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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Joseph L. Russell (1813 -1897)

Joseph L. Russell, Charles’ father, was a member of the Allegheny Bible study class and a close associate of his son in the activities of the Watch Tower Society until his death in 1897.


THE EDITOR (Charles Taze Russell) has lost his oldest, tried and true friend--his Father according to the flesh, his Brother according to the spirit; well known to quite a number of our readers. He was in his 84th year, and the burdens and disabilities of life under present conditions had gradually come to outweigh its pleasures, so that he was glad to enter into rest;--the rest that remains for the people of God.

The Editor's mother, a noble Christian woman, whose instructions and example are still fresh to his memory and will never be forgotten, died when he was but nine years old; and from that time his father filled nobly the office of both parents. His care, his admonitions, his help into paths of righteousness will never be forgotten.

But it was after we had come under the first rays of "present truth" that his fellowship became most precious. He was one of the first to accept the harvest message as set forth in ZION'S WATCH TOWER, MILLENNIAL DAWN, etc. Altho not gifted as a teacher of the good tidings, either by voice or pen, he manifested his zeal for the Lord and his cause in various ways--he loaned and gave away thousands of tracts and DAWNS, besides contributing financially for their publication. He was one of the founders of the Tract Society; voluntarily giving $1,000 in the first subscription at its organization,--a large donation for his means. His greatest helpfulness however was in his personal encouragement of the Editor; in every visit and in every letter, he sought to "hold up our hands." This was specially noticeable at such times as the Lord permitted the great Adversary to assault the work, and the Editor as one of its representatives.

In his case we have been reminded of the Apostle's words in Hebrews 10:32-34. He had the spirit of martyrdom, and if he did not get into the thickest of the fight and did not bear the brunt of the Enemy's attacks, he surely was a faithful encourager and "companion of them that were so used" and "had compassion on me in my bonds." And as the Apostle adds so add we for the encouragement of all such whom the Lord has not assigned to duty in the front of the battle:--

"Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward." "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which ye ...have ministered to the saints, and do minister." --Heb. 10:35; 6:10.

Our last conversation before he became unconscious was respecting our blessed hope of eternal life through Christ, our dear Redeemer, and the promised future glory in which the Apostle intimates there will be different degrees of brilliancy, as "one star differeth from another star in glory." (1 Cor. 15:41.) Humble minded, unostentatious and neither vain nor boastful, he declared that he did not expect a great or prominent position in the Lord's Kingdom, but that he had full confidence nevertheless--not in his own perfection but in the Lord's perfection and sacrifice and love and grace,--and was confident therefore that a place was reserved for him, and he was satisfied to have the matter thus.

It is not for us to say what shall be his blessing and reward: the gracious Judge will esteem us none the less if our confidence is in him, rather than boastfully in ourselves; but we can say of father a few things without boasting of him or for him. He was a lover of righteousness. He walked not after the flesh but after the spirit. He was a true yoke fellow and helper in the Lord's cause. He fought a good fight--striving to conquer self-will and inherited sin and to resist the world and the devil. He kept the faith--did not deny it,--confessing it in word and deed to the very last, leaning on and trusting in the dear Redeemer. He has finished his course, and the righteous Judge, in whose grace he trusted, will grant him a goodly portion in the Father's house of many mansions.

- January 1, 1898 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Letter from Mr. Joseph L. Russell (now deceased), father of the Editor, relating to the same trouble:-- My Dear Son:--It is with love and sympathy in my heart that I write you at this time, after having read the full account of your trials and troubles amongst those whom you accepted as brethren in Christ. It does seem almost incredible that those people could be guilty of such mean and despicable conduct toward you, from whom they had received so many marks of kindness. But, my dear son, these are some of the trials we all may expect--especially those engaged in the "harvest" work. I am proud of the noble defense you make in vindication of your conduct, and especially in the cause of the Truth we all love so dearly. I feel confident that you will come out of this trial brighter and more appreciated in your character and works than you ever were before. The good Lord, who has been testing your works, will promote you to still higher honors in his Kingdom. I pray that he may bless you always and sustain you in every good word and work; and to him we will ascribe all the praise forever. Amen. But while confident that the outcome will be a final victory for the Truth, it is very trying for one who has labored late and early for the last twenty years for the cause of Truth, to have his supposed friends turn against him and brand him as a liar and a hypocrite. Oh! it is terrible! I often think of you and your many trials, which you seem to meet very courageously. But with an approving conscience a man can stand considerable, especially if the Lord is on his side to help and strengthen. Please extend to your dear wife my hearty congratulations on her noble defense of her husband and the cause of Truth during this trying ordeal. With love and congratulations from us all, I remain, your loving father. JOSEPH L. RUSSELL."

- July 15, 1906 Watchtower, WTB&TS (This is a reprint of an early letter, Joesph died in 1897)


The following letter is from the Editor's beloved father, who has past his threescore and ten: it shows his deep interest in the truth, and though neither a public speaker or writer, he is a minister and ambassador for the Lord, seeking continually to be used to the Master's honor, by letting his light so shine as to glorify our Father in heaven.

Manitee Co., Fla.


MY DEAR SON:--Your kind and welcome letter came duly, and I infer from its tenor that you are all well. However much I like to hear from you often, I am satisfied that you have not much time to give to writing letters and therefore will excuse you, when you do the best you can. We are in comfortable health at present, though I am far from rugged or strong. I feel that the Lord is dealing very graciously with us in all things, and that we have great reason to be very humble and thankful for his mercies, and I do feel thankful and contented. The world and the things of the world do not trouble me as they used to do. I take great pleasure in thinking of the goodness of our Heavenly Father in giving us the light of His glorious plan of salvation, and of establishing our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord as the only way to obtain eternal life. This hope and this trust in Jesus alone for salvation, is daily strengthened in me, the more I see of the various dogmas of conflicting creeds. The most regret I have, and the only thing which makes me feel dissatisfied with myself is, that I cannot do more than I am doing for the cause of truth, and to communicate to others the blessed truths we so much enjoy. We had a precious season here on the anniversary of the death of "Christ our Passover," though there were but three of us. We remembered the gathering at Allegheny, as well as all the scattered sheep, and knew even before the April TOWER told us, that you would have a precious season and remember us at the throne of grace.

I am glad to know that Bro. Zech has concluded the translation of DAWN into the German language. Tell him I compliment him on having accomplished his work in so short a time, considering other work. You are all doing a great work, and I pray that you may be very successful in your undertakings in the future, as you have been in the past. Send me 300 missionary envelopes. I have some of the "Arp Tracts" yet. Please send me about five or six more February TOWERS. I will state to you that if you find any one wanting to buy wild land near Pinellas, I want to donate 10 acres to the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, but I am unable to find a purchaser here at present.

We here, all join in sending love to you all. Your loving father.


- May 1888, Watchtower, WTB&TS


Children of Joseph Lytle Russell: b. 1813, d. 1897, and Ann Eliza (Birney) Russell: b. 1825, d. 1861, both are buried in the family plot in Allegheny Cemetery. Thomas B. Russell: b. 1850, d. 1855, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Charles Taze Russell: b. 1852, d. 1916 (aboard train near Pampa, Texas), buried in Rosemont United Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Margaret M. (Russell) Land: b. 1854, d. 1934. Lucinda H. Russell: b. 1857, d. 1858, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery. Joseph Lytle Russell, jr.: b. 1859, d. 1860, buried in the family plot, in Allegheny Cemetery.

Child of Joseph Lytle Russell and Emma H. (Ackley) Russell: Mabel R. (Russell) Packard: b. 1881, Allegheny; d. 1961, Saint Petersburg, Florida, buried in Royal Palm South Cemetery. The family plot also includes her Mother Emma H. (Ackley) Russell (1855 - 1929), her aunt Maria F. (Ackley) Russell (1850 - 1938), and her husband Richard P. Packard (1870 - 1946). - The Bible Student Movement, In The Days of C. T. Russell

Milton G. Henschel (1920 - 2003)

MILTON G. HENSCHEL, a longtime member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, finished his earthly course on Saturday, March 22, 2003. He was 82 years old.

As a young man, Milton Henschel joined the headquarters staff of Jehovah’s Witnesses and served faithfully for well over 60 years. He quickly became known for his good judgment and sincere interest in the Kingdom-preaching work. In 1939 he became secretary to N. H. Knorr, who was then the overseer of the Brooklyn printery of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When Brother Knorr began to take the lead among the Witnesses worldwide in 1942, he kept Brother Henschel as his assistant. Brother Henschel married Lucille Bennett in 1956, and together they shared the joys and challenges of life.

Brother Henschel worked closely with Brother Knorr until Knorr’s death in 1977. Often at Brother Knorr’s side, Brother Henschel traveled to over 150 countries, visiting and encouraging Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, especially missionaries and those in branch offices. Such travels were arduous at times, even dangerous. In 1963 when visiting a convention in Liberia, Brother Henschel was a victim of vicious persecution for refusing to take part in a patriotic ceremony. Undaunted, Brother Henschel returned to Liberia just a few months later to meet with the president of the country and to seek greater freedom of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses there.

