Australian Baha'i Sites

Shining the beacon of hope – Reflections on our role in the current Plan 

In 1953, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, facilitated a global Plan called the Ten Year Crusade, calling on the friends to share the unifying message of Baha’u’llah across the world. As well as being a time when the Baha’i World Centre’s administrative institutions were developed, this unprecedented global effort saw Baha’is everywhere arise to open new territories to the Faith and consolidate regions where the community-building work had already begun. 

During the Ten Year Crusade, more than 130 countries were opened to the Faith, Houses of Worship were established in Sydney (Australia), Kampala (Uganda), and Frankfurt (Germany), more than 50 National Spiritual Assemblies were established, temple sites were obtained across the world, and significant developments were made in Baha’i literature. It was also at the close of the crusade that the Universal House of Justice was established. All of these developments (plus many, many more) were thanks to the foresight of the Guardian, and the unwavering dedication and sacrifice of the Baha’is. 

This month, I was fortunate enough to attend a two-day conference for the assistants to the Auxiliary Board members serving Victoria and Tasmania. Auxiliary Board members serve specific geographical areas and territories within each continental region. Together with the Counsellors and the Auxiliary Board assistants, they work to stimulate the growth and vibrancy of the Baha’i community, promoting the development of its spiritual, intellectual, and social life.  

Assistants to the Auxiliary Board members serving Victoria and Tasmania gather at Victoria’s Mount Morton Conference facility.

As I gathered with the assistants from across the region, we reflected on the enormous devotion and love exhibited by those early Baha’is more than 70 years ago – those who sacrificed every comfort in a bid to build a better world. We reflected on the courageous and inspiring stories of the Hands of the Cause of God, those appointed by Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi to oversee the propagation and protection of the Faith, and who were responsible for continuing the work of the Ten Year Crusade following the Guardian’s passing in 1957.

It is time for each of us to think about our role over the coming years, and how through our work, in our communities, and in the institutions we serve, we can reach beyond our comfort zones, harnessing the courage and audacity of those early Baha’is in order to tend “to a society in need of spiritual nourishment.”

Dellaram Vreeland

In its 30 December 2021 Message to the conference of the Continental Board of Counsellors, the Universal House of Justice states that “The Plan that will shortly commence—the first major undertaking in a sacred twenty-five-year venture, generational in its scope and significance—will make demands of the individual believer, the community, and the institutions reminiscent of the demands that the Guardian made of the Bahá’í world at the outset of the Ten Year Crusade.”1

It is time for each of us to think about our role over the coming years, and how through our work, in our communities, and in the institutions we serve, we can reach beyond our comfort zones, harnessing the courage and audacity of those early Baha’is in order to tend “to a society in need of spiritual nourishment.”2 Whether it’s through pioneering to another country, working as a facilitator of a junior youth program in the neighbourhood, or facilitating a social action initiative aimed at empowering women, “Heartfelt concern must prompt sustained effort to build communities that offer hope in place of despair, unity in place of conflict.”2

My line of work asks me to provide a “mirror of the world”3, as I write stories that “reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds.3 And while much of what I write mirrors the process of disintegration unfolding in our society, I also have the opportunity to showcase the community-building efforts and moral education process that is taking root in neighbourhoods across Australia, particularly through my work on the Horizons site. Working in these parallel settings has afforded me an acute insight into how the Plan’s framework, nay, how Baha’u’llah’s Message, serves as the direct antidote to society’s ills. This spurs me on and inspires me as I make my own plans in my neighbourhood alongside my friends, making impactful change and harnessing the spirit of heroism manifested by those early Baha’is.

“…with every passing day, we see too the condition of the world grow more desperate, its divisions more severe.”2 The answer to the division is the capacity-building process we are all engaged in. So the question we all need to ask ourselves is: how are we going to shine aloft the beacon of hope during this 25 year venture?

Footnotes

  1. The Universal House of Justice, Message to the conference of the Continental Board of Counsellors, 30 December, 2021[]
  2. The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2024, To the Baha’is of the World[][][]
  3. Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 39-40[][]

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Dellaram Vreeland

Dellaram Vreeland

Living in Ballarat, on Wadawurrung Country, Dellaram has been working as a journalist for more than 14 years. She has a particular interest in unearthing the stories within regional Australia, and showcasing those who are driving change in their communities.

Published in June, 2024, in Individual Initiatives > Reflections

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/individual-initiatives/shining-the-beacon-of-hope-reflections-on-our-role-in-the-current-plan/

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  • A personal reflection