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The Universal House of Justice

Furthermore, a House of Worship is to be the spiritual centre of a community and, together with its dependencies that will be created, contributes to a flourishing pattern of collective life. Currently, the first Houses of Worship of each continent serve as the national Temples of the countries in which they are located, and they also serve the communities in their vicinity, playing a significant role in local activities. As the process of growth unfolds, Temples will increasingly be raised at the national and local levels, and much will be learned about their nature and how they contribute to the community-building process. The many aspects of the functioning of this institution will then gradually be manifest. As Shoghi Effendi wrote, “None save the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár can most adequately provide the essentials of Bahá’í worship and service, both so vital to the regeneration of the world.”

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 26 January 2015 to an individual believer

In addition, since it is envisioned that the design of the Temple will “harmonize naturally with the local culture and the daily lives of those who will gather to pray and meditate therein”, the friends could be encouraged to generate some preliminary ideas about its physical appearance. It is hoped that, ultimately, the design of the House of Worship will draw on elements and symbols with which the people of Kenya naturally identify. These ideas, forwarded to the construction office soon to be established, could be incorporated into the architectural brief defining the requirements for the project.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 24 September 2014 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Kenya

The House of Justice was delighted to learn that discussions among the believers about the significance of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár are creating strong connections with the undertaking and are leading to a broader participation of the Bahá’ís and their friends in this collective endeavour. Increased awareness among the believers in Colombia of the significance of the House of Worship has also generated material contributions from them; this is yet another sign of their spiritual commitment. It is hoped that this initial response will be sustained throughout the life of the project and foster a pattern of regular giving to the funds of the Faith.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 10 December 2013 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia

The House of Justice was especially delighted to learn of the significant increase in the level of activity at the Temple, including the growing number of core activities involving participants from the wider community…. Building on this foundation, an issue of central importance for your National Assembly to earnestly address concerns the need to foster unity of thought and purpose among the believers regarding ways to bring about an even greater degree of coherence between the endeavours at the House of Worship and the work of expansion and consolidation in the Upolu cluster.

At the heart of these exertions will be the teaching activities and processes of community-building taking place at the Temple. In particular, efforts to share the fundamental teachings of the Faith with visitors and those living in the vicinity and to extend to them an invitation to engage in study circles, devotional gatherings, children’s classes, and junior youth groups held on the Temple grounds and in other parts of the cluster will need to be systematized and supported with the necessary human and financial resources. Consideration may also be given to developing a special programme that aims to share a vision of the House of Worship as the spiritual centre of the community and of the influence it can exert in the lives of the surrounding population—a vision of a Temple for the people of Samoa.

It is the ardent hope of the House of Justice that the agencies and believers serving in the Upolu cluster will be empowered to take full advantage of the presence of the House of Worship in their midst as they labour to advance the process of growth and that means of attracting visitors and enhancing their experience will be further refined over time. As with other aspects of Bahá’í community life, success in this endeavour will rest largely upon the friends functioning in a learning mode to ensure that methods and activities are continually reflected upon and improved.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 27 December 2011 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Samoa

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

A full year has yet to pass since the Bahá’í world marked the completion of the last of the continental Houses of Worship, and already a new dawn is breaking in the development of the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. You are gathered at the very dawning-place itself—the site of the first local House of Worship to rise above the horizon in the stage that has now opened. The dedication of this unique edifice is a historic occasion, prefiguring the appearance of many more local as well as national Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, in obedience to Bahá’u’lláh’s commandment revealed in His Most Holy Book: “Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions.”

The emergence of a House of Worship in Battambang … is a testament to how brightly the light of faith shines in the hearts of the friends there. Its design, the work of an accomplished Cambodian architect, reflects the grace and beauty of that nation’s culture; it uses innovative techniques but blends them with forms traditional to the region; it unquestionably belongs to the land from which it has risen. Even before its dedication, the Temple has succeeded in elevating the consciousness of those who reside in its shadow about a theme that is integral to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár—the inseparability of worship and service in the life of a community. It has fostered a greater appreciation of the importance of unity, now reinforced through the collective worship that will occur within its walls. Its emergence is a spur to the efforts being made to nurture communities of spiritual distinction. It is an edifice of noble purpose, erected by a people of noble spirit.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 1 September 2017 to the Friends Gathered in Battambang, Cambodia, for the Dedication of the House of Worship

The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is “one of the most vital institutions in the world”. A Temple and its associated dependencies embody two essential and inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. As a potent symbol and an integral element of the divine civilization towards which Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation ushers all peoples, the House of Worship becomes the focal point of the community from which it emerges. “The holy fragrances of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár”, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains, “vivify the souls of the righteous, and its vitalizing breezes confer life upon the pure in heart.” Indeed, its influence is such as to galvanize an entire people to reach for a more profound sense of unified purpose. The gaze of the Bahá’í world is at this hour fixed upon its newly dedicated Temple, and we are certain that this longed-for victory will bring jubilation to the friends everywhere. Yet they will surely not be content to simply rejoice amongst themselves. Inspired by all that this sublime edifice stands for, let them invite others to discover the abiding joy that comes from the praise of God and from service to humankind.

