Bahá'í Faith in Chile

Bahá'í Faith in Chile

The Bahá'í Faith was first mentioned the Chile in Bahá'í sources as early as 1916, with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1919 but the community wasn't founded in Chile until 1940 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Chilean converts and achieved an independent national community in 1963. In 2002 this community was picked for the establishment of the first Bahá'í Temple of South America which the community is still prosecuting.cite book | last = Lamb | first = Artemus | title = The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition | publisher = M L VanOrman Enterprises | year = 1995 | month = November | location = 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America | url =] There are currently an estimated 6000 Bahá'ís in Chile.cite web | url = | title = International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Chile | accessdate = 2008-03-08 | date = 2007-09-14 | publisher = State Department | author = Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan

`Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, wrote a series of letters, or tablets, to the followers of the religion in the United States in 1916-1917; these letters were compiled together in the book titled Tablets of the Divine Plan. The sixth of the tablets was the first to mention Latin American regions and was written in April 8, 1916, but was delayed in being presented in the United States until 1919 — after the end of the First World War and the Spanish flu. The first actions on the part of Bahá'í community towards Latin America were that of a few individuals who made trips to Mexico and South America near or before this unavailing in 1919 , including Mr. and Mrs. Frankland, and Roy C. Wilhelm, and Martha Root. Root's travels, perhaps the first Bahá'í to Chile, began in the summer of 1919 - stopping first in Brazil, then Argentina and Uruguay before setting out to cross the Andes mountains into Chile in winter; she visited Valparaiso and Santiago. [cite web | last = Allmar | first = Husayn | title = Martha Root’s Journey to Chile | work = The Chilean Temple Initiative | publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United State | year = 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-05] The sixth tablet was translated and presented by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab on April 4th, 1919, and published in Star of the West magazine on December 12th, 1919. [cite book| last = Abbas | first = 'Abdu'l-Bahá | coauthors = Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, trans. and comments | title = Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation] | year = 1919 | month = April | url =]

"His Holiness Christ says: Travel ye to the East and to the West of the world and summon the people to the Kingdom of God. ... the republic of be familiar with the Spanish language...Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the seventh country Belize...Attach great importance to the indigenous population of America...Likewise the islands of ... Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, ... Bahama Islands, even the small Watling Island...Haiti and Santo Domingo...the islands of Bermuda... the republics of the continent of South America—Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, the Guianas, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela; also the islands to the north, east and west of South America, such as Falkland Islands, the Galapagòs, Juan Fernandez, Tobago and Trinidad...." [cite book |author = `Abdu'l-Bahá |authorlink = `Abdu'l-Bahá |origdate = 1916-17 |year = 1991 |title = Tablets of the Divine Plan |edition = Paperback |publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Trust |location = Wilmette, Illinois, USA |id = ISBN 0877432333 |url = | pages = p. 31-32]

Following the release of these tablets and then `Abdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921, a few Bahá'ís began moving to or at least visiting Latin America. For example Mark Tobey visited Mexico in 1931 during a world trip from Europe through Palestine, the Americas and back to Europe. [cite book| last = Seitz| first = William Chapin| title = Mark Tobey | publisher = Ayer Publishing| year = 1980 | pages = 91 | url =| isbn = 0405128932 ]

even Year Plan and succeeding decades

Shoghi Effendi, who was named `Abdu'l-Bahá's successor, wrote a cable on May 1, 1936 to the Bahá'í Annual Convention of the United States and Canada, and asked for the systematic implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's vision to begin. In his cable he wrote:

"Appeal to assembled delegates ponder historic appeal voiced by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in "Tablets of the Divine Plan". Urge earnest deliberation with incoming National Assembly to insure its complete fulfillment. First century of Bahá'í Era drawing to a close. Humanity entering outer fringes most perilous stage its existence. Opportunities of present hour unimaginably precious. Would to God every State within American Republic and every Republic in American continent might ere termination of this glorious century embrace the light of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and establish structural basis of His World Order." [cite book |first = Shoghi |last = Effendi |authorlink = Shoghi Effendi |origyear = |year = 1947 |title = Messages to America |publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Committee |location = Wilmette, Illinois, USA |id = OCLC 5806374 |url =|to|assembled|delegates|ponder|historic&action=highlight#gr2 | pages = p. 6]

Following the May 1st cable, another cable from Shoghi Effendi came on May 19th calling for permanent pioneers to be established in all the countries of Latin America. The Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada was appointed the Inter-America Committee to take charge of the preparations. During the 1937 Bahá'í North American Convention, Shoghi Effendi cabled advising the convention to prolong their deliberations to permit the delegates and the National Assembly to consult on a plan that would enable Bahá'ís to go to Latin America as well as to include the completion of the outer structure of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. In 1937 the "First Seven Year Plan" (1937-44), which was an international plan designed by Shoghi Effendi, gave the American Bahá'ís the goal of establishing the Bahá'í Faith in every country in Latin America. With the spread of American Bahá'ís in Latin American, Bahá'í communities and Local Spiritual Assemblies began to form in 1938 across Latin America.

