Before his death, Baha’u’llah appointed his eldest son, Abbas Effendi, known as Abdu’l-Baha, as his designated successor and the interpreter of the word of God. Abdu’l-Baha lived in Palestine and traveled to America and Europe to preach the message of Baha’u’llah. In his Will and Testemant, he appointed his eldest grandson Shoghi Effendi to be his successor and also outlined the laws of Baha’i administration.
Shoghi Effendi, who studied at a university in the UK, had great mastery of the English language. He translated many of the writings of Baha’u’llah into English. He also embarked on global projects for propagating the message of Baha’u’llah to all corners of the world. During his time, the Baha’i Faith spread to many countries.
In 1951, Shoghi Effendi set up the Universal House of Justice of Baha’u’llah in its initial stage, known as the International Baha’i Council. As he had no children, he appointed the adopted son of Abdu’l Baha, Charles Mason Remey, as its president. According to the Will & Testament if the guardian could not appoint his eldest son he must appoint another descendant of Baha’u’llah. Mason Remey had been adopted by Abdu’l Baha, so he was an adopted descendant of Baha’u’llah. Shoghi passed away in London in 1957.
Following the death of Shoghi, the majority of the Baha’is began to claim that Shoghi had not appointed anybody to succeed him. They took over the Baha’i administration and planned to dismantle the International Baha’i Council set up by Shoghi. Due to this act of violation by the Baha’is, Mason Remey returned to America to inform the world Baha’i community of what was happening. He proclaimed to them that he was the new guardian of the Baha’i Faith.
Mason Remey continued teaching the Baha’i Faith in America. He also set up another International Baha’i Council, known as the second International Baha’i Council of which he appointed Joel Bray Marrrengella as president. He later traveled to Italy where he adopted a man called Joseph Pepe as his son. Later, he did away with the second International Baha’i Council. In his Will and Testament, Mason willed everything tangible and intangible to his son Joseph Pepé. He passed away in 1974.
Following Mason’s death, the Baha’is were divided over the issue of the guardianship. While the majority of Baha’is believed there was no guardian, some believed it was Joel while others believed it was Donald. Dr. Leland Jensen, a Baha’i who had served under Mason Remey and had also participated in Shoghi Effendi’s global projects for preaching the Baha’i Faith, rose up at that time to remove the confusion from the Baha’i community regarding the guardianship.
Dr. Jensen explained that Baha’u’llah was of the line of King David and that the guardianship had to continue in line of King David according to God’s promise in Psalms 89. Therefore, only Pepé could succeed Mason to the guardianship of the Baha’i Faith. Dr Jensen also re-established the Universal House of Justice in the form of the Second International Baha’i Council in 1991. Its president was Joseph Pepe. Joseph Pepé passed on in 1994.
After Pepé passed away, the Baha’i community who had been loyal to Dr Jensen once again fell into confusion regarding who was their guardian. However, during his life Pepé had adopted Neal Chase to continue the guardianship after him. Neal Chase is the current guardian of the Baha’i Faith and the current president of the Universal House of Justice.