Situated below the equator, between the 9th and the 42nd parallels, lies the sprawling island continent of Australia. Sprawling it is indeed, stretching some twenty-five hundred miles (4,000 km) from east to west and another two thousand miles (3,200 km) from north to south! Its land area surpasses that of the entire continent of Europe.
In this vast land, every possible variety in climate can be experienced—from the lush tropics of the far north, with an annual rainfall of up to forty inches (1,000 mm), to the arid inland deserts, where sometimes rain may not fall for ten years. The southern highlands provide snowfields larger than does Switzerland.
As far as tourists were concerned, this “land down under,” though claimed by Britain in the 18th century, was virtually unknown for 150 years because of slow travel and communications. In recent decades the explosion of the multimillion-dollar tourist industry has enabled more and more people from other lands to come and learn that the unique marsupial, the kangaroo, does not really hop along the main streets of Sydney and Melbourne; nor does the cuddly koala bear appear in gum (eucalyptus) trees lining the streets, as travel brochures might lead the tourist to expect.
Though English is spoken throughout this country of fifteen million inhabitants, the Australian accent is unique. To some it resembles the dialect of the London cockney, with the distinctive characteristic of swallowing the last syllable of most words. Another feature is the flat pronunciation of the vowel “a,” which, to most foreign ears, sounds more like “i.” A speech habit that adds to the difficulty of the new settler struggling to learn the language is the ‘concertina-ing’ of entire phrases, not just a word or two. This habit has become known as “Strine,” which is how some visitors may think Australians pronounce “Australian.” An example could be the phrase used to commend someone for a job well done: “Good on you, mate!” This becomes: “Gudonyermite!”
With discovery and exploration by Britain less than two hundred years ago, Australia seems but an infant compared with countries in other parts of the world. The early colonists were mainly of British parentage, many being transported to the colony as convicts, for trivial offenses. They brought the religions of their former land with them, so the majority of Australians belong to one or another of the sects of Christendom. Isolation and the vastness of the land have contributed to the development of a characteristic independent attitude. Australians are lovers of sports, the sunshine and the great outdoors. Casual, unhurried and easygoing, they are nevertheless tenacious for what they believe.
SEEDS OF TRUTH FALL
Some early writers refer to Australia as the “farthest of faraway places,” due to its remote geographical location. But, according to the words of Jesus Christ as found at Acts 1:8, even to this land as a “most distant part of the earth” the “good news” must go.
In 1901 the States of Australia were formed into a Commonwealth, and about this time Charles T. Russell, president of the Watch Tower Society, was arranging to dispatch a band of four Bible Students there. But seeds of Bible truth had fallen on receptive soil before this.
In 1896 Arthur Williams, Sr., a miner in the goldfields of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, obtained a copy of the book The Divine Plan of the Ages. Williams became fascinated with the great truths expounded in this publication. He joined a group of about twelve in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia. In 1902 he moved to the southwest region of the state, finally settling in Donnybrook, where today a third generation of his family worships Jehovah. Williams distributed sets of Studies in the Scriptures throughout the countryside, but much of his witnessing was accomplished in his store, talking with customers.
Recalling his father’s activities in those days, his son, Arthur Williams, Jr., remembers that after the customer received his goods, his father would tell each one about the coming year of 1914, when the Gentile Times would end and anarchy would begin. He would invite people to his home, and they would sit around the table, discussing points from The Divine Plan of the Ages.
BRANCH OFFICE OPENED
By 1904 upward of a hundred people were receiving Zion’s Watch Tower in Australia. It now seemed appropriate to organize a branch office of the Society in Melbourne, allowing for the distribution of People’s Pulpit and other tracts, bearing an Australian address.
