2020 Closing Plenary

Devotions-

O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.Bahá’u’lláh

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Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! I entreat Thee by Thy Name through which the Hour hath struck, and the Resurrection came to pass, and fear and trembling seized all that are in heaven and all that are on earth, to rain down, out of the heaven of Thy mercy and the clouds of Thy tender compassion, what will gladden the hearts of Thy servants, who have turned towards Thee and helped Thy Cause. Keep safe Thy servants and Thy handmaidens, O my Lord, from the darts of idle fancy and vain imaginings, and give them from the hands of Thy grace a draught of the soft-flowing waters of Thy knowledge. Thou, truly, art the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.Bahá’u’lláh

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Say: Glorified art Thou, O my God! I implore Thee by the Dawning-Place of Thy signs and by the Revealer of Thy clear tokens to grant that I may, under all conditions, hold fast the cord of Thy loving providence and cling tenaciously to the hem of Thy generosity. Reckon me then with those whom the changes and chances of the world have failed to deter from serving Thee and from bearing allegiance unto Thee, whom the onslaught of the people hath been powerless to hinder from magnifying Thy Name and celebrating Thy praise. Graciously assist me, O my Lord, to do whatever Thou lovest and desirest. Enable me then to fulfil that which will exalt Thy Name and will set ablaze the fire of Thy love. Thou art, in truth, the Forgiving, the Bountiful.

Bahá’u’lláh

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Music- Taraz Tofighi

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ObZW2eZiH5yAhhh2e2yYw81n4Kptbokq/view?usp=sharing

Taraz Tofighi is an undergraduate jazz studies major at Depaul University. Along with participating in several prestigious music programs throughout grade and high school, he has played in some of Chicago’s most prominent music venues as the featured soloist of a small group or section leader in a big band. He grew up in the South Loop of Chicago, attending Jones College Preparatory High School. As a college student, he has become increasingly involved in activities and dialogue around racial justice in addition to continual studies of the history and current manifestations of systemic racism in America and hopes to use his voice and music to make an impact on communities around the country.

Band Members here- Connor Mannebach- Piano, Steven Bowman- Bass,
and Alejandro Salazar- Drums

*Audio of below text-

To the Participants

Dear Friends,

We hope that having participated in this five-part program, it has become clearer to us all how ever-expanding nucleus of families and friends can contribute to the discourse on race unity and the oneness of humanity, as a part of the Divine Plan and the community building process. Parts I & II of “Walking Together on a Path towards Race Unity and Oneness”, are now available from the National Office of Education and Schools as well as from the Regional Bahá’í Councils. They thus serve as an additional tool to help you facilitate elevated conversations or organize intense study sessions, to which you may invite a small number of families and friends from your neighborhood and community, reaching out to those from diverse cultural backgrounds, and in particular to minority and immigrant populations.

A prominent, early African American believer, Sadie Oglesby, had the bounty of being on Pilgrimage during the time of the Guardian in the 1950’s. She shared a story which clarified her vision and inspired her lifelong service:

“The Guardian repeated his prediction of what could happen if the black and white Bahá’ís became united:

“When the believers get their hearts free from prejudice the colored believers will come into the Cause, and when the colored people come in and are made welcome, then the whites will come flocking in. The white people of America are watching to see what the Bahá’ís are going to do with the colored people; when they see the white Bahá’ís treating the colored Bahá’ís as themselves, then they will believe they are sincere. The people of the East are watching to see what the Bahá’ís  of America are going to do with the colored people, and unless the Bahá’ís  remove the prejudice and establish a center where brotherhood and justice is practiced toward colored people, there will be no center to which to turn when the world is in its great turmoil…”

“Sadie still felt reluctant to take on the role that Shoghi Effendi proposed, but he didn’t let up. On 27 March, he again brought up his challenge to her:

“My charge to you is that when you go back to America, tell the friends to look within themselves and find there the reason so few colored people are in the Cause, and remove this reason; until this is removed, the Cause cannot grow… This is vital.”
Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye, Vol 1, p. 143-144

Friends, we have now reached the final precious cycles of the current Five Year Plan.  The growing tumultuous conditions that surround us today impress upon our hearts the urgency of the call to action.

What courageous actions will you and your family contribute in the remaining months of this Plan?

To remove this reason “why so few colored people are in the Cause” and to inspire us all to courageously arise to serve in our communities with new eyes and ears, we close this session, with a special prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, He Whom Bahá’u’lláh identified as the Perfect Exemplar of every Bahá’í virtue in service to God and humanity. It was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who, in 1912 traversed the shores of the United States for 239 days, speaking with courage and conviction, summoning every Bahá’í to expend the utmost energy in his or her individual and family life to eliminate racial prejudice.  Trusting in God the beloved friends were to come fearlessly together and eradicate all forms of racism through the healing powers of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, working together toward the supreme and cherished goal, that long-awaited promise to all humanity, the golden age of oneness and justice, the Kingdom of God on Earth.

“I am waiting, waiting, to hear the joyful tidings that the believers are the very embodiment of sincerity and truthfulness, the incarnation of love and amity, the living symbols of unity and concord. Will they not gladden my heart? Will they not satisfy my yearning? Will they not manifest my wish? Will they not fulfil my heart’s desire? Will they not give ear to my call? I am waiting, I am patiently waiting.”
(Shoghi Effendi and Lady Blomfield, The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

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Whoso reciteth this prayer with lowliness and fervor will bring gladness and joy to the heart of this Servant; it will be even as meeting Him face to face.

He is the All-Glorious!
O God, my God!  Lowly and tearful, I raise my suppliant hands to Thee and cover my face in the dust of that Threshold of Thine, exalted above the knowledge of the learned, and the praise of all that glorify Thee.  Graciously look upon Thy servant, humble and lowly at Thy door, with the glances of the eye of Thy mercy, and immerse him in the Ocean of Thine eternal grace.
Lord!  He is a poor and lowly servant of Thine, enthralled and imploring Thee, captive in Thy hand, praying fervently to Thee, trusting in Thee, in tears before Thy face, calling to Thee and beseeching Thee, saying:
O Lord, my God!  Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones, strengthen me in my servitude to Thee, illumine my brow with the light of adoration in Thy court of holiness, and of prayer to Thy kingdom of grandeur.  Help me to be selfless at the heavenly entrance of Thy gate, and aid me to be detached from all things within Thy holy precincts.  Lord!  Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me.  Make me as dust in the pathway of Thy loved ones, and grant that I may offer up my soul for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of Thy chosen ones in Thy path, O Lord of Glory in the Highest.
With this prayer doth Thy servant call Thee, at dawntide and in the night season.  Fulfill his heart’s desire, O Lord!  Illumine his heart, gladden his bosom, kindle his light, that he may serve Thy Cause and Thy servants.
Thou art the Bestower, the Pitiful, the Most Bountiful, the Gracious, the Merciful, the Compassionate.                                                                                                     

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

*Special thanks to Parisa Ramsi for her audio reading.


Audio recording documentation of this session that occurred on 8/31 via Zoom (50 mins)

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