In handling difficult problems and challenges, Brother Henschel had a reputation for being practical, flexible, and reasonable. His associates particularly valued his orderliness, his modesty, and his sense of humor. Blessed with a remarkable memory, he delighted many missionaries around the world with his ready knowledge of their names, a phrase or two in the local language, and a witty quip—which he delivered with a twinkle in his eyes.

Micah 6:8 reminds us that Jehovah God wants us “to love kindness.” Milton Henschel will be remembered for setting an example in that regard. Despite his heavy load of responsibility, he remained approachable, gentle, and kind. He was fond of saying, “When in doubt, remember that the kind thing is the right thing.” While we grieve the loss of this beloved brother, we rejoice that he endured faithfully to the end, assured of receiving his reward, “the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10.

- August 15, 2003 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Milton Henschel, 72; Executive Who Led Jehovah's Witnesses

Milton G. Henschel, a member since 1971 of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, which looks after their religious programs around the world, died on March 22 at his Brooklyn home. He was 72.

The Jehovah's Witnesses' public information office did not give a cause.

He lived in the complex of buildings in Brooklyn Heights that is the world headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination founded in the late 19th century that believes the end of the world is near and advocates door-to-door evangelism.

Mr. Henschel was a member of the staff of the world headquarters since 1939 and was the president since 1992 of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Inc. of Pennsylvania and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Inc. of New York State, two of the corporations that the Jehovah's Witnesses use to conduct their business affairs, which include publishing Bibles.

He was also president of the International Bible Students Association. A native of Pomona, N.J., Milton George Henschel had several years of religious training at Jehovah's Witnesses training institutions in Brooklyn Heights. He was ordained a Jehovah's Witness minister in 1934 and traveled to 150 countries while overseeing, and taking part in, ministry activity.

Surviving are his wife, Lucille; and a brother, Warren, of Canada.

Correction: April 2, 2003, Wednesday An obituary on Sunday about Milton Henschel, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, misstated his age. He was 82, not 72.

- New Yourk Times, March 30, 2003

Milton George Henschel (August 9, 1920 - March 22, 2003) was a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and succeeded Frederick W. Franz as president of the Watch Tower Society in 1992.

Milton Henschel was born in Pomona, New Jersey. His father, Herman George Henschel assisted in the establishment of the Watch Tower Society's farm on Staten Island, working with and mentoring the staff about once each week during the 1920s. The family relocated to Brooklyn, New York in 1934 to enable Herman to work on construction projects in the printeries and residences for Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters there.

Milton was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness minister in 1934, and joined the full-time Watch Tower staff in 1939. His older brother, Warren, was a full-time minister assigned to Oregon until he was invited to serve at the Brooklyn facility around 1940. In 1956, Henschel married Lucille Bennett, a graduate of the 14th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and a former missionary in Venezuela. Henschel died on March 22, 2003 at age 82, survived by his wife Lucille and brother Warren.

Professional life

In 1939, Henschel was appointed secretary to Nathan H. Knorr, who was overseeing work at the Watch Tower printery. After Knorr became president of the Watch Tower Society in 1942, Henschel continued as his assistant. Henschel was often with Knorr in his travels, visiting at least 150 countries during this time. By 1945, Henschel was a featured speaker at international events though only 25 years old.

By 1947 Henschel had claimed to be "anointed" —not unusual among Jehovah's Witnesses at the time—which was a criterion at the time for appointment as a director of the Watch Tower Society. Henschel was elected to the board of directors in 1947, after the death of W. E. Van Amburgh (since 1903 Secretary-Treasurer of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society), who died on February 7 of that year.

By 1960, Henschel was a zone overseer, supervising and auditing the administrative and ministry activities of about 10% of the Watch Tower Society's branch offices.

In March, 1963, Henschel was among a large group of Jehovah's Witnesses who were detained and assaulted during a religious conference in Liberia. He returned a few months later to meet with Liberia's president to discuss freedom of worship for Jehovah's Witnesses. In June, 1963, Henschel was a guest on a talk show hosted by Larry King.

In a July, 1968 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Henschel was asked about the Watch Tower Society's recently stated opposition to organ transplants, to which he responded that "transplanting organs is really cannibalism", a position that was abandoned in 1980. In the same interview, Henschel described the Watch Tower view of the immediate future, making reference to the impending battle of Armageddon. He conceded that there was no specific date for the outbreak of Armageddon, but stated, "1975 is a year to watch," alluding to Jehovah's Witnesses' belief that 6000 years of mankind's existence would be reached that year, an apparent precursor to Christ's millennial reign.

By 1973, Henschel was "branch overseer for the United States". Henschel contributed to the book Religions of America (1975), edited by Leo Rosten, with the chapter "Who are Jehovah's Witnesses?". In 1984, Henschel was the chairman for the centennial commemoration of the incorporation of the Watch Tower Society.

In February 1990, Henschel met with the chairman of the Committee of Religious Affairs in Moscow, along with eleven Russian elders representing local Jehovah's Witnesses, which led to the official recognition of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia by March 1991.

Henschel became president of the Watch Tower Society December 30, 1992 and remained in that position until 2000. Major organizational changes took place in 2000, as the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses was separated from the Society's board of directors. As a result, members of the Governing Body stepped aside from their capacities in the Watch Tower Society, and Don A. Adams was appointed president. Henschel remained a member of the Governing Body until his death in 2003.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 11/28/2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Frederick W. Franz (1893 - 1992)

TO THE angel of the congregation in Smyrna, the apostle John was told to write: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8, 10) Therefore, both sad and joyful is the announcement here made that Frederick William Franz, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., as well as a number of other theocratic bodies, finished his earthly course on the morning of December 22, 1992.

It is a sad announcement in that it tells of the passing off the earthly scene of a very much beloved and outstandingly faithful servant of Jehovah. Yet, it is also a joyful announcement because to our dear Brother Franz now apply the words of Revelation 14:13: “Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.” Brother Franz was modest and humble, a hardworking and very productive minister
whom Jehovah God used mightily as a member of “the faithful and discreet slave” to assist in providing
spiritual food for the “domestics” and their companions.—Matthew 24:45-47.

Brother Franz was born on September 12, 1893, in Covington, Kentucky. He came in touch with the truth through an older brother. At that time he was attending the University of Cincinnati, preparing to become a Presbyterian minister. Instead, he separated from the Presbyterian Church and became associated with the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called. He was baptized on November 30, 1913, and the following year he left the university and entered the colporteur (pioneer) work. On June 1, 1920, he became a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family. Before long, he was put in charge of the colporteur desk, and in 1926 he was transferred to the editorial department, where he served most prolifically. In 1945 he became vice president of the Watch Tower Society and other associated bodies. Upon the death of then president Nathan H. Knorr in 1977, he became the president of the Watch Tower Society. He served in that capacity until his death. In his lifetime, Brother Franz saw the number of Witnesses of Jehovah increase from a few thousand to some four and a half million. He enjoyed many privileges of service, including speaking at international conventions and visiting branches and missionary homes in many parts of the world. His life story appeared in the May 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower.

On Monday evening, December 28, 1992, a memorial service was held in the Kingdom Hall of Brooklyn Bethel. A very warm and spiritually upbuilding talk was delivered by Brother Albert D. Schroeder of the Governing Body. Tied in by telephone were the Bethel families at Watchtower Farms, Patterson, Mountain Farm, and Kingdom Farm, as well as the Bethel family at the Canada branch.

All, especially those who worked closely with him, will greatly miss Brother Franz. He was understanding, encouraging, and patient toward everyone with whom he served and traveled. Truly, fellow believers responded to him in the spirit of Hebrews 13:7: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”

On December 30, 1992, Brother Milton G. Henschel was chosen as the Society’s fifth president, to succeed Brother Franz.

