Introduction to the Baha’i Faith
While the Wolcotts were living in New York City, their two daughters, Sheila and Marsha, were born. The apartment building in which the family lived was managed by a Baha’i couple, and about 1935 they were introduced to the Faith. Their interest in the Teachings was nurtured in New York, but they did not become Baha’is until later in California.
Charles and Harriett enrolled in the Baha’i Faith in Los Angeles in August 1938 and were members of the Los Angeles community for the next 22 years. During this period he composed music as a setting for some of the prayers of Baha’u'llah including “From the Sweet Scented Streams”, “0 Thou By Whose Name”, and “Blessed is the Spot.”
Service in the Baha’i Faith
Charles was appointed to be a member of the Inter-America Baha’i Teaching Committee (1942-1944); served as chairman of the National Audio-Visual Education Committee (1946-1948); was elected to the Los Angeles Local Spiritual Assembly (1948-1960) and served as chairman or vice-chairman; served as chairman of the American Southwest Teaching Committee (1950-1952); and served as chairman of the American National Teaching Committee (1953-1956). In 1953, he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States on which he served as vice-chairman until 1960.
Election to the National Spiritual Assembly
It was during this period that the Baha’i world lost its beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. When the Hand of the Cause of God Horace Holley, who had served on the National Assembly since 1923 and spent 34 years as its secretary, was called to the Baha’i World Centre as one of the nine Hands to serve in the Holy Land, Charles was elected secretary of the National Assembly in 1960. In January 1960 he resigned his position as head of the Music Department at MGM Studios and he and Harriett moved to Wilmette, Illinois, so he could take up his duties in the National Baha’i Center.
Election to the International Baha’i Council
In January 1951, Shoghi Effendi had formed a Baha’i International Council to assist him in the work of “expansion and consolidation of the international institutions of the Faith.” Following the passing of the Guardian in 1957, the Hands of the Cause of God who administered the Faith from the passing of Shoghi Effendi until the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 called for the election of nine members for the International Baha’i Council by postal ballot from all National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies in the Baha’i world at Ridvan 1961. The elected Council was to work under the direction and supervision of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land for a two-year term of office, and would cease to exist upon the election of the first Universal House o f Justice. A t Ridvan 1961, Charles Wolcott was one o f the nine elected to the International Baha’i Council and was elected by that body to be its secretary-general.
Move to Haifa
Charles and Harriett moved from the United States to the Baha’i World Centre in 1961 to take up his two-year post on the International Baha’i Council, not knowing that his service to the Faith would keep him in that Holy Spot for another 26 years until his death.
Election to the Universal House of Justice
On 21 April 1963, the first day of Ridvan in the year 120 B.E, the Centenary anniversary of the Declaration by Baha’u'llah of His sacred Mission, the election of the Universal House of Justice was held in the House of the Master in Haifa. The delegates invited to this first International Convention were the 504 members of the 56 National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies who were charged with the sacred privilege and duty of voting for the nine people of the Baha’i world community who would comprise the membership of this first Universal House of Justice.
The results of the election were announced at the close of the morning session of the Convention on 22 April. Charles Wolcott, who had received the highest number of votes, found himself now a member of the Universal House of Justice to which he would be re-elected to subsequent terms in 1968, 1973, 1978 and 1983. He died suddenly, toward the end of his last term, on 26 January 1987.