Branch Servants Attend Special Program
FROM around the world 133 of the Watch Tower Society’s principal branch representatives and their assistants came to New York in early June! On June 6 alone, more than fifty of them landed at Kennedy International Airport. They had come to the Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, for a four-week program of special instruction and also to work out arrangements for further expansion of the preaching of God’s kingdom.
Of those present for the special course ninety-one were branch servants. Their average age was 43.6. They had been ordained ministers, on the average, for 25.8 years, serving full time in the ministry an average of 20.7 years. Those at the Society’s headquarters often remarked about the spiritual maturity of these branch representatives, their exemplary humility and kindness.
On June 9 the program of special instruction began with the Watch Tower Society’s president, N. H. Knorr, speaking on “Qualifications and Responsibilities of Branch Servants.” During the four weeks almost every aspect of the work involved in preaching God’s kingdom world wide was covered.
Besides classroom instruction, the branch representatives also received practical training. Don Steele of Korea remarked that “the practical briefings in small groups in the various departments” were much appreciated. And Lamar Bingham of Lebanon observed: “The practical view of matters was not neglected. We now have the Society’s viewpoint in much clearer focus.”
During the course the Society’s president stressed that the Bible is the basic book of instruction for Jehovah’s witnesses. Remarks from the branch representatives indicated their appreciation of this fact.
For example, Denton Hopkinson of the Philippine Islands said: “We felt the principles of God’s Word were elevated in our minds, perhaps greater than ever before.” And C. F. Muller of South Africa stated: “The point that stuck out in my mind was the strong faith, the complete dependence of Jehovah’s organization on Jehovah and Christ Jesus and their complete reliance on the Word of Jehovah.”
Another point strongly stressed by the Society’s president was that the main work of Jehovah’s witnesses is to preach this “good news of the Kingdom” and that they should not get sidetracked from this objective. (Matt. 24:14) Explained Willi Diehl of Switzerland: “I was very much impressed when Brother Knorr time and again made expressions such as this, ‘Our main purpose in life is to preach the good news of the Kingdom.’” And Theodore Darko of Ghana said: “Our objective, that of preaching the good news of the Kingdom and overseeing that work, has been forcefully brought to our attention.”
On July 4 the special course for the branch representatives came to a close with a talk by the Society’s president on “What Lies Ahead?” and some warmly motivating closing remarks. N. H. Knorr emphasized the tremendous work that lies ahead and the need to build up Jehovah’s people spiritually to accomplish the work. It was on this day also that ten branch representatives made comments of appreciation with regard to the special course.
Fervent were the expressions. Said Edwin Skinner of India: “We have enjoyed wonderful fellowship together, received extremely valuable information and instruction.” Remarked Clyde Canty of New Zealand: “There is a sense of eagerness to get back to our assignments, a desire to implement the counsel we have received. Our thinking ability has been thoroughly stimulated.” William Simpkins of Mexico believed that, of all the branch meetings held over the years, “these four weeks were the most beneficial.” And Charles Eisenhower of Argentina well expressed the feelings of all the branch representatives: “We are much more equipped to continue on with our work in our assigned countries. Our determination is greater than ever to go back to our field and continue on in the preaching of the good news and of helping our brothers to appreciate what we have learned here.”
In many ways it was an unforgettable event for those privileged to attend these branch meetings. It was refreshing to observe the unity of thought that prevailed at these meetings. Said all the branch servants and their assistants in a letter to the Society’s president and all the Bethel family: “Thank you for the grand privilege that has been ours in coming here from the branches around the earth. . . . The genuine hospitality shown by yourself and all the family has moved us greatly, so that our hearts overflow with gratitude.”