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A symbol of this process [Bahá’í involvement in development projects] may be seen in the House of Worship and its dependencies. The first part to be built is the central edifice which is the spiritual heart of the community. Then, gradually, as the outward expression of this spiritual heart, the various dependencies, those “institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant” are erected and function. This process begins in an embryonic way long before a Bahá’í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, for even the first local centre that a Bahá’í community erects can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative centre and gathering place of the community, but also as the site of a tutorial school and the heart of other aspects of community life. The principle remains, however, that the spiritual precedes the material. First comes the illumination of hearts and minds by the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, and then the grass roots stirring of the believers wishing to apply these teachings to the daily life of their community.

The Universal House of Justice, On Behalf Of, Letter dated 8 May 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil