Bethel Service—More Volunteers Needed
1 We are thrilled to see the great work that Jehovah is doing in these last days. Psalm 110:3 indicates that during this time an outstanding quality of God’s people would be their willingness to have an active share in Kingdom service. Around the earth Jehovah’s people are expending themselves to get the good news of the Kingdom preached. The Proclaimers book, page 295, states: “Some serve as members of the global Bethel family. This is a staff of full-time ministers who have volunteered to do whatever they may be assigned in preparing and publishing Bible literature, in caring for necessary office work, and in providing support services for such operations. This is not work in which they gain personal prominence or material possessions. Their desire is to honor Jehovah, and they are satisfied with the provisions made for them in the way of food, lodging, and a modest reimbursement for personal expenses.” If you have visited Bethel, you are to some extent already acquainted with the work being done there. However, we wish to provide additional information to enhance your appreciation for this unique privilege of service and also to make you aware of the Society’s needs.
2 To put into perspective the significance of Bethel service and its rich heritage, let us review a bit of history—some ancient and some modern—of Jehovah’s organization. For some 19 years, the Watch Tower Society had its headquarters in a four-story brick building at 56-60 Arch Street, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. It was called the Bible House. However, by 1908, the Bible House family, or the Society’s headquarters staff, had grown to over 30 members. It was time to expand. After seeking divine guidance, the brothers decided that Brooklyn would be the most suitable center for the work. So a building at 13-17 Hicks Street in Brooklyn was purchased to house the Society’s offices and an auditorium. These offices were opened on January 31, 1909, but there were no housing accommodations as part of this Hicks Street building. At first, it was thought that housing facilities could be rented. However, none of the residences in the Brooklyn Heights area were for rent. As things turned out, to their surprise and joy, the brothers were able to purchase “at a bargain price” a four-story brownstone at 124 Columbia Heights, the former residence of Henry Ward Beecher. Also, 126 Columbia Heights became available. The March 1, 1909, Watch Tower joyfully announced: “The new home we shall call Bethel,” supplanting the Pittsburgh term “Bible House.” So in April 1909, Bethel opened its doors, and the family moved into its new home. Brooklyn Bethel has been in this same location for 85 years.
3 Was Bethel an appropriate name for the Society’s headquarters? Consider the Biblical origin of the name and its connections. Going back over 3,700 years, Genesis chapter 28 relates the experience of 77-year-old, unmarried Jacob. Jacob appreciated sacred things but was hated by his twin brother, Esau. At the direction of Isaac, his father, Jacob fled from Beer-sheba and headed north to the land of Abraham’s relatives, among whom Jacob intended to find a wife. After traveling some 62 miles [100 km], Jacob stopped to rest for the night at a place called Luz in the Judean hills. At Genesis 28:10-19, we read the fascinating details of how Jehovah gave Jacob full assurance of divine support. In a dream, Jacob saw a ladder extending from earth to heaven. Angels were busily ascending and descending the ladder, and Jehovah was stationed above it. Then Jehovah spoke, confirming that the promise to Abraham regarding a seed was being passed on to Jacob and that Jehovah would not leave him. What a fear-inspiring experience for spiritually-minded Jacob! Is it any wonder that this became a very special place in his eyes? To him this place was the “house of God,” or, in the Hebrew language, Behth-ʼElʹ, Behth meaning “house” and ʼEl meaning “God.”—Gen. 28:19, ftn.
4 Thus, the name Bethel has a rich historical background and is appropriate for the world headquarters of Jehovah’s people. Today God’s servants do not have divinely inspired dreams. Angels are not seen ascending and descending on a ladder from Bethel to heaven. Brothers are not receiving visions or hearing God’s voice directly. Yet, when you consider all that has happened at Bethel these past 85 years, from the time of Brother Russell till now, there is no doubt that Jehovah’s hand has been with his anointed servants, part of the spiritual seed of Abraham, at Bethel. So many outstanding events in the history of Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses are closely associated with Bethel! Consider some highlights:
▪ On October 2, 1914, as he entered the Bethel dining room, Brother Russell accurately announced: “The Gentile Times have ended; their kings have had their day.”
