Search This Blog

Monday, July 26, 2010


Next summer saw the turn of the century and I met Pastor Russell. It was at a convention in Philadelphia. June 17 was Bunker Hill day in Massachusetts and, of course, a holiday. There were special train rates to Philadelphia at that time because the Republican party was also holding a convention there. That year they nominated William McKinley as president and Theodore Roosevelt vice-president of the United States. So I took advantage of the holiday and special rates and went to the Bible students' convention sponsored by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. There, as I now recall, Russell talked to the public on the subject, "Salvation from what, to what?" The theme of his discourse was that men are not saved from eternal torment, which does not exist. They are saved from eternal death to everlasting life.

After the talk I was delighted to meet the speaker. He was an extremely kind man. I was just about the only young person there. All others present seemed mature in years. His willingness to talk to me impressed me greatly, because I knew of no man of his importance on the public platform who would talk face to face with young people from his audience after his lectures. I recall that in Boston Dwight L. Moody would leave the hall immediately after his sermons and go to his hotel nearby. Anyone who desired to ask questions would have to go to others of Moody's party. But C. T. Russell always made himself personally available to anyone who wished to talk to him.


From that time I never missed any convention that was held in the East or the Middle West. In September, 1900 after returning from Philadelphia to Boston, I was baptized by total immersion in water, the service being conducted by Hayden Samson, a traveling representative of the Society. In July, 1901 I was ready to realize my ambition to become a missionary and entered the full-time ministry in Massachusetts.

In September of that year we had a convention in Cleveland and I attended. It was at this time that President McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, so there was much excitement throughout the country. The convention at Cleveland ended Sunday night and Russell invited me to make my home at the Watch Tower Society's headquarters in Allegheny, though I was not a member of the staff. When I went there to the Bible House (where the headquarters "family" lived and worked) I was in my early twenties. C. T. Russell was very kind to me. I had no home, both my parents having died; so he took me under his wing and made me feel at home with the headquarters family. He was thoughtful and considerate in every way, and as I would go out on a trip or special assignment he always would say, "Brother, the door is open for you when you return. This is your home."

In October, 1902, I attended a convention in Washington, D.C., where I was married. My wife and I then spent a year in California, returning in 1904 to Allegheny. In 1905 I made a nation-wide convention tour with Russell. It was on this trip that I met J. F. Rutherford, whom I baptized in 1906 and who became the second president of the Society.

In 1909, due to expansion of the organization world-wide, headquarters were moved from Allegheny to Brooklyn, New York. There, at 13-17 Hicks Street, a mission annex of the Plymouth Congregational Church, called "Plymouth Bethel" was purchased and new operating offices of the Society were installed and a large auditorium utilized for meetings. The building was called the "Brooklyn Tabernacle."

Also See:

At the same time the former residence of the Plymouth church's famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, was purchased. This was at 124 Columbia Heights. Here the headquarters family were housed and the structure was named "Bethel" supplanting the term "Bible House" used for the Society's building in Allegheny. International headquarters of the Society and the headquarters family are still at this address and, after all these years, I am still a happy member of that family.


As I consider the years that I have been associated with the organization of Jehovah's witnesses I can appreciate more and more the value of the path along which we have been led by Jehovah God. Until I first began to study I had never been able to find any religious teaching that answered all my questions. And yet the knowledge of God's Word that was available to us at that time was so limited (compared with what we now rejoice in) that it would be like coming out of the faint light of dawn into the brightness of high noon. But the gradual growth in knowledge, as well as in numbers of persons associating in the work, has strengthened and developed the organization and brought it to maturity.

C. T. Russell had no idea of building a strongly knit organization. At that time we saw no need for it. We expected 1914 would mark the end of this system of things on earth. Our big concern at that time was to preach as effectively and extensively as possible before that date arrived. In the meantime, we thought, we must prepare ourselves individually to be ready to go to heaven.

Exactly what would occur in 1914 we did not then know, but of one thing we were certain: The year 1914 would see the beginning of the worst time of trouble the earth had yet known; for so many Bible prophecies foretold that. Our faith was strong and our hopes were based on much more than mere human speculation. Yet 1914 and the years that immediately followed proved to be a time of severe testing for the developing New World society. Had we realized then the trials we were still to face or the years that were to elapse before our preaching commission was due to expire, perhaps we would have entered the year with far more agitation of mind.

- Faith on the March, by A. H. Macmillan, Prentice-Hall (1957)

To the reader:

A. H. Macmillan is known to Jehovah's witnesses all over the world. His long and prominent association with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and his faithful record of service as a Christian minister have endeared him to his many friends.

Toward the end of 1955 Mr. Macmillan asked permission to use the Society's files to write an account of his experiences in the ministry. Since he is a trusted member of the headquarters staff, he was granted permission. A few months ago he informed me the work was finished, and at his request I agreed to read the manuscript for technical accuracy. I soon found myself engrossed in the story which the account of his life and association with Jehovah's witnesses had produced.

This book is more than the story of one man's growing faith. I believe Mr. Macmillan has made a sincere effort to capture and portray the very essence of the religion that he acknowledges has given meaning to his life. He reveals Jehovah's witnesses as human. He admits their mistakes and explains why no human organization can be infallible. At the same time he reveals their hopes, and presents sound Scriptural reasons for the appeal of these hopes to all kinds of men.

The book is a straightforward and truthful account. It is unique only in the personal experiences of A. H. Macmillan. In many other respects it could be the story of any one of hundreds of Jehovah's witnesses whom I have known.

President, Watch Tower Bible
and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
Brooklyn, New York