The first branch organizer, E. C. Henninges, announced that the list of subscribers for Zion’s Watch Tower in the state of Victoria had increased eighteenfold during the first eight and a half months of the branch’s operations. One subscriber donated ten pounds (which was then equal to $40, U.S.) to the tract fund, requesting it be used to pay postage on packets of tracts being mailed out. For this sum the brothers were able to mail 4,800 packets! How were names obtained? The brothers took them from electoral rolls and thus mailed out thousands of copies of the People’s Pulpit to the extremities of the country for the cost of one shilling (10 cents, [U.S.]) per 100.
Workers and lone cottagers along the railway tracks received the message of the coming Kingdom as friends threw bundles of tracts from train windows. Seeds of truth found good soil in the hearts of some lonely folk in this way. Tons of paper in tract form carried the message into mailboxes. On Saturday afternoons groups of enthusiastic Bible Students would each frequently distribute up to five hundred copies of The Bible Students Monthly, which also advertised meetings. Ships were visited when they tied up at city wharves, and newspapers and periodicals published column-length sermons weekly.
In 1907, property, consisting of two identical houses side by side, but with separate deeds, was purchased on George Street, East Melbourne. This housed the Bethel family of that time. The office was eventually situated in a building on Collins Street, Melbourne.
At the rear of the house, numbered 20-A George Street, was a small building (actually the old stable) that became known to the brothers as The Tabernacle. In 1925 a vertical Miehle printing press was received from the United States. William Schneider, and later Bert Shearmur, operated this printing press at The Tabernacle, where tracts and other literature were printed and sent out to the whole of Australia and New Zealand. Prior to this, all printing was done by outside firms. From earliest times the Melbourne ecclesia, or congregation, used the Masonic Hall on Collins Street for meetings.
In 1908 there was an upheaval in the organization in Australia. As indicated in a report appearing in The Watch Tower in 1910, the volunteer work slowed down. Branch organizer Henninges defected, “carrying the bulk of the Melbourne class with him,” The Watch Tower reported. Out of 100 associates, only 20 stood firm.
Describing the defectors, Edward Nelson, who endured the test, wrote to Brother Russell: “Many of them are not readers to any extent and have been drawn to his [Henninges’] meetings rather by his eloquence than by the truth. Some of them do not even acknowledge the ‘parousia,’ and one who happened to come in yesterday still had the thought that man has an immortal soul.” While Jehovah prospered his organization, Henninges’ group soon died out. Brother Russell appointed R. E. B. Nicholson as branch secretary in Henninges’ place.
PENETRATING THE AUSTRALIAN FIELD
With a carton of books loaded on his bicycle, American colporteur Arthur Davey set out to bring the Bible’s truth to people in the south of West Australia in 1910. Arthur Williams greatly appreciated his arrival in Donnybrook. He said: “Davey was a little fellow over sixty years of age, stooped, frail and he had consumption. His zeal and loyalty for Jehovah were marvelous.” By this time Williams himself had been tagged “Old Mad 1914!” due to his zealous proclamation of the approaching end of the Gentile Times.
Encouragement for the brothers came from many directions, even from the sea. Master Mariner John Smith, a captain of the White Star Line in 1912, would berth his ship and attend to company business as quickly as possible, devoting the remainder of his time to encouraging the brothers and delivering Bible lectures. Ecclesiae from Brisbane on the eastern seaboard to Perth in the west were united with their brothers throughout the country, as Smith carried news of the brothers’ activities from one to another.
By 1914 the Australian field had been penetrated far and wide, the work spearheaded by 21 colporteurs. About thirty-five newspapers throughout the country were publishing sermons, and 908 persons had subscribed for The Watch Tower in Australia and New Zealand. The field had been well seeded, as indicated in Zion’s Watch Tower of 1906: “The best day’s work done by a colporteur in this portion of the field has been in securing orders for 105 volumes of Studies in the Scriptures in one day; 103 of these were afterward delivered in a half-day. The same colporteur maintained an average of 50 volumes per day for two consecutive months.”