The permanent Chilean Bahá'í community dates from the arrival of Marcia Stewart Atwater, born in 1904 in Pasadena, California, who arrived in Chile on December 7, 1940 when her ship docked at Arica (though written materials of the Bahá'í Faith are known to have been present in Chile though the Theosophical Society previous none had become Bahá'í.).Citation | first = Janet | last = Ruhe-Schoen | title = An Enchantment of the Heart - A Portrait of Marcia Steward, Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, First Bahá’í Pioneer to Chile and the Marshall Islands | work = The Chilean Temple Initiative | year = 2007 | publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States | url =] The first Chilean to accept the Bahá'í Faith was 12 year old Paul Bravo, which was followed by his family becoming Bahá'ís. Then in 1943, Chile's first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected. Following this election Atwater went to Punta Arenas, the southern most city of the world.

In 1943 during the annual Bahá'í convention of the United States, Shoghi Effendi announced a Northern- and Southern- international convention which would include representative from each state and province from the United States and Canada and each republic of Latin America. During this convention, Esteban Canales was the Chilean delegate.

Artemus Lamb, the second Bahá'í pioneer in Chile arrived on October 2, 1944 in Punta Arenas, and thus relieving Atwater from her outpost. In that city, Lina Smithson (known as Lina Gianotti in Chile) became it's first Chilean believer in 1945; in 1945 Bahá'ís moved from Punta Arenas area to Santiago, Valparaíso and Valdivia. [cite journal| title = In Memoriam | journal = Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | volume = 19 | issue = No.7 | publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom | location = UK | date = January, 2003| url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03]

By 1946 a mixture of pioneers and Chilean citizens increased the number of Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies from fourteen to thirty-seven, of which three had obtained legal incorporation; and the number of localities in which Bahá'ís resided had been increased to almost a hundred. The first South American Bahá'í Congress was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November, 1946. In 1947 the Bahá'í international teaching committee for South America (CEPSA) was appointed and the first members were Walter Hammond, Rosy Vodanovic, Esteben Canales, Betty Rowe, and Artemus Lamb, all of Chile. The second South American Bahá'í Congress was celebrated in Santiago, Chile, in January, 1948 and was organized and executed by CEPSA with the help of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Santiago. In 1950, the Bahá'í Faith achieved legal recognition in Chile with the formation of an international Regional Spiritual Assembly for South America whose first members were Edmund Miessler of Brazil, Margot Worley of Brazil, Eve Nicklin of Peru, Gayle Woolson of Colombia, Esteban Canales of Paraguay, Mercedes Sanchez of Peru, Dr. Alexander Reid of Chile, Rangvald Taetz of Uruguay, and Manuel Vera of Peru.cite web| title = Comunidad Bahá'í en Chile | publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile| url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03]

Following the election of the Regional Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly of South America in 1950, in 1957 this Assembly was split into two - basically northern/eastern South America with the Republics of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, in Lima, Peru and one of the western/southern South America with the Republics of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia in Buenos Aires, Argentina. [cite book | title = The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963 | publisher = Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land | year = 1963 | location = Haifa, Israel | pages = pp. 22 and 46 | url = | isbn = ] Chile established it's independent Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly in 1961.

Recent situation

Following the changes in Chile due to transition to democracy between 1989 and 1991, the Chilean Ministry of Education approved programs for Bahá'í General Basic (Elementary) Education and Secondary Education, and two schools were established by the National Spiritual Assembly — the Elementary School of Faizi, Number 335 and the Elementary School of Dr. Muhajir, Number 499; [Citation | publisher = National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile | title = Comunidad Bahá'í en Chile, Proyectos | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03] both schools serve largely Mapuche communities. [cite web | title = Mapuche Schools, Chile | work = Our Projects | publisher = Mona Foundation | date = 2007-8| url =| accessdate = 2008-03-09]

