efforts that will surely result in carrying the Plan to a triumphant conclusion. In all you do, be sure our confidence, our prayers, and our abiding love travel with each and every one of you.

 

                                          With loving Bahá’í greetings,

                                          NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                          THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


                                          Kenneth E. Bowers

                                          Secretary

Feast of Jamál 176 B.E.

posted Apr 26, 2019, 5:24 AM by Charles Thilking


April 27, 2019

 

To the American Bahá’í community

      for the Feast of Jamál

 

Dearest Bahá’í Friends,

 

As the joyous 12-day Festival of Ridván commenced a week ago, the Bahá’í world welcomed with great gladness of heart the Universal House of Justice’s annual message timed for the occasion.

 

Though many of you have already taken time to study and reflect on it, the House of Justice’s message warrants continued study by the entire Bahá’í community, and Feast provides a perfect opportunity to do so. Consultation on your plans and activities for the coming year will surely be illuminated and inspired by this guidance. Though it was previously circulated to the community, we have attached the message for your convenience.

 

We close with warmest and most affectionate Ridván greetings and with our best wishes for a richly rewarding Feast experience.

 

                                      With loving Bahá’í regards,

                                      NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                      THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


                                      Kenneth E. Bowers

                                      Secretary

 

Attachment

Feast of Jalál 176 B.E.

posted Apr 9, 2019, 1:50 AM by Charles Thilking


April 8, 2019

 

 

To the American Bahá’í community

  for the Feast of Jalál

 

Dearly loved Friends,

 

A member of the American Bahá’í community recently wrote to the Universal House of Justice with a question concerning enrollments and the rate of growth in the United States. The query was made in relation to the individual’s service as a delegate to the upcoming Bahá’í National Convention. In response, this National Spiritual Assembly received a very illuminating letter, written on behalf of the Supreme Body and dated March 22, in relation to these issues, and we feel it would be valuable for the entire community to reflect on the guidance provided therein. We are, therefore, pleased to share the content of that letter with you below, redacted only to remove any personal identifiers:

 

A delegate can certainly raise at the National Convention the topic of enrollments.  However, it is important for you to be prepared to ensure any ensuing consultation is carried out in a constructive manner and in light of the experience unfolding within the framework of the Five Year Plan.  When discussed in the abstract, this subject could lead to erroneous assertions about the past as well as fruitless, dichotomous debates that create the appearance of conflict between individual or collective teaching, activities for expansion or those for consolidation, direct or indirect teaching approaches, or one particular method of teaching or another.  Consultation at Convention on the topic of enrollments will only be fruitful if it draws upon the practical experience of the friends working in their clusters to determine what has proven to be most effective to date and where the practical challenges lie.

 

For the friends who are sacrificially promoting the imperatives of the Plan, any decline in the number of enrollments is neither an indication of an increase in apathy or inactivity nor want of receptivity in the general population to the Message of Bahá’u’lláh.  Rather, declarations alone do not provide a sufficient measure of the progress of the Faith in your country or the level of teaching activity within the community.  In the current Five Year Plan, the efforts for expansion and consolidation in your community are unfolding in more than 600 clusters.  Some of these clusters have advanced significantly to the third milestone, where a hundred or more active friends are engaging hundreds of participants, while other clusters have a program of growth that is still at an early stage of development.  Overall, more than 40,000 individuals are participating in core activities, roughly two-thirds of whom are Bahá’ís.  Within each cluster, an expanding nucleus of individuals reflect on their experience and learn over time to extend the scope and increase the effectiveness of their activities.  From the foundation of this experience, the friends are well positioned to accelerate the movement of more and more clusters, multiply core activities, increase participation through outreach to the wider society, and strengthen the process of expansion and consolidationincluding learning to increase the number of new believers.

 

Ultimately, then, any concern about the rate of enrollments, like any other practical challenge that arises in the process of community building, is in the first instance best addressed by the friends in light of their experience in their clusters, where circumstances, resources, approaches, challenges, activities, and results can be considered.  Teaching is the sacred obligation of every believer.  Whether in the course of their daily interactions with friends and colleagues or as part of a teaching team visiting neighbors or in efforts to help a receptive population take charge of its spiritual and material development, the friends are sharing the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in a multitude of meaningful conversations about human nature and the advancement of society.  Just as an individual finds that certain capabilities contribute to effective teaching, so too the friends in a single cluster can collectively ensurethrough training and practical experiencethat all the capacities necessary for effective action in the range of activities essential to progress are increasingly developed.  Depending on experience and needs, learning and action in any given cycle may focus on pursuing specific objectives or resolving different challenges, such as how to engage receptive individuals or populations in elevated discussions that attract their interest, how to multiply core activities and increase participation, and, when timely, how to present the Faith effectively and invite a ready soul to embrace the Faith in a variety of settings, such as devotional gatherings, firesides, or home visits.  It is in this context that the 29 December 2015 message of the House of Justice, in setting out the requirements of the current Plan, offered encouragement for the friends to “become more adept at discerning when they have found a hearing ear, at deciding when to be more direct in sharing the message, at removing obstacles to understanding, and at helping seekers to embrace the Cause.”  In cluster reflection gatherings and other settings, the friends have the opportunity to hear about the exploits of their co-workers in the Cause and learn from one another’s experiences, always abstaining from the quixotic quest for formulaic solutions that results in the community lurching frenetically from one activity to another or from the kind of destructive criticism that prevents the search for solutions to challenges and only cools the desire to serve.

 

In the context of the activities in a cluster, the friends should appreciate certain distinct features of the approach to teaching in neighborhoods where the work is intensifying.  Experience has demonstrated that, in many instances, when introducing community-building activities into a neighborhood or village, an approach that does not emphasize enrollment initially can allow for a wider circle of participation.  Where the implementation of core activities is accompanied with ongoing and rich conversations about associated Bahá’í teachings and the Person of Bahá’u’lláh, the influence of the Faith begins to permeate an ever-broader cross section of the population.  Thus, in a natural and unobtrusive way, a wide array of individuals and families grow in their familiarity with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and the nature of His Mission.  In their own lives and in the life of the community, they begin to witness and experience the transformation that comes from exposure to and interaction with the Word of God, including its practical application.  In such settings, the ways in which individuals will advance in their relationship with the Faith will vary.  There are some who, while appreciating the effect of the core activities on their personal lives and on the life of the community, approach them only as valuable efforts to better social conditions.  For others, however, a close association with the Bahá’í community and an ever-deeper appreciation of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh evoke a profound love for and commitment to the Faith.  Some may spontaneously request enrollment or readily respond to an invitation.  Others, viewing themselves as completely at one with the Bahá’í community, might express the desire to join the Faith through eagerness to participate in the full range of Bahá’í activities, including those dimensions of community life that are only open to Bahá’ís, such as Nineteen Day Feasts, the Fund, or the electoral process.

 

The National Spiritual Assembly will lovingly and with deepest gratitude offer prayers in the sacred environs of the Mother Temple of the West for all those who are nobly pursuing the aims of the current Planin such a wide variety of settingsthat they may ever be blessed and sustained in their patient, determined, and devoted efforts.

 

                                                               With loving Bahá’í greetings,

 

                                                               NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                                               THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


Kenneth E. Bowers

Secretary

Feast of Bahá 176 B.E.

posted Mar 20, 2019, 1:19 AM by Charles Thilking


March 20, 2019

 

To the American Bahá’í community

      for the Feast of Bahá

 

Dearest Bahá’í Friends,

 

With deepest love, we offer you our most joyous greetings on the occasion of Naw-Rúz! As we begin a new Bahá’í year filled with wondrous possibilities, be assured our prayers for your happiness and well-being remain unceasing, our gratitude for your efforts in the path of service to the Beloved of the World profound.

 

This will be a year of special spiritual potency. At its midpoint, the Bahá’í world will, with great festivity, commemorate the second of the two bicentenaries we have had the unique privilege of celebrating in the course of this historic Five Year Plan. With the 200th anniversary of the Blessed Báb’s Birth now just six months away, it is fitting that we call to mind guidance from the Universal House of Justice received in its message of June 1 last year. Noting the two-year interval between the two bicentenaries, the Supreme Body advised that:

 

Preparations for the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb should be undertaken with a recognition that the festivities marking this anniversary have a special context. They will occur just two years after the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, and the Báb was of course the Herald of Bahá’u’lláh. Before and after the first bicentenary, the believers engaged family, friends, and acquaintances of all kinds in conversations about the life and teachings of the Blessed Beauty, and the conversations which occur in connection with the upcoming anniversary will in many ways be an extension of these, centering on both of the Faith's Twin Founders. For the greatness of this Day, this “matchless Day” extolled by Bahá’u’lláh, is evident from the fact that its advent was announced by two divine Manifestations, Whose Birthdays are “accounted as one in the sight of God.”

 

To aid your continuing preparations for this sacred event, the Bicentenary Resources website (at www.bahai.us/bicentenary-resources), launched two years ago in advance of the first bicentenary, has been brought up to date with new guidance and the addition of resources pertaining to the Birth of the Báb. The site brings together in one place relevant guidance from the Universal House of Justice, answers to frequently asked questions, and links to media and arts resources. Throughout the spring and summer, it will be regularly updated with stories from communities with creative plans to commemorate this historic occasion in ways that reinforce and advance community-building efforts underway in localities everywhere. We invite you to submit your plans and ideas through the Resource site or by emailing us (at bicentenary@bahai.us). On the site, you can also subscribe to receive alerts when new material is posted.

 

We are also delighted to share with you a compilation on prayer and the devotional life, specially prepared at the request of the Universal House of Justice. In a letter introducing the compilation to all National Spiritual Assemblies, the Supreme Body noted the many signs of the enrichment of the devotional life of the community apparent throughout the Bahá’í world. The House of Justice expressed its hope the compilation would “add further


stimulus to this signal development” and “help the friends take full advantage of the period of special potency during which the bicentennial anniversaries of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb are commemorated,” and that it would also “be of assistance to individuals, families, and communities as they strive to evoke the spirit of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the creation of occasions where any soul may inhale the divine fragrances, experience the elevating power of prayer, and be drawn together with others in fellowship and common cause.”

 

The compilation will be available from the Bahá’í Distribution Service as a 54-page bound book within a few days; meanwhile it can be downloaded by accessing this link.

 

May the year ahead bring new light and joy to all whose hearts are afire with love for the Promised One Whose coming was heralded by the Báb. May all whose souls are receptive be given the chance to hear of His advent and be attracted to His Word. May all who join together to create a new world founded on His teachings be blessed and confirmed.

 

                                          With loving Bahá’í greetings,

                                          NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                          THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


                                          Kenneth E. Bowers

                                          Secretary

Feast of ‘Alá’ B.E 175

posted Mar 16, 2019, 6:15 PM by Charles Thilking   [ updated Mar 16, 2019, 6:24 PM ]


March 1, 2019

To the American Bahá’í community
for the Feast of ‘Alá’

Dearly loved Friends,

As we gather tonight to joyfully celebrate this Feast, we are likewise mindful that, at sunrise tomorrow, our annual season of fasting will commence. Fasting is, of course, essentially a symbolic act through which we affirm, through our willingness to forgo food and drink during the hours of daylight, the strength of our love for the Creator and fidelity to His law. But the fasting season has other purposes: it is a time richly spiritually endowed, a time for drawing closer to the Almighty through prayer and reflection.

Perhaps one subject we would do well to contemplate is the remarkable growth and development of our Faith over a span of less than two centuries―a brief moment when measured against the lifetime of the stars! From the first glimmerings of its bright light in the stultifying darkness of 19th-century Persia to the planting of its banner of unity and oneness in the far corners of the earth, the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh has given rise in these first 175 years of its existence to an organized worldwide community of devoted adherents fired by a shared vision of a new social order founded on simple yet profound spiritual principles, honoring all as members of a single and indivisible human family.

The question of precisely how to translate this vision into living, breathing reality has been answered by the Plans of the Universal House of Justice that have taken us through the last several decades. In the community’s arrangement into regions and clusters, in the steady development of the institute process, in the multiplying far and wide of a set of core activities, in the furtherance of programs of growth, in the launching of efforts at the grass roots to respond to social and economic needs, we are evolving a practical, workable system to reach out to and embrace multitudes of our bewildered and despairing fellow citizens, to familiarize them with our goals, and to welcome their contributions to our efforts to build the world anew, neighborhood by neighborhood.

