Jehovah’s Organization Moves Ahead—Are You Moving With It?
YOU cannot read the Christian Greek Scriptures without being impressed by the fact that Christians were organized for worship. In particular, they were organized to preach, to spread the good news of God’s kingdom.
The modern historian H. G. Wells noted regarding early Christianity: “Its only organization was an organization of preachers, and its chief function was the sermon.” Yes, as the apostle Peter said: “He [Jesus Christ] ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness.”—Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18, 19.
But what about the preaching in our day—these “last days” of this system of things? (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Jesus Christ foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) So, then, before the end of this system of things comes, a tremendous worldwide preaching work must be done. What organization is doing it?
Really, there is only one people organized worldwide for the purpose of doing this kingdom preaching. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their preaching activity is expanding in all the earth, in 206 lands. In 1981 there were 2,361,896 Witnesses sharing in the work. That is over three quarters of a million more kingdom proclaimers than there were just ten years before!
To keep pace with the expanding preaching activity, Jehovah’s Witnesses, in just the past two years, have either completed or begun construction of some twenty new factories for printing Bible literature. Also, rapid growth is taking place at the international headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the first century, Jerusalem was the place from which direction was given the Christian organization. (Acts 15:1, 2) But today such direction is provided from Brooklyn, New York.
On the evening of March 15 of this year the latest addition to the complex of headquarters buildings in Brooklyn was dedicated. This is the 25 Columbia Heights Office Building, seen on the following page. It consists of a remodeled structure and a newly built one that are tied together to make one building.
Over two thousand members of the Brooklyn headquarters family were present for the dedication program, which was presented in the home’s assembly hall at 6:45 p.m. But the program was also transmitted by closed-circuit television to the Kingdom Hall and various dining rooms for the benefit of family members assembled there. In addition, over six hundred more family members at Watchtower Farms, located some ninety miles away in upstate New York, were able to listen in by means of a wire hookup.
Dedication Highlights Expansion
After prayer by Carey W. Barber, the dedication program began with a summary by John E. Barr of the Watchtower study for the week, appropriately on the subject of dedication. Milton G. Henschel, the chairman for the evening, then invited Grant Suiter to review “historic developments” of God’s organization from 1919 to 1935.
“We don’t consider these things arrogantly, without taking Jehovah into consideration,” Brother Suiter began, “but, to the contrary, we do take him into consideration and recognize what he has been pleased to use through these decades, that is, this family.” When Jehovah’s Witnesses first moved to Brooklyn back in 1909, the headquarters family was only about thirty in number.
Suiter explained that in October 1919 the organization began publishing the new magazine The Golden Age, now called Awake! And the following year, in a little place on Myrtle Avenue, the headquarters family began printing Bible literature on their own presses. Thus, Suiter noted, by the year 1921 the family had increased to 107 in number. In 1923, he said, five thousand books a day were being produced by them.
The forward movement of God’s organization required larger facilities. So, as Suiter described, in 1927 an enlarged new home was built for the headquarters family on Columbia Heights, and an eight-story factory was put up a few blocks away at 117 Adams Street.
Continuing the record of “historic developments,” next Lyman A. Swingle told of the forward movement of Jehovah’s organization from 1936 to 1950. “In 1936 persecution was increasing all around the world,” he noted. “Hitler’s concentration camps had been built.” Then, nodding toward where an elderly couple was sitting, he said: “Brother Poetzinger and his wife were arrested that year, were thrown into those camps, and didn’t get out for nine years.” Despite such persecution, they and thousands of others have continued to move ahead with God’s organization.
“These were crucial years,” Swingle continued. “On September 1, 1939, Hitler moved his troops into Poland, and World War II began.” Troubles also increased in the United States. “Mob action developed across the country,” he related. “A few of our Kingdom Halls were burned to the ground. Many of our automobiles were destroyed. . . . Yet, despite all the problems, in 1940 we had a 40-percent increase in publishers!” During the war itself, he pointed out, the organization doubled in size—from 71,500 kingdom publishers to over 141,000.
