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(Haifa, 20 October 2008)

In the House of Justice’s latest message to the Bahá’ís of the world dated 20 October, coinciding with the joyous Celebration of the Birth of the Báb, we learn that our Supreme Institution is turning their hearts “in frequent prayer to Baha’u’llah” and beseeching Him “to strengthen His followers through His unfailing grace.” We have thus each been given yet another golden opportunity to respond to the desire of our Lord! After describing the “twofold character” of “the challenge facing the friends”, and linking it to the “further decline” and “lamentable condition of the present [old world order]”, the letter continues (see the whole of it, unmarked, further down):

In such moments, we implore Him to illumine their souls with the light of knowledge and faith. Let them not underestimate the power inherent in the system they are putting in place for the propagation of His Faith, nor mistake the true purpose of the global enterprise on which they have embarked. Let them not deviate from the path of learning on which they are set, nor be distracted by the ephemeral pursuits of a bewildered society. Let them not fail to appreciate the value of the culture now taking root in the community that promotes the systematic study of the Creative Word in small groups in order to build capacity for service. Let them never forget the imperative to tend to the needs of the children of the world and offer them lessons that develop their spiritual faculties and lay the foundations of a noble and upright character. Let them come to realize the full significance of their efforts to help young people form a strong moral identity in their early adolescent years and empower them to contribute to the well-being of their communities. And let them rejoice at having learned through consistent, systematic action how to establish a rhythm of growth that pays due attention to the essential elements of expansion, consolidation, reflection and planning. May they one and all be endowed with constancy and fidelity and be granted the courage to make whatever sacrifices are needed to ensure the resounding success of the Plan. By the rectitude of their conduct, the sincerity of their love for their fellow human beings, and the ardour of their desire to serve the peoples of the world, may they vindicate the truth proclaimed by Baha’u’llah that humanity is one. May they be diligent in their efforts to establish ties of friendship that show no regard for prevalent social barriers and ceaselessly endeavour to bind hearts together in the love of God. That they may recognize the profound implications of their mission is our fervent hope. That they may not falter in accomplishing their ambitious goals, no matter how severe the crises engulfing the world around them, is our most heartfelt prayer at the Sacred Threshold.

Are we ready? One simple way to respond is to attend one of the special conferences the House has called for in each region:

We urge the believers, both those fully engaged in executing the provisions of the Plan and those whose circumstances have prevented them from fulfilling their desire to do so until now, to avail themselves of this opportunity and attend the conference to be held in their area [as much to celebrate the feats already achieved during the Plan as to deliberate on its current exigencies].

But even if we miss it, there are ever new gatherings convened by the Faith’s national, regional and cluster agencies through which we can fulfill our pledge to build the new Order of Bahá’u’lláh, one small step at a time!

An overview of the conferences with reports can be found here: http://news.bahai.org/community-news/regional-conferences/

* * * * * *

Volunteers serving at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel, representing a cross section of the nationalities, races, ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds around the world who have declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh.

* * * * * *

All praise, O my God, be to Thee Who art the Source of all glory and majesty, of greatness and honor, of sovereignty and dominion, of loftiness and grace, of awe and power. Whomsoever Thou willest Thou causest to draw nigh unto the Most Great Ocean, and on whomsoever Thou desirest Thou conferrest the honor of recognizing Thy Most Ancient Name. Of all who are in heaven and on earth, none can withstand the operation of Thy sovereign Will. From all eternity Thou didst rule the entire creation, and Thou wilt continue for evermore to exercise Thy dominion over all created things. There is none other God but Thee, the Almighty, The Most Exalted, the All-Powerful, the All-Wise.
Illumine, O Lord, the faces of Thy servants, that they may behold Thee; and cleanse their hearts that they may turn unto the court of Thy heavenly favors, and recognize Him Who is the Manifestation of Thy Self and the Dayspring of Thine Essence. Verily, Thou art the Lord of all worlds. There is no God but Thee, the Unconstrained, the All-Subduing.