- March 15, 1993 Watchtower, WTB&TS


Frederick W. Franz, A Religous Leader, Dies in Office at 99

Frederick William Franz, a biblical scholar and president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, better known as the Jehovah's Witnesses, died on Tuesday at his residence in the society's headquarters in Brooklyn. He was 99 years old. An eight-member board of directors is selecting his successor at the organization's new residential tower in Brooklyn Heights. Founded in 1879, the Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian denomination that believes the end of the world is near and advocates door-to-door evangelism. It claims 4.4 million believers worldwide. Mr. Franz was elected president of the society in 1977 and remained in the post until his death. Despite impaired vision in his mid-90's, he remained active in administration and continued to contribute to the society's publications. Versed in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, Mr. Franz published many translations. He traveled extensively, addressing audiences around the globe, often reciting large portions of the Bible without notes. A high point in his career was the 1958 convention of the Witnesses, when he addressed an audience of 253,922 people from 123 countries gathered at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. The stadiums were linked by loud speakers. Born in Covington, Ky., he developed an interest in the Bible at an early age and entered the University of Cincinnati intending to become a Presbyterian preacher. There he studied biblical and classical Greek and Latin. Introduced by a brother to the teachings of the International Bible Students, as the Witnesses were then called, Mr. Franz was ordained as a minister of the faith in Chicago in 1913. There are no immediate survivors. - New York Times, December 24, 1992

Frederick William Franz (September 12, 1893 – December 22, 1992) served as President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. He had previously served as Vice President of the same corporation from 1945 until 1977 and as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses before replacing Nathan H. Knorr as president in June 1977. Franz was born on September 12, 1893 in Covington, Kentucky. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church, but attended Catholic services as a child as a matter of convenience, before later attending the Presbyterian Church. He graduated from high school in 1911 and attended the University of Cincinnati where he studied liberal arts and later (for two years) Biblical Greek, with the intention of becoming a Presbyterian preacher. He learned German and could read Latin and Greek and in later years learned Spanish, Portuguese and French and a basic understanding of Hebrew. His association with the Bible Students began after he read some of the literature of Charles Taze Russell. He was baptized as a Bible Student on either November 30 1913, or, according to Franz, April 5, 1914. In 1920 he joined the Watch Tower headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York and in 1926 became a member of the editorial staff as a Bible researcher and writer for the Society’s publications. Franz was the Society's leading theologian and has been named as a leading figure in the preparation of the Witnesses' New World Translation of the Bible. His nephew and fellow Governing Body member Raymond Franz resigned from the Governing Body and was subsequently disfellowshipped in 1980 during F.W. Franz's presidency. Franz died in Brooklyn, New York in 1992 at the age of 99 and was succeeded by Milton G. Henschel. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frederick W. Franz and Biblical Hebrew

A number of critical websites make assertions to the effect that Frederick W. Franz, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses until his death in 1992, was unable to translate a simple verse from Hebrew into English, when asked to do so during a court case in Scotland in 1954. When one man wrote to me about the above assertion, I challenged him to prove it. He replied by sending me a copy of Robert Hommel's article on the subject. Hommel, however, concedes that Franz was not asked to translate from Hebrew into English, but from English into Hebrew. A number of other sources, however, continue to misrepresent the facts. Now, as the court record shows, Franz refused to translate a Bible verse from English into Hebrew. First of all, we must agree with Stafford[2] that the fact that Franz refused to do so, saying "No, I won't attempt to do that," doesn't mean that he couldn't do it. After all, his knowledge of Hebrew or Greek was not in the slightest relevant to the subject of the court case at hand, which was whether Jehovah's Witnesses have the right to ordain ministers of religion. A court is not a circus and Franz certainly wasn't obliged to go along with some lawyer's dubious tactics. Franz stood up for himself and refused
to play along. - Read the full story at:


To give even more widespread publicity to the truth about the condition of the dead, Brother Russell served an extensive series of one-day conventions, from 1905 through 1907, at which he featured the public discourse “To Hell and Back! Who Are There? Hope for Return of Many.” The title was intriguing, and it attracted much attention. Audiences packed out assembly halls in cities both large and small in the United States and Canada to hear the talk. Among those who were deeply moved by what the Bible says about the condition of the dead was a university student in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was preparing to become a Presbyterian minister. In 1913 he received from his fleshly brother the booklet Where Are the Dead?, written by John Edgar, a Bible Student who was also a medical doctor in Scotland. The student who received that booklet was Frederick Franz. After reading it carefully, he firmly declared: “This is the truth.” Without hesitation, he changed his goals in life and got into the full-time ministry as a colporteur evangelizer. In 1920 he became a member of the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters staff. Many years later he became a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and, later, the president of the Watch Tower Society. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Hayden Covington (1911 - 1978)

Hayden Covington was born in Hopkins County, Texas, in 1911. Around the time that he was studying for his law degree, he became involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He defended some Witnesses in the San Antonio area and was eventually invited by the Witness leadership to New York. He joined the organization’s legal counsel in 1939 and served until 1963. In that time as the Witnesses’ attorney, Covington is said to have presented 111 petitions and appeals to the Supreme Court, and he won well above 80% of the 44 cases he brought before the Court. The cases dealt with issues ranging from compulsory flag-salute statutes, to street preaching, to door-to-door literature distribution. Later in his career Covington assisted prize-fighter Muhammad Ali in obtaining a draft exemption as a Muslim minister. Covington’s role as lawyer for the Jehovah’s Witnesses is recounted in Shawn Francis Peters’ Judging Jehovah's Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution (2002).

First Amendment lawyers -

“Determined to Keep Close to the Lord”

It was Brother Rutherford’s heartfelt wish that Jehovah’s Witnesses declare the good news without letup. So in mid-December 1941, several weeks before his death, he called together four directors of the two principal legal corporations used by Jehovah’s Witnesses and suggested that as soon after his death as possible, all the members of the two boards be called in joint session and a president and a vice president be elected.

On the afternoon of January 13, 1942, just five days after Rutherford’s death, all the board members of the two corporations met jointly at Brooklyn Bethel. Several days earlier, the Society’s vice president, 36-year-old Nathan H. Knorr, had suggested that they earnestly seek divine wisdom by prayer and meditation. The board members recognized that while the brother elected president would administer the legal affairs of the Watch Tower Society, he would also serve as a principal overseer of the organization. Who had the needed spiritual qualifications for this weighty responsibility in caring for Jehovah’s work? The joint meeting was opened with prayer, and after careful consideration, Brother Knorr was unanimously elected president of the two corporations and 30-year-old Hayden C. Covington, the Society’s lawyer, vice president.

Later that day, W. E. Van Amburgh, the Society’s secretary-treasurer, announced to the Bethel family the results of the election. R. E. Abrahamson, who was present on that occasion, recalled that Van Amburgh said: ‘I can remember when C. T. Russell died and was replaced by J. F. Rutherford. The Lord continued to direct and prosper His work. Now, I fully expect the work to move ahead with Nathan H. Knorr as president, because this is the Lord’s work, not man’s.’

How did the Bethel family members in Brooklyn feel about the results of the election? A touching letter from them dated January 14, 1942, the day after the election, answers: “His [Rutherford’s] change shall not slow us up in the performance of the task the Lord has assigned to us. We are determined to keep close to the Lord and to one another, firmly pushing the battle to the gate, fighting shoulder to shoulder. . . . Our intimate association with Brother Knorr for approximately twenty years . . . enables us to appreciate the Lord’s direction in the choice of Brother Knorr as president and thereby the loving watch-care of the Lord over His people.” Letters and cablegrams of support soon poured into headquarters from around the world.

There was no feeling of uncertainty as to what to do. A special article was prepared for the February 1, 1942, Watchtower, the very same issue that announced the death of J. F. Rutherford. “The final gathering by the Lord is on,” it declared. “Let nothing for one instant interrupt the onward push of his covenant-people in His service. . . . Now to hold fast our integrity toward the Almighty God is the ALL-IMPORTANT thing.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were urged to continue declaring the good news with zeal.

But ‘holding fast their integrity’ was a real challenge in the early 1940’s. The world was still at war. Wartime restrictions in many parts of the earth made it difficult for Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach. Arrests and mob action against the Witnesses continued unabated. Hayden Covington, as the Society’s legal counsel, directed the legal fight, sometimes from his office at Brooklyn headquarters and sometimes from trains as he traveled caring for legal cases. Working with local lawyers, such as Victor Schmidt, Grover Powell, and Victor Blackwell, Brother Covington fought hard to establish the constitutional rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach from house to house and to distribute Bible literature without restraint from local officials.

- Declaring the Good News Without Letup (1942-1975)

As the intensity of house-to-house witnessing increased, however, so did attempts to apply laws to abridge or prohibit it. Not all lands have legal provisions that make it possible to secure freedoms for minorities in the face of official opposition. But Jehovah’s Witnesses knew that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. So, when judges construed local ordinances in such a way as to hinder the preaching of God’s Word, the Witnesses appealed their cases to the higher courts.

In reviewing what took place, Hayden C. Covington, who had a prominent role in legal matters for the Watch Tower Society, later explained: “Had the thousands of convictions entered by the magistrates, police courts and other lower courts not been appealed, a mountain of precedent would have piled up as a giant obstacle in the field of worship. By appealing we have prevented the erection of such obstacle. Our way of worship has been written into the law of the land of the United States and other countries because of our persistence in appealing from adverse decisions.” In the United States, scores of cases went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Strengthening the Guarantees of Freedom

One of the first cases involving the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses to reach the Supreme Court of the United States originated in Georgia and was argued before the Court on February 4, 1938. Alma Lovell had been convicted in the recorder’s court of Griffin, Georgia, of violating an ordinance that prohibited the distribution of literature of any kind without a permit from the city manager. Among other things, Sister Lovell had offered people the magazine The Golden Age. On March 28, 1938, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the ordinance was invalid because it subjected freedom of the press to license and censorship.

The following year J. F. Rutherford, as attorney for the petitioner, presented arguments to the Supreme Court in the case of Clara Schneider v. State of New Jersey. This was followed, in 1940, by Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, for which J. F. Rutherford drafted the legal brief and Hayden Covington presented oral argument before the Court. The positive outcome of these cases buttressed the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. But there were setbacks.

- ‘Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News’, WTB&TS

How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation

ANNUAL meetings of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania have been held since January of 1885. When the ingathering of anointed Christians was underway in the late 19th century, the directors and officers of this corporation had the heavenly hope. In fact, this has almost always been the case.