SIFTING THE “WHEAT”
The climactic year of 1914 arrived, and as the world exploded into war, Jehovah’s people began a most spectacular phase of their work. The Photo-Drama of Creation, illustrated with Biblical color slides and motion pictures, added greatly to spiritual provisions already fed to the children of the Kingdom, and many learned the truth this way.
Seeds sown in receptive hearts by Photo-Drama showings and literature placements had to be watered. Pastoral work began, with brothers calling to organize study groups among those manifesting interest. When selected sisters had gathered the interested ones together, brothers addressed the parlor meetings, answering questions and giving talks on such subjects as “The Three Worlds.” Pastoral work continued for a long time after the Photo-Drama had served its purpose in drawing the initial interest. Two hundred and fifty attended a locally arranged convention in Melbourne in 1915 and 14 were baptized.
A description of the final session of one of these early conventions makes interesting reading. The brothers and sisters would all stand around in a circle, clasp hands and then sing: “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” Tears would flow. Then a plate of fresh grapes would be passed around. This was called a love feast. It allowed the brothers and sisters to enjoy final fellowship before departing for home.
ENDURANCE AND FAITH DESPITE HEARTBREAKING TESTS
In 1916 the growing prosperity of Kingdom activity in Australia again drew hostile fire. Signs of crisis began to manifest themselves within the organization. When news of Brother Russell’s death reached Australia, branch secretary Nicholson expressed sentiments felt by all: “For over a quarter of a century I have loved him, not only for his work’s sake, but also for his beautiful character.” The death of Brother Russell delivered Nicholson a blow he was not prepared to take. The later appointment of Brother Rutherford as president of the Society did not coincide with his personal views, so he abandoned the organization.
When he defected, Nicholson took with him most of the ecclesia, as he was himself greatly admired by many. He also took the deed for half the Society’s property. This left the loyal brothers to manage as best they could with just one of the adjacent houses making up the Bethel home.
Sister Jane Nicholson did not join her husband in his defection. What would this frail, Christian woman now do—having experienced the double tragedy of her husband’s leaving her and also his abandoning the truth? No doubt many a woman would have capitulated under such a strain, or at least weakened in faith. But not Jane Nicholson! She continued as a devoted full-time worker right up to the time of her death in the 1950’s. She and her pioneer partner, Enid Duff, affectionately became known as “Nicky and Duff” throughout the entire state of Victoria and in many other parts of Australia.
A brother, who was part of a pioneer group in the mid-1930’s with Sisters Nicholson and Duff, tells about their early pioneer days: “They started pioneering on foot, and for many years had been working the towns along the railway tracks. They would take the train to a town, find accommodations by preaching from house to house and then use this home as a base.* They walked as far as they could into the country around the town, not missing a house. On they would go to the next town and the next, until the towns along that stretch of line had been completed. Then they came back to look after the interest they had located. They witnessed in some towns two and three times. One man, who watched their faithfulness for years and was impressed with their untiring zeal and Christian fortitude, made them a present of the Model A Ford car that they were now using in our group.”
There is no doubt that these sisters are wonderful examples of faith and endurance, especially to any today who face similar tests and trials of Christian faith and integrity. Those who knew these sisters feel confident that they are counted among those ‘whose works went right with them’ when finally they died.—Rev. 14:13.
Meantime, Nicholson was misusing the Society’s funds. Pilgrim Ebenezer Brewster cabled Brother Rutherford, saying: “Nicholson opposing Society. Send help!” Back came the reply: “Nicholson removed. Brewster appointed, pending Johnston from South Africa.”
Mild-tempered “Uncle Eb” Brewster cared for the Society’s affairs in the branch for almost a year, from 1917 to 1918, until the arrival of Brother Johnston from South Africa. The storm was now subsiding, and the majority of the rebellious ones had separated themselves. The new branch supervisor, William Johnston, with his broad smile, happy outlook and humble spirit, was as refreshing to the brothers as a summer shower.