These efforts and the many more that support them all require a continuous flow of funds, which serve as their sustenance, their very lifeblood. The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, expressed this idea in many of his letters:

The supply of funds, in support of the national Treasury, constitutes, at the present time, the lifeblood of these nascent institutions which you are laboring to erect. Its importance cannot surely be overestimated. Untold blessings shall no doubt crown every effort directed to that end.

Dear friends, as we enter the month of March, contributions to our National Fund stand at about $28.3 million, some $ 9.7 million short of our goal of $38 million with eight weeks remaining in the fiscal year. This means we will need contributions of nearly one-and-a-quarter-million dollars a week―a formidable figure―to fulfill our goal.

Let us reflect a moment on the metaphor of blood. Without the oxygen and nutrients the blood carries to them, our vital organs would before long falter and cease to function. Without a constant flow of life-giving funds―and the spirit of devotion and sacrifice that
provides them―the institutions of our Faith and their many agencies would be without means to carry out their plans and activities, vital to the continuing advancement of our Faith and realization of the vision of a unified, peaceful, and just world civilization the Blessed Beauty gave to humanity at such profound cost to Himself.

Let us not be the ones to fail Him; let us, instead, rally the same devotion, faithfulness, ingenuity, and enterprise that have time and again attracted Divine confirmations and blessings, enabling our storied community to surmount so many past hurdles. We can and will do it! 

Our confidence in you is boundless, our prayers for the great success of your efforts constant and earnest.

With our love and deepest admiration,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES 


 
Juana C. Conrad
Treasurer

Feast of Kamál 175 B.E.

posted Jul 31, 2018, 10:09 AM by Charles Thilking

July 31, 2018

 

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of Kamál

 

Dearly loved Friends,

 

In January of this year, we published the third in a series of letters exploring the situation in our country―especially the continuing struggle against racial injustice― and the nature of our response as Baháís. These three letters aimed at understanding our teaching work and the quest for justice as interrelated elements of a single all- encompassing process set in motion by the Blessed Beauty, to be realized through our prosecution of the successive Plans formulated by the Universal House of Justice.”

 

In our message for the Feast of Kalimát, we joyfully shared stories of a handful of the hundreds who have arisen to serve as homefront pioneers in the course of the current Plan, most having elected to serve among populations of historic significancesuch as American Indians and African Americansor among those who have recently arrived on our shores. These intrepid souls have, in addition to an abiding faith in Baháulláh, taken along with them resources and understandings that will increasingly empower the noble peoples they have chosen to befriend to take full charge of their own spiritual

advancement and to make their destined contributions to the creation of an all-embracing, unifying world order based on principles of divine justice.

 

We have observed with pleasure that an increasing number of Baháís are becoming conscious of the connection between social justice and their efforts to further the Plan. In a recently conducted survey, the friends reported on some 2,000 efforts with an

explicit bearing on racial unity. These ranged from work with children and junior youth, to hosting devotional gatherings centered on the theme, to participation in varying

forms of social action, to engagement with others in discussions about race. We have no doubt, moreover, that there are many more such activities that were not reported.

 

These friends, as might be expected, manifest great differences in experience, and the impact of their efforts as a result varies widely. Even if this were not the case, we are simply too few in numbers at present to effect a transformation national in scope. But our communitys potential for focused effort remains far from having been fully tapped. The enthusiasm of many believers for such service and their readiness to engage in such a challenging and vitally important task in a manner coherent with the framework for action presents us with an unparalleled opportunity to learn how to become more and more effective at it in the years ahead.