There was one exception. In 1940, Hayden C. Covington—then the Society’s legal counsel and one of the “other sheep,” with the earthly hope—was elected a director of the Society. (John 10:16) He served as the Society’s vice president from 1942 to 1945. At that time, Brother Covington stepped aside as a director to comply with what then seemed to be Jehovah’s will—that all directors and officers of the Pennsylvania corporation be anointed Christians. Lyman A. Swingle replaced Hayden C. Covington on the board of directors, and Frederick W. Franz was elected vice president.

Why did Jehovah’s servants believe that all the directors and officers of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania should be anointed Christians? Because at the time, the board of directors and officers of the Pennsylvania corporation were closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has always been made up entirely of spirit-anointed men.

- Jan. 15, 2001 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Covington was attracted to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses and impressed by the dedication and character of the members, defending several of them in Texas courts prior to formally joining the group himself. His first exposure to their teachings was through listening to the broadcast sermons of Watch Tower Society President Joseph F. Rutherford on radio station KTSA in San Antonio.

Word of Covington's successes in defending the Witnesses reached the New York headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses, and he was asked by President Rutherford to join him in representing the Society on a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was then invited to join headquarters staff as general counsel in 1939, succeeding Olin R. Moyle, who had been ousted that year in a dispute with Rutherford over Rutherford's alleged heavy drinking and cursing.

When Judge Rutherford died in January 1942, his aggressive litigation policy was carried on by Covington. Honoring Rutherford's deathbed wishes, Hayden Covington was even elected Vice-President of the Watch Tower Society succeeding the newly elected President, Nathan H. Knorr, despite having been a Jehovah's Witnesses for only five years. Throughout most of its history, appointment to the board of directors of the Watch Tower Society, and thus by implication to the "Governing Body" of Jehovah's Witnesses, has been limited to those professing to be of the "anointed class" within the group; the "spirit begotten" sons of God who would "rule as Kings" in heaven with Christ. To date, the one exception has been Hayden C. Covington. A subsequent policy change resulted in Covington's resignation from the Vice Presidency and departure from the board in 1945, although remaining on staff as legal counsel.

In the following years, Hayden Covington came to be hailed as one of the greatest civil liberties attorneys in American history. During his tenure as the head of the Watch Tower Society's Legal Department, Covington is said to have presented 111 petitions and appeals to the Supreme Court; he won well above 80% of the 44 cases he brought before the Court. The cases dealt with issues ranging from compulsory flag-salute statutes, to street preaching, to door-to-door literature distribution. He eventually resigned as Head of the Watch Tower Society's Legal Department.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, April 26, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Appointed Times of the Nations

After discussing the destruction due to come upon the city of Jerusalem, Jesus made the statement: “And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations [“times of the Gentiles,” KJ, RS] are fulfilled.” (Lu 21:24) The period indicated by the expression “appointed times of the nations [Gr., kai‧roi′ e‧thnon′]” has occasioned considerable discussion as to its meaning and implication.

Meaning of “Appointed Times.” The expression “appointed times” here comes from the Greek word kai‧ros′ (plural, kai‧roi′), which, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1981, Vol. 4, p. 138), “signified a fixed or definite period, a season, sometimes an opportune or seasonable time.” Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (1968, p. 859) gives the further definition of “exact or critical time.” Thus, kai‧ros′ is used to refer to the harvest “season,” “the season” of the fruits, and “the season” of figs (Mt 13:30; 21:34; Mr 11:13); “the proper time” for dispensing food (Mt 24:45; Lu 12:42); “the appointed time” for Jesus’ ministry to begin and the period of opportunity it brought (Mr 1:15; Mt 16:3; Lu 12:56; 19:44); and the “appointed time” of his death. (Mt 26:18) The demons, about to be cast out of certain men, screamed at Jesus: “Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”—Mt 8:29.

Kai‧ros′ is also used with reference to future times or occasions within God’s arrangement or timetable, particularly in relation to Christ’s presence and his Kingdom. (Ac 1:7; 3:19; 1Th 5:1) Thus, the apostle Paul speaks of “the sacred secret” revealed by God “for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times [kai‧ron′], namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Eph 1:9, 10) In view of the meaning of the word kai‧ros′ as used in the Bible text, it can properly be expected that the expression “appointed times of the nations” refers, not to something vague or indefinite, but, rather, to a “fixed or definite period,” an “exact or critical time,” one having a definite beginning and a definite end.

“The Nations” and “Jerusalem.” The significance of Jesus’ statement is necessarily bound up in his reference to the ‘trampling on Jerusalem,’ which he stated would continue until the fulfillment of “the appointed times of the nations.” The term “nations” or “Gentiles” translates the Greek word e′thne, which means “nations” and was used by the Bible writers to refer specifically to the non-Jewish nations. On this basis some have considered the prophecy to apply to the period of time during which the geographic site of the ancient city of Jerusalem would be under Gentile domination and control.

While the literal city of Jerusalem is obviously referred to in Jesus’ description of the destruction that was to come and did come upon that city in the year 70 C.E. when the Romans demolished Jerusalem, the statement concerning “the appointed times of the nations” carries the prophecy far beyond that point, as many commentators have noted. Thus, the well-known Commentary by F. C. Cook says of Luke 21:24: “It serves to separate the strictly eschatological portion [that is, the portion relating to the last days] of the great prophecy, from the part belonging properly to the destruction of Jerusalem.” So, it becomes essential to determine what significance the inspired Scriptures attach to “Jerusalem” in order to ascertain whether “the appointed times of the nations” relate only to the literal city of Jerusalem or to something additional and greater.

Jerusalem was the capital of the nation of Israel, whose kings of the line of David were said to “sit upon Jehovah’s throne.” (1Ch 29:23) As such, it represented the seat of the divinely constituted government or typical kingdom of God operating through the house of David. With its Mount Zion, it was “the town of the grand King.” (Ps 48:1, 2) Hence, Jerusalem came to stand for the kingdom of the dynasty of King David, much as Washington, London, Paris, and Moscow represent the ruling powers of present-day nations and are so referred to in news communiqués. After Jerusalem was trampled on by the Babylonians, its king being taken into exile and the land laid desolate, no member of the Davidic dynasty again ruled from earthly Jerusalem. But the Scriptures show that Jesus, the Messiah, who was born in the line of David, would rule from heavenly Mount Zion, from heavenly Jerusalem.—Ps 2:6, 7; Heb 5:5; Re 14:1, 3.

Beginning of ‘trampling.’ The ‘trampling’ on that kingdom of the dynasty of Davidic rulers did not begin with the Roman devastation of the city of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. It began centuries earlier with the Babylonian overthrow of that dynasty in 607 B.C.E. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took captive the dethroned king Zedekiah and the land was left desolate. (2Ki 25:1-26; see CHRONOLOGY.) This accorded with the prophetic words directed to Zedekiah at Ezekiel 21:25-27, namely: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. . . . A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” The one who has “the legal right” to the Davidic crown lost by Zedekiah is demonstrated in the Christian Greek Scriptures to be Christ Jesus, of whom the angel, announcing his future birth, said: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Lu 1:32, 33.

With Jerusalem’s fall in 607 B.C.E. the Gentile powers exercised domination over the entire earth. The Davidic dynasty and rule suffered interruption, and so Jerusalem, or what it stood for, would continue to be “trampled on” as long as God’s kingdom, as functioning through David’s house, was kept in a low, inoperative condition under the Gentile powers. Observing this connection with rulership Unger’s Bible Dictionary (1965, p. 398) comments: “Consequently Gentiles move on as ‘the nations’ to the end of their stewardship as earth rulers. The termination of this period will be the end of the ‘times of the Gentiles.’ (Luke 21:24; Dan. 2:36-44).”—Compare Eze 17:12-21; also the description of Medo-Persia’s fall at Da 8:7, 20.

Relation to Daniel’s Prophecies. At least twice in this prophecy concerning the time of the end, Jesus referred to the contents of the book of the prophet Daniel. (Compare Mt 24:15, 21 with Da 11:31; 12:1.) In the book of Daniel we find a picture drawn of the domination of the earth by the Gentile powers during their “appointed times.” The second chapter of Daniel contains the prophetic vision (received by King Nebuchadnezzar) of the great image that Daniel by inspiration showed to represent the march of Gentile world powers, ending with their destruction by the Kingdom set up by “the God of heaven,” which Kingdom then rules earth wide. (Da 2:31-45) It is of note that the image begins with the Babylonian Empire, the first world power to ‘trample Jerusalem’ by overthrowing the Davidic dynasty and leaving “Jehovah’s throne” in Jerusalem vacant. This also confirms the start of “the appointed times of the nations” in the year of Jerusalem’s destruction, 607 B.C.E.

Dream vision of tree in Daniel chapter 4. Again in the book of Daniel we find a close parallel to Jesus’ use of the word “times” with regard to “the nations,” or Gentile powers. And again it is Nebuchadnezzar, the dethroner of David’s descendant Zedekiah, who was given another vision interpreted by Daniel as relating to divinely appointed kingship. The symbolic vision was of an immense tree; an angel from heaven commanded that it be chopped down. Its stump was then banded with iron and copper and had to stay that way among the grass of the field until “seven times” passed over it. “Let its heart be changed from that of mankind, and let the heart of a beast be given to it, and let seven times pass over it . . . to the intent that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind.”—Da 4:10-17; see 4:16, ftn.

Related to “appointed times of the nations.” The vision definitely had a fulfillment in Nebuchadnezzar himself. (See Da 4:31-35.) Therefore, some view it as having direct prophetic application only to him and see in this vision merely the presentation of the eternal verity of ‘God’s supremacy over all other powers—human or supposedly divine.’ They acknowledge the application of that truth or principle beyond Nebuchadnezzar’s own case but do not see it as relating to any specific time period or divine schedule. Yet, an examination of the entire book of Daniel reveals that the element of time is everywhere prominent in the visions and prophecies it presents; and the world powers and events described in each such vision are shown, not as isolated or as occurring at random with the time element left ambiguous, but, rather, as fitting into a historical setting or time sequence. (Compare Da 2:36-45; 7:3-12, 17-26; 8:3-14, 20-25; 9:2, 24-27; 11:2-45; 12:7-13.) Additionally, the book repeatedly points toward the conclusion that forms the theme of its prophecies: the establishment of a universal and eternal Kingdom of God exercised through the rulership of the “son of man.” (Da 2:35, 44, 45; 4:17, 25, 32; 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; 12:1) The book is also distinctive in the Hebrew Scriptures for its references to “the time of the end.”—Da 8:19; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9.

In view of the above, it does not seem logical to evaluate the vision of the symbolic “tree” and its reference to “seven times” as having no other application than to the seven years of madness and subsequent recovery and return to power experienced by one Babylonian ruler, particularly so in the light of Jesus’ own prophetic reference to “the appointed times of the nations.” The time at which the vision was given: at the critical point in history when God, the Universal Sovereign, had allowed the very kingdom that he had established among his covenant people to be overthrown; the person to whom the vision was revealed: the very ruler who served as the divine instrument in such overthrow and who thereby became the recipient of world domination by divine permission, that is, without interference by any representative kingdom of Jehovah God; and the whole theme of the vision, namely: “that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind” (Da 4:17)—all of this gives strong reason for believing that the lengthy vision and its interpretation were included in the book of Daniel because of their revealing the duration of “the appointed times of the nations” and the time for the establishment of God’s Kingdom by his Christ.

The tree symbolism and God’s sovereignty. The symbolisms used in this prophetic vision are by no means unique. Trees are elsewhere used to represent ruling powers, including that of God’s typical kingdom at Jerusalem. (Compare Jg 9:6-15; Eze 17:1-24; 31:2-18.) A stump’s being caused to sprout and the symbol of “a twig” or “sprout” are found a number of times as representing the renewal of rulership in a certain stock or line, particularly in the Messianic prophecies. (Isa 10:33–11:10; 53:2-7; Jer 23:5; Eze 17:22-24; Zec 6:12, 13; compare Job 14:7-9.) Jesus spoke of himself as both “the root and the offspring of David.”—Re 5:5; 22:16.

The fact is evident that the key point of the vision is Jehovah God’s exercise of irresistible sovereignty in “the kingdom of mankind,” and this provides the guide to the full meaning of the vision. The tree is shown to have an application to Nebuchadnezzar, who at that point in history was the head of the dominant World Power, Babylon. Yet, prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem, the typical kingdom of God ruling out of that city was the agency by which Jehovah expressed his rightful sovereignty toward the earth. It thus constituted a divine block or impediment for Nebuchadnezzar in attaining his goal of world domination. By allowing that typical kingdom at Jerusalem to be overthrown, Jehovah permitted his own visible expression of sovereignty through the Davidic dynasty of kings to be cut down. The expression and exercise of world domination in “the kingdom of mankind,” unhindered by any representative kingdom of God, now passed into the hands of the Gentile nations. (La 1:5; 2:2, 16, 17) In the light of these facts “the tree” is seen to represent, beyond and above its application to Nebuchadnezzar, world sovereignty or domination by God’s arrangement.

Renewal of world domination. God, however, here makes clear that he has not forever delivered up such world domination to the Gentile powers. The vision shows that God’s self-restraint (represented by the bands of iron and of copper around the stump of the tree) would continue until “seven times pass over it.” (Da 4:16, 23, 25) Then, since “the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind,” God would give world domination “to the one whom he wants to.” (Da 4:17) The prophetic book of Daniel itself shows that one to be the “son of man” to whom are given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Da 7:13, 14) Jesus’ own prophecy, in which the reference to “the appointed times of the nations” occurs, points definitely toward Christ Jesus’ exercise of such world domination as God’s chosen King, the heir of the Davidic dynasty. (Mt 24:30, 31; 25:31-34; Lu 21:27-31, 36) Thus, the symbolic stump, representing God’s retention of the sovereign right to exercise world domination in “the kingdom of mankind,” was due to sprout again in his Son’s Kingdom.—Ps 89:27, 35-37.

Seven Symbolic Times. In Nebuchadnezzar’s personal experience of the vision’s fulfillment the “seven times” were evidently seven years, during which he became mad, with symptoms like those of lycanthropy, abandoning his throne to eat grass like a beast in the field. (Da 4:31-36) Notably, the Biblical description of the exercise of world domination by the Gentile powers is presented through the figure of beasts in opposition to the holy people of God and their “Prince of princes.” (Compare Da 7:2-8, 12, 17-26; 8:3-12, 20-25; Re 11:7; 13:1-11; 17:7-14.) Concerning the word “times” (from Aramaic ʽid‧dan′), as used in Daniel’s prophecy, lexicographers show it here to mean “years.” (See Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Leiden, 1958, p. 1106; A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by Brown, Driver, and Briggs, 1980, p. 1105; Lexicon Linguae Aramaicae Veteris Testamenti, edited by E. Vogt, Rome, 1971, p. 124.) The duration of a year as so used is indicated to be 360 days, inasmuch as three and a half times are shown to equal “a thousand two hundred and sixty days” at Revelation 12:6, 14. (Compare also Re 11:2, 3.) “Seven times,” according to this count, would equal 2,520 days. That a specific number of days may be used in the Bible record to represent prophetically an equivalent number of years can be seen by reading the accounts at Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. Only by applying the formula there expressed of “a day for a year” to the “seven times” of this prophecy can the vision of Daniel chapter 4 have significant fulfillment beyond the day of now extinct Nebuchadnezzar, as the evidence thus far presented gives reason to expect. They therefore represent 2,520 years.

It is a historical fact worth noting that, on the basis of the points and evidence above presented, the March 1880 edition of the Watch Tower magazine identified the year 1914 as the time for the close of “the appointed times of the nations” (and the end of the lease of power granted the Gentile rulers). This was some 34 years before the arrival of that year and the momentous events it initiated. In the August 30, 1914, edition of The World, a leading New York newspaper at that time, a feature article in the paper’s Sunday magazine section commented on this as follows: “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy. For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students’ . . . have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914.”

The events that took place from and after the year 1914 C.E. are well-known history to all, beginning with the great war that erupted, the first world war in mankind’s history and the first to be fought over the issue, not of the domination of Europe alone, nor of Africa, nor of Asia, but of the domination of the world.—Lu 21:7-33; Re 11:15-18; see LAST DAYS; PRESENCE.

- Additional Reading:

- Also See:

- Insight on the Scriptures, Volume I, published by the WTB&TS in 1988

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brooklyn Bethel—100 Years of History (1909 - 2009)

THE year 1909 was a momentous one for New York City. The Queensboro Bridge was opened, connecting the borough of Queens with Manhattan, and the Manhattan Bridge was opened, making another connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

It was also a momentous year for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Earlier, Charles Taze Russell, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the legal arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had seen the potential for expanding the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) He believed that moving the Society’s headquarters from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Brooklyn, New York, would be an important step in doing so. Preparations for the move had begun in 1908, and the move was made early the following year.

Why Move to Brooklyn?

Those taking the lead in the preaching work back then knew that evangelizing by sermons printed in newspapers was an effective way to spread Bible truth. In fact, by the year 1908, Russell’s weekly Bible sermons appeared in 11 newspapers with a combined circulation of 402,000.

However, Russell wrote: “Brethren familiar with newspaper methods . . . assure us that if the weekly sermons emanated from a [larger center] it would possibly result in the publication of the sermons all over the United States; that within a year there might be hundreds of papers publishing them regularly.” Therefore, the hunt was on for the best location to expand the preaching work.

Why Brooklyn? Russell said: “Altogether we concluded, after seeking Divine guidance, that Brooklyn, N.Y., with a large population . . . and known as ‘The City of Churches,’ would, for these reasons, be our most suitable center for the harvest work.” The results speak for themselves. In a short space of time, 2,000 newspapers were publishing Russell’s sermons.

New York was a good choice for yet another reason. By 1909, branch offices had been established in Great Britain, Germany, and Australia, with more soon to follow. Hence, it made sense to locate the world headquarters in a seaport city that also had substantial road and rail links.