Bowing our heads at the Threshold of the Ancient Beauty, we give thanks that He has enabled His devoted followers to construct so striking a Temple fashioned of glass, stone, and light, nurturing an attraction to the sacred. The gratitude we feel increases our longing for that glorious day when the blessing of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will be conferred upon every city and village, and we look first with eagerness to those countries where national and local Houses of Worship are beginning to emerge. May the resplendent sight of what the community of the Greatest Name has now accomplished in Santiago spur the faithful everywhere to intensify their service, however humble, rendered for the betterment of the world, offered to the Glory of God.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 14 October 2016 to the Friends Gathered in Santiago, Chile, for the Dedication of the Mother Temple of South America

In more and more clusters, the programme of growth is increasing in scope and complexity, commensurate with the rising capacity of the Plan’s three protagonists—the individual, the community, and the institutions of the Faith—to create a mutually supportive environment. And we are delighted that, as anticipated, there are a growing number of clusters where a hundred or more individuals are now facilitating the engagement of a thousand or more in weaving a pattern of life, spiritual, dynamic, transformative. Underlying the process even from the start is, of course, a collective movement towards the vision of material and spiritual prosperity set forth by Him Who is the Lifegiver of the World. But when such large numbers are involved, the movement of an entire population becomes discernible.

This movement is especially in evidence in those clusters where a local Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is to be established. One such, by way of example, is in Vanuatu.… [A]gainst the background of ongoing expansion and consolidation—the thirtieth cycle of the intensive programme of growth has recently concluded—that the friends are actively exploring, with the rest of the island’s inhabitants, what it means for a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, a “collective centre for men’s souls”, to be raised up in their midst. With the active support of traditional leaders, Tanna islanders have offered no less than a hundred design ideas for the Temple, demonstrating the extent to which the House of Worship has captured imaginations, and opening up enthralling prospects for the influence it is set to exert on the lives lived beneath its shade.

The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message 2014

In conclusion, a review of the closing paragraphs of the beloved Guardian’s illuminating message of October 25, 1929, addressed to the American Bahá’í Community, clearly reveals the true nature of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. In them he decries the trappings of elaborate and ostentatious ceremony and warns against any inference “that the interior of the central Edifice itself will be converted into a conglomeration of religious services” offering “a spectacle of incoherent and confused sectarian observances and rites.” In his concluding words, Shoghi Effendi links Bahá’í worship and service arising from the Institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as vital to the regeneration of the world, and the secret of the unique position occupied by this lofty, potent and outstanding institution.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 13 March 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States

While the Bahá’í House of Worship is open to all, non-Bahá’í as well as Bahá’í, for individual prayer and meditation, and while all are welcome to attend Bahá’í Worship Services, all services held in the House of Worship are under the supervision and control of the Bahá’ís.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 19 December 1963

In order to understand the relationship between the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and that of the Local Spiritual Assembly, you should appreciate their difference in character. The term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár”, when it refers to a House of Worship, denotes a building, the centre in which the people gather to hear the Word of God and to worship Him. Surrounding this central House of Worship are the dependencies of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, which express worship in the form of service to humanity. The Local House of Justice is the body which Bahá’u’lláh has created to govern the affairs of the community. Among other things, it is responsible for the building of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as well as for the administration of all its activities. The members of the Spiritual Assembly go to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár for worship, and to the Hazíratu’l-Quds for the conducting of their administrative functions. […]

To dispute the relative status of these institutions, to depict the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as an institution independent of the jurisdiction of a Spiritual Assembly, would imply a fundamental flaw in reasoning.