 

Willingness to learn is fundamental to our progress. As the Universal House of Justice reminded us in a letter addressed to an individual believer:

 

Among the important lessons garnered over the past two decades is that, by focusing on insights derived from the most advanced and successful activities rather than by focusing on shortcomings and weaknesses, the community can come to understand what constitutes effective action and learn to disseminate the knowledge gained. Another lesson is how to approach the development of human resources in a manner that can efficiently multiply efforts and empower those who were previously left on the margins, or were otherwise unengaged, to become protagonists of a process of community building and social change. . . . Consider, for example, the development of the junior youth spiritual empowerment program. Years ago, it was a mere concept; today it reaches hundreds of thousands and is having a profound impact on the villages, neighborhoods, islands, and schools where it is being vigorously implemented. This capacity for social transformation, increasingly being realized in the most advanced clusters, encompasses not just the work of community building but also the engagement of the believers, both in the discourses of society in all accessible social spaces as well as in projects of social and economic development.

 

As the Supreme Body emphasized in its counsel to that same individual, the American Baháí community is committed to a path of systematic action and learning, involving community building, social action, and participation in the discourses of society, from which the community will never withdraw until the problems of race are completely resolved, no matter how long and difficult the path may be.”

 

We look forward with eager anticipation to the discoveries and wondrous learning your continuing efforts to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men” will yield. Be assured of our warm and abiding love and unceasing prayers for your guidance, confirmation, and great success.

 

With loving Baháí greetings, NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


Kenneth E. Bowers

Secretary

Feast of Sultán 174 B.E.

posted Jan 17, 2018, 4:45 AM by Charles Thilking

    [Editor's Note: No Feast Message for Month of Sharaf]

 
January 17, 2018

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of Sultán

Dearly loved Friends,

Our hearts rejoice in the numerous reports we continue to receive from believers across the country, telling of their efforts to celebrate the Bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s Birth and of the confirmations they have experienced. Especially encouraging are their accounts of the ways they built relationships with others in the months leading up to the Twin Holy Birthdays and of their efforts since to strengthen these nascent bonds of unity through shared worship, study of the teachings, and service.

We share with you the following half-dozen examples from the many hundreds of stories we have received:

“Since being involved with our bicentenary events, friends that had been attending our regular devotions noticeably drew closer to the Faith. There was evidence that their hearts were deeply touched and some have advised they are seriously pondering joining the Faith. . . . Other friends, who have been friendly with Bahá’ís but never attended our events, stated they had no idea of the depth of the Faith or of who Bahá’u’lláh was before attending; after, they were notably impressed. We are
hopeful they, too, will begin attending our regular gatherings. The bicentenary events assisted us both in planting new seeds and in nourishing our tender plants. We are very hopeful about the future.”

“We went from dead to alive and we are now a magnet of unity working with active people in different communities from all over the Cluster on a variety of projects and seeker follow-up. [This includes] service to newly arrived refugees who would have been lost to the Faith if we had not found them, welcomed them, [and] assisted them through service―like getting their children registered for school, assisting with getting driver’s licenses, and what to look for when buying a used car. . . . We are building a network of friendships that cross community borders and supporting each other’s local initiatives.”

“Individuals have made contacts with neighbors and friends of the Faith sharing information about the Bicentenary events. Children in a children's class in a receptive neighborhood practiced singing songs in class, then presented them at the celebration. Their parents (all friends of the Faith) attended the event and were very happy to see their children participate!”

“Here is an example of a thank-you letter from friends of the Faith who attended the
Gala Celebration:
‘Dear Bahá’í Community, [We] want to thank you for the lovely evening celebrating the 200th anniversary of the births of the Báb and the Bahá’u’lláh. It was such a wonderful evening and we always find such peace in the Bahá’í
community. . . . I have been reading “The Promise of World Peace” and a “Gift of
Prayers” (from the table that evening). The prophets of God are like teachers and
the whole world is like a child. Different teachers come at different times in our
lives. “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” We must be the change.
Thank you again for a very inspiring evening.’”

“For the first time ever, I invited people from all the following categories: friends, family, neighbors, co-workers―and I went door to door. The last week before the event I tried to invite one person or family a day. As a result, I had many, many conversations about the Person of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bahá’í Faith on a level that was unprecedented for me as an individual. I felt the presence of the Supreme Concourse. And my grandmother―who we spent decades too scared to even invite to a Bahá’í gathering―not only came, but invited some of her friends to come. This was HUGE in building family unity.”

