Expanded Facilities to Spread the Kingdom Message
MORE and more people are distressed over the worsening world conditions and wonder how these can be improved. There is a growing demand for literature that explains God’s solution—his Kingdom government. This demand has required expanding the printing facilities of Jehovah’s witnesses around the world.
In 1920 Jehovah’s witnesses first obtained a rotary press and began printing operations in a small building in Brooklyn, New York. The whole floor space was only 3,000 square feet. In 1927 a new eight-story factory, with nearly twenty-five times that space, was completed. But demand for Bible literature required further expansion.
By 1968, the printery had grown to more than nine times the size of the 1927 factory. It filled four city blocks, with floor space equaling about 15.2 acres! And the number of rotary printing presses had increased to eighteen. But the fastest expansion was yet to come.
Expansion Speeded Up
In November 1969 Jehovah’s witnesses purchased the huge, ten-building complex of the Squibb pharmaceutical plant, less than half a mile from their Brooklyn factory complex. This nearly doubled available space, providing badly needed storage area, particularly for paper. In five years the number of rotary printing presses, weighing between forty and fifty tons each, has more than doubled. There are now forty!
In 1972 these presses used over 20,000 tons of paper—800 train carloads of 25 tons each. One rotary press will consume a 1,400-pound, five-mile-long paper roll in forty minutes! Almost every day over 200 paper rolls of various sizes are turned into Bible literature. The twenty smaller sheetfed presses, in addition, consume hundreds of tons of paper a year.
Nevertheless, by 1970 it was clear that the Brooklyn printing facilities would be unable to meet the growing demand for Bible publications. So construction was begun on a one-story 300-foot by 200-foot printery on Watchtower Farm, about a hundred miles north of Brooklyn. This was completed in March 1971.
However, even before its completion, it became obvious that this plant would be too small. The demand for the printed message of the Kingdom was that great! So a much larger three-story addition was immediately started. When completed, this factory complex will have more than nine acres of floor space!
Printing began at this plant in February 1973. Millions of magazines a month are now pouring from the presses. Ten forty-ton rotary presses have been set up, and there will be room for more.
A Unique Printing Operation
The tremendous size is not what makes this printing operation unique. Huge newspaper plants produce more printed matter. But it is as Modern Lithography of September 1970 noted:
“With the possible exception of those great metropolitan newspapers that own their Canadian forests and paper mills, the Watchtower’s printing plant may well be the most self-contained in the United States.”
This self-containment is evident in many ways. For example, all the ink for the big presses is made right in the Brooklyn printing plant—over 250 tons a year and in dozens of colors! Also, hundreds of tons of paste and glue are made for wrapping magazines and binding books and Bibles. Diesel engines supply direct current to run many of the printing presses and other printing and binding equipment. A crew of sixty-seven mechanics service and repair the equipment.
Practically every operation to produce a finished piece of literature is handled in the plant. Manuscripts are proofread, translated, set in type; plates are made, and the publications are printed. Magazines are trimmed, wrapped and mailed. Book sections are sewed and glued, covers are pasted on, and the finished books shipped.
But self-containment is especially noted in connection with the work force and its care. Over 800 persons work in the Brooklyn printing plant. These all live a few blocks away as a family, called the Bethel family. Other members of the family care for the Bethel home, prepare the meals, wash the clothes, and so forth. All family members are Jehovah’s witnesses who have volunteered their services because they are sincerely interested in seeing the good news of the Kingdom preached in all the inhabited earth. Each receives board and room and $14 a month for incidental expenses. Their interest is not in personal material gain but in the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom.
Due to the worldwide demand for Bible literature, Jehovah’s witnesses have established similar printeries in many countries. Germany, South Africa, Canada, England and Switzerland each have plants with one or more large rotary presses, Printeries in Denmark, Sweden and Finland produce over 15 million magazines a year on smaller sheet-fed presses. Magazine printing is done by Jehovah’s witnesses in France too.
However, just as expansion has speeded up in the United States, so it has world wide. For example, in just the past year or so six new printeries have been established.