The Bahá’í world has already experienced the functioning of two Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs during the ministries of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, those in Ashqabat and Wilmette. Both had one or more dependencies and each functioned under the jurisdiction of a Spiritual Assembly. Naturally, as the Cause grows, the administration of each dependency of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will be developed in accordance with its needs and with varying degrees of autonomy, but all will be under the overall aegis and guidance of the National or Local House of Justice.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 24 February 1998

The spiritual growth generated by individual devotions is reinforced by loving association among the friends in every locality, by worship as a community and by service to the Faith and to one’s fellow human beings. These communal aspects of the godly life relate to the law of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár which appears in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Although the time has not come for the building of local Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, the holding of regular meetings for worship open to all and the involvement of Bahá’í communities in projects of humanitarian service are expressions of this element of Bahá’í life and a further step in the implementation of the Law of God.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 28 December 1999

As we have said in an earlier message, the flourishing of the community, especially at the local level, demands a significant enhancement in patterns of behaviour: those patterns by which the collective expression of the virtues of the individual members and the functioning of the Spiritual Assembly are manifest in the unity and fellowship of the community and the dynamism of its activity and growth. This calls for the integration of the component elements—adults, youth and children—in spiritual, social, educational and administrative activities; and their engagement in local plans of teaching and development.

The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message 1996

With regard to your first query concerning the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, as you know, it is envisioned that a House of Worship and its dependencies will eventually be established in every locality. The upraising of the Temple, the central edifice and spiritual heart of the community, is to be followed by the erection and functioning of the various dependencies dedicated to the social and economic upliftment of the community. However, long before a Bahá’í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, this process begins in an embryonic way. Even the first local centre that a Bahá’í community acquires can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative centre and gathering place of the community, but also as the site for other aspects of community life. Clearly, then, social and economic development projects need not await the building of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and are, themselves, worthy pursuits, provided that the community has the capacity to initiate and sustain such activity. Some of the entities created in this process may even later become dependencies of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár once it is built. What is important to remember is that, as is the case with the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, central to the development process are the spiritual illumination of hearts and the enlightenment of minds.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 15 February 1994

There are many ways in which the institutions and activities of the Bahá’í community can develop, but it must be remembered that the Bahá’í Cause is an organic body, and it is for the World Centre of that Cause to determine the methods and steps by which its potentialities and functions will unfold. The term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár” has been used in the Writings to describe various things: the gathering of the friends for prayers at dawn; a building where this activity takes place; the complete institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, with its dependencies; the central edifice of that institution, often described as a “House of Worship” or “Temple”. These variants can all be seen as denoting stages or aspects of the gradual introduction of Bahá’u’lláh’s concept as promulgated in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. For the development of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, several lines of action have been set in motion, and it is to these that the believers should devote their efforts and attention.

At the local level, emphasis has long been placed upon the believers’ gathering regularly for worship, in whatever location they can effectively use. After the Kitab-i-Aqdas had been revealed there was a spontaneous reaction among the friends in Iran to implement the ordinance of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and `Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged this, stressing the importance of the friends’ meeting for devotions, even if, owing to the conditions of the time, this be in an inconspicuous place. During the lifetime of `Abdu’l-Bahá, the various community functions and institutions, such as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and the Local Spiritual Assembly, were developed in a variety of evolving and temporary manners. […]

As yet, too few local communities have been able to establish an adequate Haziratu’l-Quds, and it would be both unnecessary and undesirable for Local Spiritual Assemblies, let alone individual believers, to attempt to establish Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs now at the local level. What is required is for Local Spiritual Assemblies, as their communities grow, to strive to obtain a modest local centre and ultimately to acquire a Haziratu’l-Quds, and to encourage the greater use of the local Bahá’í Centre for devotional, as well as other gatherings.

As to the activity of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the Universal House of Justice has, for some years, been advocating the desirability of the holding of gatherings for dawn prayers wherever such an activity is feasible. Clearly, such meetings would be both natural and easy of accomplishment in the case of agricultural villages, while in a large industrialized city, under present circumstances, it would be far more difficult for the friends to gather regularly at dawn for devotional purposes.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 20 April 1997

In comments on this law [prohibition of pulpits, K154], ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi have made it clear that in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (where sermons are prohibited and only the words of Holy Scripture may be read) the reader may stand or sit, and if necessary to be better heard, may use a low moveable platform, but that no pulpit is permitted.

The Universal House of Justice, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 168, p. 237

With reference to attending dawn prayers in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the Bahá’í House of Worship, Bahá’u’lláh has explained that, although the actual time specified in the Book of God is “the hour of dawn”, it is acceptable at any time from “the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise”.