“We have been blessed this year―with so many contacts, seeking souls, friends of the Faith, new activities launched just to handle the inquiries and friendships made, they are too numerous to write about. I am 63 years old, born into a Bahá’í family as a fourth-generation Bahá’í, and I have never experienced a year such as this! We started [our efforts] early, in late September of 2016 when the Universal House of Justice wrote to us about the upcoming celebrations and asked us to consult on how to properly celebrate them and to not make [them] just one event. We have not stopped since and will not stop. It’s as if a new culture was born of service, accompaniment, and teaching. Every aspect of our community has been touched― from the functioning of the LSA, to core activities, to teaching and an outreach to the greater . . . community reaping enormous spiritual benefits and growth in our community. We have had more declarations this year than I can ever remember. Bahá’u’lláh unleashed a power so great this Bicentennial year that it has been palpable!”

We hope these accounts, typical of many we are receiving, will underscore for us all the growing receptivity of our fellow-citizens to the Revelation of the Blessed Beauty and help keep the spirit of teaching alive during this continuing “period of special potency.” Be assured of our deepest affection for each and every one of you, of our boundless confidence in your abilities, and of our unceasing prayers for your great success in the exciting weeks and months that lie ahead.

With loving Bahá’í greetings, 
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES




Kenneth E. Bowers
Secretary

Feast of Qawl 174 B.E.

posted Dec 18, 2017, 3:58 AM by Charles Thilking


November 21, 2017

 

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of Qawl

 

Dearest Bahá’í Friends,

 

On the last day of October, as the joyfulness of the month’s commemorations of the Bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth continued to reverberate across the globe, the Bahá’í world welcomed a special message from the Universal House of Justice expressing its great gladness with the manifold reports of these events it was receiving.

 

Though many of you have already taken time to study and reflect on it, you will, we feel sure, recognize that the House of Justice’s message warrants a careful shared reading by the entire Bahá’í community, and this Feast provides a perfect opportunity to do so.

 

We therefore strongly recommend that the Supreme Body’s message be read and discussed during the time customarily set aside at Feast for the sharing of and consultation on our monthly letter. Though it was previously circulated to the community, we have attached the message for your convenience.

 

We close with warmest and most affectionate greetings and with our best wishes for a richly rewarding Feast experience.

 

                                   With loving Bahá’í regards,

                                   NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                   THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES

                                   


                                    Kenneth E. Bowers

                                   Secretary

 

Attachment

 

Feast of Qudrat 174 B.E.

posted Oct 31, 2017, 7:13 AM by Charles Thilking

November 2, 2017

 

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of Qudrat

 

Dearly loved Friends,

 

Though the jubilant nationwide commemorations of the 200th anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth are now some days behind us, memories of their vibrancy linger. Reports are just beginning to be received of the ingenuity, festiveness, poignancy, and reverence with which Bahá’í communities in localities across the land observed this historic and never-to‑be-repeated occasion.

 

As we collectively pause, “tired but blissful,” to reflect on the remarkable variety, beauty, and meaningfulness of the events we createdcelebrations whose joyful reverberations are still being felt far and wide by large numbers of our friends and neighborswe must surely be inspired to warm appreciation for and gratitude to our fellow believers for their sharing with us, side by side, the long months of consultation, careful planning, creativity, and assiduous effort it took to transform concepts, designs, and schemes into impressive reality. Be certain this Assembly fully joins you in this loving appreciation and gratitude.

 

Many of our offices here at the Bahá’í National Center likewise worked throughout the year to ensure your efforts were strongly supported and supplemented. While one team worked diligently to build a rich interactive website stocked with an abundance of useful advice, planning aids, and publicity materials, another painstakingly put the finishing touches on The Bahá'ís, a comprehensive magazine-like presentation of the Faith’s history and essential teachings. Still other offices attended to the translationinto three other languagesof the narrative of Light to the World, the documentary film commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, and to the DVD’s swift distribution to the community.

 

These are but a few examples of the wonderful spirit of unity and accord with which our entire national community rose to the occasion of the Bicentenary and did all in its power to honor it and to exploit its vast potential for making our Faith better known to our fellow-citizens. But the achieving of such splendid results obviously did not come without a costas do all our activities. This simple but powerful truth was perfectly conveyed by the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in his observation that “the progress and execution of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means.”

