Vol 19, Issue 11

Unit Convention Bahá'í Fund Bulletin

 

Dear friends, the Office of the Treasurer sends annual materials to the community at Unit Convention. Since Unit Conventions will not be held in-person due to the global pandemic, we would like to share a special edition of the Bahá’í Fund Bulletin, featuring announcements and updates related to the Fund and the efforts it supports.

 

Office of the Treasurer Webinars

Over the last year, the Office of the Treasurer has hosted waves of webinars; Wave 1: The Promise of World Peace and the Funds of the Faith and Wave 2: We are the Builders. Wave 1 and 2 both include informational and fundraising components. The ultimate goal of these waves of webinars has been to achieve an increase in universal participation by the friends of God to unleash the spiritual forces promised in the writings when we unite and stand together in serried lines. The House of Justice in its May 9th, 2020 letter to all NSAs stated: “...you seek to raise awareness of those spiritual forces that are available to every confirmed believer and which must be marshalled at the hour of need. It is these forces which endow the community with resilience, ensure its integrity, and keep it focused on its divine mission to serve humanity and elevate its vision of the future...”
 
To date, these webinars, primarily the first wave, have resulted in generous contributions by the believers in excess of $3.3 million to all the various Funds of the Faith. No doubt this generosity will attract Divine confirmations as we earnestly begin the second wave in the coming months. 
 
The month of May of this year marked the beginning of Wave 3: Writing of a Will and Testament. The theme of this webinar is “Love and Joy.” 'Abdu’l-Bahá believed that no one should draw a breath without a will. One of the purposes of the webinar is to offer an opportunity for the friends to write a will and testament in honor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during the One Year Plan. The webinars have also deepened the collaboration between the National Treasurer’s Office and the Board of Trustees of Ḥuqúqu'lláh in the United States and opened a new channel for connecting with communities as well as hearts. 
 
We have hosted five webinars over the last four months and we estimate that we have been able to accompany well over 1600 friends on this vital journey to fulfill this spiritual obligation. We are working on additional dates to host the webinar as we continue the initiative to commemorate the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s passing and the reading of His will and testament.
 
We are grateful that the friends are finding these webinars useful. Below is a sampling of their feedback: 
 
"Very informative & has made me want to learn more. Also, & most importantly, gave me a sense of urgency to do my will & testament." 
 
"The seminar was clear and closely attached to the Writings. I connected and really felt a connection to my soul. I was able to write the intro to the will in the time allotted. I was never able to do that before. It just poured out as if someone else was writing it." 
 
"It renewed my spiritual bond with our purpose of the importance of leaving a will. And the presentations were very heartfelt. I got teary-eyed at some point."
 

The Fund: A Sacred Obligation

How do we learn about and nurture our relationship and obligation to the Bahá’í Fund, the privilege that only belongs to the members of the community of the Greatest Name? In a webinar open to all believers, join us as we develop our understanding of the Bahá’í Funds and our own relationship and participation in them. This webinar explores:
 
-guidance on the sacred nature of the funds
-the principle of universal participation
-contributing to the fund with the Online Contribution System
 
While this webinar may be helpful for newly declared believers, it may also prove meaningful to all Bahá’ís, as it was designed following the learning mode we are all engaged in within our communities.
 
To participate in upcoming webinars, subscribe to the Treasurer’s Office texts by texting 'bahaifund' to 313131, where we send future webinar date announcements, National Fund updates, inspiring quotes, and announcements 2-3 times a month.
 

Archives Project

Recent months have seen further advancements in the building project for the new National Bahá’í Archives facility. A professional engineering firm with extensive experience in archival facilities has been working, in consultation with the Bahá’í National Center’s architect, on a design for the new building’s structure and equipment. The existing building dates from the early 20th century and most of its structure will need to be demolished and replaced with stronger, higher-quality materials enclosing a larger space. The front of the building, which was originally of carved limestone but had been partly replaced with brick in the 1960s, will be returned to a more dignified and historically appropriate appearance. The climate control, fire suppression and other technical systems in the building will be the best available for an archives, and engineered for sustainability and efficiency.