– Bahá’u’lláh, BP 120-21

* * * * * *

BAHÁ’Í WORLD CENTRE

20 October 2008

To the Baha’is of the World

Dearly loved Friends,

Today, the anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, marks the midway point of
the five-year enterprise that will engage the Baha’i world until Ridvan 2011.
We bow our heads in humble gratitude to Baha’u’llah for the favours and
confirmations He has vouchsafed unto those labouring so diligently and
sacrificially in the forefront of the teaching work. Since the conclusion of
the Tenth International Baha’i Convention a few months ago, there has been
a rise in awareness of the efficacy of the framework governing the operation of
the Five Year Plan as insights gained by the delegates have been widely
diffused throughout the Baha’i community…

The challenge facing the friends in these and all clusters continues to be
twofold in character. While learning to identify receptive segments of society
and share with responsive souls the message of the Faith–an aspiration
generally not difficult to fulfil–they are striving to understand in practice
how the diverse elements of a healthy pattern of growth, particularly
the development of human resources, are to be integrated into a cohesive whole. How heartening it is to see that the moment the friends in a cluster begin to meet this dual challenge, immediate progress is achieved; the goal of launching an intensive programme of growth becomes imminently attainable.

That the continued strengthening of the community should be matched by a
further decline in the old world order comes as no surprise. Indeed, the
friends should be on their guard, lest the development of capacity in the
community not keep pace with the rise in receptivity of a disillusioned
humanity. Behold how even in the short span of time since we raised this
warning in our Ridvan message, financial structures once thought to be
impregnable have tottered and world leaders have shown their inability to
devise more than temporary solutions, a failing to which they increasingly
confess. Whatever expedient measures are adopted, confidence has been shaken and a sense of security lost. Surely such developments have caused the believers in every land to reflect on the lamentable condition of the present order and have reinforced in them the conviction that material and spiritual civilization must be advanced together.

It is with these thoughts in mind that we turn our hearts in frequent
prayer to Baha’u’llah and beseech Him to strengthen His followers through His unfailing grace. In such moments, we implore Him to illumine their souls with the light of knowledge and faith. Let them not underestimate the power
inherent in the system they are putting in place for the propagation of His

Faith, nor mistake the true purpose of the global enterprise on which they have embarked. Let them not deviate from the path of learning on which they are set, nor be distracted by the ephemeral pursuits of a bewildered society. Let them not fail to appreciate the value of the culture now taking root in the community that promotes the systematic study of the Creative Word in small groups in order to build capacity for service. Let them never forget the imperative to tend to the needs of the children of the world and offer them lessons that develop their spiritual faculties and lay the foundations of a noble and upright character. Let them come to realize the full significance of their efforts to help young people form a strong moral identity in their early adolescent years and empower them to contribute to the well-being of their communities. And let them rejoice at having learned through consistent, systematic action how to establish a rhythm of growth that pays due attention to the essential elements of expansion, consolidation, reflection and planning. May they one and all be endowed with constancy and fidelity and be granted the courage to make whatever sacrifices are needed to ensure the resounding success of the Plan. By the rectitude of their conduct, the sincerity of their love for their fellow human beings, and the ardour of their desire to serve the peoples of the world, may they vindicate the truth proclaimed by Baha’u’llah that humanity is one. May they be diligent in their efforts to establish ties of friendship that show no regard for prevalent social barriers and ceaselessly endeavour to bind hearts together in the love of God. That they may recognize the profound implications of their mission is our fervent hope. That they may not falter in accomplishing their ambitious goals, no matter how severe the crises engulfing the world around them, is our most heartfelt prayer at the Sacred Threshold.

To provide the opportunity for the friends to gather together, as much to celebrate the feats already achieved during the Plan as to deliberate on its current exigencies, we announce the convocation of a series of regional conferences, forty-one in number, to be held in the following cities between November and March: Abidjan, Accra, Almaty, Antofagasta, Atlanta, Auckland, Baku, Bangalore, Bangui, Battambang, Bologna, Bukavu, Chicago, Dallas, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Kiev, Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Lae, London, Los Angeles, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, Madrid, Managua, Manila, Nakuru, New Delhi, Portland, Quito, Sao Paulo, Stamford, Sydney, Toronto, Ulaanbaatar, Vancouver, Yaounde. To each of these conferences, two members of the International Teaching Centre will be sent as our representatives… We urge the believers, both those fully engaged in
executing the provisions of the Plan and those whose circumstances have
prevented them from fulfilling their desire to do so until now, to avail
themselves of this opportunity and attend the conference to be held in their
area.

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]

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