Why Called Bethel?

The original headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was established in the 1880’s, in Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. Back then, it was called the Bible House. By 1896, this facility was staffed by 12 members.

With the move to Brooklyn in 1909, though, the new residence for the staff members was called Bethel. Why Bethel? The property that the Watch Tower Society purchased at 13-17 Hicks Street was owned by the prominent clergyman Henry Ward Beecher and was known as the Beecher Bethel. Beecher’s former residence, located at 124 Columbia Heights, was also purchased. The March 1, 1909, issue of The Watch Tower reported: “It certainly seems very remarkable that we should get the old Beecher Bethel and then by accident get his former residence. . . . The new home we shall call ‘Bethel,’ and the new office and auditorium, ‘The Brooklyn Tabernacle’; these names will supplant the term ‘Bible House.’”

Today, the greatly expanded facilities in Brooklyn and at two other locations in New York State, Wallkill and Patterson, including both the residence, the printery, and the offices, have come to be called Bethel. In fact, worldwide there are now Bethel homes in 113 countries. They are staffed by more than 19,000 ministers, who help to distribute Bible information.

A Warm Welcome to Visitors

The facilities were dedicated on January 31, 1909. Monday, September 6, 1909, was Reception Day at Bethel. Hundreds of Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, toured the facility. Many of them came directly from a Christian convention held in Saratoga Springs, about 200 miles [320 km] upriver from New York City. Charles Taze Russell personally welcomed and greeted the visitors.

Visitors continue to be welcome at Bethel. In fact, each year more than 40,000 people tour the Brooklyn facilities. Brooklyn Bethel continues to play a vital role in the expansion of Jehovah’s Kingdom interests, to the blessings of untold millions.


The Hebrew word “Bethel” means “House of God.” In the Bible, Bethel was a prominent Israelite city. Only the city of Jerusalem is mentioned more frequently.

For additional historic details, see Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pages 718-723, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What Do You Know About the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?

The corporation now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania was chartered in 1884 as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. Its purpose was to spread abroad Bible truth, especially by means of the printed page. Today, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society remains one of the legal instruments used worldwide by Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Philippians 1:7.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has produced Bibles and Bible-based publications in 473 languages. It has published in whole or in part more than 150 million copies of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in 72 languages. In addition to the New World Translation, the Society has printed on its own presses or has commissioned the printing of the following Bible translations: the American Standard Version, The Bible in Living English, The Emphatic Diaglott, Holman’s Linear Parallel Edition, the King James Version (including the Bible Students Edition), and The New Testament Newly Translated and Critically Emphasized, Second Edition.

Apart from printing Bibles, over just the past ten years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced more than 20 billion other items, such as books, magazines, tracts, CDs, DVDs, and similar Bible-based material. The majority of these items have been printed, packaged, and shipped from Bethel homes located in such countries as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.


In 2008, there were 7,124,443 Jehovah’s Witnesses in 236 lands. They were organized into 103,267 congregations.

This material is not sold. The Bible education work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is supported by voluntary contributions.


1998-2008 PRODUCTION

Books 458,230,708
Magazines 11,292,413,199
Tracts 7,996,906,376
Brochures 862,050,233
CDs/MP3s 34,621,130
DVDs 13,500,125
Other 129,083,031
Total 20,786,804,802

- May 1, 2009 Watchtower, WTB&TS


The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society produces a large amount of literature for use by Jehovah's Witnesses; their best known publications are the magazines, The Watchtower and Awake!. The Watchtower was first published by Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student movement, in 1879, followed by the inception of the Watch Tower Society in 1881. Following a dispute in the movement's leadership, supporters of the Watch Tower Society's president, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, adopted the name Jehovah's witnesses in 1931. Particularly since 2001, the literature produced by the Watch Tower Society has typically stated that it is "published by Jehovah's Witnesses". Along with books and brochures, other media are also produced, including audio cassettes, videocassettes, and DVDs. New publications are usually released at Jehovah's Witnesses' annual conventions. Most literature produced by Jehovah's Witnesses is intended for use in their evangelizing work. Publications for preaching are also routinely studied by members, both privately and at their meetings for worship. Their most widely distributed publications are: New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT), a modern-language translation of the Bible. This is the Bible translation primarily used by Jehovah's Witnesses. Awake!, published in over 83 languages, a general-interest monthly magazine covering many topics from a religious perspective. It has an average circulation of over 39.9 million copies per issue. The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom, published in over 188 languages semimonthly, focuses mainly on doctrine. With an average circulation of over 42 million copies, The Watchtower is the most widely distributed religious magazine in the world. Since 2008, the issue dated 1st of each month is distributed to the public, and the issue dated the 15th is distributed only to members for use in the Watchtower Study. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (some of these numbers were updated by me on 3/1/2011)


The opening of the Brooklyn Tabernacle on January 31st and the subsequent work in that city, we are assured, would be of deep interest to the friends in general, and hence the present report.

The opening day, appointed a month in advance, found us none too well prepared. Our stationary chairs had not yet been placed and many of the finishing touches were lacking. However, we had a very enjoyable day.

The auditorium is on the second floor and has a seating capacity of over 800, but is conveniently arranged so that the curtains can be drawn, shutting off more than one-third of the seats. The Tabernacle is well lighted from the roof, and the side-walls are embellished with some of the gracious promises of our Father's Word in artistic workmanship and soft colors. The prevalent color of the walls, floor, etc., is olive green. The conditions altogether are very restful, and those who arrive before the meetings commence will find excellent food for quiet meditation.

The floor below this, the street floor, is being fitted up for our office purposes, and the basement floor for our stock and shipping departments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

At an opportune time some friends of the Truth proposed that we purchase such property as would suit our convenience, put it into repair, and that they would furnish the money--we to hold the title and they to take a mortgage for the amount expended, on which they asked but five per cent. interest, and intimated that some of the interest might find its way into the Tract Fund from time to time. This proposal seemed providential and was gladly accepted as the cheapest and best thing possible. We anticipate that the interest will not amount to more than two-thirds of the car-fare estimate, possibly less.

Thus prepared, we made a fresh examination of the district with a view to purchase, and finally made bids upon three properties suitable to our uses with some alterations. We are sure that we will surprise you when we state that the one of the three which came to us at a bargain price is what is known as "The Old Henry Ward Beecher Home." It certainly seems very remarkable that we should get the old Beecher Bethel and then by accident get his former residence. Considerable repairs are necessary, and are being made, but when completed our large family could scarcely be better fixed for the few remaining years of activity which we expect. The new home we shall call "Bethel," and the new office and auditorium, "The Brooklyn Tabernacle"; these names will supplant the term "Bible House."

- March 1, 1909 Watchtower, WTB&TS

But to undertake an all-out campaign of world-wide proportions the Society’s twenty-year-old four-story “Bible House” headquarters in Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, had become inadequate, besides being not strategically located for world shipping and communication. So in 1908 representatives of the Society, including its legal counselor, J. F. Rutherford, were sent to Brooklyn, New York, to negotiate the purchase of more desirable quarters. Those quarters Russell himself had found on an earlier trip to New York. They bought the old “Plymouth Bethel,” a mission structure completed in 1868 for nearby Plymouth Congregational Church. This mission, at 13-17 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, had long been used in connection with Plymouth Church (built in 1849 on Orange Street, near Hicks) where about half a century earlier antislavery sermons were preached by the noted Brooklyn clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher. They also purchased the old Beecher residence at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, where other notables, even Abraham Lincoln, are said to have conferred with Beecher in the 1860’s. On January 31, 1909, some 350 attended the dedication of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, the new name for the now-renovated former “Plymouth Bethel.” Its second-floor auditorium, seating 800, gleamed in soft color, olive green prevailing, with tastefully artistic Bible-text wall decorations. The street floor was altered to be the Society’s headquarters operating office. The large basement floor had been turned into a small printery, stock and shipping departments. Soon, too, the home at 124 Columbia Heights had been readied for occupancy by more than thirty full-time members of the headquarters staff. “The new home we shall call ‘Bethel,’ and the new office and auditorium, ‘The Brooklyn Tabernacle’; these names will supplant the term ‘Bible House.’” By 1911 a spacious new dormitory addition had been completed, adjoining the rear of Bethel and fronting on Furman Street, further enlarging the facilities.