The Universal House of Justice, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 142, p. 226

The Bahá’í House of Worship is dedicated to the praise of God. The House of Worship forms the central edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (the Dawning-place of the Praise of God), a complex which, as it unfolds in the future, will comprise in addition to the House of Worship a number of dependencies dedicated to social, humanitarian, educational, and scientific pursuits. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as “one of the most vital institutions in the world”, and Shoghi Effendi indicates that it exemplifies in tangible form the integration of “Bahá’í worship and service”. Anticipating the future development of this institution, Shoghi Effendi envisages that the House of Worship and its dependencies “shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant”. In the future, Bahá’í Houses of Worship will be constructed in every town and village

The Universal House of Justice, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 53, p. 190-191

In the Bahá’í writings, the term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár” has variously been used to designate the gathering of the believers for prayers at dawn; a structure where the divine verses are recited; the entire institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its dependencies; and the central edifice itself, often also referred to as a “Temple” or a “House of Worship”. All these can be regarded as aspects of the gradual implementation of the law set out for humankind by Bahá’u’lláh in His Most Holy Book.

The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is a unique concept in the annals of religion and symbolizes the teachings of the new Day of God. A collective centre of society to promote cordial affection, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár stands as a universal place of worship open to all the inhabitants of a locality irrespective of their religious affiliation, background, ethnicity, or gender and a haven for the deepest contemplation on spiritual reality and foundational questions of life, including individual and collective responsibility for the betterment of society. Men and women, children and youth, are held in its embrace as equals. This singular and integral universality is captured in the very structure of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, whose design as a nine-sided edifice conveys a sense of completeness and perfection symbolized by that number.

As the place from which spiritual forces are to radiate, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is the focal point for dependencies to be raised up for the well-being of humanity and is the expression of a common will and eagerness to serve. These dependencies—centres of education and scientific learning as well as cultural and humanitarian endeavour—embody the ideals of social and spiritual progress to be achieved through the application of knowledge, and demonstrate how, when religion and science are in harmony, they elevate the station of the human being and lead to the flourishing of civilization. As your lives amply demonstrate, worship, though essential to the inner life of the human being and vital to spiritual development, must also lead to deeds that give outward expression to that inner transformation. This concept of worship—inseparable from service—is promulgated by the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 18 December 2014

It is fully appreciated that the Bahá’í Temple must be open for worship on the Holy Days and therefore it is permitted to provide, to the minimum extent possible, essential services. Those necessary tasks, such as cleaning and other preparation of the building, which can be carried out on the previous day should be so done and only those duties which must be performed should be undertaken on the Holy Day. In the case of the temple it is immaterial whether the workers are Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís since it is the duty of the Faith to observe, especially in respect of its own institutions, the command to cease work on the Holy Days.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 12 August 1977

A feature of the Fifth Epoch will be the enrichment of the devotional life of the community through the raising up of national Houses of Worship, as circumstances in national communities permit. The scheduling of these projects will be determined by the Universal House of Justice in relation to the advancement of the process of entry by troops within countries. This development will unfold throughout successive stages of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan. Upon the completion of the Mother Temple of the West, the Guardian started a programme of constructing continental temples. The first among these were the Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs in Kampala, Sydney and Frankfurt, which were built in response to Ten Year Plan goals. The Universal House of Justice continued along these lines with the building of Temples in Panama City, Apia, and New Delhi. But this continental stage has yet to be completed: one more edifice remains to be built. It is with profound thankfulness and joy that we announce at this auspicious moment the decision to proceed with this last project. During the Five Year Plan, erection of the Mother Temple of South America in Santiago, Chile, will commence and thus fulfil a wish clearly expressed by Shoghi Effendi.

The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message 2001

The National Spiritual Assemblies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Papua New Guinea as well as those of Cambodia, Colombia, India, Kenya, and Vanuatu, with the close support of the Office of Temples and Sites created at the Bahá’í World Centre in 2012, promptly moved forward with the initial preparations. A committee was formed in each country, entrusted with identifying, together with institutions and agencies at all levels of the community, means to promote widespread participation and to channel the enthusiasm engendered among the friends following the announcement of the projects. Another practical step in these national and local projects has been the selection of a suitable piece of land, one which is modest in size, strategically located, and easily accessible.

[…]

In four countries, the projects have reached the stage of preparing a design for the Temple edifice. This begins with the selection of potential architects and the formulation of an architectural brief defining the requirements for the structure, and it ultimately results in a contract for the final design. Architects are presented with the singular challenge of designing Temples “as perfect as is possible in the world of being” that harmonize naturally with the local culture and the daily lives of those who will gather to pray and meditate therein. The task calls for creativity and skill to combine beauty, grace, and dignity with modesty, functionality, and economy. A number of architects from near and far have gladly offered their services, and while such contributions are of course welcomed, National Assemblies are giving due regard to the value of engaging architects who are well acquainted with the area where the edifice will be built.