A new home and printery was completed a year ago at Numazu, seventy-five miles southwest of Tokyo. It was paid for by loans and donations from Jehovah’s witnesses in Japan; no money was supplied from elsewhere. So generous have been the contributions that, by the end of 1972, most of the loans were paid back.
Even before the building’s completion, a new forty-ton rotary press, made in Japan, was erected. The first magazine that came off it was the October 8, 1972, Awake!—some 300,000 copies! Now over a million copies of Awake! and The Watchtower, in Japanese, are printed on this press each month. It turns out an amazing 21,000 magazines an hour! These are appreciated by many in Japan, for they deal with issues the Japanese are interested in, particularly how the country’s problems of crime and pollution will be solved.
There is plenty of room for expansion in this three-story printery. When Milan Miller, who supervises printing-press erection, first walked into it he exclaimed: “Stupendous!” Measuring it, he said that eight large rotary presses could be installed on the first floor! The adjoining five-story home also is spacious, accommodating comfortably forty-nine Bethel family members, with space for many more.
Construction and Factory Personnel
The construction work was done by the company that built the new Tokyo palace of Emperor Hirohito. However, this company agreed to sublet the electrical installation to Tojiro Takahashi, one of Jehovah’s witnesses. The big moment of the six months of electrical construction came when the brothers assembled by the rotary press. The switch was thrown, and the press started to roll!
The complicated Japanese-character writing system presents many problems in printing. There are as many as 16,000 different characters that may be used. Newspapers commonly use 1,400, though many more need to be available for normal printing. The monotype keyboard contains 3,249 standard characters, and the operator must know each one instantly. Yet Jehovah’s witnesses have learned the operation of these machines quickly, so that one worker can now set most of a magazine in type in a week.
The desire to see the message of God’s kingdom spread throughout Japan prompts the earnest efforts of the workers. All volunteer their services, even as do all the more than 16,000 Witnesses who are zealously preaching the “good news” in Japan. Among those working in the printery is Akinobu Hironaka, whose father was in the group that accepted the surrender of the British general at Singapore during World War II. Also, Hiroyuki Negami, a former “golf pro,” is now supervisor of the factory magazine department. Their interest is the doing of God’s will.
The new factory and home in São Paulo, Brazil, is even larger than the one in Japan, having nearly two acres of floor space! The complex was actually begun back in 1968, when a new three-story home was completed. But the increase of Brazilian Kingdom preachers by more than 13,000 in just two years called for further expansion.
Efforts, therefore, were made to purchase adjoining property. But it was difficult to locate one of the owners, since he lived in a remote area of Brazil. A friend of his who owned a nearby store was advised of the Witnesses’ desire to see him. Time passed with no word, so a Witness went to the store to make inquiry. The storekeeper had just said, “No, there is no word from him,” when who should walk in but the property owner! Arrangements were made for the purchase.
Thus, late in 1971, construction began on two five-story additions. Also, an adjoining factory was purchased, remodeled, and tied in to this complex. These additional structures increased by more than two and a half times the floor space of the original building.
About half of the 158 workers employed on the construction were Jehovah’s witnesses. Many of these chose to work at reduced salary. Others accepted an invitation to live at the Bethel home, receiving the allowance each month that all Bethel family members do. In addition, on weekends Witnesses from nearby congregations helped with cleaning the building, inside and out. Many thousands of dollars were thus saved on construction costs.
Printing Gets Under Way
The building was completed and dedicated in March 1973. Soon afterward a large rotary press from Germany was delivered. It is now printing about 700,000 Portuguese Watchtower and Awake! magazines a month. These magazines have a circulation larger than practically any other magazine in Brazil. Another large rotary press has recently arrived from Germany, and it is hoped that soon Spanish literature will also be printed here.
In addition to the use of regular mail service, magazines are also trucked to many of Brazil’s 1,260 congregations, which now include more than 75,000 Witnesses. Delivery was often irregular when magazines were shipped from Brooklyn. But now people in Brazil can receive their Biblical magazines on a more regular basis.
Construction began on a new printery in Sydney in January 1972. It was merged with two other buildings of Jehovah’s witnesses, which were renovated. This resulted in one new modern building, with about an acre of floor space. This increased the available working area to some five times what it was!