- March 1, 1955 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pastor Russell's view of William Miller

A religious movement culminated in 1844, the participants in which were then, and since, generally known as “Second Adventists” and “Millerites,” because they expected the second advent of the Lord to occur at that date, and because a Mr. William Miller was the leader and prime mover. The movement, which began about 1829, had before 1844 (when they expected the Lord’s return) attracted the attention of all classes of Christian people, especially in the Eastern and Middle States where it amounted to an excitement. A long while before this, Prof. Bengel, in Tubingen, Germany, began to call attention to the prophecies and the coming Kingdom of Messiah, while the celebrated missionary Wolff did the same in Asia. The center of the work, however, was America, where social, political and religious conditions have favored, more than elsewhere, independence in Bible study as well as in other matters; just as the first advent movement was confined to Judea, though all the devout Israelites, everywhere, heard more or less of it. Acts 2:5

All know something of the failure of Brother Miller’s expectations. The Lord did not come in 1844, and the world was not burned up with fire, as he had expected and taught others to expect; and this was a great disappointment to those “holy people” who had so confidently looked for Christ (“Michael”) then to appear and to exalt them with him in power and glory. But, notwithstanding the disappointment, the movement had its designed effects—of awakening an interest in the subject of the Lord’s coming, and of casting reproach upon the subject by reason of mistaken expectations. We say designed effects because without a doubt the hand of the Lord was in it. It not only did a work corresponding to that of the first advent movement, when our Lord was born, when the wise men came from the East and when “all men were in expectation of him” (Matt. 2:1,2; Luke 3:15), but it corresponded with it in time also, being just thirty years before the anointing of our Lord, at thirty years of age, at the beginning of his work as Messiah. That “Miller movement,” as it is slightingly called, brought also an individual blessing to the “holy people” who participated in it: it led to a careful searching of the Scriptures, and to confidence in God’s Word above the traditions of men; and it warmed and fed and united the hearts of God’s children in unsectarian fellowship; for those interested were of all denominations, though principally Baptists. It is since that movement ended, that some of these have organized and bound themselves as new sects, thus blinding themselves to some of the blessings due in the “harvest.”

While, as the reader will have observed, we disagree with Mr. Miller’s interpretations and deductions, on almost every point—viewing the object, as well as the manner and the time, of our Lord’s coming, in a very different light—yet we recognize that movement as being in God’s order, and as doing a very important work in the separating, purifying, refining, and thus making ready, of a waiting people prepared for the Lord. And not only did it do a purifying and testing work in its own day, but, by casting reproach upon the study of prophecy and upon the doctrine of the Lord’s second advent, it has ever since served to test and prove the consecrated, regardless of any association with Mr. Miller’s views and expectations. The very mention of the subject of prophecy, the Lord’s coming and the Millennial Kingdom, now excites the contempt of the worldly-wise, especially in the nominal church. This was undoubtedly of the Lord’s providence, and for a purpose very similar to the sending of the infant Jesus for a time to Nazareth, “that he might be called a Nazarene,” though really born in the honorable city of Bethlehem. That evidently was in order that the truth might separate the “Israelites indeed” from the chaff of God’s chosen nation. The chaff was driven off by the statement that our Lord was a Nazarene; for they reasoned, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Just so some now contemptuously inquire, “Can any good thing come out of Adventism?” and dismiss unconsidered the testimony of the Lord and the apostles and prophets. But the humble, holy ones, wise in God’s sight though foolish in the world’s estimation, take no such attitude.

But the “Miller movement” was more than this: it was the beginning of the right understanding of Daniel’s visions, and at the right time to fit the prophecy. Mr. Miller’s application of the three and a half times (1260 years) was practically the same as that we have just given, but he made the mistake of not starting the 1290 and 1335 periods at the same point. Had he done so he would have been right. On the contrary, he started them thirty years sooner—about 509 instead of 539, which ended the 1335 days in 1844, instead of 1874.* It was, nevertheless, the beginning of the right understanding of the prophecy; for, after all, the 1260 period, which he saw correctly, was the key; and the preaching of this truth (even though in combination with errors, and misapplications, and false inferences) had the effect of separating and purifying “many,” and at the very time the Lord had foretold.

Watch a DVD about William Miller and the Millerites:


*We have been unable to secure Mr. Miller’s writings to compare his interpretations. We have merely learned the dates at which he applied the prophetic numbers.

Not understanding the manner nor the object of the Lord’s return, but expecting a sudden appearance, and the end of all things in one day, he supposed all the time prophecies must end there; and it was his aim and effort to force them all to this common terminus: hence his failure—beyond which God did not then enlighten any, further enlightenment not being then due.

Mr. Miller was an earnest and esteemed member of the Baptist Church; and, being a careful student of the Scriptures, the prophecies began to open before him. After becoming thoroughly convinced himself, as to the correctness of his applications, he began to disseminate his views among ministers, chiefly Baptists at first, but afterward among all classes and all denominations. As the work spread, he, with many colaborers, traveled and preached extensively. The beginning of this work among the Baptist ministers was, as nearly as can be learned from his memoirs, in 1829, Elder Fuller of the Baptist Church at Poultney, Vt., being the first convert to preach his views in public. In a letter written about three years after, Mr. Miller says:

“The Lord is scattering the seed. I can now reckon eight ministers who preach this doctrine, more or less, besides myself. I know of more than one hundred private brethren who say that they have adopted my views. Be this as it may, ‘The truth is mighty and will prevail.’”

Thus it will be seen that the separating work of the “Miller movement” had its beginning at the time foretold—at the end of the 1290 days, 1829.

Now, how about the waiting earnestly until the 1335 days had been touched? Who have thus waited?

Some of God’s children, the “holy people,” the writer among the number, though not associated with the “Miller movement,” nor with the denomination subsequently organized, which calls itself the “Second Advent Church,” have been looking and “earnestly waiting” for Michael’s Kingdom; and gladly we bear testimony to the “blessedness” of the wonderfully clear unfoldings of our Father’s plan, at and since the fall of 1874—the end of the 1335 days.

Words fail us to express this blessedness! Only those who have been refreshed in spirit with this new wine of the Kingdom could appreciate it, if we could describe it. It is therefore something to be felt, rather than told. It was at and since the ending of those 1335 prophetic, symbolic days that the precious views of the Lord’s presence, and the fact that we are even now living in the time of the “harvest” of this Gospel age, and in the time of the setting up of Michael’s (Christ’s) Kingdom, came to be known.

Oh, the blessedness of this favored time! Oh, the harmony, the beauty, the grandeur of the divine plan as it began to unfold when the 1335 days were “touched!” It is to express, as far as lies within our power, this “blessedness” and fuller unfolding of the divine plan, now due to be understood by all the “holy people” now living, that this SCRIPTURES STUDIES series is being published. None but the “holy people” will understand it. It is granted as a favor. “None of the wicked shall understand”; and those of the “holy people” who have fellowship with the worldly, who unwisely stand in the assemblies of the wicked, and sit in the seat of the scorner, shall not understand, and shall not be able to experience this blessedness, now due only to those “holy” ones, truly “wise,” who delight in the Law of the Lord and meditate [study] therein day and night. Psa. 1:1,2

This message concerning Michael’s Kingdom, gradually opening from 1829 onward, is symbolically represented in the book of Revelation (chap. 10:2,8-10) as a “little book,” which the “wise” of the “holy people,” represented by John, are instructed to eat. And John’s experience, as expressed in verse 10, is the experience of all who receive these truths. They bring wondrous sweetness: Oh, the blessedness! But the after effects are always more or less a blending of the bitterness of persecution with the sweetness. And the effect upon those who patiently endure to the end is to purge, purify and refine, and thus to make the bride of Christ ready for the marriage and exaltation, due toward the close of the Day of Preparation.

Concerning this disappointment, which we have shown was nevertheless a blessing and a beginning of the correct interpretation of the vision, the Prophet Habakkuk is caused to write a word of encouragement, saying (chap. 2:2), “Write the vision, make it plain upon tables [charts], that he [desiring] may read it readily...Though it tarry, wait for it [“Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth unto the 1335 days!”], for it will surely come; it will not tarry.” Its seeming tarrying or delay was not so, but a partial mistake on the part of Mr. Miller, foreknown and permitted by the Lord for the testing of his “holy people.”

As an evidence of the consecration, Bible study and faith engendered by this movement, we quote from a letter written by Mr. Miller, after the disappointment of 1844, to those who had been disappointed with him, as follows:

“We thank God always on your behalf, when we hear, as we already have, that your and our late disappointment has produced in you, and we hope in us also, a deep humiliation, and a careful inspection of our hearts. And though we are humbled, and in a measure pained, by the jeers of a wicked and perverse generation, we are not terrified nor cast down. You can, all of you, when inquired of for the reasons of your hope, open your Bibles, and with meekness and fear show the inquirer why you hope in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You need not in a single instance refer the inquirer to your minister, for the reason of your faith. Your creed is the Scriptures;... your philosophy is the wisdom which cometh down from God; your bond of union is the love and fellowship of the saints; your teacher is the Holy Spirit; and your professor is the Lord Jesus Christ....We exhort you, by all the love and fellowship of the saints, to hold fast to this hope. It is warranted by every promise in the Word of God. It is secured to you by the two immutable things—the council and oath of God, in which it is impossible for him to lie. It is ratified and sealed by the death, blood, and resurrection, and life of Jesus Christ....Never fear, brethren; God has told you what to say. Do as he bids you, and he will take care of the consequences. God says, ‘Say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.’ [See Ezek. 12:22,23]...It is to me almost a demonstration that God’s hand is in this thing. Many thousands have been made to study the Scriptures by the preaching of the time....God’s wisdom has in a great measure marked out our path, which he has devised for such good as he will accomplish in his own time and manner.”