Other mentions of the religion included in well-known Chilean Isabel Allende's book "The Infinite Plan: A Novel" (1991) which states: "Gregory's journey is marked by the contending philosophies of his mother's Bahai Faith." [cite web | last = Cutler| first = Sherri | title = Editorial Reviews | work = Library Journal | publisher = Publishers Weekly | year = 1993 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-08] By 1994 a radio station was established in Chile to nurture and preserve the local culture by featuring local story-tellers and music recorded at station-sponsored annual indigenous music festivals. [Citation| title = Protection of Minorities, Written statement to the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities | year = 1994 | place = Geneva, Switzerland | publisher = Bahá'í International Community | url = ] During 1994-95 there were two Bahá'í youth conferences. In August 1994 in Talca a youth conference was held were all talks and workshops were prepared and presented by youth to give them opportunities to develop their skills; the conference focused on evaluating the past year's projects and planning for the future. The second national conference, in February 1995, was the culmination of a month-long teaching project undertaken by the youth in sixteen cities of Chile. [cite web | title = Bahá'í Youth: "A New Kind of People" | work = from 1994-95 edition of The Bahá'í World, pp. 167-190 | publisher = Bahá'í International Community | year = 2006 | url =| accessdate = 2008-03-09]

In 2002, the Ministry of Justice acknowledged the Bahá'í community, through its National Spiritual Assembly, as a religion independent under public law. There were about 6000 Bahá'ís in Chile "from Arica to Punta Arenas." Nearly half of the Chilean Bahá'í community is of the indigenous Mapuche people. [cite web| last = Davis | first = Connee| title = The Mapuche People of Chile| work = The Chilean Temple Initiative | publisher = The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States | year = 2007| url = | accessdate = 2008-03-08]

outh American Bahá'í House of Worship

In late 2002, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile and the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá'ís, announced a competition for the design of the first Bahá'í House of Worship of South America, to be built near Santiago though the general decision to have the first temple of South America was set since 1953. [cite web | title = The Foundation | work = The Chilean Temple Initiative | publisher = The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States| year = 2007 | url =| accessdate = 2008-03-08] The selected design was designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto, Canada, [cite web | last = Scott | first = Alec | title = Higher Power - Toronto architect Siamak Hariri ascends to architectural greatness | work = Arts - Art & Design | publisher = | date = 2006-07-13 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03] and construction began in 2007. [cite web | title = Fabrication begins on components for Baha'i temple in South America | publisher = BWNS | date = 2007-02-19 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03] Its sides will be composed of translucent panels of alabaster and cast glass. The interior structure will be a lattice structure of steel supporting the inside of the upper dome.

Chilean Bahá'í artists

Kamal Siegel is a musician born in Punta Arenas of American parents; his first albums were produced in 1995, and his most recent productions in 2007 were produced by Grammy Award-Winner KC Porter. [cite web | title = Kamal Siegel featured on album produced by Grammy Award-Winner | publisher = Faro Producciones | date =2007-03-06 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03] More recently Siegel moved to the Seattle area of the United States and has been working for three years as a full-time employee at Microsoft working on environments for Xbox titles and continued producing CD's. [cite web | last = Siegel | first = Kamal | title = The Artist Official Webpage | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-03] [Citation | editor-last = Bohnhoff | editor-first = Maya | editor2-last = Butalia | editor2-first = Ravi | title = First Steps through a Musical Landscape, A Profile of Singer-Songwriter Kamal Siegel | magazine = Tabula Rasa | issue = 2 & 3 | pages = pp. 60-64 | date = Spring 2007 | url =]

Other Chilean Bahá'í artists include musician Rebecca Johnston-Garvin moved to Chile in 1979, [cite web | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-08 | title = The Music of Rebecca Johnston-Garvin] singer/songwriter Dario Cardoso, whom 1991 participated in a Bahá'í music group called Planeta Paz and toured Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. [cite web | url = | title = Dario Cardoso singer / songwriter, guitarist, Argentina / Chile / Bolivia | accessdate = 2008-03-08 | publisher = Arts Dialogue] architect and musician Javier Duhart, [cite web | url = | title = Javier Duhart: architect, musician, Chile, publisher = Arts Dialogue | accessdate = 2008-03-08] and rap duo "New Vision" with Vahid Masrour and Kioumars Balazadeh. [cite web | url = | title = New Vision - rap duo: Vahid Masrour and Kioumars Balazadeh, living in Chile | publisher = Arts Dialogue | accessdate = 2008-03-08]

ee also

*History of Chile
*Religion in Chile


External links

* [ Official Website of the National Spiritual of the Bahá'ís of Chilé]
* [ Addresses for International Affiliate Associations for Bahá'í Studies]
* [ Official Webpage of the Bahá'í Temple for South America] Copyright 2004, Bahá'í International Community
* [ The Chilean Temple Initiative] Sponsored by the Bahá'í Community of the United States, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.
* [ The Bahá'ís of Las Condes craft project]

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