Category Archives: Bible Students

Brief Biographies

Henry Dunn
(1801-1878)

Four articles by Henry Dunn appear in Zion’s Watchtower (Reprints, pp. 644, 649, 653, and 796). All come from Dunn’s book, The Study of the Bible written in 1871. “Bros. George Storrs, Henry Dunn and others were preaching and writing of ‘the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets’ (Acts 3:21) and that ‘In the ages to come, God would show the ­exceeding riches of his grace.’ (Ephesians 2:7)”—Charles Taze Russell, Supplement to Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, July 1, 1879.

For many years Dunn was the secretary of the British and Foreign School Society and was identified with the history of public education in England. After retirement he went to Italy and joined the Protestant missions there, devoting his life to a study of the Scriptures and the writing of Christian literature. He published his own magazine, The Interpreter, in 1860-61 and was said to have been heard to “express his obligation to a remarkable book, never much known and now almost forgotten: Dunbar Isidore Heath’s Future ­Human Kingdom of Christ. It was this book that inspired Dunn’s Destiny of the Human Race that is credited by both George Storrs and Charles Russell as helpful in the thoughts on the doctrines of two sal­vations and times of restitution. Shortly before his death, Dunn wrote a series of articles for Storrs’ magazine, The Bible Examiner. Pastor Russell wrote that on these doctrines both Storrs and Dunn were influential in his thinking.

 

Henry Grew
(1781-1862)

Grew was born in Birmingham, England, but moved to Boston with his parents at the age of fourteen. At the age of twenty-three he was elected deacon of the Baptist Church he attended, and was later ­licensed to preach in Hartford, Connecticut, where he served over a decade until he was dismissed for views the church deemed heretical.

He not only preached against slavery, but, from the Bible alone, Henry Grew determined that the doctrines of the immortal soul, hell-fire, and trinity were not scriptural. He wrote several books against the doctrines, one of which was picked up by George Storrs, who was later convinced of Grew’s views regarding the state of the dead. Grew’s clear scriptural exposition and ideas later influenced the Adventists and other ­individuals, directly to such as George Stetson and George Storrs, and indirectly through these to Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

Although he had only a moderate income, he was able to bestow half his income in charity. He gave a considerable amount to missionary work as well as to the poor of the city. He not only cared for their well being, but also for their spiritual welfare.



Dunbar Isidore Heath
(1816-1888)

Dunbar Isidore Heath was a Reverend at Cambridge, elected scholar in 1836, and again in 1843. As a recognized authority on Egyptology, he was one of the early translators of the papyri in the British Museum. In 1852 Heath wrote The Future Human Kingdom of Christ in which he distinguished the “saved nations from the glorified saints” by outlining an early concept of “the two salvations.” He was prosecuted for heresy in 1861 by the Bishop of Winchester and sentenced by the Court of Arches for publishing these ideas. He would not recant and tried to appeal his sentence by attempting to defend his character and doctrine from the Scriptures through the writing of several booklets. All of this failed and as a result of this prosecution he suffered not only the loss of his profession, but sustained heavy financial losses as well.

 

Dwight Moody
(1833-1899)

Speaking of Dwight Moody and his associates, Pastor Russell wrote: “It is our thought that the Lord used these men, and through their ministry the fore-ordained number was completed at the fore-ordained time, 1881” (Reprints, p. 4303).

Moody was born seventeen years before Pastor Rus­sell. He was one of the most successful evangelists of the nineteenth century. His ministry ­dif­fered somewhat from those of his contemporaries in that he laid stress on a full commitment to God rather than merely the “believe and be saved” formula of his peers. He urged his hearers to find a way to leave their earthly careers and spend their full time in service to God.

Moody was never endorsed by a seminary, ­dis­daining such ordination as a qualification for the ministry of the gospel. Though an aggressive fund-raiser, Moody refused to be personally ­financed by members of his audiences. Influenced by a strong personal friendship with the Jewish Christian ­Joseph Rabino­witz, Moody was vitally interested in the development of ­Israel as a nation headed for a great destiny in the plan of God.

 

Isaac Newton:
Bible Student and Scientist*

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was born in Lincolnshire on Christmas day nearly two months premature, and posthumous to his father. In the superstition of the day, all three of these circumstances of his birth were ­considered to portend a child of exceptional abilities, and so he was to prove. He was born in the last year a witch was publicly burned at the stake in England. When he went to his grave at age 85, he was and still is ­remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

But the advocates of rational thought were inventing a fiction, for first and foremost Newton was a man of faith. This community has long ignored or belittled Newton’s strong commitment to Christianity and earnest non-conforming Bible study. Although it is easy to take exception with a number of the details in his interpretations, his keenness of mind permitted him to see truths that we might believe were little-known until the time of the harvest. Nearly one million words, mostly unpublished even today, range over biblical prophecy, the Times of Restitution, translation and manuscript errors, chronology, the measurements of Ezekiel’s temple compared against the New Jerusalem, and the Great Pyramid and its measurements as a witness, to name but a few.

Newton’s public anti-Trinitarian positions and writings continually created difficulties for his patrons. These kept him out of the Royal society and required special royal dispensation for him to hold a post as professor, ironically enough, at Trinity College, Cambridge. Most significantly, he is responsible for the scholarship that challenged the spurious acceptance of 1 John 5:7 into the Greek New Testament.

In Of the World to Come Newton shows a clear grasp of the heavenly salvation, the earthly salvation, and the “little season.” He dismisses eternal torment with this opening salvo: “So then the mystery of this restitution of all things is to be found in all the prophets; which makes me wonder with great admiration that so few Christians of our age can find it there. For they understand not that the final return of the Jews from captivity … and the setting up of a peaceable, righteous, and flourishing kingdom at the Day of Judgment is this mystery … First, the earth shall continue to be inhabited by mortals after the day of Judgment and not only for a 1,000 years, but even forever … And that the citizens of this city are not the saints raised from the dead, but a race of mortal men like the nations over whom they reign … [That after the judgment of Isaiah 66] the saving in these and such like places of Scripture is of mortals at the last day from both misery and death both temporal and eternal. … [for] the rest of his kingdom are the nations that have been saved; and they are mortals remaining on earth.”

Although he published several seminal scientific works within his lifetime, when Newton died unmarried, the executors of his estate largely found his religious writings to be an embarrassment. They kept all but four ­sequestered where they remained unread until the twentieth century.

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* This synopsis is based on the highly recommended The Religion of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manuel, ­Oxford (1974). See also H. MacLachlen, Isaac Newton (1950).

 

George Stetson
(1814-1879)

The first Stetsons from England arrived in 1634, fourteen years after the Mayflower and the Pilgrims landing in America. For over forty years George Stetson followed in the footsteps of Christ and associated with Henry Grew and George Storrs in his early ministry, and even later with Jonas Wendell and Charles Russell (Reprints, p. 3821). He was not only a minister, but also a school teacher, and physician. As a member of the Advent Christian Church he and Wendell worked together in several churches throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio in the early 1870s. They also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World’s Crisis.

“He had been a faithful undershepherd, ever holding before his hearers, as the great incentive to ­holiness and purity of life, that which filled his own soul with joy and peace and helped him to live ‘above the world’—viz: The appearing of the Heavenly Bridegroom—The King of Glory, and our gathering together unto him. Our brother was a man of marked ability, and surrendered bright prospects of worldly and political honors to be permitted to preach Christ, when the glories and beauties of the word of God dawned upon his heart. The truth cost him much, yet he bought it gladly.” (Reprints, p. 46)

For ten months during 1872 Stetson pastored the church in Pittsburgh where he met a young Charles Taze Russell. Then he led the Edinboro, Pennsylvania, congregation for six years until his death. His dying request was that Pastor ­Russell give his ­funeral sermon (Reprints, p. 46) where over twelve hundred ­attended and heard the good news of the kingdom of God.

 

George Storrs
(1796-1879)

While traveling on a train, George Storrs picked up a tract he found on the floor which was about the condition of the dead. He found out later that it was writ ten by Henry Grew. In 1842 after a few years of study on this subject, Storrs began to preach this message to many of the Adventists. After writing a book on the subject, he started a magazine, entitled The Bible Examiner, for the same purpose. He differed from Grew’s teachings in respect to the des tiny of the wicked. Storrs believed these would go into second death and not be resurrected to judgment. The two debated the matter until Henry Grew’s death in 1862.

A decade later, during a severe illness, Storrs reconsidered his views on the wicked, and determined that the Scriptures taught that the wicked would be resurrected to an education in the knowledge of God, to judgment, and that all the families of the earth would be blessed because of the promise to Abraham. He was later surprised to find other individuals teaching these same doctrines, one of whom was Henry Dunn, who a decade earlier had been teaching these things in Eng land. Because of these views, his friends forsook him and Storrs be came an independent publisher of these teachings. During these years Pastor Russell wrote for Storrs’ magazine until Storrs’ death in 1879.

 

R. E. Streeter
(1847-1924)

R. E. Streeter was one of the founding fathers of the Pastoral Bible Institute and an original member of the editorial board of The Herald magazine. He became a Christian in 1877 and originally associated with the Free Baptist church. Finding denominational restrictions too binding, he left that fellowship and joined the Evangelical Advent church. He first received The Divine Plan of the Ages in 1896 but rejected it as a false teaching. The following year he was sent on a successful missionary assignment to South America and the West Indies where he received another copy of that book and read it on his return journey. This time he accepted its message.

As editor beginning in 1892 of a small journal, The Testimony of Jesus, he continued its publication and presented to his readers the new views he was learning. Eventually he discontinued the magazine and in 1902 entered the pilgrim ministry under Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

He was a member of The Herald’s editorial committee beginning in 1918 and was elected a trustee of the Pastoral Bible Institute in 1923, serving in that capacity until his death the following year. He was a deep student of prophecy and was the author of Daniel, the Beloved of ­Jehovah and The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

W. Norman Woodworth
(1891-1976)

W. Norman Woodworth devoted his life to his convictions. After he served for several years as a colporteur in the maritime provinces of Canada and the state of Maine, Pastor Russell asked him to come to Bethel to learn to operate a movie ­projector and assist in the ­developmental work of The Photo Drama of Creation. He presented the Drama in several Ohio cities, then in Chicago where his first day’s audience was 1,500 in the afternoon and 3,500 in the evening.

He remained with the Society after the death of Pastor Russell until 1928 when he left because of a serious disagreement with Rutherford. He helped revive a radio program called “Frank and Ernest” and wrote a small pamphlet, Radio ­Echoes to send to interested listeners. This eventually became The Dawn magazine. Bro. Woodworth remained the editor of that journal and wrote many of its articles until his death in 1976.

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Chronological Bible Students History

Bible Student History

1871   C. T. Russell Contacts Storrs
1876   C. T. Russell Meets Barbour
1877   Our Lord’s Return Pamphlet
1877   “The Three Worlds”
1879   Zions Watch Tower Magazine
1881   “Food for Thinking Christians”
1881   Colporteur Work Begins
1881   “Tabernacle Shadows”
1883   Non-English Translations Begin
1884   Tract Society Formed
1886   “Divine Plan of the Ages”
1889   “Old Theology” Tracts
1889   “The Time Is At Hand”
1890   “Thy Kingdom Come”
1892   “Watch Tower” Semi-Monthly
1893   First Convention Held
1894   Pilgrim Ministry Begins
1895   “To Us the Scriptures Teach”
1895   Danish, Polish Work
1895   Allegheny Church Trial
1897   “The Day of Vengeance”
1899   500,000 Evolution Tracts

1899   “The At-One-Ment”
1900   London Tabernacle
1903   Russell-Eaton Debates
1904   “The New Creation”
1905   “Daily Heavenly Manna”
1906   Russell Separation Trial
1907   “Comment” Bible
1908   “Overland Monthly” Articles
1908   Russell-White Debates
1908   Covenants Controversy
1910   Hippodrome Talk to Jews
1911   “Die Stimme” for Jews (Yiddish)
1912   Around the World Trip
1914   “Photo-Drama of Creation”
1915   50 Million Tracts Distributed
1916   Death of Pastor Russell
1918   PBI Organized
1920   LHMM established
1932   Dawn Organized
1938   General Conventions Begin
1952   Television Work Begins
1982   Int’l. Conventions Begin

 

 

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Bible Student Beliefs

Several beliefs, while not unique to the Bible Student movement, when taken collectively, outline a doctrinal position that is distinct from mainstream Christianity. Some of these teachings are:

  1. Inspiration of the Bible: Bible Students are united in holding that the sacred Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are inspired and are the final authority for authentic truth. Correct doctrine is to be established in beliefs that harmonize all scriptures on each subject. No non-scriptural words may be made an article of faith.
  2. Creation: Bible Students believe in creation, while admitting for some evolution in the animal creation, and that man (and thence, women) are a direct creation of God, physically and mentally perfect.
  3. Original Sin: Believing that Adam and Eve were created perfect, the Bible Student position is that the sin of disobedience in the Garden of Eden resulted in all their posterity being born under the blight of sin, imperfection, and death.
  4. Nature of God: The Bible Student position is neither Trinitarian nor Unitarian. While they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and possesses the nature of God, the divine nature, since his resurrection, they do not accept the position of co-eternity or co-equality between the Father and the Son. Rather than accepting the doctrine of incarnation, they hold that Jesus was wholly flesh while on earth, having divested himself of his spiritual nature. Nor do the accept the concept of the holy spirit being a person; it is the disposition or influence of God.
  5. Nature of Man: In distinction from inherent immortality, the Bible Student view is that man is mortal by nature, and that immortality is available only by meetings conditions of obedience. They hold that the human soul is not a distinct entity, but is the result of the union of the body and the breath, or spark, of life, and that death is the dissolution of these two elements.
  6. State of the Dead: Because death is the dissolution of body and breath, the soul that sins dies goes out of existence until the resurrection process begins in the future kingdom of Messiah. The Bible “hell” is the grave, and is neither a place of eternal fire or conscious separation from God.
  7. Virgin Birth: While Jesus was miraculously begotten by God through the holy spirit in the womb of Mary, the Bible implies that she did not remain a virgin thereafter and probably had children by Joseph after the birth of Jesus. Her nature was the same as others of the fallen race, and there is no indication of an “immaculate conception” by Mary.
  8. Ransom and Restitution: The main purpose of Jesus’ first advent was to provide a ransom, or substitutionary atonement for Adam, and hence the entire race descending from him. This Ransom was provided at the cross of Calvary, and is efficacious for all who have ever died. It promises resuscitation for all humanity in Christ’s 1000-year kingdom, along with the opportunity to obtain and maintain perfect human life for eternity. The ransom also provides for the rehabilitation of planet earth to perfect Edenic conditions.
  9. Resurrection: After Jesus Christ was crucified, he was raised to spiritual life by his Father, God, and given a divine body in the express image of God’s person.
  10. The Heavenly Calling: At his first advent, Jesus began calling out from mankind a special class to be his church, or bride. To these he promises a part in heaven with himself and the Father, and a kingdom role of reigning over mankind with himself for blessing all the families of the earth. Those who accept this invitation make a complete consecration or commitment to do the will of God as they see it revealed and at the cost of a surrender of the right to a life on earth. This consecration is witnessed by a baptism (complete water immersion,)
  11. Second Advent: As with most Christians, the expectation that Jesus Christ would return to finish the work that he began two thousand years ago is an important part of their faith. Most Bible Students share the following beliefs in the second advent:
    1. Object: That the object of the return is the resurrection of the dead and the establishment of a new world order of peace and righteousness, in which all sin, sorrow, and death will be eliminated.
    2. Manner: That Jesus returns invisibly, at first unnoticed by the world at large, though eventually manifesting that presence to all.
    3. Time: Though not in universal agreement, the majority of Bible Students believe that the time for his return was in the near past (1874), and that he is in process of finishing his church, evicting the old regime of the adversary, and supervising the preparation of Israel for kingdom work.
  12. Return of Israel: The establishment of the nation of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland is an indication of the restoration of the favor of God to that nation, and an indication of the nearness of Messiah’s kingdom. Bible Students anticipate a return of Israel to the borders promised to Abraham; and a final conflict in the Middle East, in which their ancient prophets will be resurrected and God will, through them, bring about an unprecedented miraculous deliverance, introducing the worldwide kingdom of Christ, expanding thence to a worldwide dominion of peace.
  13. Church Organization: The Bible Student community is organized on a strict congregational basis, with each local group totally autonomous. Each group selects its leaders (elders and deacons) by a total vote of their consecrated members, and cooperates with other congregations as determined by that local group. All expenses are paid entirely by freewill voluntary offerings with no collections of mandated costs, The ministry serves on a non-paid and voluntary basis.

 

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A Delightful Inheritance

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.—Psalm 16:5,6, NIV

Tim Thomassen

The Lord’s people have a wonderful heritage. This is seen more clearly the deeper one probes into the Word of God. The Scriptures confirm this. “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111, NIV).

The word “heritage” suggests something that has been inherited. Literally, it could be an heirloom, an estate, patrimony, or portion. It is a possession.

Some have been privileged to have been raised in an environment in which the Bible has been studied and its precepts followed closely. Others have come to know the beauties of the truth in different ways, having been led by the holy spirit through other instrumentalities.

Once we have been introduced to God’s marvelous teachings, it is necessary to decide what we should do with them. Do we embrace or ignore them? Will they become the focal point of our life or merely occupy a distant place in our thoughts and affections?

Perhaps some are facing these decisions currently. If so, it is hoped that the following precious promises will provide strength and encouragement:

“The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.”—Psalm 25:9

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”—Psalm 37:4,5

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”—James 4:8.

If we are endeavoring to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), we must continue to “keep on keeping on.” It is my prayer that we receive God’s message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures daily to see if what we have been told is true (Acts 17:11). May we do our best to present ourselves to God as approved workmen who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Both individually and collectively, may we do good unto all men, especially the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). May the Lord grant us wisdom, strength, and the means to “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2, NIV).

The Lord’s people in this end of the age are told in Revelation 18:4 to “come out of her [Babylon] … that ye be not partakers of her sins.” We should depart from any form of denominationalism, encourage each other not to be in bondage to the creeds and practices of men or organizations, teach the gospel to anyone who has a “hearing ear,” while continuing to lay down our lives in sacrifice.

“Come out, then, from among them, the Lord says to us, separate yourselves from them, and do not even touch what is unclean” (2 Corinthians 6:17, Knox).

Many indicators suggest strongly that we are living in the time of the harvest, the end of the age (Matthew 13:39). It is a period of separating the real wheat from the tares. There may be many fine and noble people among the tares. However, they are not part of the wheat class because they are not begotten of the truth and its spirit. Only God’s truth sanctifies (John 17:17). Furthermore, we are told that this is “the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Truth is a rare thing. Proverbs 23:23 counsels us to “buy the truth, and sell it not.” Truth, wisdom, and understanding are precious. They should never be sold nor compromised. May we be faithful to this end while cultivating the character likeness of our Master, Christ Jesus.

 

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“His Pulpit was the World”

And … Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren
 in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord,
and see how they do.—Acts 15:36

Carl Hagensick

Pastor Charles Taze Russell’s annual travels overseas kept him in regular contact with the adherents of his message in scores of countries, as well as offering numerous evangelistic opportunities to preach “present truth” to thousands of enthusiastic listeners. On one such occasion, in a public lecture at the vast Royal Albert Hall in London (capacity, 5,222), the crowds were so large that ushers were posted at all the doors to prohibit further entry.

Translation into Many Languages

In 1883, only four years after beginning the Watch Tower publication, a poll was taken as to which language group had the most interest in having it translated into their tongue. The winner was Swedish, with German following not far behind. Eventually the semi-monthly journal was issued in five languages.

Two popular monthly tracts, People’s Pulpit and Everybody’s Paper, each consisting of four newspaper-size pages, were produced in thirty-one different languages. Some parts of Pastor Russell’s messages had been translated and published in thirty-five to forty languages before his death in 1916. The circulation of these tracts in 1912 had reached 848,000 in languages other than English. A partial report in 1914 indicated these figures had grown dramatically as follows:

   United States, Canada [est.]

47,610,000

   Great Britain

15,806,301

   Germany

5,247,225

   Australasia

1,138,074

   Sweden

816,323

   Finland

596,653

   Suisse-German

320,749

   South Africa

106,030

Overseas Travels

The London Press, because of the frequency of Pastor Russell’s travels across the Atlantic, coined the title of “the ubiquitous preacher.” His first such journey was in 1891 to the British Isles, where the popularity of his message reached such proportions that he began making annual trips to oversee the activities there.

It was not long before these treks were extended into continental Europe, including Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. In 1912 Pastor Russell and six other prominent Bible Students traveled by ship to countries around the world, including Japan, the Philippines, India, Egypt, Israel, and Greece among their ports of call.

The burgeoning interest in his writings soon resulted in ten main branch offices being set up to more efficiently handle distribution of literature in Great Britain, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, South Africa, and Australia. Other smaller offices were also set up.

The tumultuous years from 1916-1918 divided the Bible Student movement into a number of segments. Most notable were the Pastoral Bible Institute and the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, formed from those who left the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Another large movement was the Philanthropic Society in Europe, 50,000 strong.

In Great Britain, Jesse Hemery was progressively centralizing power in himself. Secession from Hemery, J. F. Rutherford and the Watch Tower Society progressed rapidly after World War I ended. The Bible Students Committee was constituted in London on April 5, 1919 to coordinate publishing, pilgrim service, etc., outside the Society.

Albert O. Hudson

The B.S.C. Monthly (1924-1927), Bible Students Monthly (1927-1951), was published by the Bible Fellowship Union (BFU) under the original editorship of E. Housden. In August 1951 the name was changed to Bible Study Monthly, and A. O. Hudson served as editor until his death in 2000 at the age of 101. He was succeeded by Derrick Nadal. The BFU cooperates with the PBI in the U.S. Separate from the BFU William Crawford (d. 1957) commenced The Old Paths in 1925, which continued publication through 1961. Crawford was strict in doctrine and felt the harvest was essentially over. Frank Edgell began publishing Fellowship in 1923. Frederick Lardent was publishing Gleanings. Jesse Hemery, departing from the Society later than the others, established Goshen Fellowship and published futurist interpretations of Revelation which have some adherents today. A monthly publication, Pyramidology, by Dr. Adam Rutherford of Newcastle, began in 1941. The Forest Gate Church (London) Bible Monthly was published 1936-1985. Phillys Stracy compiled an evening devotional book, Songs in the Night. A Dawn office was established in England shortly after World War II. The annual Conway Hall/London convention (1931-1970), sponsored by four ecclesias, was Great Britain’s largest. An annual convention was held in Portrush, Northern Ireland (1950-1980) [which corresponded roughly to the U.S. General Convention, though proportionately much smaller]. The annual Maranatha [Our Lord Cometh] Conference (1950-1980) corresponded approximately to the Berean (Grove City, Pennsylvania) Conference in the U.S.

In Australia, R.E.B. Nicholson rejected the “seventh volume” in 1918 and thence formed the Berean Bible Institute which has continuously published Peoples Paper in Melbourne since 1918 (edited by E. E. Martin, circa 1926-1988). The Institute represents both the PBI and the Dawn in that country. There are several associated Berean Bible Student classes (including Polish) in Australia and also a few in New Zealand. At the same time Henninges in Melbourne continued publishing New Covenant Advocate and Kingdom Herald from April 1909 to March 1943. It was later resumed by H. S. Winbush.

In India, S. P. Devasahayam (“Davey”), from near Nagercoil, had begun the work in 1912, including translation of Studies in the Scriptures, volume 1, into Tamil and then Malayalam. After Pastor Russell’s death, contact with the Watch Tower was lost for many years, but contact with the PBI was later established. Davey became physically weak about 1920 and thenceforth involuntarily inactive until his death in 1936. Then, also, many associates left the Society en masse.

Davey appointed V. Devasandosham to succeed him circa 1920. A capable organizer, Devasandosham organized the “Associated Bible Students” (later India Bible Students Association) and centered the work in Madras. Tamil publications included “Babylon and her Daughters,” “Is Saturday the Sabbath of the Christians?,” and “The True Bible Catechism.” Later, he suggested 2520+30 years might signify the end in 1944; after 1939 many sold everything for the sake of the Christian work, which afterwards led to serious problems.

Originally from Singapore, Bro. Pakian (of poor health) bought a small printing press in Madras, 1920-1924. Pakian Press printed many Tamil tracts, and a monthly magazine (since 1922) for the Associated Bible Students. After Devasandosham’s death, the press was moved to Coimbatore, in 1966 (with a press bought by the Dawn) to Madurai, and in 1974 to Trichy (Tiruchiripali, where there were about three hundred in the class). Sr. Ryer Pillai gave a trimming machine for books circa 1960.

As head of the India Bible Students Association, Devasandosham (1920-1944) was succeeded by T. C. Devakannu (“TCD” 1944-1970), by S. Rathansami (1967-1975) of Tiruchiripali, and Sebastian (1975- ). The India Bible Students Association [Tamil language] convention has been held annually since 1921. Currently it lasts about three days, attracts as many as five hundred, and from year-to-year rotates among a few cities. The Bible Students Press publishes a monthly magazine in the Tamil language. Several hundred Bible Students are scattered throughout India, but are primarily in the south.

Sundar Raj Gilbert left an engineering career to begin his activity. His outreach beyond the Tamil state began in 1940. Solomon Subamangalam and Bro. George by chance found a small Dawn booklet at Madras and wrote for free literature early in 1946. In 1947 Subamangalam gave some of it to Sundar Raj Gilbert. Then correspondence between H. A. Livermore of Portland, Oregon, and Sundar Raj Gilbert led to foreign support of the India work beginning in 1947. The Northwest India Committee (in America later renamed Northwest Committee for India, and now Friends of India) receives cooperation from several classes and individuals in the U.S. and Canada. The South India Bible Students Committee was formed in 1965 (in conjunction with G. R. Pollock’s visit) to publish literature also in the other native languages including Telugu, Kanada (Canarese), Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Oriya. The Bible Students Press has a working agreement with the Dawn in America.

In Germany and Switzerland, Samuel Lauper (d. 1938) published Heroldes des Königreiches Christi, which was the German Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. Lauper also published a German translation of Streeter’s Revelation volumes. Ewald Vorsteher published Wahrheitsfreund [Friend of Truth] in the 1920s. Conrad C. Binkele began publishing Der Pilgrim ca. 1930. These efforts were all suspended around the advent of the Hitler regime. After the war Bible Students were again able to receive Watchtower literature (for the first time in over a decade) and forthwith many left the Society. Joseph Huber began Die Brennende Lampe [The Burning Lamp], similar to the American Herald and Dawn (though more Futurist). Alexander Freytag published Jedermannsblatt [Everybody’s Paper]. Emil Sadlac of Kirchlengern began Christliche Warte [Christian Watchtower] in 1949, which offers a pre-harvest theology. The German Tagesanbruch [Daybreak, the German Dawn], began in Berlin around 1950 and later moved to Freiburg. The German general convention began in 1955 and now typically hosts two hundred. There are Bible Students in the former East Germany also. They published Christliche Verantwortung [Christian Responsibility] for two years circa 1950.

R. H. Oleszynski

Polish activity outside the Society began with the journals Straz [Watchman] in 1923, edited by R. H. Oleszynski (1857-1930), and Brzask Nowej Ery [Dawn of a New Era] in 1930. S. F. Tabaczynski, Jan Jezuit, W. O. Wnorowski and Anthony E. Bogdanczik were also energetic. The general convention in Poland is held every two years and can attract over two thousand. Roughly three thousand have registered with the government as Bible Students. Na Strazy [On the Watch] began publication in Warsaw in 1958. A group formerly cooperating with the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement in the U.S. began publishing Swit [Daybreak] in 1958.

The French Dawn, Aurore, began publication circa 1951. Journal de Sion began near Lille, France, in 1956 and publishes translated writings of Pastor Russell and some current articles. The Polish constitute the largest proportion of Bible Students in France. Along a different line, Alexander Freytag formed the Man’s Friends (or  Philanthropic Society) group in 1920. Freytag claimed special revelations and looked for Christ’s Second Coming in the future. The Swiss and the French groups are divided now and publish their own journals. They claim an earthly hope and endeavor to do many good works.

The New York Greek congregation was established in 1933 and in 1934 began publishing a Greek Dawn, He Haravgi. Frouros [Watcher] was a doctrinaire publication by George Loumbardas in Toronto. In Greece most of the Bible Student activity is in Athens. Activity in Greece was often hampered by anti-proselytizing laws.

A publication in the Italian language, L’Aurora Millenniale [The Dawn of the Millennium] was attempted in Hartford, Connecticut, beginning ca. 1933. The Italian Dawn, Aurora, began publication in 1953.

Prominent among Scandinavians who left the Society was (Count) Carl Lüttichau of Copenhagen. The Dano-Norwegian Dawn, Daggry Forlaget, began publication ca. 1951.

Swedish efforts outside the IBSA commenced about 1920, with Mr. Mellinder of Harnosand and Axel Sjo prominent. A 1922 winter convention in Stockholm was attended by nearly one hundred. (A few years later most of these turned to universalism.) Anders Karlen stressed the divine plan in the Great Pyramid of Egypt. A Swedish Dawn, Dagnigen, was published 1951-1960.

Finnish efforts apart from the IBSA commenced early in 1921. A year later a Finnish journal had fifteen hundred subscriptions, five hundred attended a convention in Helsinki (one hundred fifty spoke Swedish), and a thousand attended public meetings. Mr. Nortamo was a full-time pilgrim, and W. Berghäll (pronounced “Berryhill” in English) appears to have been a guiding light. There were active classes of about fifty in Tampere (Tammerfors) and Turku (Åbo).

A journal, Strasz and corresponding to the Polish Straz, was published from Winnipeg in the Ukrainian language. A Ukrainian radio broadcast, Peter and Paul, was also sponsored by the Ukrainian class in Winnipeg.

Spanish broadcasts of Francisco y Ernesto are heard throughout Latin America and the southernmost U.S. The Spanish work was spearheaded by Roberto Montero in San Diego, California.

Romanian activity was curtailed by World War II. Afterwards, property was confiscated and activity suppressed during the Ceausescu regime. Several thousand there had no contact with Bible Students from other countries until the fall of the Ceausescu government at the end of 1989.

Africa work began in earnest in 1972-1973 with visits to interested groups in Nigeria, though the Layman’s Home Missionary Movement had been active there for years. Recently a number of visits have also been made to Ghana.

Still more recently the New Brunswick, New Jersey, congregation has begun an extensive ministry of comfort to Israel. Kenneth Rawson has traveled extensively to Israel and many eastern European countries with the audio-video presentation Israel, Appointment With Destiny that has been well-received not only in the Holy Land but by thousands of Jews of the Diaspora.

The International Convention

Although there were Bible Students in many countries of the world, there often was little communication and co-operation between them. It was largely to facilitate such collaboration that the International Convention of Bible Students was organized in 1982. A committee of representatives from Poland, France, Germany, Greece, England and the United States was formed to make the arrangements. The first convention was such a success that the gathered brethren voted to become self-sponsoring with an international committee and meet every two years. Venues have included Kufstein and Obsteig, Austria; Willingen, Germany; DeBron, Holland; Poitiers, France; Miskolc, Hungary; and Polanica Zdroj and Nowy Sacz, Poland.

From the first conference held in Austria, with an attendance of about two hundred fifty to the last such meeting in Poland, with about nine hundred attending, brethren have come from over fifteen countries, including Japan, Russia, Nigeria, India, Argentina, and Brazil in addition to the U.S. and Canada, Australia, and many countries in both Eastern and Western Europe.

These gatherings have also spawned international youth camps with over a hundred attending, and such multi-country gatherings as a joint French-German convention every year.

Present Activity

Bible Students now live and/or hold meetings in at least these countries: Russia (including Siberia), Ukraine, Lithuania, Slovenia, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Guyana, United States, Canada, the Philippines, and the West Indies. Some work has recently begun in Sri Lanka.

The most sizeable movements, with over a thousand each, are in the United States, Poland, Romania, and India. The Herald magazine currently reaches subscribers in nearly fifty different countries and, through its web page, has an outreach to many more

 

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Recent Bible Student History

  Now, brethren, I beseech you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfectly united in the same mind, and in the same judgment. 1 Co 1:10

Rolando Rodriguez

History teaches that after the death of a charismatic leader, chaos reigns. The events that took place after the death of Pastor Russell are no ­exception. After forty years of pastoral work, editing, writing, and publishing The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, Studies in the Scriptures, countless booklets, tracts and special interest papers, plus organizing Bible study classes throughout the United States and abroad, it all came to an end—or so it seemed. 

Pastor Russell was more than just a charismatic leader. He was a pastor, an elder, a father figure to some, a big brother to others; he was a friend and mentor to many, young and old. His death changed all that. The Society and associations he left behind would continue on without his guidance and spiritual ­insight. In fact they would go in a new direction, on a different road, contrary to most of what he taught and believed. 

Somehow many of the brethren felt that Pastor Russell would remain with the church in the flesh as long as there was work to do; it was difficult to grasp the hard fact that now he was gone. His missionary efforts resulted in thousands accepting the harvest truth. Nearly a hundred thousand subscribed to The Watch Tower. Twelve hundred local Bible Student ecclesias elected him as their pastor. Some of these ecclesias numbered more than a thousand, many of them in the hundreds.

On October 31, 1916, on a train eastward bound through Texas, Pastor Russell passed away. The news of his death spread rapidly, and for a time those who knew and loved him for his work’s sake could think and speak of little else as they met one another, except that “Brother Russell is dead.”

What would the tens of thousands of Bible Students do? Would they stay faithful to the man or to the organization he left behind? Would their allegiance be to God and Truth? For some, separating the three was impossible, and rightly so. Pastor Russell was the organization and for others he spoke for God. Still others clamored, “Not the messenger but the message.”

But now he was dead! That he died while still active in the missionary field did not alter the fact that he no longer could be the pacesetter for the brethren who loved the truth they received through him and who would lay down their lives to give it to others. He was gone, and the brethren were stunned. What now?

Siftings, Schisms, and Separation

After the death of Pastor Russell, the Bible Student movement was in chaos. 1914 failed to bring about the glorification of the saints; many of the brethren were still somewhat at a loss. Some had even fallen away from the association in disappointment. But if this were not enough, a bitter power struggle occurred at Watch Tower headquarters over control of the Society.

In 1917 Joseph Franklin Rutherford succeeded Charles Taze Russell as Watch Tower president. He tried and succeeded in gaining complete control over the Society’s activities. The illegal introduction of new by-laws gave the president full control over the affairs of the Society. However, this was not Pastor Russell’s wish. In his last will and testament he had provided for a seven-man board of directors to succeed him. Four members of the Society’s Board of Directors, a majority of the Board, took strong exception to what they regarded as Rutherford’s high-handed behavior and opposed him. Eventually tension between Rutherford and the directors grew and on July 17, 1917, Ruther­ford simply announced to the Bethel family in Brooklyn, New York, during meal time that he had replaced the four directors with his own appointees, using the legal jargon that the directors who had opposed him did not hold their positions legally under Pennsylvania law.

The Society would later claim that the deposed directors’ opposition was to the publication of The Finished Mystery, a book released to the Bethel family immediately after Ruther­ford took charge, and that it caused a heated, five-hour debate that followed his announcement. That book was styled the seventh volume of Pastor Russell’s Studies in the Scriptures and advertised as his “posthumous work.” Ru­therford falsely claimed that the four directors and others with them were refusing to cooperate with the Society. Even today Jehovah’s Wit­nesses are told that the four directors who were expelled from the Watch Tower headquarters were wicked and self-serving.

As early as 1917 Bible Students classes and individuals were withdrawing their support from the Society. The four directors along with other brethren formed an institute to continue the work of Pastor Russell, independent of the Society. Others would form corporations of their own. Some Bible Students followed the lead of their favorite elder or teacher. Still others, leery of organizations and societies, stayed independent of all others.

As the years went by, more and more of the brethren seeing a change of direction and attitude within the Society soon departed and thus the exodus started. By 1930 the majority of the brethren who worked closely with Pastor Russell had left the Society—many had been forced out. By this time, all of Pastor Russell’s writings were discarded in favor of the writings of Ruther­ford, writings that contradicted each other. By 1929 over a hundred changes in doctrines had been made; the Society no longer resembled that which was established by Pastor Russell and his early associates. The Society had a new look and a new attitude. No longer was it simply a publishing house for the dissemination of Bible literature. Now it was “God’s Theocratic Organization.” To disagree with it was tantamount to treason against God himself.