All the construction work was done by the Witnesses, except for certain specialist jobs. Volunteers gladly came from more than a thousand miles away! Arrangements were made to demolish four buildings. The materials from these, particularly the bricks and timbers, were then used in the new building, effecting a tremendous saving.
Printing and Its Effect
A forty-ton printing press soon arrived from Japan. Thus regular printing of The Watchtower and Awake! started less than a year after the beginning of construction work! Nearly 700,000 magazines a month are now printed in Australia, most of them in English. A few thousand are also printed in Motu, Melanesian-Pidgin and Fijian. Magazines are being supplied from Australia to twenty-five countries or islands.
Most of the English magazines are distributed in Australia, helping the more than 23,000 Witnesses there to preach the good news of God’s kingdom. Many are reading The Watchtower and Awake!, and are responding to the “good news” they contain. For example, the following letter was received by the office of Jehovah’s witnesses in Sydney on March 27, 1973:
“I am a Catholic Mother Superior and for 25 years I have served the Church. While waiting in Dr. Bailey’s office, Macquarie Street, I met a lady from Bondi, who started to speak to me. I looked at what she was reading while waiting for the doctor, and it was an article about Trinitarianism.
“This is a long course discussed in the training of a Catholic Nun and one of our most important Doctrines. The lady explained she had a car accident and was getting some tests done. She was so sincere in her belief of God, that I know not many people today are, . . . She accidentally left the magazine and I picked it up and started to read it.
“I was astounded, surely what I had learnt for 25 years couldn’t be wrong.
“I have now read this article over and over again checking facts for myself. You see, I want to serve the God of Truth.
“As I pray about this matter my whole body is aware that perhaps there are more flaws in the Church. I will find your people and discuss future questions.
“You are unable to write to me as I belong to a closed order called Carmelite nuns but have 3 weeks vacation. I still can’t believe it is possible to be wrong after 25 years but if I am then God will show me the way out.
“Thank the lady for me if you know her.
(Signed) Mother Superior”
In May 1972, less than a year after construction began, the expanded facilities of Jehovah’s witnesses in Accra, Ghana, were ready for occupancy. These facilities include a new printery.
The construction work was all done by Jehovah’s witnesses. Skilled masons, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other artisans all volunteered their services. A Witness building contractor supervised the entire construction, free of charge. Every weekend four of the 45 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses in Accra and nearby Tema freely volunteered their labor, between 70 and 100 of them showing up every Saturday and Sunday. Where a child was too young to be left at home, the mother tied it to her back and went about her work as baby slept contentedly.
To pour the second floor, all the concrete had to be carried upstairs. The concrete was loaded into steel head pans, each having a capacity of a cubic foot. These pans were balanced on the heads of the women, who carried them up the ramp to the second floor. That whole 3,600-square-foot area of the second floor was poured in this way in three days!
The new printery is self-contained and efficient, providing magazines for use by Ghana’s more than 16,000 Witnesses. The type is set and plates are made here. Printing is done on a brand-new sheet-fed press. A folder then folds the sheets into magazines of 24 pages. The magazines are printed in the African Twi, Ga and Ewe languages—about 20,000 every month. Also, more than 58,000 English magazines, printed in England, are distributed here. The Watchtower and Awake! thus have a far greater circulation than any other magazine in Ghana!
A new printery was also completed this year in Lagos, Nigeria. It occupies the first floor of a new three-story construction. This new building has a library, offices and thirty-one bedrooms on its second and third floors. It has been merged with the existing Bethel home, about doubling the size of the facilities.
The entire construction was paid for by the Nigerian Witnesses. They also did all the work, with the exception of the laying of the terrazzo floors. Experienced carpenters, masons, bricklayers, steelworkers and electricians freely volunteered their services. From July 1972 through March 1973 a peak number of fifty-two Witnesses kept right on the job, with a reduced crew of about sixteen finishing up the work. The whole job was completed in a little over a year—a very short time for such construction in Nigeria.