▪ In the early 1920’s, during morning worship, a member of the Society’s editorial staff used the expression “God’s organization.” This so stimulated their thinking that by 1925 the brothers had come to see that there are two distinct and opposing organizations, Jehovah’s and Satan’s.—w85 3/15 p. 10.
▪ In the early morning hours one day in 1931, shortly before the convention in Columbus, Ohio, the president of the Society, Brother Rutherford, discerned that the name Jehovah’s Witnesses truly described God’s people and the work they were already doing and that they should be identified as His witnesses.—yb75 p. 151.
▪ Early in 1935, questions were raised about who are the “great crowd,” or “great multitude.” (Rev. 7:9; KJ) Some among those who expressed themselves at that time suggested that they were an earthly class. On May 31, 1935, at the Washington, D.C., convention, a satisfying explanation was given.—jv p. 166.
5 These few examples illustrate how Jehovah, through his holy spirit, has given guidance and support to his faithful anointed servants at Bethel. And what about the angels? When you consider all the bitter opposition from our enemies and the difficult years when resources were scarce, there is no doubt that without angelic protection and assistance, Bethel could not have operated so remarkably all these years.
6 Besides the headquarters staff in the United States, there are Bethel families in the 100 branches scattered throughout the world. Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, page 116, states: “The name Bethel . . . is certainly appropriate for these centers of theocratic activity.” What kind of work are Bethel volunteers assigned to do?
7 A Variety of Work: The assignments of work given to members of the Bethel family are varied. At Brooklyn and in a number of other branches, some brothers work in the factory operating presses that print Bibles, books, magazines, brochures, and tracts for worldwide distribution. Others share in binding the Bibles and books, while the work of yet others involves shipping these publications to congregations around the world. A number are assigned to maintain the equipment and the buildings. In the Bethel Home, a lot of work is involved in caring for the family. For example, at Brooklyn Bethel, within 20 minutes breakfast is served to approximately 3,700 people in 12 dining rooms. In the laundry, brothers and sisters process 35,000 pounds [16,000 kg] of clothing each week, including 13,000 shirts. In addition, housekeepers maintain a high standard of cleanliness in the 21 residence buildings in Brooklyn and care for a host of other vital duties.
8 Qualifications and Requirements: In view of the physical stamina and strength required for much of this work, presently there is a need for healthy single young men. To apply for Bethel service, a young man must be dedicated and baptized for at least a year. He must be a devoted, spiritual person. Also, he must be willing to perform hard work. In the world today, many people view hard work as something to be avoided. So the young man applying for Bethel service needs to put on the new personality to such an extent that he wants to do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work. (Compare Ephesians 4:28.) That means that he should not be one who has his mind on the pursuit of personal pleasures, recreation, or entertainment. When considering Bethel service, he should already have put aside such youthful traits. Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 13:11 well apply: “When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.”
9 Are you between the ages of 19 and 35? Do you enjoy good health, physically and emotionally? Can you read, write, and speak English well? Are you a spiritual person who has a deep love for Jehovah and his organization? If called to Bethel, would you remain faithfully in that service for at least one year, working at any job given you? If you can answer yes to these questions, you do well to consider the unique privilege of Bethel service. The blessings are abundant.
10 Blessings of Bethel Service: The article “Looking With Appreciation Upon the ‘House of God,’” in The Watchtower of June 15, 1994, noted: “When attending an assembly, do you sense a deep contentment, surrounded as you are by happy worshipers of Jehovah? Just imagine, a Bethel worker has the privilege of serving Jehovah amid a group of brothers every day! (Psalm 26:12) What excellent prospects for spiritual growth that offers! A brother remarked that he learned more to help him shape his personality within one year at Bethel than he did in three years elsewhere. Why? Because nowhere else did he have the opportunity to observe and imitate the faith of so many mature Christian personalities.” (Prov. 13:20) Indeed, this is one of the unique blessings of Bethel service.