Pastor Russell's Final Journey


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Departing from New York on October 16, 1916, Brother Russell and his secretary, Menta Sturgeon, traveled to Detroit, Michigan, by way of Canada. The two men then went on to Chicago, Illinois, down through Kansas and on into Texas. His condition of health was such that his secretary had to substitute for him at several speaking engagements. On Tuesday evening, October 24, at San Antonio, Texas, Russell delivered his last public talk, on the subject “The World on Fire.” During this discourse he had to leave the platform three times, while his secretary filled in for him.

Tuesday night, Brother Russell and his secretary and traveling associate were aboard a train en route to California. A sick man, Russell remained in bed all day Wednesday. At one point, taking the ailing man’s hand, Russell’s traveling associate said: “That is the greatest creed-smashing hand I ever saw!” Russell replied that he did not think it would smash any more creeds.

The two men were detained one day at Del Rio, Texas, because a bridge had been burned and another had to be erected. They pulled out of Del Rio on Thursday morning. On Friday night they changed trains at a junction point in California. All day Saturday Russell was in severe pain and experiencing great weakness. They arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday, October 29, and there that evening C. T. Russell gave his last talk to a congregation. By that time he was so weak that he was unable to stand for the discourse. “I regret that I am not able to speak with force or power,” said Russell. He then beckoned to the chairman to remove the stand and bring a chair, saying as he sat down, “Pardon me for sitting down, please.” He spoke for about forty-five minutes, then answered to questions for a short time. Dwight T. Kenyon says of that occasion: “I had the privilege of attending Brother Russell’s last talk in Los Angeles on October 29, 1916. He was very ill and remained seated during his discourse on Zechariah 13:7-9. How his good-bye text, Numbers 6:24-26, impressed me!”

Realizing that his severe condition would not allow him to go on, Russell decided to cancel the rest of his speaking appointments and return quickly to the Bethel home in Brooklyn. On Tuesday, October 31, C. T. Russell was on the verge of death. At Panhandle, Texas, a physician summoned earlier by telegraph temporarily boarded the train and observed Russell’s condition, recognizing the critical symptoms. Then the train was under way again. Shortly thereafter, in early afternoon of Tuesday, October 31, 1916, sixty-four-year-old Charles Taze Russell died at Pampa, Texas.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS


I kept doing many little, necessary things in harmony with his words or signs until another chill (the third one) came on. I folded blanket after blanket over him, tucked them in close to him; but still he shook. I therefore lay on him and pressed my face to his until I felt the warmth returning to his body. The fact that this was the third chill in four nights deepened the impression in my mind that the end was drawing near.

About midnight a great change came over him. He no longer cared for any of his medicine, and did not even seem to thirst for water as heretofore. Some things almost ceased. His pain settled deeper in. He could no longer lie straight in bed as formerly. He must sit up; and when he would lie down, he would double together, and his head would rest straight toward the window and free from the pillows. In this posture he would be quiet for awhile until his mouth would fill from his stomach, and he would signal to be raised. Being relieved of this, he would request to be lowered for comfort, until, to prevent strangulation, he would be raised again. This prevented it, and proper attention given, he would lie down again to get relief from pain.

This continued for seven hours with increased frequency and weakness. When he could no longer make his wishes known by words, he would do so by signs. When lying across the bed and desiring to be raised, he would lift his right hand and arm in such a way that my head would fit in the curvature of his arm and he could cling to my neck, while my left arm could fit around his neck, and thus elevate him to a sitting posture. This continued until the thought arose in my mind as to who would become exhausted first. I thought of the friends at home, of the many interested friends everywhere. I looked to the Lord, and steeled myself, saying, "I will stay with him to the finish."

In the early morning he surrendered. He was exhausted; and I could now lay him straight in bed with his head on the pillow in its accustomed place, and he could at last rest. The calm after the storm had come. He was now to die gradually, regularly, peacefully; and I was to stand by watching him, loving him, and expressing my affection for him by gently stroking his hair and his beard and rubbing his head, his face, his hands, and his feet. I did not seem to be able to do enough for him, now that he had passed beyond a certain line.


Several times on Monday I raised him up in bed, sat behind him so as to brace him; and his head would lean against mine. Once he whispered, "Have you anything to suggest?" I had; for I wished him to return direct to Galveston and take the steamer for New York, or else go through by train without stopping at Topeka, Tulsa or Lincoln. He answered, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," by which I understood him to mean that Topeka and other places would take care of themselves when we got to them, and that we need not consider them as yet. It was then that I asked him respecting the Seventh Volume, and afterwards sat meditating what to suggest. After a period of perfect silence I thought I would say something to him about dying and certain matters connected therewith, but I hesitated and hardly knew how to begin. He was sitting up in bed and I put my arm around his neck and said, "Brother Russell, you are a very sick man." His lip quivered; we lowered him, and turned away to weep. I had gone far enough in that direction. I knew not to attempt that again. It was evident that neither he nor I could stand it, and that nothing more could be done.

The most wonderful thing about this most wonderful man was that, during all his sufferings, trials, inconveniences and perplexities, he spoke not a word of complaint; he heaved not a sigh; he uttered not a moan; he shed not a tear. He had resolved that he would not murmur nor complain, and he kept his resolution to the end. He literally died in doing the Father's will, and thus fulfilled his vow. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth."


We watched by his side all Tuesday morning with but little to do except to watch and pray. Noticing that this was the last day of October, we concluded that he would died before midnight, and consequently wrote out the following telegram to the friends in Brooklyn: "Before October closes our dearly Beloved Brother Russell will be with the Lord in glory. We are alone in Car Roseisle on Santa Fe train No. 10, due in Kansas City 7:35 Wednesday morning, and he is dying like a hero. After embalming will come home with his remains, or else go direct to Pittsburgh." We called in the Pullman conductor and also the porter and said, "We want you to see how a great man of God can die." The sight deeply impressed them, especially the porter.

I called in the regular conductor, and telegraphed for a physician to board the train at Panhandle; and he did. He saw the condition, recognized the correctness of the diagnosis and conclusion, gave me his name, and was off before the train got under headway.

At one o'clock all were dismissed from the room, the door was locked, and we quietly watched over him until he breathed his last. We had observed the approaching signs of death before calling in the trainmen. These continued until the finger nails became discolored, the cold perspiration settled upon that noble forehead, his hands and feet grew cold, his face indicated a break, he drew his feet up in the bed like Jacob of old, his quiet breathing became less frequent, his drooping eyelids opened like the petals of a flower and disclosed those eyes--those wonderful eyes! in all their magnificence --that we will never forget. Presently he breathed no more; we pressed our lips upon his noble brow, and knew that he had gone to be forever with and like the Lord, whom he loved so well.

"Dear Lord, oh, use me as the Angel in Gethsemane! Oh, fill me with Thy Holy Spirit of Divinest love! Oh, make me sympathetic, wise, that every anguished heart May come, nor seek in vain for consolation from Thy Word, And strengthened, comforted, go forth to prison or to death, To suffer patiently the cruel mockings of the tongue; To bear the cross unto the bitter end, and then to calmly say, 'Tis finished,' and with faith unwavering pass beneath 'the veil!'"


December 1, 1916 Watch Tower, WTB&TS

“What Is Going to Happen Now?”

On October 16, 1916, Brother Russell and his secretary Menta Sturgeon departed on a previously arranged lecture tour of western and southwestern parts of the United States. Russell, though, was seriously ill at the time. The tour took them first to Detroit, Michigan, by way of Canada. Then, after stops in Illinois, Kansas, and Texas, the two men arrived in California, where Russell delivered his last talk on Sunday, October 29, in Los Angeles. Two days later, in the early afternoon of Tuesday, October 31, 64-year-old Charles Taze Russell died on a train at Pampa, Texas. Notice of his death appeared in The Watch Tower of November 15, 1916.

What was the effect on the Bethel family when news of Brother Russell’s death was announced? A. H. Macmillan, who served as Russell’s assistant in the office while Russell was away, later recalled the morning he read the telegram to the Bethel family: “A moan went up all over that dining room. Some wept audibly. None ate breakfast that morning. All were greatly upset. At the end of the meal period they met in little groups to talk and whisper, ‘What is going to happen now?’ Little work was done that day. We did not know what to do. It was so unexpected, and yet Russell had tried to prepare us for it. What would we do? The first shock of our loss of C. T. Russell was the worst. For those first few days our future was a blank wall. Throughout his life Russell had been ‘the Society.’ The work centered around his dynamic determination to see God’s will done.”

After funeral services at The Temple in New York and at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, Brother Russell was buried at Allegheny, in the Bethel family plot, according to his request. A brief biography of Russell along with his will and testament was published in The Watch Tower of December 1, 1916, as well as in subsequent editions of the first volume of Studies in the Scriptures.

What would happen now? It was difficult for the Bible Students to imagine someone else in Brother Russell’s place. Would their understanding of the Scriptures continue to be progressive, or would it stop where it was? Would they become a sect centered around him? Russell himself had made it quite clear that he expected the work to go on. So following his death, some obvious questions soon arose: Who will supervise the contents of The Watch Tower and other publications? Who should succeed Russell as president?

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS