November 23, 2010

Juliet Thompson -- “outstanding, exemplary handmaid (of) 'Abdu'l-Baha”; “so wholly consecrated (to) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah”; and “fired (with) such consuming devotion (to) Center (of) His Covenant”

"Deplore loss (of) much-loved, greatly admired Juliet Thompson, outstanding, exemplary handmaid (of) 'Abdu'l-Baha. Over half-century record (of) manifold meritorious services, embracing concluding years (of) Heroic (and) opening decades (of) Formative Age (of) Baha'i Dispensation, won her enviable position (in) glorious company (of) triumphant disciples (of) beloved Master (in) Abha Kingdom. Advise hold memorial gathering (in) Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (to) pay befitting tribute (to the) imperishable memory (of) one (was) so wholly consecrated (to) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah (and) fired (with) such consuming devotion (to) Center (of) His Covenant.
(signed) Shoghi
December 6, 1956

At an early age Juliet became interested in painting. She studied at the Corcoran Art School in Washington and at seventeen was doing portraits in pastels professionally. By the middle 1890's, when in her early twenties, she had already made a name for herself.

Around the turn of the century the mother of Laura Clifford Barney invited the young artist to come to Paris for further study. Juliet went accompanied by her mother and brother.

It was there that she met May Bolles – the first Baha'i on the European continent – and through her, accepted this new Faith. Mrs. Barney wrote of Juliet that she had accepted it "as naturally as a swallow takes to the air.''

October 18, 2010

Jinab-i- Fadil (1880(?)-1957): Mirza Asadu’llah Fadil Mazandarani -- 'Abdu'l-Baha's “gift to America”: “the ideal sage”; “Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl, he is the best informed of his contemporaries”; “… is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God.”

Excerpts from some Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

His Excellency, the ideal sage, Fazel [Fadil] Mazindarani, is the essence of humility and submission. God willing, with Manucher Khan, he has reached the United States under the protection of the Almighty. This respected soul is evanescent in the Cause of the Blessed Perfection. He is wise, well informed and a thinker. There is no doubt that he will become the cause of the exhilaration, rejoicing and the guidance of others. You must exercise toward him the utmost respect and consideration, and placing your hands in each other's, become ye engaged in the promotion of the Word of God. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet dated circa June, 1920; Star of the West, vol. 11, December 1920, pp. 263-264)

His honor Fazel is a revered person. He has been growing for a long time in the Cause. Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl [Fadl], he is the best informed of his contemporaries. He has no aspiration save service to the Cause of God. He is a scholar, he is appreciative and grateful to thee. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet to Roy Wilhelm dated August 9th, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11, December 12, 1920, p. 257)

His honor Fazel [Fadil], in reality, is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God. Truly I say, he is the manifestation of this blessed verse: "I do not ask ye any reward. Verily my reward is with God, the Lord of the two worlds. It is written: 'If for the sake of thy self sacrifice thou desirest a compensation, the compensation which is given by His Holiness the Almighty is the best of all.'” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet received by Star of the West on 20 July, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11,December 12, 1920, pp. 256-257)

September 4, 2010

Thornton Chase (1847–1912) – A Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, designated by the Guardian as “the first to embrace the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in the Western world …”

“The stout-hearted Thornton Chase, surnamed Thabit (Steadfast) by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and designated by Him ‘the first American believer,’ who became a convert to the Faith in 1894”, along with” the immortal Louisa A. Moore, the mother teacher of the West, surnamed Liva (Banner) by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Dr. Edward Getsinger, to whom she was later married, Howard MacNutt, Arthur P. Dodge, Isabella D. Brittingham, Lillian F. Kappes, Paul K. Dealy, Chester I. Thacher and Helen S. Goodall …will ever remain associated with the first stirrings of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the North American continent.” These souls “stand out as the most prominent among those who, in those early years, awakened to the call of the New Day, and consecrated their lives to the service of the newly proclaimed Covenant.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 257)

Thornton Chase became a Baha’i in Chicago in 1894 through a colleague friend by the name of William F. James --according to his life-long friend Carl Scheffler. Thornton’s friend had apparently met a Baha’i earlier by the name Ibrahim Kheiralla who had recently come to America from Beirut and had settled in Chicago. Thornton was reportedly writing a poem about God when his friend entered his office and intrigued by what he was doing told him of a man who claimed that God recently "walked upon the earth." The person who made such a claim, Thornton was told, was Ibrahim Kheiralla. Ibrahim Keiralla had further indicated to Thornton’s friend that Baha’u’llah was the new Messenger of God and that His coming had fulfilled all biblical prophecies. Thornton became very interested to meet Ibrahim Kheiralla and subsequently joined a small group of Chicagoans to study the Bahá’í Faith with Kheiralla. The class was apparently organized on June 5th, 1894.

