Report of Theocracy’s Increase Assembly
THE 1950 international convention of Jehovah’s witnesses in New York city, July 30 to August 6, was beyond all question of doubt the largest and most important assembly of Christians ever held until now. Record-shattering crowds packed out and overflowed the mammoth Yankee Stadium. Hotels, taxed to the limit, could accommodate only about a third; multitudes slept in private homes; more than 13,000 others were provided for in a 90-acre trailer and tent city 40 miles from the stadium. Reasons enough why the newspapers, radio, television and newsreel cameras gave this epoch-making convention a good deal of free publicity.
Tens of thousands of delegates, at great personal expense, came thousands of miles, from 67 countries, to attend the meetings held in 20 different languages. The attendance figure of 79,247 the first day swelled until it reached the staggering total of 123,707 on the great and final day. From start to finish this vast multitude were made happy by a deluge of spiritual blessings in the form of 40 new publications released, in 17 different languages. All history now, yet it will long be remembered and talked about as a never-to-be-forgotten milestone marking “the increase of his government and peace” which shall have no end. (Isa. 9:6, 7) And how significant that this great Theocratic convention of new world supporters should convene near the very capital of the doomed old world’s United Nations!
The convention’s theme, imbedded in its name, “Theocracy’s Increase Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” repeatedly emphasized the increase and expansion of Jehovah’s new world society. To start off with, the first release, Songs to Jehovah’s Praise, struck a delightful note in harmony with this theme.
Anyone sharing in Theocracy’s expansion must have faith in Jehovah and his Word and purposes, and faith in his organization, for ‘without faith it is impossible to please God’. It was on this vital subject that A. H. Macmillan counseled his brethren at the morning session of the first day.
GILEAD GRADUATION DAY
Following Macmillan on the program, Grant Suiter, as secretary and treasurer of the Watch Tower Society and serving as the convention’s chairman, officially opened the assembly with an address of welcome. To speak of the tremendous expansion in the ranks of Jehovah’s witnesses is boasting in the Lord, not in ourselves, Suiter declared, because “the new strength of numbers is dedicated to Jehovah’s honor”. The same is true of the material equipment with which the Lord has blessed his organization. So, when the chairman released 500,000 post cards, color photographs of the Society’s institutions, conventioners quickly began mailing them off to show others how the Lord God has blessed and improved the publishing facilities of his people.
Since the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead was opened in 1943 it has played a great part in the 300-percent expansion in the number of Kingdom publishers throughout the world. The graduating of 120 more of its missionary students in Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon was therefore a thrilling event. The president of Gilead, N. H. Knorr, looked to the future and further increases as he addressed these graduates and their friends and relatives on the subject “The Way of Success”. (Josh. 1:8) That evening the graduates themselves had the opportunity to express their thanks and gratitude for their special privileges.
It was all wonderful, that first day of the convention, and everyone thanked Jehovah for this 15th class of Gilead who have now joined the ever-increasing missionary family now numbering over 800 with hundreds of others assigned to other fields, and who will work for the expansion of pure worship in distant parts of the earth.
JEHOVAH’S UNDESERVED KINDNESS DAY
Monday afternoon field reports from North, Central and South America, Africa and the Philippines, told how people in those countries, as starved sheep, are flocking to the green pastures of Jehovah’s Theocracy. T. J. Sullivan then spoke on Psalm 107:23-31, the substance of his talk being that if one really appreciates God’s goodness he will break away from Satan’s old world organization and will not put his hope and trust in the Devil’s ships or instruments that ply the commercial and political “seas”. And since the call continues to be sounded, “Come out of her, my people,” thousands more will yet respond, will come out of Satan’s world, show their appreciation for God’s undeserved kindness, and will thus share in the new world’s increased blessings.
Monday evening provided conventioners with a full program of admonition and counsel. In the first talk, “Blessed Are the Merciful,” L. A. Swingle cited past and present examples showing that only those who extend loving-kindness toward others will in turn enjoy the happiness that comes through God’s mercy. L. E. Reusch then fervently spoke on the subject “Laying Aside Every Weight”. Every religious, political and commercial weight must be avoided in order to move ahead with Theocracy’s advance. “Strip down to bare necessities and run the race,” Reusch urged, and “run as though your life depended upon it. It does!”
Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News was the surprise release that climaxed Monday’s program, and in this connection H. C. Covington gave a very vivid description of the world-wide fight Christians have had during the past decade. Under their Leader and Commander, Christ Jesus, the enemy has been driven back and Theocracy has moved ahead. But beware! Covington warned, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Make no mistake about it—our fights in the courts are not over.”