A rendering of the restored façade and other design elements was recently shown to the Zoning Board of Wilmette, which approved several requested variances and forwarded the matter to the Village Board of Trustees. The building’s storage system will consist of custom-designed mobile compact shelving units to maximize efficiency, safety and convenience. These are expected to hold all the archives that are currently stored in our current quarters in the House of Worship, as well as materials we are currently storing offsite. As with so many projects, the pandemic and associated difficulties have delayed part of the work, but the project is on track and construction is hoped to be underway this year.

Screen Shot 2021-09-08 at 10.33.39 AMproposed rendering for the new archives building

Restoration in the House of Worship

Inside the House of Worship in Wilmette, IL, visitors will find that the chairs have been refurbished, making the space even more beautiful and welcoming. Note that the House of Worship and Welcome Center are open, but will now require visitors to wear masks if they enter the buildings.

Chairs

The Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

We are heartened with the outpouring of generosity by the friends to the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. To date, the loving contributions from the American Bahá'í community to the fund for the shrine totals $18.4M
 
According to the Bahá’í World Centre, many of the distinctive architectural features of the design of the Shrine can be seen. A few highlights are the beginning work on an intricate trellis across the central plaza, and the eight pillars of the central edifice that are now completed. The folding walls on the west side of the central plaza are soon to be joined with one of the portal walls of the south plaza. 
 
In addition to the aerial footage of the actual progress of the building, the exterior garden's progress is in full swing. Visit Bahá'í World News Service to read more or to view videos of this momentous occasion.
 
 
New Online Contribution System Launches This Month

Nearly ten years have passed since the launching of the Online Contribution System (OCS) to the American Bahá’í community. OCS has become a viable, cost-efficient tool assisting members of our community in developing a direct relationship with all the funds of the Faith. Within those ten years, we continued to learn from the user community their growing needs and made frequent updates to the system. We are excited to share that a complete revamping of the OCS has launched! This new version has many of the same features the friends have come to know and expect; however, in addition, it features an updated interface, including a dashboard. 

Robert C. Turner Resting Place

Work is underway in creating a befitting resting place memorial for Mr. Robert C. Turner, the first Black Bahá’í in the West and a Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for America, whom the Master addressed as, “O thou who art pure in heart, sanctified in spirit, peerless in character, beauteous in face!” A fund has been created for this project, and friends can contribute using the drop-down menu on the Online Contribution System or by sending a check earmarked for the project to the Burlingame Local Spiritual Assembly at 1210 Bellevue Ave Apt. 207, Burlingame, CA 94010-4030

Any excess of funds received for the monument will be directed to the important work of teaching efforts focused on reaching out to African American populations. For more information, visit: https://www.robertturner.org/

Finding Fund Resources on Bahá'í.us

Site

On the home page of Bahá'í.us, Fund resources are easily found. A thermometer chart shows the current National Fund contributions in relation to the annual goal, and the Writing of a Will and Testament booklet is accessible with one click.

Site2

 

Stay Up-to-Date with the Office of the Treasurer

Texting

 

At the Midpoint

The Office of the Treasurer is heartened to see that, once again, the American Bahá’í community is contributing more than ever before with more of the friends contributing. The fact that this trend is continuing in the midst of another year marked by a pandemic and financial insecurity is all the more reason to celebrate this wonderful achievement. 

As of September 6, the friends contributed more than 13% to the National Fund than the previous year at the same time. Nearly 37% more was contributed to the Regional Bahá’í Councils and Institutes for the same time period. These loving contributions support the work of the Faith at every level, from the publishing of prayer books, sacred writings and teaching materials, to the institute process taking root in thousands of clusters and in some places advancing remarkably, to the upkeep of Bahá’í properties, from educational and training centers to those associated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit nearly 110 years ago. 

As we approach the two events associated with Abdu’l-Bahá, the Perfect Exemplar of Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings, the moment He passed on to the Abhá Kingdom and the day His will and testament was read, and stand at the midpoint in the final year of the first century of the Formative Age, this community can feel joy and pride in its many accomplishments on so many fronts, not least of which is the Fund. 

If this community, the spiritual descendents of the Dawnbreakers, can continue this path of generous giving, the work of the Faith in America can continue unimpeded as we launch a new 9 Year Plan at the beginning of the second century of the Formative Age.

Such support, such an “outpouring of treasure”, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, “no less copious than the blood shed so lavishly in the Apostolic Age of the Faith by those who in the heart of the Asiatic continent proclaimed its birth to the world, can befit their spiritual descendants…” The time is now to contribute to this outpouring.