July 21, 2010

Marion Jack – an “immortal heroine”, and a “shining example (to) pioneers (of) present (and) future generations (of) East (and) West”

Cablegram from the Guardian:

Mourn loss (of) immortal heroine, Marion Jack, greatly-loved and deeply-admired by 'Abdu'l-Baha, (a) shining example (to) pioneers (of) present (and) future generations (of) East (and) West, surpassed (in) constancy, dedication, self-abnegation (and) fearlessness by none except (the) incomparable Martha Root. Her unremitting, highly-meritorious activities (in the) course (of) almost half (a) century, both (in) North America (and) Southeast Europe, attaining (their) climax (in the) darkest, most dangerous phase (of the) second World War, shed imperishable luster (on) contemporary Baha'i history.

(This) triumphant soul (is) now gathered (to the) distinguished band (of her) coworkers (in the) Abha Kingdom: Martha Root, Lua Getsinger, May Maxwell, Hyde Dunn, Susan Moody, Keith Ransom-Kehler, Ella Bailey (and) Dorothy Baker, whose remains, lying (in) such widely scattered areas (of the) globe as Honolulu, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Tihran, Isfahan, Tripoli (and the) depths (of the) Mediterranean(Sea) attest the magnificence (of the) pioneer services rendered (by the) North American Baha'i community (in the) Apostolic (and) Formative Ages (of the) Baha'i Dispensation.

Advise arrange (in) association (with the) Canadian National Assembly (and the) European Teaching Committee (a) befitting memorial gathering (in the) Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Moved (to) share with (the) United States (and) Canadian National Assemblies (the) expenses (of the) erection, (as) soon as circumstances permit, (of a) worthy monument (at) her grave, destined (to) confer eternal benediction (on a) country already honored (by) its close proximity (to the) sacred city associated (with the) proclamation (of the) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah.

Share message all National Assemblies.


Haifa, Israel,
March 29, 1954.

Marion Jack, "immortal heroine," "shining example to pioneers," passed from this life on March 25, 1954, in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she had been living for twenty-four years as a pioneer of the Baha'i Faith. Her remains are buried in the British cemetery there. The Guardian's tribute, expressed in his cablegram of March 29, attests the high station which this "triumphant soul" has attained.

May 22, 2010

Louis Gregory – First Hand of the Cause of Negro race; “noble-minded”; “golden-hearted”; “pride (and) example (to the) Negro adherents (of the) Faith”

by, Harlan F. Ober

"Profoundly deplore grievous loss dearly beloved, noble-minded, golden-hearted Louis Gregory, pride (and) example (to the) Negro adherents (of the) Faith, keenly feel loss (of) one so loved, admired (and) trusted (by) 'Abdu'l-Baha. Deserves rank (of) first Hand (of) his race. Rising Baha'i generation African continent will glory (in) his memory (and) emulate his example. Advise hold memorial gathering (in) Temple (in) token recognition (of his) unique position, outstanding services."
Cablegram received August 6, 1951.

Dearly loved, universally respected Louis G. Gregory passed away on July 30, 1951. Although he had been frail in body for many months, the luminous spirit and great heart were so apparent, so overwhelming, that none anticipated his sudden departure.

Only a week before, he had arranged and carried out a meeting in his home in Eliot, Maine, where he discussed the prophecies in the Bible, with their import for these perilous times. The dozen or more who gathered there will forever treasure this meeting which proved to be his last. Seated at his desk, his warm and radiant smile welcoming everyone, with his indescribable spiritual dignity, a manifest evidence of the world in which he lived, he carried on the meeting with joy and radiance.

His body was laid to rest in the burying ground at Eliot, Maine. On Wednesday afternoon, August 1, a Memorial Service was held at Fellowship House in the large room which was filled to overflowing, not only with the members of the Eliot Baha'I Community but also with the many friends who were attending the Green Acre Baha'I School. In this room he had conducted teaching meetings, fireside groups and conferences on race amity, the subject so close to his heart, and it seemed fitting that in this beautiful spot the prayers of the friends should pour forth in gratitude for such a wonderful life lived in their midst, and in supplication for his eternal progress.