A New Name

In 1931 Rutherford decided to make a distinction between the independent Bible Students and those loyal to him. He changed their name to “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The Society had become what they themselves ­abhorred in Christendom—a little Babylon. Those Bible Students remaining within the Society heard the admonition, “Get out of her my people!” and fled.

Even today the Watchtower organization describes members of the Bible Student community of that day as “wearing unclean garments,” being “contaminated by apostasy,” being “guilty of wrong practices,” and having “displayed characteristics that were weed-like,” “manifested fear of man,” and having “sold themselves because of wrong practices.” Today, although many of the original Bible Students have died, their children carry on. Children and grandchildren born decades after the events of 1917, even newcomers, are shown no mercy from the Society. These are considered evil and apostate, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are to have nothing to do with them. The Society has even gone so far as to state that Bible Students no longer exist, that they have died out and none remain.

A House Divided

After the death of Pastor Russell it was clear that the work he started should be continued. But who would continue it and how? It was obvious that the Society had no intention of carrying out his wishes as set forth in his last will and testament. The four ousted directors, having failed to secure their position on the board, along with other prominent Bible Students as individuals, congregations, and publishing houses, decided to do the job.

On August 15, 1918, the four ousted members of the board, along with former pilgrim Paul Samuel Leo Johnson, considered publishing The Bible Standard and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. They would soon have a falling out, and Johnson would go on to found what is today the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement [one of the unincorporated names used by Pastor Russell and the early IBSA] and publish independently of all Bible Students, introducing a new dispensation of views and doctrines. In December, 1918, Johnson published The Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom; in 1920 he published The Herald of the Epiphany [later renamed The Bible Standard and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany]. Johnson taught that since Pastor Russell was the Parousia Messenger during the Lord’s parousia, he must be the Epiphany Messenger during the Lord’s epiphany. Johnson was a prolific writer; he penned the fifteen-volume Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, two volumes of which were added after his death in 1950.

As was the case after the death of Pastor Russell, a number of schisms occurred after the death of Johnson. Raymond Jolly, a former Watch Tower pilgrim, took the reigns. No sooner than he did, disagreements occurred between Jolly and John Hoefle of Mount Dora, Florida, and John Krewson of Fort Myers, Florida, both pilgrims for the Laymen’s. Hoefle, who left the Society in 1928 and joined Johnson, was eventually disfellowshipped from the Laymen’s in 1956. He began publishing a newsletter under the banner of Epiphany Bible Students Association. John Hoefle died in the 1980s; his wife, Emily, continued the work until her death in 2007, and the work still continues under a new administration.

John Krewson was disfellowshipped in 1955 and formed the Laodicean Home Missionary Movement in Philadelphia. He claimed that since Pastor Russell was the “Parousia Messenger” and Johnson the “Epiphany Messenger,” he must be the “Apokalypsis Messenger” since he believed we are now living in the apokalypsis stage of the Lord’s presence. He published the three-volume Apokalypsis Studies in the Scriptures, and the monthly The Present Truth of the Apokalypsis. Krewson died in the 1970s; the work continued until1990 when it stopped.

Pastoral Bible Institute

After Rutherford’s victory, a number of prominent brethren withdrew their support. The first Bible Student Convention held independent of the Watchtower Society took place on July 26-29, 1918, in Asbury Park, New Jersey. In November a few months later two to three hundred brethren attended the second convention in Providence, Rhode Island. It was at this meeting that the Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI) was formed to resume Pastor Russell’s pastoral work independent of the Society. December 1918 saw the first issue of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom; it was edited by R. E. Streeter until his death in December 1924. Today the Institute continues to publish The Herald along with other literature.

Watchers of the Morning

In the 1930s, some prominent members of the PBI influenced by the writings of both E. C. Henninges and M. L. McPhail—two prominent pilgrims who left the Society in 1909 ­because of some doctrinal disagreements with Pastor Russell—began to deny that Christ was present and other important doctrines held by the brethren. In 1936 Isaac Hoskins, a director of the Pastoral Bible Institute, and others withdrew from that association in a dispute over doctrinal matters and began publishing The Watchers of the Morning, a journal which continued until June 1957.

The Dawn Bible Students Association

By 1931 most of the Bible Student groups were falling apart or functioning as independent classes or individuals. Along came Norman Woodworth, a man who ran the Society’s radio program and was forced out in 1928. He began to air his own radio program with the help of the Associated Bible Students Brooklyn, New York. They produced a little paper, The Bible Students Radio Echoes, containing highlights of the radio program which was called Frank and Ernest. In 1931 a board of directors was elected. “Radio Echoes” evolved into The Dawn and Herald of Christ’s Presence, a bi-monthly journal in 1932. Later it became a monthly. The Dawn was able to regather many of the independent Bible Students. In the decades of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s the Dawn association grew as a result of an influx from disenchanted Jehovah’s Witnesses who had grown weary of the Watchtower’s doctrinal changes. The Dawn republished Studies in the Scriptures, countless books, booklets, tracts, and the DAWN magazine, along with producing video and audio presentations, for the Bible Student community to use in their witness work. Its radio and television programs are broad­cast around the world.

Despite the DAWN promoting itself as a “non-channel” organization, most Bible Students saw Norman Woodworth as the leader of the independent movement, and the DAWN as God’s de facto organization. That would later change as The Dawn began deviating from its doctrinal platform established at their inception.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s sound doctrines were being replaced by new teachings that many refused to accept.  Questions arose about financial matters that went unanswered.  They claimed that the Volumes contained thousands of errors and needed to be extensively edited.  Brethren began opposing the Dawn leadership.  Activities once performed by individual classes in cooperation with the Dawn were pulled back to headquarters. 

Numerous doctrinal changes emerged among Dawn leaders and followers, contrary to Pastor Russell’s teachings in the Volumes and Reprints. Some of these changes were published in the Dawn magazine and promoted from the platform at conventions.  These new teachings were also in contradiction to earlier Dawn literature. Older publications were reprinted with these new views without informing the brethren that the literature was a revision, giving the impression that new printings were just that, new printings and not revisions of earlier editions.  Like the Jehovah’s Witness, the DAWN leadership was guilty of promoting “New Light” for these changes.  Not all brethren were aware of these changes and they did not all appear in DAWN publications. Nor did all “Dawn Brethren” accept or support these views. For the sake of unity and the witness work, the DAWN encouraged the brethren to remain loyal, and the old “channel” concept was revived. 

 

 

As a result the brethren began to be tested once again.  A new exodus began as Bible Students disassociated themselves from the DAWN, financial support began to wane.  Many found themselves ostracized for opposing the Dawn’s new views.  Disenchanted DAWN members and supporters resigned. DAWN pilgrims began attacking those who refused to support the DAWN and warned the brethren not to attend conventions that were not sponsored by the DAWN. DAWN Pilgrims who did not support the changes were dropped from service. Families and classes began splitting. A new independent movement began, independent of the DAWN.

 The Christian Millennial Fellowship

 

The Stand Fast Bible Students ­Association

The Stand Fasters get their name from their determination to “stand fast on war principles that our dear Pastor Russell announced.” Charles E. Heard of Vancouver and many others felt that Rutherford’s recommendation in 1918 to buy war bonds was cowardice and a sacrilegious perversion of the harvest work. Feeling that Christians should not support the military in any way, including the buying of Liberty Bonds or involvement in non-combatant service, the Stand Fast Bible Students Association was organized on December 1, 1918, in Portland, Oregon. It published Old Corn Gems and organized conventions throughout the United States. The Stand Fasters accepted the seventh volume and were quite successful, especially among those who did not accept what they saw as compromises over the war issue.

They felt that the harvest was over, organizations were relatively unimportant, and they were organized simply to help each other learn about Pastor Russell’s teachings. Their opposition to public witness was the main reason they were one of the first groups to disintegrate. From the original twelve hundred adherents in 1919 in the northwest and near Wisconsin, this movement eventually disappeared.

The Elijah Voice Society

The Stand Fast was not without its schisms. In 1923 John A. Herdersen and C. D. McCray along with nearly 300 from the Stand Fast Bible Students organized the Elijah Voice Society to engage in an ambitious re­gathering and witness work. They published the Elijah Voice Monthly and numerous tracts, becoming one of the most prominent “seventh volume” groups. They felt they were “called to smite Babylon.” Long before Jehovah’s Witnesses they refused to salute the flag, buy liberty bonds, or contribute to the Red Cross. This group eventually disappeared.

The Servants of Yah

Probably the strangest of all Bible Student groups was headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, and led by C. H. Zook. They believed that Satan’s name was Jehovah, so Jehovah’s Witnesses were really Witnesses of Satan. They were Universalists who deny Armageddon, the flood, water baptism, the ransom, restitution, etc. They had branches in Levittown, New York, and Vienna, Austria. Their doctrines were similar to the Jehovah’s Witnesses; only the 144,000 are destined to discover the hidden meaning of the Scriptures and enter heaven. The meaning is hidden partly because they believed our Bible texts were altered. They saw the Bible as primarily prophecy, most of which relates to the present century. They believed that everyone who ever lived will live forever in an earthly paradise except the 144,000 who will live in heaven. This group eventually disappeared.

Schisms Abroad

In other countries many Bible Students did not know what was really happening in the U.S. in 1917; it took time for some to analyze the events and leave.

The British Board of Directors took control of the “London Tabernacle” and formed the Bible Fellowship Union. They began publishing The Bible Students Monthly in 1924, later renamed The Bible Study Monthly so as not to be mistaken with the new Watch Tower which previously published a paper by that name. Albert O. Hudson became the general director and served in that capacity until his death at age 101 in 2000. Today it is run by an editorial committee.

 William Crawford, an original member of the British Board of Directors, caused its first split. He founded Old Paths Publications and produced the monthly journal Old Paths. Countless booklets, books, and tracts were produced.

In 1922 the New Jerusalem Fellowship was formed. They produced a monthly journal and numerous books and booklets before going out of existence in 1992.

At the time of the split in 1917, the Forest Gate Church was the second largest Bible Student group in England. F. G. Guard, father-in-law of William Crawford, led the class in ­divorcing themselves from the Society. In 1939 they started publishing The Forest Gate Church Bible Monthly, along with booklets and tracts. This group disbanded in 1979.

William Robertson formed the Bible Student Publishing Co. before the major split of 1917; he published a quarterly journal The ­Bible Student that was critical of both Pastor Russell and Rutherford. There were certain IBSA ­officials who joined after the split in 1917. This group stopped operations in the 1920s.

The Goshen Fellowship was formed as a result of the ministry of Jesse Hemery. He was undoubtedly the most prominent Bible Student in England, serving as Vice President of the IBSA, a position he held until 1946 since his appointment by Pastor Russell in 1901. He was disfellowshipped by N. H. Knorr in 1951. Although he accepted much of Pastor Russell’s interpretations, he did reject the second presence as being a current reality. Believing Revelation was to be fulfilled in the future, he wrote a few commentaries on Revelation and other books of prophecy. He died in 1963 at the age of 99. Frank Lewis Brown headed the group for many years, publishing Zion’s Herald, a monthly journal beginning in 1965. The group survived into the 1990s, and has since disbanded.

Adam Rutherford, a pyramidologist, found­ed The Institute of Pyramidology. A Bible Student who got most of his inspiration from the Great Pyramid, he published an extensive four-volume set on the Pyramid and its teachings, as well as the journal Pyramidology Monthly. He wrote numerous books, booklets, and tracts. His institute ceased operations a few years ago.

The Angel of Jehovah Bible and Tract Society

This organization was founded by Alexander F. L. Freytag who was branch manager of the Swiss Society and who disagreed with some of Pastor Russell’s views even while the pastor was alive. Yet Pastor Russell appointed him in 1898 as Branch Manager. In 1917 he started publishing his views using the Society’s presses and paper. He was ousted in 1919 by Rutherford. He published a four-volume set of Scriptural writings, mostly published in French. His writings have been translated from French into English, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch. He published his own hymn book (he wrote and composed all the music) as well as his own devotional book. He also wrote numerous booklets and tracts. He published two journals, a monthly The Monitor of the Reign of Justice and a weekly Paper For All. There are branch offices in Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. Members of this group view Freytag as “that Faithful and Wise Servant” of Matthew 24:45-47. This group also goes by the name Philanthropic Assembly of the Friends of Man, and The Church of the Kingdom of God, Philanthropic Assembly.

Berean Bible Institute (Australia)

This Bible Student group officially separated from the Society in 1918. It published the monthly The Voice and since 1917, the monthly People’s Paper as well as other books, booklets, and tracts.

New Covenant Fellowship

In 1908-09 E. C. Henninges, the Australian branch manager of the International Bible Students Association, and M. L. McPhail, pilgrim for the IBSA, withdrew their support causing the second largest split in the Society’s history, second only to the 1917 split. They produced a monthly journal The New Covenant Advocate and Kingdom Herald and ­numerous books, booklets, and tracts. After Henninges’ death, his work continued for some years; operations ceased by 1944. Most of the New Covenant Bible Students were left to fend for themselves. Many did not survive and splintered off into non-existence. The Free Bible Students, as they call themselves today, make up the largest Bible Student group in Australia. In recent years there has been a resurgence of Free Bible Student rallying under the new leadership of the Christian Millennial Fellowship.

The Christian Truth Institute

This organization was founded by Frederick Lardent of England. It published the monthly Gleanings for Truth Seekers as well as various booklets and tracts. This group died out.

The New Covenant Believers

Former Watchtower pilgrim M. L. McPhail, supposedly the most loved Bible Student next to the pastor himself, led the “New Covenant” Bible Students in the United States. He published a few books independently, mostly ­relying heavily on the writings of E. C. Hen­ninges. In 1908 they began publishing The Kingdom Scribe which ceased publication in 1975. They also published the Berean News, a small newsletter beginning in 1956; it continues today under the imprint of the Berean Bible Students Church in Lombard, Illinois.

Bible Students Today

Despite the many schisms in the past, today there are many ecclesias throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, India, Asia, South America, and Africa, congregating during conventions, exchanging speakers and literature. Many Bible Student ecclesias publish their own monthly newsletters, tracts, and booklets; some have their own journals and ministries. There are many Bible Student committees made up of Bible Students of various ecclesias, to help others in poorer countries. There are Bible Student Retirement Centers in both the U.S. and Europe. They provide good opportunities for studies and fellowship.

Since 1982, International Conventions have been held throughout Europe, beginning first in Austria, then Germany, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, and Poland. There are various Bible Students camps for children during the summer. Dozens of conventions are held each year, lasting one to six days each, providing ample fellowship and spiritual food.

Since the fall of communism, brethren have been found throughout the former communist nations. What binds these brethren together? It is the Truth! It is a belief that Jesus Christ died once for all mankind, that through his ransom sacrifice he purchased every man, woman, and child. The first to benefit are his followers during the Gospel age, those who sacrifice their humanity to follow in the footsteps of their master and become joint heirs with him in the thousand-year kingdom to bless the world of mankind. The next to benefit is the world of mankind who will learn the truth during the kingdom and grow in grace and knowledge and eventually actual perfection. This is the theme of the Scriptures and a theme that has been carried forth by Bible Students since the days of Pastor Russell. 

The Italian Bible Students Association in Hartford, Connecticut, withdrew their support from the Society in 1928 and changed their name to Millennial Bible Students Church, then to its current name Christian Millennial Fellowship, Inc. (CMF). In 1940 they began publishing The New Creation—a Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. However a few years later Gaetano Boccaccio began to be influenced by the writings of Henninges and McPhail. The CMF eventually discarded most of Pastor Russell’s writings as error. Gaetano Boccaccio was its leader since its inception. He had been with the Society since 1917 and died in 1996. For over fifty years he led this group from Hartford. The group eventually reorganized and has relocated to New Jersey where it is headed by Elmer Weeks.

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Regathering

Carl Hagensick

Discouragement, disillusionment, and confusion reigned among the Bible Students after the death of their beloved Pastor in 1916. The bitter succession battle that saw the questionable election of “Judge” Joseph Rutherford, with its charges and counter-charges, left many brethren disenchanted and at a loss for direction. The uncertainty was further heightened as the official organization introduced change after change to the historic beliefs that the Pastor had eloquently espoused, and changed the emphasis from character development to marketing.

In reaction to the new circumstances within the Society, various groups were formed to try to recapture the vision of Pastor Russell. Three of the first to form, all in 1918, were the Stand Fast Bible Students Association, the Pastoral Bible Institute, and the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement.

The Finished Mystery

The breaking point for many came with Rutherford’s ouster of a majority of the board of directors, and, secondarily, with the publication of The Finished Mystery in 1917 and its subsequent partial renunciation by the Watch Tower Society in 1918. Purporting to be the posthumous work of Pastor Russell, this so-called “Seventh Volume” was an exposition on the books of Revelation, Ezekiel, and the Song of Solomon; it was co-authored by Clayton Woodworth and George Fisher at the direction of Rutherford. Its exegesis on Revelation was deemed speculative if not outright bizarre in places, by many in the movement. The last, greatly edited, edition of this book was published in 1927.

The Stand Fast Bible Students

When parts of the “Seventh Volume” were officially renounced by the Society in 1918, a few thousand, who felt the original anti-government position that was removed from the book should have remained, left that organization and some formed the Stand Fast Bible Students Association. The name “Stand Fast” was chosen to emphasize “standing fast” against the purchase of Liberty Bonds, a position then championed by the Society. The movement has since died out.

In 1922 a young brother, John Herderson, became convinced that Bible Students should become active in witnessing and preaching the impending doom of Babylon. After he failed to convince the Stand Fast community as a whole, he and C. D. McCray, formed the Elijah Voice Society within the Stand Fast movement to implement that mission. For the larger number of dissenters, the words “Stand Fast” took on the meaning, “Patiently stand fast in Bible study … until Christ’s kingdom would be established.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses

When Rutherford’s expectation that the ancient worthies would be raised in 1925 failed, he admitted to no mistake. Instead he changed the teachings, a few each year, and demanded that others “Keep up with the new light!” He changed the name to “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931 and progressively seized control over local classes until he called it “God’s Theocratic Organization.” Others called it a ruthless takeover.

Joseph Franklin Rutherford

To disagree with the organization, or with him, became tantamount to treason against Jehovah God himself. Those who left or were disfellowshipped were not allowed further contact, and were to be shown no mercy.

The Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement

P. S. L. Johnson had been a prominent pilgrim under Pastor Russell. When his interpretations of the separation of Elijah and Elisha, and of “that evil servant,” caused him to be rejected from the editorial committee of the planned new journal at the Asbury Park, New Jersey, convention in 1918, he, Raymond Grant Jolly, R. H. Hirsh, and most of the Philadelphia congregation left. They formed the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, and their intense witnessing efforts gathered a sizeable group of mostly former members of the Society as adherents. They held Pastor Russell in high esteem. A prodigious writer, Johnson produced a series of seventeen books under the general title of Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures. Abounding in typology, the LHMM categorized both prominent ones involved in their work, as well as those who differed with them, under various symbolic names. Teaching that the door to the High Calling was closed, they claimed Paul Johnson was the last member of the Church and his successor, Raymond Jolly, was the last member of the Great Company. Their two periodicals The Bible Standard and Present Truth continue to be published today.

P.S.L, Johnson

Two smaller groups split off from the LHMM. In 1955, Raymond Jolly withdrew the credentials as a pilgrim from John Krewson when Krewson began circulating an opposition paper. Krewson formed what came to be called in 1962 the Laodicean Home Missionary Movement in Philadelphia and published a journal entitled The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis. A year later John Hoefle of Mount Dora, Florida, also had his credentials withdrawn; he formed the Epiphany Bible Students Association. Hoefle taught that the door to the high calling had closed at a date later than the LHMM taught. He published a monthly newsletter that has been continued by his widow.

The Pastoral Bible Institute

After a new committee to provide spiritual food for the brethren was selected at a July, 1918, Asbury Park, New Jersey, convention, the committee adopted the name Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI) for the corporation formed there. The committee then called for a general convention to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 18-20, later postponed to November 8-10, to “calmly and soberly consider matters of vital importance to the New Creation, and take counsel together as to the best methods of conducting themselves and the work of the ministry during this stormy time” (quotation from the Committee Bulletin, September, 1918). A similar convention was scheduled for the Midwest in St. Louis, Missouri, from December 6 to 8.

The business meeting formally endorsed the legal incorporation under the laws of the State of New York and empowered the directors of the PBI to publish a journal under the guidance of an editorial committee headed by Isaac F. Hoskins and Randolph E. Streeter. The first issue of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom appeared in December of that year. In addition to the magazine, the PBI also opened an extensive pilgrim service serving isolated brethren and provided free literature for public distribution. Horace Hollister, P. L. Read, Paul Thomson, and Will Siekman were also active in this effort.

The outreach of the PBI, while designed for the general public, was particularly aimed at reaching disheartened members of the Watch Tower Society. As a result it became an umbrella group for brethren with a wide range of views on the Scriptures. This “open door” policy was distressing to many who felt it encouraged deviation from the truths they had learned from the ministry of Pastor Russell.

While maintaining an editorial view that mirrored the Pastor’s historical viewpoints in the pages of its magazine, it simultaneously stood in defense of the liberty of other brethren to hold a broad variety of differing interpretations; some of the PBI’s pilgrims also espoused diverse ideas. Three notable teachings were questioned by several: the doctrine of the Lord’s invisible return, the church having a share in the sin offering [though not in the ransom merit], and the time and scope of the New Covenant. In the 1990s the Institute returned The Herald to the historic Bible Student positions expressed in the writings of Pastor Russell.

Watchers of the Morning

At its annual meeting in 1936, the openness of the PBI’s doctrinal policy came into question. The directors who were divided on the subject, as well as the style of Hoskin’s leadership, placed two competing slates of candidates before the membership. When the votes were tallied, a majority voted to retain the liberal position. The directors who advocated changing to a more restrictive policy then severed connections with the PBI and began to publish their own journal, Watchers of the Morning, under the editorial direction of Isaac Hoskins. This magazine remained in publication until Hoskins’ death in 1957.

Reunion Conventions

In a continuing effort to reach out to all who had left the Society, a Reunion Convention was hastily organized at the old Bible House in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, November 1-3, 1929. This gathering attracted as many as 375 attendees and continued as an annual event for ten years. Speakers in the early conferences included George Wilson, J. G. Kuehn, Robert Lee Smith, Isaac Hoskins, A. L. Muir, J. J. Blackburn, Ernest Wylam, and H. A. Friese.

The Radio Work

Norman Woodworth, with John Dawson, created the first radio program for the Society in 1927. It was in the form of a dialog between “Frank [Fact Finder] and Earnest [Truth Seeker].” After airing a number of programs featuring the truths taught by Pastor Russell, “Judge” Rutherford informed Woodworth that henceforth Rutherford would write the scripts and Woodworth would deliver them. When Woodworth objected to that approach, he was summarily evicted from the Watch Tower Bethel Home.

He and Dawson left the Society in 1928 and associated with the Bible Students of greater New York. By 1931 the idea was proposed to restart the “Frank and Earnest” program under the auspices of the New York congregation and the first program aired over the powerful WOR radio station on April 12 of that year. Success was so gratifying that the class made the decision to continue broadcasting as long as finances permitted.

As the radio work expanded beyond the New York area, the “Dawn Radio Committee” was formed in the Greater New York congregation. Needing literature on a regular basis to send to those who responded to the radio messages, a small press was purchased and Woodworth wrote scripts, recorded the broadcasts, wrote a small journal, set the type, and printed it. The journal was originally entitled “Radio Echoes” and in 1932 was expanded and the name changed to “The Dawn.”

Woodworth actively promoted the radio project on numerous pilgrim trips for the PBI. When some PBI directors and members objected that witness work was a diversion from the pastoral work for which the Institute had been formed, the two activities were separated.

The Dawn Bible Students’ Association

The radio work led to the formation of a new service organization, the Dawn Bible Students Association, originally known as “Dawn Publishers.” Originally headquartered in Brooklyn, it later moved its facilities to larger quarters in East Rutherford, New Jersey. George Wilson, Don Copeland, G. Russell Pollock, and Edward Fay were also active in the radio work.

Driven by a vision to spread the good news of God’s plan, the Dawn soon expanded its activities into other fields. A variety of tracts and booklets was produced; the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures were reprinted; an active pilgrim service was initiated; and advertising campaigns were carried out in newspapers and magazines, including such illustrious journals as Readers’ Digest and National Geographic. In an attempt to encourage personal follow-up, a program was inaugurated with small postcard tracts called “Kingdom Cards” with addresses encoded so the ones distributing the tracts would receive any response to enable them to follow through with a visit, phone call, or letter.

General Conventions

The fellowship and spiritual refreshment were so great at a 1937 convention in Aurora, Illinois, that it was decided to hold a general convention under the joint-sponsorship of the Aurora, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Stevens Point, Wisconsin, congregations from July 2-4, 1938, at a Methodist campground in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

The next year the Pittsburgh and Chicago congregations sponsored a five-day convention at Epworth Forest at Lake Webster, Indiana. The following year it moved to the Miami Valley Chautauqua campground near Dayton, Ohio, where it continued to be held until 1944. After a three-year hiatus because of World War II, it resumed in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York, as a self-supporting convention. It has been held annually at various venues ever since. Peak attendance, during the 1950s, was about a thousand.

A New Schism

The early general conventions featured speakers holding a wide variety of scriptural interpretations. The PBI tended to sponsor pilgrims and convention speakers with differing doctrinal viewpoints, particularly on the second presence of Christ, the covenants, and the church’s part in the sin offering, while the Dawn held to a more rigid doctrinal standard. As a result, considerable friction developed. In 1941, when the sponsors of the general convention voted to have only speakers that held to the historic truths proclaimed by Pastor Russell, brethren who held the PBI position felt disenfranchised and started their own convention, initially in North Webster, Indiana, in 1950, with an attendance of 250. This developed into the Berean Christian Conference, currently held in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Many classes also divided over the same issue with so-called “PBI” and “Dawn” groups meeting separately in a number of cities. Two later attempts to reconcile the differences and reunite the classes met with little or no success.

Network Broadcasting

The Frank and Earnest radio ministry had grown from one station to an average of seventy stations prior to the Second World War. With the ending of hostilities, the Bible Students considered a broader outreach. At the 1949 General Convention a motion was made to take up Good Hopes pledges to determine if sufficient funds would be available to broadcast the Frank and Earnest program nationwide. The proposal met with unanimous approval, and the programs began broadcasting weekly over 174 stations on the ABC network.

After a few years, the programs were switched to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Responses began flooding in to the Dawn and the need was felt to follow up on the interested names. Christian Zahnow and John MacAuley, Dawn pilgrims, began traveling to areas where there were a number of names and began organizing new classes where there were enough interested to do so.

The radio has also been used as a medium for their message by the Fort Worth Bible Students and the Winnipeg Bible Students. In recent years a radio call-in talk show, “Christian Questions,” featuring Rick Suraci and Jonathan Benson, has been airing weekly in Connecticut. There is also a call-in talk show on television from Tucson, Arizona, with John Harris.

The Divine Plan Movement

In the early 1950s dissension rose again. There were multiple causes for the new divisions. The Dawn leadership and pilgrims were perceived as presenting other viewpoints on justification, the role of Israel in Christ’s kingdom, the beginning date for the times of restitution and the millennial reign, and the chronological concepts of the jubilee. Some felt that the work of publishing and witness projects had become too centralized. After years of disagreement, a number of brethren organized a new general convention in Fort Collins, Colorado (later relocated to Denver).

The Fort Collins convention elders initiated a number of class-sponsored projects. Notable among them was the decision to publish a non-doctrinal journal to keep the brethren informed of activities, baptisms, deaths, conventions, and other news of interest to the fellowship. The original editors of The Bible Students Newsletter were Stanley Gorgas, Alvin Raffel, and Gilbert Rice. This periodical was shortly transferred to the Dayton (now Miami Valley), Ohio, ongregation.

In 1974 this convention was disbanded in favor of one in the Midwest under the joint-sponsorship of several classes in Indiana and Ohio. This conference has continued annually at a number of locations, with a current attendance of about 150. The platform of speakers is chosen based on a strict adherence to doctrinal viewpoints perceived to be the historic position of the Bible Student movement.

Decentralization resulted in a number of printing activities by different classes: New Brunswick, Chicago, Waterbury, Louisville (New Albany), Piqua, Oakland County Michigan, and other places produced public witness literature.

In the 1960s, exploratory endeavors were made to investigate the feasibility of a work in Japan. Robert Alexander and others organized The Divine Plan Foundation for the purpose. As the Japanese effort decreased in size, the Foundation turned its focus to funding several class-sponsored projects in other places.

George Wilmott of Fort Worth, Texas, began an extensive ministry in the preparation and airing of radio and television programs under the name The Divine Plan programs. To follow-up with the responses, he began the monthly Divine Plan Journal. He also reprinted the Divine Plan of the Ages in a magazine format and the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures plus Tabernacle Shadows in a single, hard-cover edition.

Reprinting Pastor Russell’s Writings

Another activity, also begun in the 1960s, was the reprinting of all the known writings of Pastor Russell. Over twenty books have been produced and have enjoyed a steady demand over the years.

Other congregations and individuals also print books for the movement. The Portland Area Bible Students publishes the works of John and Morton Edgar, Benjamin Barton, and Anton Frey. The New Brunswick, New Jersey, congregation printed two editions of Studies in the Scriptures that are thought to include the latest revisions of Pastor Russell, discovered after his death, as well as a comprehensive topical index. Waterbury, Connecticut, publishes the notes of Ludlow Loomis. New Albany, Indiana, has printed extensive notes on Revelation and Hebrews. Other individuals produce and publish treatises from time to time.

Although the writings of Pastor Russell republished by the Chicago Bible Students are now produced commercially, the first set of Watch Tower Reprints was printed by brethren on a press bought by George Tabac. This was formally organized as Bible Students’ Publications, and continues to produce materials for dozens of classes, as well as The Herald magazine, and many items for the Dawn Bible Students Association.

Youth Camps

Annual camps for young Bible students began in 1965 in Petersburg, Ontario. After two years in Canada, they were moved to various sites in Michigan. A second camp soon started in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This evolved into the Midwest Youth Camp, which presently serves about a hundred young people. A committee of parents, as well as other interested brethren, plans this camp. Other camps have included ones in the Northeast, in Chicago, in the Northwest, the Southwest, and in Jackson, Michigan. The “Free Bible Student” movement also operates a series of camps at their own center at Camp Blessing near Wausau, Wisconsin, and at locations in Vermont and California.

International Conventions

In 1981 a committee was formed to organize an International Convention of Bible Students, which was held the following year in Kufstein, Austria. The organizing committee included Adolphe Debski of France, Hercules Gonos of Greece, Carl Hagensick of the United States, Bob Robinson of England, Lutz Ruthman of Germany, and Adam Zieminski of Poland.

This convention continues to be held every two years in various locations and has grown from an attendance of three hundred to about a thousand. After being held in various venues in Austria, Germany, Holland, France, and Hungary, it has been held in Poland since 2000.

Bible Students’ Retirement Center

Timothy Krupa envisioned the idea of a Bible Student Retirement Center and organized a board of directors to examine the feasibility of such a plan. As a result, a tract of land with a stately house in a Portland, Oregon, suburb was purchased with the help of gifts from many brethren. The Center began operation in 1985 and eventually twenty-eight living units were constructed. The Center provides both a pleasant physical and rich spiritual environment. Today it is filled to capacity and maintains a waiting list.

Work in Other Lands

For years the Dawn has had its magazine translated into many languages, as well as providing translations of other Bible Student material, and the sponsorship of its radio ministry. It has also provided traveling pilgrims around the world.

From the early 1940s, the Northwest Committee for India has provided logistical support for the brethren living in India. The work of that committee has been largely taken over by a new committee, appropriately called “The Friends of India.” Also active in providing assistance to that sub-continent is the Oakland County [Michigan] Bible Students and, recently the ministry of Global Solutions started by Larry Davis of Romania, formerly of Denver. This ministry is also active in Africa, specifically Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Ghana.

The elders’ meeting at the Fort Collins convention in 1971 authorized an exploratory trip by Carl Hagensick to see if it would be feasible to arrange for a follow-up activity in Africa. As a result of an encouraging report, the Bible Students’ Committee for Africa was organized and has found a steady growth of interest, not only in Nigeria, but in Ghana and other countries as well.

Robert Alexander broached the idea of expanding Bible Student activities to Japan. He, with Owen Kindig of Columbus, Ohio, became active in maintaining contact with brethren there. Today there is still a small number of Japanese brethren.

The class in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has given translation and literature support, as well as arranging regular pilgrim trips, to the Ukraine. A committee has also been established by brethren in Ohio to support activities in Romania.

New Witness Efforts

The various classes around the country have tried many forms of outreach to spread the gospel to those around them. While the number of these projects far exceeds the space available here, a few seem especially worthy of mention.

Television: After a trial effort in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1952, the development of TV programming was pioneered in Chicago under the direction of Alfred Burns. After an initial thirteen programs plus the half-hour color presentation King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, The Dawn took up the project and produced a number of television programs. When broadcasting costs became prohibitive, the service of Modern Talking Pictures was secured to place the programs in schools, churches, and other organizations. The Fort Worth Bible Students and the class in Winnipeg, Manitoba, also produced television programming. In more recent years it has been found more cost-effective to use spot announcements on television.

Audio-Video: Ken Wade Bordes, Frank Shallieu, and August Tornquist developed a three-screen multi-media presentation, The Third Temple, in the early 1970s. A few years later, George Tabac of Chicago produced a three-screen stereophonic presentation, For This Cause, that drew audiences of hundreds to many of its showings. This program along with several television programs was eventually placed on video and, in 2004, on digital video discs. Also widely distributed were two other programs produced in Columbus, Ohio: The Great Pyramid: Modern Wonder, Ancient Mystery; and Messiah, based on Handel’s classical masterpiece.

Israel: In the 1990s Kenneth Rawson and the New Brunswick congregation began an intensive ministry for the Jewish people, not only those in Israel but those residing around the world. This witness centered around the audio-visual presentation Israel: Appointment with Destiny, which was soon translated into a number of languages and enthusiastically received by Jewish audiences at exhibitions in synagogues and auditoriums throughout the world. The presentation was supplemented by a number of relevant booklets. Recently a second program directed toward Evangelical Christians has been completed.

Internet: The Internet has been effectively used by the Bible Student community worldwide. Different classes, service organizations, and individuals within the fellowship have established approximately fifty web sites. Most are located in America, Poland, Germany, France, England, Spain, Holland, Romania, and Australia. One site features the Divine Plan of the Ages in more than thirty different languages and is profusely illustrated. Two other sites, designed by Jordan Gray of Columbus, Ohio, are advertised on major internet search engines and produce numerous requests for free literature every month.

The computer has also been used as a means to connect the brethren through internet studies, with at least seven such studies being held each week. After Allen Springer of Ohio (now of Romania) spearheaded a project to computerize the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Reprints, several computer programs of Pastor Russell’s writings and other Bible helps have been produced. Since then, others have used his work and further expanded on it, including the work of Jeff Mezera in his vast collection of material in the Bible Students Library and the assimilation of Bible Student writings with the popular On-Line Bible program, a work initiated by Peter Hill of Australia and completed by Mezera.

New Covenant Fellowship

In 1909 a division occurred in the Bible Student movement between M. L. McPhail and Pastor Russell over their understanding of the covenants and sin offering. McPhail and E. C. Henninges of Australia formed the New Creation Fellowship. They published a journal, The Kingdom Scribe. Over the years that movement has evolved into various separate but parallel groups. Two of these are perhaps the most prominent in the United States.

The Berean Bible Students was organized in 1926 when the expected resurrection of the Ancient Worthies failed to take place. It was an outgrowth of the Ukrainian Bible Students, later joined by several young people from the Polish Bible Students in the Chicago suburb of Cicero (now meeting in Lombard). Their stand for Christian liberty has resulted in a wide variety of scriptural interpretations. Because of this open approach they often term themselves “Free Bible Students,” emphasizing their claim to be free of all sectarian bondage.

The Christian Millennial Fellowship was formed in 1928 and was formerly a part of the Italian Bible Students Association. Gaetano Boccacio was the editor of their magazine, The New Creation, and was succeeded as editor by Elmer Weeks of New Jersey.

Two “general” conventions are held annually by these groups, the Berean Christian Conference in Grove City, Pennsylvania, and the Christian Believers Conference near Boston, Massachusetts.

With all of its offshoots, the Bible Student movement today numbers in excess of ten thousand spread over forty or more countries.

 

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