 

Friends, we mention this principle because, at this writing, with virtually half our fiscal year complete, the status of our National Bahá’í Fund is again considerably short of expectations, with contributions standing at about $12.8 million, slightly more than a third of our goal of $36 million for the year. Put another way, with just six months remaining in our fiscal year, we will need more than $23 millioncontributions of roughly $4 million each calendar monthto meet our goal.

 

Experience has shown us we can do it. The power of our determination, our enthusiasm, our creativity, our spirit of enterprise, and our readiness to sacrifice has many times enabled us to surmount more formidable mountains.

 

As we take time to savor the triumphant results of our efforts to ensure that the Bicentenary of the King of Glory’s birth was befittingly celebratedlet us draw such firm resolve and renewed energy from what we have accomplished as to propel us not only to win our goal but to far surpass it!

 

Our admiration and gratitude for all you do to advance this Cause knows no bounds. Our prayers for your happiness, well-being, and great success are ardent and constant.

 

                                             With loving Bahá’í greetings,

                                             NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF

                                             THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


                                             Juana C. Conrad

                                             Treasurer

Feast of ‘Ilm B.E. 174

posted Oct 13, 2017, 5:08 AM by Charles Thilking


October 14, 2017

To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of ‘Ilm

Dearly loved Friends,

With the bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth just days away, we take the opportunity of your gatherings for this Feast to recall the hopes and expectations the Universal House of Justice has expressed for the joyous celebrations about to commence. In its letter to the Bahá’ís of the world on May 18, 2016, the Supreme Body, referring to commemorations of both of the Twin Holy Birthdays, wrote:

At the heart of these festivities must be 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. Of course, this will take different forms in different contexts, extending to a myriad artistic and cultural expressions, including songs, audio-visual presentations, publications and books. Such initiatives, coupled with widespread celebrations that are both uplifting and reverent, are also sure to spark the curiosity and wonder of many who may as yet be unfamiliar with the names of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. However, the real transformative power of the Faith is likely to be perceived more readily still if people experience how worship and meaningful service are being woven into the fabric of the lives of Bahá’ís everywhere. Indeed, from the community-building activities of the Five Year Plan emerges a pattern of collective life within which anyone can discern the vivifying influence of the divine teachings brought by God’s Manifestations. Each bicentenary will doubtless kindle a spirit of faithful endeavour that will permeate all the noble undertakings of the friends. . . .

The steps taken during these months, and the achievements that come as a result, will constitute an offering of ardent love, yielded collectively to Him Who is the Unifier of the world on the bicentenary of His Birth. The spiritual forces that are sure to be released on that auspicious occasion will do much to spur the friends into action as they commence the eight cycles that lie between the two bicentenaries, during which the greatest share of the effort needed to fulfill the goal of the Plan will be required.

We eagerly await news of the ways in which your activities both leading up to and including the literally thousands of upcoming celebrations―as well as stories of the relationships you have either begun or deepened with friends and contacts―will have demonstrated wholehearted efforts to fulfill the express desires of the House of Justice.

To this end, we will, immediately following the bicentenary weekend, be sending out a survey requesting Local Spiritual Assemblies to report on the events they sponsored ―and individuals to describe the activities they initiated―in connection with this sacred and historic occasion. Highlights of the survey will be published as soon as possible thereafter. Please be sure to respond and to encourage others to do so as well.

With hearts filled with loving gratitude, happily anticipating our learning about the fruits of your devoted efforts, we close with these words from the Lawh-i-Mawlúd (Tablet of the Birth) in which Bahá’u’lláh lauds the significance of His own appearance in the world:

O Concourse of the seen and the unseen! Rejoice with exceeding gladness in your hearts and souls, for the night hath come for the harvesting of the ages and the gathering up of past cycles, the night wherein all days and nights were called into being and the time preordained for this Revelation was fulfilled at the behest of Him Who is the Lord of might and power. All joy to the Concourse on high at the appearance of so glorious, so wondrous a Spirit!

Our warmest affection, our great pride in your achievements, and our ardent prayers for your happiness and well-being accompany you in all you do.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES
 
Kenneth E. Bowers
Secretary

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