On one of his trips to New Zealand, Brother Johnston met Maude Murray, and in 1923 they were married. Sister Murray had arrived in New Zealand in 1912, after having been profoundly impressed by a lecture given by Brother Russell in Belfast, Ireland, in 1910. After her marriage to Brother Johnston, she joined the Bethel family in Australia. White-haired “Auntie Maude” is still serving there with vigor, at the age of 87.
The continuing war fever had resulted in the government’s banning The Finished Mystery in 1917. When the brothers learned that only a few pages of the book were considered objectionable, they cut them out, continuing to place the publication without these pages. The pages were not destroyed, however, and curiosity caused many to want to read them. An army captain told a publisher that he did not want the book, but would gladly contribute five shillings for the three pages that had been removed!
A PERIOD OF STRENGTHENING
From the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention in 1919, Brother Rutherford dispatched pilgrim representative J. P. MacPherson to Australia. He brought with him the text of the speech: “The World Has Ended—Millions Now Living Will Never Die!” This was taken up by six speakers who addressed large audiences throughout the country. In the cities, newspapers frequently printed half-page announcements of such lectures. Attendances at times reached 1,500 and seldom dropped below 500. Afterward large quantities of literature were eagerly taken by those whose interest had been aroused.
In 1919 a family from Scotland arrived in Brisbane, Queensland. The mother was a Bible Student, and her son Richard Kinninmonth, of ready wit and fearless determination, would become identified throughout the length and breadth of Australia as a fighter for Jehovah. He finished his earthly course in 1969.
Tom Kitto, who later, along with his wife Rowena, became a well-loved figure in Jehovah’s service in Papua New Guinea, learned the truth in an unusual way. His sister Marjorie had come to a knowledge of the truth in Tasmania in 1920, but Tom was against it. When he got hold of his mother’s booklet on the subject of hell, he wrote sarcastically inside the cover: “Missus, there is no hell!” Marjorie jokingly says that ‘when mother had finished with him after his writing this in one of her precious booklets, he wasn’t so sure!’
In any event, it was this very same booklet that helped him to learn the truth. While his sister was making his bed one morning, she was surprised to find the booklet and his Bible under Tom’s pillow. Next thing, Tom was instructing his Sunday-school class in the Methodist church that the Bible does not teach a fiery hell. It was not long before he resigned and took up the truth.
At about this time Anne Beck, who learned the truth from a sister boarding in her home in 1913, would take the train at Yass, a small country town in the state of New South Wales, at two o’clock in the morning. She waited at her destination until daylight, then witnessed all day to all the homes she could reach, returning home at eleven o’clock at night.
The number of Kingdom publishers grew steadily. By the year 1921, when a national assembly was held in the Newtown Town Hall, Sydney, there was an attendance of 300. In 1922 came the welcome visit of Brother M. A. Howlett from the United States. With his arrival a convention was held in the Collingwood Town Hall in Melbourne. As happened at other conventions throughout the world at this time, the banner unfolded at the convention carried the exciting slogan: “ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE THE KING AND THE KINGDOM!” The work received new impetus.
PIONEERING THE USE OF RADIO
Using all available means to magnify Jehovah’s name in this “most distant part of the earth,” the brothers pioneered the use of radio in 1924 with a small experimental station in Launceston, Tasmania. The Society supplied scripts for the sessions and a brother and his wife narrated them over the air each Sunday.
Negotiations commenced late in the 1920’s for the first of the radio stations operated by the branch. This was station 2HD in Newcastle, New South Wales. Three others followed in South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.
At one time, 20 radio stations were broadcasting the Kingdom message to the Australian public, and at convention times hookups from the United States brought much edification to Jehovah’s people. Locally, Bible plays, sometimes with as many as 20 different characters, were broadcast for the benefit of radio audiences.
BRANCH OFFICE CHANGES LOCATION
Branch overseer Johnston returned from a convention in the United States in 1928 and announced Brother Rutherford’s decision to transfer the headquarters from Melbourne to Sydney, which was more conveniently situated in many ways. So in 1929 the branch headquarters moved to a new home.