May 9, 2010

Dr. Genevieve Lenore Coy (1886-1963), second director of the Tarbiyat School for girls in Tihran; "Fortitude, patience, detachment and integrity are the qualities that best describe the life and service of this devoted, highly competent and faithful maidservant of Baha’u’llah." (Borrah Kavelin)

by, Dorothea Morrell Reed

Dr. Genevieve Coy, for more than half a century, served the Baha’i Faith selflessly and unceasingly with distinction in a wide variety of roles, as pioneer, teacher, administrator and author. To have known Genevieve Coy was to have found a confidant and friend, and to have had one's horizon expanded beyond the limitations of self. She was keenly interested in the spiritual capacity within the individual, the creative energy with which the Teachings tell us all men arc endowed, and through her written articles and spoken discourses Dr. Coy endeavoured to bring others to this awareness of their latent capacities..

Before she came into contact with the Baha’i Faith in I911, Dr. Coy composed a poem, "Let Me Know Life", published in the early Baha’i magazine, Star of the West (Vol. XXI. No. 4, July 1930, p.101), of which the editors wrote: “It was as if she had previously reached out subconsciously for truth and had arrived at an attitude of mind and spirit which made the truth of the Baha'i Cause a complete fulfillment of her spiritual aspirations.” One felt that Genevieve Coy's Baha’i service was her grateful response to that fulfillment.

Of the many articles contributed by Dr. Coy to Baha’i publications over the years, none is more precious than the account of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, made between September 1- 8, 1920, in company with Mabel and Sylvia Paine , and Cora Grey. Genevieve recounts this visit in several Issues of Star of the West (Vol. XII, Nos. 10-13, Sept.-Nov. 1921, pp. 163-214) From her touching word portrait of the Mater is derived, too, a portrait of Genevieve Coy:

April 18, 2010

Agnes Parsons (1861-1934) – She arranged the first “Amity Convention”, termed by the Master "the mother convention", for unity of the colored and white races in America

by, Mariam Haney      

“Greatly deplore loss distinguished handmaid of Baha'u'llah. Through her manifold pioneer services she has proved herself worthy of implicit confidence reposed in her by 'Abdu'l-Baha. Advise American believers hold befitting memorial gatherings. Assure relatives heartfelt sympathy, prayers." (Signed) Shoghi (Cable to National Spiritual Assembly)

"The dress was destroyed, but the one who wore the dress is living." These words are part of a wonderful teaching on immortality which 'Abdu'l-Baha gave to Mrs. Parsons when she supplicated for a word from Him for a friend who was inconsolable because of the passing of a dear one. It seems appropriate now in connection with the going away of our dear sister herself, for in this world "she proved herself worthy of the implicit confidence reposed in her by 'Abdu'l-Baha," as stated in the cable about her from our Guardian.

On Friday, January 19, 1934, at about six p.m., Mrs. Parsons was crossing a street alone and was knocked down by a passing automobile. A serious illness followed, and finally on Tuesday night, January 23rd, about midnight, she ascended to the world of eternal, radiant light and life. "The human spirit comes from God and to Him it returns."

Mrs. Parsons, we are informed, had reached the age of seventy-three years, a long and eventful life which, as far as all earthly measurements are concerned, seemed full of promise for many more years of service.

The only child of General a d Mrs. Royal, Mrs. Parsons was born into and lived in what at that time was considered a beautifully sheltered world. Until middle age when she first became a Baha'i she had never known nor associated with anyone outside of her own immediate circle. The absolutely miraculous creative effect of the Revealed Word of Baha'u'llah was never more pronounced than in the unfoldment of this great soul into a devoted and loyal follower of the Risen Sun of Righteousness and Truth.

