Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 1912

New York: Unitarian Church; 'Abdu'l-Bahá called "The Great Persian Prophet"
Eliane Lacroix-Hopson in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York writes: 
      On June 16, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was invited to speak at the Fourth Unitarian Church, in Brooklyn, and the Pastor had posted on the church's outdoor signboard:
"The Great Persian Prophet, His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá, will speak in this church at 11am on the 16th of June."
      The Persian friends were amazed that a Christian church would recognize the Master as a "Prophet." The Pastor came to greet 'Abdu'l-Bahá at the door and led Him to the pulpit where He spoke.

      At the end of the service, the congregation pressed around Him. The Minister asked the Master to speak to the children of Sunday School. They flocked to Him in earnest, and He called them "beautiful children of the Kingdom." The prayer He revealed for them remains a favorite to this day: "O God… These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden…"

      Lunch was served at Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt's home. That evening, at a meeting at the Central Congregational Church on Hancock Street in Brooklyn, 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave one of His major addresses, speaking with the power of majesty on progressive revelation, with emphasis on Muhammad, and the station of Bahá'u'lláh and His proclamation to the kings and rulers of His time. The Pastor was so transported that he pleaded with 'Abdu'l-Bahá for another visit.

      The next day, the newspaper, The Brooklyn Eagle, published the complete transcript of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's address with a description of the gathering.

      The following morning, speaking of His day in Brooklyn, the Master said: "I established the Truth of Islam in the great churches in this day. What have the Moslems now to say to us?" Later, He encouraged the friends to visit the sick, and to travel to teach the Faith in foreign countries.

Allan Ward adds:  "After lunch at Mr. MacNutt's home He spoke to large numbers of the friends until time to go to an evening meeting at the Central Congregational Church on Hancock Street in Brooklyn. Before an audience that received Him eagerly 'Abdu'l-Bahá delivered from the Christian pulpit one of His lengthiest addresses, demonstrating with great force the proofs of the Prophethood of Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh."

Mahmud (dating his entry June 15) has further descriptions of all three events.  He says at the close of His talk at the Unitarian Church, the Master chanted "with His hands uplifted and in a melodious tone, a prayer in eloquent Arabic that was translated sentence by sentence."  At the Congregational Church, he says, "The gathering and setting of the church were impressive and magnificent and the breaths of the Holy Spirit were felt by all."  Wow. 

Central Congregational Church
Apparently the Central Congregational Church in Brooklyn was demolished in 1942, and its organ was given to the First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, TX.  But the Unitarian Church still stands at 160 Central Park West, New York.

From http://www.4thu.org/about/ :
The Fourth Universalist Society is a Unitarian Universalist congregation, a liberal religious presence in New York City since 1838, welcoming people of all cultural, religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Fourth U is the sole survivor of seven Universalist churches in New York City and now has about 150 members.
Our Building
4thu170×170.jpgOur church building was completed in 1898 and was designed by the noted architect William A. Potter. It was originally named “The Church of the Divine Paternity.” The tower and features of the sanctuary are replicas of the medieval tower and buildings at Magdalen College in Oxford, England.
.Our bell tower is named “The Peace Tower” to inspire us to work for peace in our lives, our community and our world.
Our sanctuary features an altar by Louis Comfort Tiffany, relief sculpture by Augustus St. Gaudens and stained glass windows by Clayton and Bell of London. It is considered one of the anchors of the New York City Landmark Historic District and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.This website from the American Guild of Organists gives additional information about the history of our church and our organ.

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