“In 1946,” Swingle went on, “the first postwar convention was held in Cleveland, Ohio—eighty thousand being present.” There it was announced that further building was to be done on Columbia Heights and that the brothers could support the building program by their contributions. “Then we put up a ten-story building [an addition to the existing home], and it was so big,” Swingle said, “that we thought we would never have to build again in Brooklyn. At the same time we built a nine-story addition to the 117 Adams Street factory. These buildings were dedicated early in 1950.”
Reaching his conclusion, Brother Swingle recounted: “1950—first Yankee Stadium Assembly—eight days. Brothers from sixty-seven countries came. The attendance: 123,707.” Truly a period of expansion! “From 1936 to 1950 we went from about 50,000 publishers to 373,430—growing seven and a half times in those fifteen years!” But who properly receives the credit? In conclusion Swingle quoted the words of Nehemiah: “They got to know that it was from our God that this work had been done.”—Nehemiah 6:15, 16.
Next, Brother Henschel himself covered the “historic developments—1951 to 1981.” Introducing his remarks, he said: “Jehovah makes things happen. Jehovah makes it grow.” And quoting the apostle Paul’s words, “We are God’s fellow workers,” he asked: “Isn’t that a very encouraging thought, to be able to work together with God in his work and to see the results that Jehovah causes to take place?”—1 Corinthians 3:6-9.
“The evidence is there,” Henschel continued, “the historic developments demonstrate Jehovah to be in charge of the work. . . . We had to have publishers to let this good news become known all over the world. That’s our assignment—‘to preach the good news of the kingdom.’” He then cited the tremendous growth: “798,000 publishers in 1958. Then, by 1968, 1,221,000 workers. By 1978, 2,182,000, and by 1981, 2,361,000.”
“In order for the preaching work to be done by these more than 2,000,000 workers,” Henschel observed, “there had to be equipment.” Who would provide it? Members of the headquarters family! “Back in 1950,” Henschel noted, “there were 355 family members.” But, he pointed out, as the demand for Bible literature grew so did the headquarters family—to 512 in 1960, to 678 by 1965, to 1,228 by 1970, and to about 2,600 today.
To house all these workers, more accommodations were needed. Henschel described the expansion: A new twelve-story home at 107 Columbia Heights was dedicated in October 1960. Another new home was built at 119 Columbia Heights and dedicated May 2, 1969. Then came the purchase of the large Towers Hotel in 1975, which was remodeled as living quarters for about nine hundred family members. And up at Watchtower Farms new residence buildings were completed in 1968, 1971 and 1973.
Henschel told of the building and the purchasing of factories to meet the increasing demand for Bible literature. In 1956 a thirteen-story building was constructed at 77 Sands Street. Then just across the street another (ten-story building) was purchased in 1958. In 1968 an adjoining eleven-story new printing factory was completed. Along with the factory at 117 Adams Street, these fill out four city blocks of factories that are all tied together by overhead bridges. Then, in November 1969, the Squibb complex, located a few blocks away, was purchased. And, as Henschel noted, these buildings are of particular interest during this dedication program, since the 25 Columbia Heights Office Building is part of this complex.
Meanwhile, further expansion was going on at Watchtower Farms, purchased in 1963. Henschel related how, in 1973, the first factory was completed there. And then in 1975 a second much larger one went into operation.
After telling about other historic developments of the past thirty years, including the 1958 Yankee Stadium–Polo Grounds assembly attended by 253,922 people, Brother Henschel introduced Max H. Larson and his program part “Features of Construction.” Brother Larson presented forty slides, which showed the demolition of portions of the former Squibb complex and the construction of the new office building. The viewers saw how this new building was tied together with an already existing factory that had been remodeled into a modern office building.
Larson explained: “In mid-1978 work began on the 25 Columbia Heights building to convert it from a storage building to a modern office building. To accomplish this work required a crew of from 180 to 200 brothers and sisters.” Meanwhile, in September 1979 the aforementioned demolition began, and then in December of 1979 construction started on the new east wing of 25 Columbia Heights.
Franz Gives Dedication Discourse
To conclude this inspiring evening program, Brother Henschel introduced the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Fred W. Franz. Brother Franz began in the full-time preaching work away back in 1914, and has served as a member of the headquarters family since 1920. So he was able to relate from firsthand experience many interesting details regarding the forward movement of Jehovah’s organization.
Although the newly completed facilities at 25 Columbia Heights are the finest, Brother Franz emphasized that they were not made for any selfish purpose. He called attention to the Bible account at Mark 7:11-13, where it mentions a man that had property, but instead of using it to honor his parents, as he should have done, he wanted it for his own selfish use. So he declared it to be “corban, that is, a gift dedicated to God.”
However, Brother Franz said: “Our brothers and sisters in these new offices that we are dedicating to Jehovah are not like that. Rather, they are using these new facilities to give their best to Jehovah God. They are working hard, not to get selfish pleasure out of the matter by being in such excellent quarters, but to get more of the work done and in a better style.”
Despite the excellent, durable construction of these new facilities, Brother Franz noted that we need Jehovah’s protection, just as the Bible says in Psalm 127:1: “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.” And so it is with these properties here, Franz explained, unless Jehovah is protecting them and blessing our operations in them we are expending our efforts in vain. But the history of God’s people down through the years, he said, proves that Jehovah is blessing and protecting his people.
In bringing his discourse to a close, Brother Franz quoted King David’s words: “Who am I and who are my people, that we should retain power to make voluntary offerings like this? For everything is from you, and out of your own hand we have given to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14) So, since Jehovah is the Owner of everything and we have got these properties from him, Franz said, all that we are doing is giving them back to Jehovah by dedication to him. Thus, in concluding the most delightful, spiritually uplifting day and evening, he announced: “I should like now to declare that these new offices stand fully, unequivocally dedicated to Jehovah God.”
A Full Day of Spiritual Blessings
The evening dedication program had only been the conclusion, the dessert as it were, of a very special day of activities. The morning started like every other workday at the Brooklyn headquarters, with discussion of a Bible text beginning at 7 a.m., followed by breakfast. But then, at 8 a.m., most of the family—those working in the home and factory complexes—began a tour of the 25 Columbia Heights Office Building. Those, however, who work in the office complex went to their regular work assignments. A twenty-page brochure had been printed that outlined the day’s program and tour route. What did those on tour see?
Following directions, they entered the beautiful new 25 Columbia Heights lobby and proceeded to the Service Department on this same third floor. Here about 325 circuit overseers’ reports are received weekly at the ten service desks. On the second floor, the tours saw the Territory Department and Pioneer Desk. From this desk, they learned, 5,578 new pioneers were appointed in 1981.
Proceeding by elevator to the twelfth floor, the tours visited the offices of those who handle financial matters for the Society. On the eleventh floor they saw the Cost Accounting Department, where costs are ascertained for the Society’s operations, such as for the manufacturing and shipping of literature. Down on the tenth floor they visited the Executive Offices, as well as the Governing Body meeting room. The Art Department was seen on the ninth floor, including displays of the various art styles that are used by the artists who prepare illustrations for the Society’s publications.
The next stop was the Writing Department on the eighth floor, where the magazines, books and other literature of the Society are written. Instead of using typewriters, most writers now enter copy directly on computer terminals. These are hooked up to a printer that, on command, will type at some 700 words a minute what has been entered. Soon, throughout the complex, there will be 149 terminals for various office functions and 20 printers.