11 At Brooklyn Bethel, volunteers enjoy close association with members of the Governing Body and other anointed ones, as well as with longtime faithful brothers of the other sheep class. No matter what assignment of work one has, it is a blessing to work in unity with such faithful, loyal companions. Here are some comments from members of the Brooklyn Bethel family that reflect the feelings of those who have a part in this precious privilege of service:
▪ A brother with 62 years of Bethel service, who has worked in a variety of assignments over the years, commented on the spirit that exists at Bethel: “We’re all one family; we’re all brothers. We work together. All of us have our assignments. It’s wonderful to see the brothers work hard; you can see the effort they put forth. We have brothers who sweep the floor. When you’re keeping the place clean, you’re keeping the family healthy. When you keep the family healthy, the family is productive. It’s essential. It’s important to have people in the office. All together we produce the result—the Kingdom witness worldwide. This is the best place in the world to make a career of serving Jehovah. If you want to be in the full-time service, you can do that best right here. Everything is available to you. We enjoy extra things here. It makes you see the organization because you hear from all corners of the earth.”
▪ One 75-year-old anointed brother, whose first work assignment was in the bookbindery some 48 years ago, observed: “It’s a beautiful experience to live among dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah. When I see a young man coming to Bethel, my heart wells up with thanks to Jehovah because I know this man is going to have a happy life here at Bethel.” Regarding things he treasures about Bethel, he added: “I love its people. I think they are beautiful. There is something about the brothers that have been at Bethel many years that you don’t find any place else on the face of the earth. There is the warmth, understanding, and unity that is beyond understanding.”
▪ Another brother who has been in Bethel service for over 62 years commented on further benefits received: “Coming to Bethel enables you to get a specialized education in the field of publishing . . . and above all, a Bible education to equip you to be a proper representative of Jehovah God wherever you’re sent in the world.”
▪ A member of the Governing Body, who is now 92 years old, has been serving at Bethel for 58 years. What does he think of Bethel service? “The Bethel family here and worldwide is a marvelous arrangement of devoted people.”
▪ Some months before a member of the Governing Body died faithful in his assignment at 98 years of age, he expressed himself this way: “I love to serve at Bethel. It is the best place under the sun.”
▪ What is a young man’s view of Bethel service? One young brother recently wrote: “Since, as Jesus said, ‘giving reaps the greater happiness,’ Bethel is the happiest place I have ever been.” He has captured the spirit of Bethel—giving.
▪ A brother who has 51 years of full-time service nicely summed things up by saying: “Bethel service is really unique. It is a vital part in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose here upon the earth. So anyone who has the privilege of serving at Bethel should esteem that very highly. Really, Bethel enables us to give full expression to a life of godly devotion.”
12 The Daily Routine: The daily routine of a member of the Bethel family totally absorbs him in a life of Kingdom activity. At 7:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, morning worship begins in our dining rooms. There are comments on the day’s text by members of the family and then a summary by a member of the Governing Body or by another brother with many years of full-time service, followed by the morning prayer. This program strengthens the family spiritually for the day’s activity. Members of the Bethel family will tell you that it is a highlight of the day. After a hearty breakfast, Bethel family members eagerly go to their various assignments of work. The workday Monday through Friday extends from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with one hour set aside for the noonday meal. Work is also scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. on Saturday. In the evenings, on Saturday afternoons, and on Sundays, Bethelites go to their congregation meetings, share in the house-to-house or Bible study activity, or care for personal responsibilities. They may use the Bethel library facilities for personal study or to prepare for meetings. Oh, yes, there is time for needed rest and relaxation. (Mark 6:31, 34) From this brief description, it can easily be seen that Bethel service allows a person to devote a great amount of his time each day to sacred service, free from distractions of this old system of things.
13 Congregation Activities: Members of the Brooklyn Bethel family are assigned to more than 350 congregations in the New York City area. They value the role of the local congregation in maintaining their spirituality. Thus, they are active with their congregation, attending the five meetings and regularly sharing in the field ministry with their brothers. In addition to congregation meetings, the Bethel family has its own Watchtower Study on Monday evening; elders and ministerial servants are assigned to make comments for the benefit of all. Since the Bethel schedule emphasizes spiritual things, it results in a joyful, happy life of service to Jehovah.—1 Cor. 15:58.
14 Preparation for Bethel Service: Young men frequently ask what they can do in order to prepare for Bethel service. A member of the Governing Body serving on the Personnel Committee said: “When you come to Bethel, come to serve, not to be served. The more you learn to serve, the greater will be your happiness. Learn to give and not to take. Be modest, be humble. The fruitage of the spirit—that’s where real Christianity lies.” Yes, developing your spirituality and a close relationship with Jehovah are keys to success at Bethel. That is why pioneers are often chosen when new volunteers are selected for Bethel. When a person has disciplined himself over a period of time to spend 90 hours a month preaching and teaching and giving to others, as well as scheduling necessary work to sustain himself, he has built a good spiritual foundation for Bethel service and its orderly way of life. Please note, however, that Bethel service is not limited to those who are pioneering. Anyone meeting the basic requirements can apply.