The factory started operation in May 1973. Printing is done on two sheet-fed printing presses received from Germany. The Watchtower is printed in three Nigerian languages, Yoruba, Ibo and Efik, and the Awake! is printed in Yoruba. All together, over 111,000 magazines are printed a month. In addition, more than 200,000 English magazines are received from England each month, and distributed for use by Nigeria’s 88,000 Witnesses. The Watchtower and Awake! thus have a combined monthly distribution greater than any other magazine in Nigeria!
Since the second world war Jehovah’s witnesses have progressively expanded their facilities in the Philippines, until now they have a five-building complex. A large two-story factory and new home were completed just last year. These additions increase by more than one and a half times the space available.
The property for these buildings was obtained at a particularly low price following the second world war. This is because, during the war, the Japanese had, at this place, tortured Filipinos to get information from them. Thus, as a result of the stigma attached to it, the property was not one desired by buyers.
This February all magazine printing in eight Philippine dialects, previously done in Brooklyn, was taken over by this newly constructed printery. Also, English Watchtower and Awake! magazines for the islands are now printed here. A new forty-ton rotary press was purchased from Japan for this work. Despite the large number of different-language magazines produced, over 250,000 copies a month are turned out. These are used by the 55,000 Philippine Witnesses to spread the Kingdom message.
However, the new factories at Watchtower Farm and these six new printeries just mentioned are not the extent of the recent expansion. Other printeries have either been enlarged or moved to new quarters. For example, the following:
In May 1973 presses were moved from the Paris, France, printing plant of Jehovah’s witnesses to a newly built one in Louviers, about sixty-five miles away. In 1972 an extension was made to the printery in South Africa, expanding it substantially. In 1971 an addition was made to the printing plant in Sweden, which now produces well over half a million magazines a month. Also, a large new extension to the printery in Finland is nearing completion. Here over 200,000 books a year are bound, and millions of magazines are printed.
In 1972 an addition was made to the factory of Jehovah’s witnesses in Wiesbaden, Germany, and new bindery machinery was purchased. This makes it possible now to bind as many as 30,000 books here in a single day! The German factory also produces about three million magazines a month. In 1970 the move was made from the smaller printery in Bern, Switzerland, to a five-story home and factory in Thun. Here two large rotary presses each month print over two million magazines.
From 1955 until now Jehovah’s witnesses have increased the number of their large rotary presses earth wide from nine to sixty-four! Yes, printing facilities are available to meet the growing demand for Bible literature! And Jehovah’s witnesses are making good use of them to accomplish the work that Jesus gave his followers to do.
To whom goes the credit for all of this? Just as the apostle Paul acknowledged (after he and Apollos had done their work of preaching) that ‘God makes it grow,’ so, too, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of modern times give all credit to Jehovah God for prospering the preaching of the good news of his kingdom—1 Cor. 3:5-7.
What About You Personally?
So it is obvious that there are two sides to the current religious situation. As both the members and leaders of many of the religions of Christendom admit, their churches are in a state of serious decline.
At the same time the work that Jesus foretold that his disciples would do is thriving as never before in history. As the facts show, the ones who are doing this work are Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. The things that they believe and the message that they preach are what God has had recorded in the Bible. It is that good news that has given a real purpose in life to hundreds of thousands of sincere persons; it has brought them into association with clean-living people who truly care about their fellowmen; and it has given them a firmly based hope for the future.
Jehovah’s witnesses will be glad to share that information with you too. You are welcome to attend the meetings in their Kingdom Halls. Also, they will gladly study the Bible with you free of charge in your own home. Simply write to the publishers of this magazine or make known your desire to Jehovah’s witnesses locally.
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In 1972 a large new printery, with residence for the volunteer workers, was built by Jehovah’s witnesses in Numazu, Japan
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700,000 copies of “The Watchtower” and “Awake!” in Portuguese are now printed each month here in Brazil
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Magazines printed here in Australia are supplied to twenty-five countries or islands
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A new factory for printing Bible literature has been completed in Ghana; here both men and women, all volunteers, share in pouring the concrete
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In Nigeria, over 300,000 copies of “The Watchtower” and “Awake!” are sent out for distribution to the public each month