Mahmud: May 12: Unity Church, Montclair; Grace Methodist Church, NYC
In the morning, after prayers, the Master had tea and remarked that ‘Although we have not had sufficient rest yet we have to go to Montclair today to speak at the Unity Church there.’
He left with His companions, took a ferry for New Jersey and later boarded a train for Montclair. After an hour’s journey, we arrived at the home of Mr [Charles] Edsall, through whom the rector of the church had invited the Master. After greeting the friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the church where the rector, Dr Edgar S. Wiers, was waiting for Him at the entrance. He took the Master’s hand most reverently and accompanied Him to the pulpit, as well as showing us to our seats. After the service, he introduced the ‘Great Mystery of God’ saying, ‘Today we shall read from the New Gospel, that is, from the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh instead of the Bible.’ The minister then read a few selections from previously translated Tablets and said:
A few years ago a monument was erected in Genoa, Italy. Its purpose was to commemorate the memory of a Protestant martyred by the Catholics through religious prejudice. On the statue was engraved these wise words, ‘The greatest achievements of the last centuries have been the elimination of religious prejudice and the extension of human thought.’ But now I say that these words have not been fully realized and prejudice continues to hold its sway to a degree.
Now there comes a matchless Cause which does away with all prejudices. It is the new teaching of the Bahá’í Faith, which has stirred the religions of the world and has sacrificed some twenty thousand persons to root out prejudice. The East has always been the dawning-point of divine religions. That land is the mother of all religions. The West is in extreme need of such peace because of its excessive armaments and its many wars.
Although it has spread only recently to the West, the Bahá’í Cause will erelong encompass the entire hemisphere. And now from the leader of this mighty Cause you will hear an important message. It is truly our good fortune that this holy man is journeying in many parts of the world and has now come to this church to deliver the news of the great peace to us. I am greatly honored to introduce His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbas and to say that He is one of the great prophets of the world and one of the chosen ones of God.
After this introduction the Master stood up and the entire congregation, out of respect, immediately rose and remained standing until He bade them be seated with a wave of His hand. He spoke in a melodious and eloquent voice, beginning His speech by discussing the oneness of God and His Holy Manifestations and concluding with the statement that in every age the Sun of Truth appears within a sign of the zodiac. At the end He chanted a very touching prayer. As at every such meeting, the effect of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk had to be seen, for it is difficult to describe.
As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the church, many surrounded Him and shook His hand, each one attracted, each heart full of eagerness, each soul inclined towards the Master and every eye turned towards Him, each supplicating and yearning for the confirmations of the Kingdom. Not one mind was bereft of eagerness and no heart failed to be immersed in the sea of joy.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Mr. Edsall’s home where several Bahá’ís and seekers had gathered, including the minister and his wife, to have lunch with Him. All were overjoyed to be with Him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was exceedingly happy and the gathering became the envy of heaven.
After lunch and a little rest, another group came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and another meeting was held with eagerness and excitement. The Master spoke with animation, encouraging the friends and guiding the true seekers. Before He left, the minister brought out the church’s guest book, requesting that the Master write a prayer in His own hand. He did so at once:
He is God! O Lord! O Pure One! Thanks be to Thee that, traversing mountains and deserts and crossing the great ocean we were enabled to reach this country and utter Thy Name and manifest Thy signs in these regions. Even in this church we have raised our voice to Thy Kingdom like unto Elijah. O God! Attract the members of this church to Thy beauty, protect and shield them in Thine own shelter and bless them.
Signed ‘A ‘A
Time passed so happily that the Master promised the friends in Montclair a second visit. He then returned to New York.
In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the Grace Methodist Church in New York to speak to the public meeting of the Peace Forum. He spoke on the purpose of the Prophets of God, the peace and unity of humankind and the coming of Bahá’u’lláh who would establish and promote these divinely-ordained teachings. His talk ignited such a fire in the listeners’ hearts that all became as moths with scorched wings. In this meeting, too, the members of the audience, with one accord, stood when the Master appeared before them, which seemed extraordinary to everyone.