The Universal House of Justice, In a letter dated 1 August 2014

In the city of ‘Ishqábád, a devoted band of believers who settled from Persia, and who, for a time, found peace and tranquillity in Turkistán, bent their energies towards the creation of a pattern of life that would reflect the exalted spiritual and social principles enshrined in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. In a span of a few decades, this group, originally consisting of a handful of families, was joined there by others and grew to a few thousand believers. This community, fortified by ties of camaraderie and animated by unity of purpose and a spirit of faithfulness, was enabled to reach a high degree of cohesiveness and development, for which it gained renown throughout the Bahá’í world. These friends, guided by their understanding of the divine Teachings, and within the bounds of the religious freedom they were accorded, toiled to create the conditions that would lead to the founding of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, that “crowning institution in every Bahá’í community”. On a befitting tract of land in the centre of the city that had been obtained some years before with the consent of the Blessed Beauty Himself, facilities were built for communal well-being—a meeting hall, schools for children, a hostel for visitors, and a small clinic, among others. A sign of the notable achievements of the Bahá’ís in ‘Ishqábád, who in those productive years became distinguished for their prosperity, magnanimity, and intellectual and cultural attainments, was their attention to ensuring that all Bahá’í children and youth were literate in a society with rampant illiteracy, especially among girls. Within such an environment of unified endeavour and progress, and fostered at every stage of development by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a magnificent House of Worship emerged—the most prominent edifice in the area. For over twenty years, the friends experienced the heavenly joy of having realized their lofty aim: the establishment of a focal point of worship, a nerve centre of community life, a place where souls gathered at daybreak for humble invocation and communion before flowing out of its doors to engage in their daily pursuits. While the forces of irreligion eventually swept through the region and thwarted hopes, the brief appearance of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád is an enduring testament to the volition and effort of a body of believers who established a rich pattern of life deriving its impetus from the power of the Creative Word.

The Universal House of Justice, In a letter dated 1 August 2014

From the beginning of His stupendous mission, Bahá’u’lláh urged upon the attention of nations the necessity of ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life. In unnumbered verses and tablets He repeatedly and variously declared the “progress of the world” and the “development of nations” as being among the ordinances of God for this day. The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of this coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashríqu’l-Adhkár, the spiritual center of every Bahá’í community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 20 October 1983

In our Riḍván message of 2001, we indicated that in countries where the process of entry by troops was sufficiently well advanced and conditions in national communities were favourable, we would approve the establishment of Houses of Worship at the national level, whose emergence would become a feature of the Fifth Epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith. With exceeding joy we now announce that national Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs are to be raised up in two countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Papua New Guinea. In these, the criteria we set are demonstrably met, and the response of their peoples to the possibilities created by the current series of Plans has been nothing short of remarkable. With the construction of the last of the continental temples in Santiago under way, the initiation of projects for building national Houses of Worship offers yet another gratifying evidence of the penetration of the Faith of God into the soil of society.

One more step is possible. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as “one of the most vital institutions of the world”, weds two essential, inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. The union of these two is also reflected in the coherence that exists among the community-building features of the Plan, particularly the burgeoning of a devotional spirit that finds expression in gatherings for prayer and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity. The correlation of worship and service is especially pronounced in those clusters around the world where Bahá’í communities have significantly grown in size and vitality, and where engagement in social action is apparent. Some of these have been designated as sites for the dissemination of learning so as to nurture the friends’ ability to advance the junior youth programme in associated regions. The capacity to sustain this programme, as we have recently indicated, also fuels the development of study circles and children’s classes. Thus, beyond its primary purpose, the learning site fortifies the entire scheme of expansion and consolidation. It is within these clusters that, in the coming years, the emergence of a local Mashriqu’l-Adhkár can be contemplated. Our hearts brimming with thankfulness to the Ancient Beauty, we rejoice to inform you that we are entering into consultations with respective National Spiritual Assemblies regarding the erection of the first local House of Worship in each of the following clusters: Battambang, Cambodia; Bihar Sharif, India; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu.

To support the construction of the two national and five local Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, we have decided to establish a Temples Fund at the Bahá’í World Centre for the benefit of all such projects. The friends everywhere are invited to contribute to it sacrificially, as their means allow.

Beloved co-workers: The ground broken by the hand of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a hundred years ago is to be broken again in seven more countries, this being but the prelude to the day when within every city and village, in obedience to the bidding of Bahá’u’lláh, a building is upraised for the worship of the Lord. From these Dawning-Points of the Remembrance of God will shine the rays of His light and peal out the anthems of His praise.

The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message 2012

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