THEOCRATIC DEVOTION DAY
In this crucial hour of open warfare between the East and the West, August 1 was a very eventful and memorable day, one on which a positive, uncompromising stand was taken by Jehovah’s witnesses. The afternoon session began with firsthand reports on the wonderful expansion of The Theocracy in postwar Germany and in countries behind the Iron Curtain of Eastern Europe. This was followed by a very important and fiery talk delivered by N. H. Knorr, entitled “The Increase of His Government”.
Time and again the audience of nearly 85,000 demonstrated their approval of what was said, and at the conclusion they unanimously adopted a resolution and declaration against communism, disavowing “all connection with or support of communism or any other political element of this old world”. Fearlessly and boldly Jehovah’s witnesses thus declared that their allegiance and devotion is to God’s Theocratic kingdom under the administration and rule of Christ the King. Never in the history of Christianity has such a vast multitude made their position so clear before God Almighty and the “Caesars” of this world.
Thunderous applause shook Yankee Stadium when Knorr released the first issue of the new, enlarged 32-page Watchtower magazine containing this talk and resolution. From now on The Watchtower is to be dressed in its new cover design, and its new size and shape will allow for greater variety in contents sparkling with colorful illustrations. Published in 32 languages with a circulation of over 1,200,000 copies of each issue, this improved instrument will serve a vital part in Theocracy’s forward surge to the glory of God.
All of this, it seems, was plenty of excitement for one day; yet more was in store. The two-hour evening program was loaded with other information that will also increase the number of those praising Jehovah. The Service Meeting was built around the convention’s theme, increase. Then followed four practical demonstrations in overcoming objections at the door through refutation. Climaxing the evening, C. D. Quackenbush attacked the “educated” myth of evolution with a hard-hitting argument, consisting of scientific data, factual logic, intelligent ridicule, and divine truth.
“Evolution versus The New World” was the title of Quackenbush’s masterful talk, and at the conclusion he released a new 64-page colored-cover booklet by the same title. Though higher critics belonging to the evolution cult may scoff at this scientific piece of work, the booklet will undoubtedly be the means of helping many honest though deceived persons to get a knowledge of Jehovah God and his provisions for life.
“PREACH THE WORD” DAY
Not since the inspired apostles and disciples originally wrote the Christian Greek Scriptures has anything happened in the Biblical field to equal the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, released August 2 at Yankee Stadium. Not since the days of the early church have the common people been able to read the words of Jesus in language that so accurately expresses the original thought and meaning. Without doubt this new version is destined to have a tremendous impact on society as its compelling weight of authority turns multitudes of people out of the way of darkness and death into the way of light and life.
Wednesday afternoon, after reports from the British Isles and from Cuba had been received, N. H. Knorr introduced this new Bible translation with a talk entitled “Turning to the Peoples a Pure Language”. If the people are to understand what Christ and the disciples said, they must have a faithful and pure translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Consequently, great excitement and enthusiasm hailed Knorr’s announcement that the Watch Tower Society had secured and published a literal version in modern speech which is so pure and accurate it puts the name of Jehovah in the text 237 times (and “Jah” 4 times), where it properly belongs.
For the rest of Wednesday this history-making release was the convention’s general conversation. That evening F. W. Franz, vice-president of the Watch Tower Society, in a scholarly discussion of the ancient Greek language, showed by many practical examples this new version’s superiority in accuracy and language.
One’s first obligation in serving God is to make a consecration and symbolize it by baptism in water. Hence the number of those immersed is a good measuring scale of Theocracy’s increase. Thursday at this assembly there were 3,381 baptized in an outdoor pool, notwithstanding a heavy downpour of rain at the time.
Though the afternoon and evening were physically wet and soggy, the hearts and minds of the conventioners were made very bright and happy by the 95 missionaries from around the world who related many thrilling experiences they have had in reaching and feeding lost and isolated “sheep” of the Lord. These missionaries had gone through Gilead, had gone to their foreign fields, had stuck to their assignments, and had returned, not to retire and quit preaching, but to attend this great international convention. They were anxious to get back to their assignments and help multitudes of others in those countries to learn the way to life.
Friday’s program—morning, afternoon and evening—was packed full of reports from the Branch servants, 67 of them, who had come in from every corner of the globe. As they told of the great expansion in the number of prospective Armageddon survivors in their respective territories, it was plainly to be seen that this is indeed a true Theocratic organization with its world-wide work directed by Christ Jesus. Adding to the joys of the day the program was frequently punctuated with new releases, 25 all together, in 16 languages other than English which will be used to spread a knowledge of the pure language in fifty different countries.