March 16, 2010

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914) -- one of 19 Apostles of Baha’u’llah, a “very excellent and erudite Bahá'í teacher”, and recognized as the most outstanding scholar of the Baha’i Faith

“Pure souls, such as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of God, spend their nights and days in demonstrating the truth of the Revelation, by adducing conclusive and brilliant proofs and expanding the verities of the Faith, by lifting the veils, promoting the religion of God and spreading His fragrances.”
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet to an individual believer; the Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 409)

by Ish’te’a’l Ebn-Kalanter, 1914

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl was born in 1844 in Galpaygan, a small Persian town founded by Humay, the daughter of Darius [an ancient Persian king]. The family to which his parents belonged was one of the most distinguished of that city, and, even to the present time [1914], is well known for learning and knowledge. [His given name at birth was Muhammad, but later in life he became known as Abu'l-Fadl, which means the father of virtue. After he became a Baha’i, Abdu'l-Baha frequently addressed him as Abu'l-Fada'il, which means the father of virtues] His father, Mirza-Reza, was one of the most noted Shi'ite doctors of religion in Persia; he died in 1871, at the age of seventy.

In the prime of youth, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl traveled to Isfahan and Iraq, with the object of perfecting his studies. Even in his boyhood he was noted for intelligence, sound memory, and diligence in discovering subtle scientific points, to such an extent that these qualities seemed to the people supernatural.

Before he was twenty-two years of age, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl had perfected himself in the branches of Arabic learning, such as grammar, rhetoric, etymology and composition; although Arabic is a foreign language to Persians. In accordance with the wishes of his father, he also acquired a perfect knowledge of Mohammedan theology and laws. At the same time he studied mathematic, algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy according to the Ptolemian system. He also mastered the Aristotelian as well as the rational Mohammedan philosophy.

February 1, 2010

William Sutherland Maxwell – Hand of the Cause of God, Architect of the Arcade and Superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab, Father-in-Law of Shoghi Effendi (1874-1952)

Cablegram from Shoghi Eflendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith:

With sorrowful heart announce through National Assemblies Hand of Cause of Baha’u’llah highly esteemed dearly beloved Sutherland Maxwell gathered into the glory of the Abha Kingdom. His saintly life extending well-nigh four-score years, enriched during the course of 'Abdu'l-Baha’s ministry by services in the Dominion of Canada, ennobled during Formative Age of the Faith by decade of services in Holy Land, during darkest days of my life, doubly honored through association with the crown of martyrdom won by May Maxwell and incomparable honor bestowed upon his daughter, attained consummation through his appointment as architect of the Arcade and Superstructure of the Bab's Sepulcher as well as his elevation to the front ranks of the Hands of the Cause of God. Advise all National Assemblies hold befitting memorial gatherings particularly in the Mashriqu'l-Adkar in Wilmette, and in the Haziratu'l-Quds in Tihran.

Have instructed Hands of the Cause in United States and Canada, Horace Holley and Fred Schopflocher, to attend as my representatives the funeral in Montreal. Moved to name after him the southern door of Bab's Tomb as tribute to his services to second holiest Shrine of Baha’i World. The mantle of Hand of Cause now falls upon the shoulders of his distinguished daughter, Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih, who has already rendered and is still rendering no less meritorious self-sacrificing services at World Center of Faith of Baha’u’llah.

Haifa, Israel,
March 26th, 1952.

January 16, 2010

Dr. Susan Moody, Amatu’l-A’la (The handmaid of the Most High), who “forged first link in (the) chain uniting (the) spiritual destinies” of Persia and the American Baha’i Community

(by Jessie E. Revell)

"In reality," says 'Abdu'l-Baha, "faith embodies three degrees: to confess with the tongue; to believe in the heart; to give evidence in our actions." In writing a brief account of the life of Dr. Susan I. Moody the real faith, as quoted here, is outstanding.

She was born November 20, 1851 in Amsterdam, New York, of Scotch-Covenanter parents. Here she received the usual schooling and orthodox religious training of the "best" families of the day. After graduating from Amsterdam Academy, she taught school, later entered the Women's Medical College in New York City. After her parents passed away, she made her home with her brother in Chicago where she studied music. Still later, Dr. Moody studied painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, then for three years in the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, then under the great painter Chase, in New York and finally, in the art schools studios of Paris, but she was not, however, to make art her life work for instead of following the professional art career, for which she was well qualified, she finally yielded to the constantly increasing urge which she felt and concluded her study of medicine, graduating from a Chicago medical college.

During those early days of her life in Chicago, she met friends who were attending the first classes formed for the study of the Baha'i Revelation, which classes she joined but did not become a confirmed believer until 1903, after making an intensive study of the teachings with Mrs. Isabella D. Brittingham, for the privilege of whose teaching Dr. Moody was always exceedingly grateful.