February 7, 2010

First Public Reference to the Faith in North America

It took place on September 23rd, 1893 in a paper entitled “The Religious Mission of the English Speaking Nations”, by Rev. Henry H. Jessup, a retired missionary from north Syria. It was read by Rev. George A. Ford at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. (A Basic Baha’i Dictionary Chronology, by Glenn Cameron with Wendi Momen)

Below is a portion of what was read on this occasion:

This, then, is our mission: that we who are made in the image of God should remember that all men are made in God's image. To this divine knowledge we owe all we are, all we hope for. We are rising gradually toward that image, and we owe to our fellowmen to aid them in returning to it in the Glory of God and the Beauty of Holiness. It is a celestial privilege and with it comes a high responsibility, from which there is no escape.

In the Palace of Bahji, or Delight, just outside the Fortress of 'Akka, on the Syrian coast, there died a few months since, a famous Persian sage, the Babi Saint, named Baha’u’llah -- the "Glory of God" -- the head of that vast reform party of Persian Muslims, who accept the New Testament as the Word of God and Christ as the Deliverer of men, who regard all nations as one, and all men as brothers. Three years ago he was visited by a Cambridge scholar and gave utterance to sentiments so noble, so Christ-like, that we repeat them as our closing

"That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened ; that diversity of religions should cease and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."
(The Baha’i World, Vol. 2, p. 169)