Breaking into the afternoon session N.H. Knorr delivered a blazing denunciation entitled “Regret and Protest by American Convention Hosts over Religious Discrimination Against Visiting Witnesses of Jehovah”. Aimed at certain blundering bigoted bosses in the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice, this militant, fiery protest flatly denied the false charge that Jehovah’s witnesses are “extreme pacifists”. As one of Jehovah’s Christian warriors, Knorr was in the best fighting form, and he minced no words in denouncing the nasty piece of religious discrimination and mistreatment of 10,000 devout Christians upon their arrival at the borders of this country. Cheering and shouting, more than 70,000 American witnesses of Jehovah at Yankee Stadium unanimously approved this Regret and Protest, grabbed up a million copies of it that were fresh off the printing press, and soon distributed them throughout New York city.
KNOWLEDGE OF GOD DAY
The institutions of the Watchtower Society, together with their equipment and facilities, are maintained and used as servants of the Lord’s people to spread knowledge of Jehovah’s Word and purpose. Saturday afternoon and evening conventioners had the opportunity of hearing how radio station WBBR, the printing plant and office, the Brooklyn Bethel, and the Bible School of Gilead are being used for the preaching work that is spreading knowledge of The Theocracy to the ends of the earth.
“Taking In Life-giving Knowledge” was also listed on the Saturday program. Delivered by N. H. Knorr, it proved to be another occasion when a bountiful meal of rich spiritual food was served the Lord’s people. And for dessert a double surprise was prepared—the new bound book “This Means Everlasting Life”—in both English and Spanish!
After receiving such generous gifts as these from the hand of the Lord in the afternoon no one expected what was in store for those attending the evening session when F. W. Franz spoke about “New Systems of Things”. What Franz said in his introduction certainly proved true before the session was over, that Jehovah has arranged matters so that one set of good things leads to better and grander things, which in the end reaches a height of goodness that leaves nothing more to be desired.
Before the hour was finished Yankee Stadium was quaking with the loudest and most prolonged applause of the whole eight days. The due time had arrived for the Lord to reveal that some of the “children” whom he will “make princes in all the earth” after Armageddon are of the “other sheep”. ‘Here, tonight, in our midst, there are a number of prospective princes of the new earth!’ Franz announced, and with that a sustained ovation went up, followed by profound silence as Franz brought forth the proof from the Bible.
NEW WORLD LIVING DAY
Like the first Christian pioneer Jesus, and like his disciples who followed the same pioneer trail, there are today thousands of faithful pioneers the world over engaged in the same full-time work. Ten brethren from as many parts of the earth, during the last day’s morning session, told how these pioneers are living and working for the new world and are sharing in its increase. But this great increase, R. L. Anderson pointed out, calls for more pioneers. The harvest is great. The full-time reapers are comparatively few. It was therefore very gratifying to see 1,730 answer the call by requesting pioneer application forms, and 281 of these were filled out and enrolled as pioneers during the assembly.
The climax of the whole assembly was approaching. Soon now the highly advertised question “Can You Live Forever in Happiness on Earth?” would be answered. Would the people of New York come to hear this vital lecture? Threatening rain clouds darkened the sky. Three o’clock came, not a seat was empty. Outside this largest stadium in New York, in the cafeteria tents, on the surrounding sidewalks and streets, more than 25,000 additional persons were waiting to hear the answer over the loudspeakers. An additional 11,000 were at the trailer camp. All together, by actual count, 123,707 were present, in addition to WBBR’s vast radio audience! All were thrilled to hear N. H. Knorr prove his answer, “You can live forever in happiness on earth!” It is up to you. Abandon your course that leads to death. Choose life, that you may live! To add to their joy at the conclusion, all present were given a free booklet containing this all-important talk, a quarter of a million copies!
A short intermission, then J. O. Groh, the convention servant, and his assistant, Clarence Newcomb, gave behind-the-scene reports on the working organization of this, the greatest convention of Christians ever held on earth. Then the finale, a heart-to-heart talk by Knorr in which he urged his brethren, “Droop Not Your Hands.” Now is no time to slow down, grow lazy or quit. Return to your home territories, oh faithful servants of the Lord, for there are yet many thousands more you must help to become members of Jehovah’s growing new world society.
For many, the leaving of Yankee Stadium Sunday evening, August 6, was not the end of their happy visit in New York. For several days thereafter conventioners by the thousands streamed through the Brooklyn Bethel and printing plant. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 29,460 visited Bethel and 35,081 went through the factory, and what they saw on every hand was evidence of Theocracy’s increase.