Next the tours proceeded to the seventh floor and the Photocomposition Department. Here they were shown how text that originates in the Writing Department is composed at a graphics work station to the desired final-page format. Then, in the nearby Graphics Department, they saw how the written text, as well as the illustrations, is converted by means of various photographic processes to film. Film thus produced is assembled for platemaking and sent to the factory to make offset printing plates. Also on this seventh floor the family visited the Spanish Department and the Proofreading Department. Then, down on the sixth floor in Data Processing, they saw the large computer systems that store and process all the information coming to them from terminals all over the office complex.
Although so much had been seen, there was still a long way to go before stopping at home for a cafeteria-style lunch at 11:45 a.m. So next the tours moved on to the Correspondence Department and the Invoicing/Bookkeeping Department on the fifth floor. Then they crossed over the bridge (it can be seen in the photograph on page 24) connecting the 25 Columbia Heights Office Building with the buildings across the street. In this section they visited the Building Office, the Gilead School, the Carton-making Department, as well as the Paint and Scaffold Department, Upholstery Shop, Handbindery and Mechanical Maintenance.
Many found of particular interest the Recording Studios, where convention dramas, Bible readings and music are put on tape. Then it was fascinating to see the Tape Duplicating Department in operation. Some fifteen thousand cassette tapes are produced each day—over nine million since the department was set up in 1978! But there were still the Electronics Shop, Braille Department, Construction Office, Drafting Office, Convention Office, Photography Department, Personnel Office, Garage and Shipping Departments to see before lunch.
What a full, exhilarating three-and-a-half-hour tour! That Jehovah’s organization is surely moving ahead was felt by all. After a bite to eat, the family was off to tour the factory complex. Factory workers were at their work assignments by 12:30 p.m. to demonstrate to the rest of the family the use of the equipment that is involved in printing and binding Bible literature. Of particular interest were the huge new offset presses—five of them at the time of the tour, with three more being delivered this year. The largest, the Bible press, is 109 feet (33 m) long!
After a three-hour factory tour, the family headed home, tired but thrilled by the obvious blessing of Jehovah on the expansion. At 4 p.m. they all assembled at their respective places in the six dining rooms to enjoy a special meal. Then, after a short rest, all enjoyed the most encouraging dedication program.
Supporting Jehovah’s Advancing Organization
In many other countries, Jehovah’s people are experiencing this same spirit of joy and enthusiasm as they see the evidence of Jehovah’s blessing on their efforts to expand their facilities for spreading the good news of his kingdom. In country after country new branch buildings either have recently been completed or are still in the course of construction.
Of course, all this construction and expansion worldwide requires money. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses have never solicited contributions, those who are interested in sharing financially in expanding the interests of Jehovah’s kingdom can do so by forwarding contributions to the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in their country. In the United States such contributions may be sent to the Watch Tower Society, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201. Such donations are gratefully acknowledged.
Jehovah’s people have the clear-cut commission to preach the good news of God’s kingdom in all the inhabited earth before the end comes. (Matthew 24:14) To what further extent God purposes to have this work accomplished, we do not know. But you can be confident that, regardless of what the future brings, Jehovah’s organization will move ahead doing what He commands.
[Picture on page 24]
The former Squibb complex now owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The 25 Columbia Heights Office Building is at the right
[Pictures on page 25]
124 Columbia Heights home in 1950
The 117 Adams Street factory in 1950
[Pictures on page 26]
107 Columbia Heights
The “Towers” Building
119 Columbia Heights
[Pictures on page 27]
The four-city-block factory complex in Brooklyn
Watchtower Farms with printing factories and resident buildings
[Picture on page 28]
Fred Franz delivering dedication talk
[Pictures on page 29]
25 Columbia Heights Office Building, with a view of various operations
1. Entering the 25 Columbia Heights Building
2. Touring the Governing Body room
3. Looking at the computer room
4. Visiting the President’s Office
5. Examining an Art Department display
6. Viewing a Writing Department computer terminal