December 10, 2010

First Local Assembly formed in Iceland, April 1965

The historic, first local spiritual assembly was established last Ridvan in the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland, the first of three assemblies required for the Nine Year Plan. The signatories of the original document were: Asgeir Einarsson, Kirsten Bonnevie, Florence Grindlay, Jessie Echevarria, Carl John Spencer, Charles Grindlay, Liesel Becker, Barbel Thinat and Nicholas Echevarria. One of the earliest traveling teachers in Iceland was Eskil Ljunberg and the first pioneer, Marguerite Allman, arrived in 1956, during the Ten Year Crusade.

Mrs. Amelia Collins, late Hand of the Cause was the first to visit Iceland, in L924. During these few hours spent in Reykjavik she was able to make friends with an Icelandic lady with whom she corresponded about the Faith for many years. This same lady was then able to open many doors for Martha Root, the renowned traveling teacher, who came in July of 1935 to make the Faith known in that land.

It was a memorable month for Martha Root, filled with interviews, discussions with many people of note, a public hall filled with people who came to hear her address, radio broadcasts and newspaper articles for the first time in Iceland. One of the people she met was the famed sculptor, Einar Jonsson. It was in a museum that bears his name that Mrs. Collins met her Icelandic friend. Later, in 1937, a noted educator and author of Iceland, Miss Holmfridur Arnadottir, wrote a beautiful tribute to the Faith [Baha’i World, Vol. VIII] and made the first translation of Baha'u'llah and the New Era into Icelandic.

Anyone who thinks of Iceland as a frigid, grim land should read Martha Root's description of it in her article, “The Soul of Iceland-A Baha'i Saga," in Baha’i World, Vol. VI: ". . . land of jagged Snowcapped mountain peaks, great glaciers . . . magnificent water-falls, boiling hot springs . . . everywhere that wonderful fascination and nameless charm associated with this high altitude . . . a climate of extraordinary clearness and purity . . the air is full of ozone€, one does not feel fatigue, and the salty breezes from the ocean are most bracing. . . . The future will witness many travelers from all lands coming to . . . Iceland; for bodies, minds, souls experience here something different from what they have ever known before. There is a calm repose in the very Icelandic atmosphere . . . not to be found anywhere else. . ."

But it was the people of Iceland that Martha Root loved, for she had a special admiration for these descendants of the Vikings -- their strong character, exceptional kindness and hospitality.

Baha'is in all lands will welcome with joy this first assembly in Iceland and wish it Godspeed -- even as there must be great joy in the Abha Kingdom among those two great souls who began the work thirty and forty years ago! 
(Baha’i News, December, 1965)