Building to Accomplish the Work of God
AROUND the world there are over 1,600,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses. They are well known. Why? Because they regularly call on other people to talk to them about God’s purposes for mankind. They urge people everywhere to learn God’s requirements for survival through the coming “great tribulation” into His righteous new order. (Matt. 24:14, 21) With a view to reaching the greatest number of persons possible in the available time, they distribute vast quantities of Bible literature. This requires printing plants, along with all the related facilities that are needed to support such operations.
On April 3, 1973, another building for use in connection with this Christian work was dedicated at Watchtower Farm, near Pine Bush, New York. What took place on that occasion gives one some insight into the organization itself.
TOURING WATCHTOWER FARM
Longtime members of the headquarters staff of the Watchtower Society were invited to attend the dedication program. Over eighty of them, all with records of over twenty-five years of such service, left Brooklyn early on April 3 for the trip of a hundred miles to Watchtower Farm.
Arriving at the farm, they saw a miniature city spread out before them. Just eleven years ago this property had been acquired by the Watchtower Society. And since then its productive capacity had been increased, and necessary buildings had been erected, so that the farm could adequately supply the needs of the large headquarters staff in Brooklyn.
The visitors were taken on a tour to the dairy barn, from which 80,000 gallons of milk had been sent to the Brooklyn Bethel family during the past year; to the cheese room, where some 50,000 pounds of cheese had been produced during the year; to the hen house, where 60,000 dozen eggs had been laid; and to the slaughterhouse, where over 250,000 pounds of beef and pork and 60,000 pounds of chicken had been prepared for use by the Bethel family during the year. They also heard about the new water-purification plant, and saw under construction a large, modern sewage-disposal plant. All these facilities have been designed, built and are operated by volunteer workers, all of them Jehovah’s witnesses. Nothing is used for commercial profit; the entire arrangement makes it possible to produce Bible literature at minimal cost, for the benefit of honest-hearted persons everywhere.
After seeing the farm, those on tour were taken to factory building No. 1, where they saw two rotary presses that are in regular use. Is that the extent of the printing operations to be carried on here? By no means. There on the factory floor, in crates, were parts for four more rotary presses soon to be erected, and they learned that others were en route. Behind the first factory they were shown another one, much larger, measuring 350 feet in breadth and in length. So that a part of the newest factory could be put to use while the rest is being completed, a portion 62 feet wide and 350 feet long has been closed in and made ready as a giant pressroom. By September it is hoped that the new pressroom will have six rotary presses operating. The visitors were excited about what they saw.
The tour moved on, through a long passageway connecting the factory to the new residence building designed to house the growing staff needed to do the printing here. It is a handsome structure, six stories high, beautifully decorated, with a large rotunda on the front and a pool with a fountain planned for the front yard. Other buildings on the farm had already provided housing for over two hundred persons. This new structure now makes available rooms for another four hundred and seventy-four.
Among those taking the tour that day were forty-four members of the anointed remnant from the Brooklyn headquarters, persons who cherish the prospect of being joint heirs with Christ in his heavenly kingdom. They have devoted many years in the service of their Lord. Many of them still move about at a pace that amazes their younger associates. Some of them were bent with age. A few got short of breath and needed a helping hand at times on the tour. One was being moved around in a wheelchair. But how their eyes beamed at what they saw! Here were new buildings and equipment that could be used to spread the vital message of God’s kingdom, to bring honor to Jehovah’s name.
At noontime a fine meal was served in the beautiful dining room of the new residence building. What a pleasant setting! On the walls were painted lovely natural scenes from around the earth, and the floor-to-ceiling windows to the northwest looked out on the Catskill Mountains. About four hundred and fifty persons were on hand, including the farm staff, the construction workers and those who had come from Brooklyn Bethel.
After the meal, N. H. Knorr, the president of the Watch Tower Society, spoke to the group for about an hour. He was followed by the vice-president, F. W. Franz, then by George Couch, Max Larson and Harlan Mathes, all of whom have had much to do with the work at Watchtower Farm.
In his remarks, Knorr emphasized what can be accomplished when a person applies himself to the service of God in his early years and perseveres in that work. He referred to the founder of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ, who set the example for all his followers by giving of himself to the full. He also spoke of C. T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, who, in his early twenties, gathered groups of people for serious study of the Bible; by the age of twenty-seven, in 1879, he had begun to publish the magazine now known as The Watchtower, and he kept right on full time in the Lord’s work until his death in 1916. In a heartwarming way Knorr also drew attention to some in his audience with long records of faithful service, some reaching back to the days of Russell. His listeners responded with appreciative applause.
During the program for the dedication of the new residence building, it was most interesting to listen to details related by the speakers concerning the building work done by the Watch Tower Society over the years. That activity reaches back eighty-four years to the time when the “Bible House” was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Knorr recalled that, years later, in 1927, when the Society built a factory in Brooklyn, it seemed very large compared to their immediate needs, but it was soon filled to capacity as the demand for Bible literature grew. Similarly, in 1967 when another large factory was built to fill out a four-city-block complex in Brooklyn, it seemed that it would provide ample space for years to come. But who could foresee that the number of persons baptized by Jehovah’s witnesses within a single year would more than double within three years? It proved to be a time of unprecedented growth.
More facilities were needed to publish Bibles and Bible study helps. So, as Knorr told his audience, when it no longer proved possible to expand in Brooklyn, building work began at Watchtower Farm. The first factory there was hardly complete when it became evident that another would be needed. Also, more housing would be needed for the workers. Work got under way on the fine new residence building that was being dedicated on this occasion. Plans were also drawn up for the second factory (the large one that now has a section ready for erection of new printing presses), and a building permit was obtained. As Larson related, though the actual building did not get under way until the next year, shortly after the permit was issued it would no longer have been possible to obtain such a permit, because a change was made in the zoning ordinance. It is evident that over the years Jehovah has blessed the work of his servants, putting it into their minds to do things that have made it possible to care for the great upsurge in the number of persons who have taken up true worship.—Isa. 2:2, 3; Ps. 127:1.
During the program special mention was made of the workers who have volunteered to share in the construction and installation of equipment. Some of them were free to move and, upon learning of the work to be done here, they left their secular employment in other parts of the United States and volunteered their time and skills for this work that they recognized to be directly connected with spreading the Word of God. Some are grandparents and great-grandparents, perhaps retired, but they have gladly offered to use their skills to get the work done. All these workers are ordained ministers who also share in preaching and teaching God’s Word to others.
It is not only at Watchtower Farm near Pine Bush that there is a great expansion of the Society’s printing facilities. As he concluded the dedication program, Brother Knorr mentioned that a large new printery and Bethel home are also nearing completion in Japan. Another printery is almost completed in the Philippines, and one in Nigeria. In March, such a printing plant was inaugurated in Brazil. World wide, expansion is taking place. All the evidence shows that there is only a short remaining time until the “great tribulation” breaks out, and it is the earnest desire of Jehovah’s witnesses to use all their resources to give the greatest possible witness in all the earth between now and then.
[Picture on page 313]
At Watchtower Farm—new residence building (center) connected to factory at left