15 Additionally, it is good for young men to learn how to work with their hands. Manual labor is not looked upon with favor in this old system of things. Love of self motivates many people to desire work that requires little effort or that gives an outward appearance of prestige. Yet, knowing how to use various tools and devices is very practical and useful. (Prov. 22:29) Often, young men can learn manual skills from their parents or by helping experienced older men work on various projects around the Kingdom Hall or by assisting elderly ones with necessary maintenance of their homes.
16 Sometimes young ones ask: “Should I get extra secular training to qualify for Bethel service?” Secular training, in itself, does not qualify a person for Bethel service. Spiritual qualities are all-important and required of all who are invited. We encourage parents and their children who are still of school age to consider carefully the balanced view of secular education that is presented in The Watchtower of November 1, 1992, pages 15 to 21. A decision on secular education is a personal matter. Whatever a person decides, he should make sure that he is able to maintain his spiritual progress by continuing to focus on the principal work of Jehovah’s people, bearing witness to the truth.
17 No matter what kind of secular training one receives, it is highly valuable to learn how to think. The Bible commends thinking ability and practical wisdom. (Prov. 1:4; 3:21) Learning how to think and retain information enables you to acquire knowledge and skills that will be useful to you and to Jehovah’s worldwide organization. Finally, no matter what skills one may have, it is very important to be able to get along well with others. Bethel volunteers must work closely together as a team to accomplish the work. Thus, an independent or competitive spirit must be replaced by a cooperative and loving disposition and a willingness to submit to theocratic direction.—Compare Ephesians 4:16.
18 Young people in Jehovah’s organization have a wonderful opportunity to work at developing the abilities mentioned above. Then, if invited to serve at Bethel, they will be in a good position to be trained by Jehovah’s organization for further responsibilities. We urge you Christian parents and elders to continue keeping this matter before young ones. Many parents bring their children to tour Bethel regularly, thus acquainting them with what is done here. This has led many to come to Bethel after finishing their education.
19 Experienced Ones: Occasionally there is an opening for a brother or a sister who is somewhat over the age of 35 and who has the training and skills that Bethel needs. Much of the work that the Society is presently engaged in requires experienced ones to serve along with strong, capable young men who can be trained, “the expert along with the learner.”—1 Chron. 25:8.
20 An increasing amount of today’s work calls for those who have a background in electronics or experience with computer programming. The Society has literally scores of photocopy machines, laser printers, and personal computers, all of which require maintenance. There is also a need in the legal and medical fields: attorneys, doctors, physical therapists, registered and licensed practical nurses. Those skilled in various construction trades, such as engineering, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), can be used. Mature brothers with in-depth accounting background, particularly those who might be certified, could be helpful. In order to reduce costs, the Society has its own fleet of vehicles used for supporting shipping operations. Therefore, experienced drivers and mechanics are needed.
21 Our greatest need is for dedicated single brothers and for those with special skills, some of whom may be married. You may obtain Bethel applications from your circuit overseer or at a district convention at the special meeting held for those interested in Bethel service, or you may write to the Personnel Committee, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483. If you are married, keep in mind that your mate must also be spiritually, emotionally, and physically qualified for Bethel service. If you have training and experience in one of the fields previously mentioned, please write out a detailed résumé and attach it to your Bethel application.
22 Can You Answer an Urgent Call? An urgent need exists for Bethel volunteers. If you meet the requirements for Bethel service, we strongly urge you to submit a Bethel application in answer to this urgent call. Do not be discouraged if you are not invited right away. You can renew your application yearly. This provides us with current information about your availability.
23 In the hearing of the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah asked: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Without hesitation Isaiah responded: “Here I am! Send me.” Thus, Isaiah embarked on a remarkable career as God’s prophet. Can you say, “Here I am! Send me”? Many blessings await you if you are called to serve in the “House of God,” Bethel.—Isa. 6:8.