At that time the Bethel family consisted of 11 brothers and sisters. How pleasant were the surroundings in their new home at Beresford Road, Strathfield! Soon afterward a new brick structure was added, which accommodated the office and shipping department.
A change in branch administration came in 1930 with the arrival of another Scot, Alexander MacGillivray. He was a man of vision and zeal who had spent 10 years in New York in close collaboration with the Society’s officers at headquarters. Not only did he bring a freshness to the work in Australia and New Zealand, but he also helped to open up the work in Fiji, Tahiti and what are now Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, and even Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. Thirteen branches now care for this vast area. Before World War II it was served by the Australian branch office, which used the Society’s sloop, Lightbearer, and real “pioneers” to penetrate these territories.
By the 1930’s the good news was being proclaimed in Australia by 66 pioneers and some 400 publishers, and the seeds sown from the early 1900’s were sprouting into congregations. Along with the spiritual prosperity enjoyed by Jehovah’s people came a fading of financial prosperity for the Australian nation, as it was caught up in the worldwide depression of the 1930’s.
David Ward, an elder in the Denmark Congregation, Western Australia, relates a heartwarming experience of how Jehovah took care of his family during these depression years. He writes:
“We went short of everything except food. Our farm products brought very low prices, and much produce we could not sell at all. This meant we had plenty of plain food but could not afford to buy sugar or clothing. How were we going to look presentable and decent for the door-to-door preaching work? Jehovah admonishes charitable kindness in his Word, and just how responsive the brothers and sisters in Perth were can be seen in that, without our ever having to ask for their help, on occasion a large sack of good, used clothing would arrive at the local railway station addressed to us. There was another large family in the truth living nearby, and we were pleased that they were able to share the clothing with us.”
PIONEERS ADD THEIR VOICES
In spite of the many financial difficulties of the depression years, the pioneer work thrived. Joining forces, many pioneers formed group homes, using them as bases from which to preach in the cities. This made living easier, and brothers frequently contributed food parcels. As Ted Sewell relates, a bag of wheat and a grinder were the pioneers’ mainstay as far as food was concerned.
Pioneers assigned to large cities used real ingenuity to help ‘people of all sorts’ to hear the good news. One pioneer group in Sydney made special efforts to contact everyone at the city fruit and vegetable markets, which were open around the clock. Periods of 24-hour witnessing (nonstop) were organized each Friday for several weeks. A car group was assigned for about three or four hours; then these returned home, and another group took over for the next four hours or so. The pioneers equipped themselves with Italian booklets, for the gardeners and growers were mainly Italian speaking. Some of the Italian families in the truth today learned it in the middle of the night as a result of that pioneer work.
Faithful and tenacious though they were, some of the Australian country-pioneer groups looked rough and ready! Some groups had a large old car or trailer with sound equipment mounted on top, and usually a tent. Each member rode a bicycle loaded with books. Some would spend two or three days away from the camp, calling at homes in one direction while other members would do the same in other directions. All would return to the camp at a given time so as to move on to another site.
Literature was left at a low rate or traded for produce. On many occasions the pioneers returned to their central camp at night to find that one would have some potatoes, another a pumpkin, another eggs, meat, and so forth. This was regarded as even better than money, as it could be eaten. With sufficient clothing, food and shelter the pioneers were content and could continue the witness work.
‘REMEMBERING THEIR CREATOR’
A 17-year-old girl, Marjorie Fry, first heard the truth in the early 1930’s. She lived on a farm about six miles (10 km) from Bathurst, New South Wales, and was the only one of her large family who showed any interest. She tells of the special effort she made to attend a midweek meeting in Bathurst despite strong opposition from her mother and seven brothers. One of her brothers had promised to take her on his motorcycle, thinking she was going to the movie theater, but somehow he learned she planned to go to the home where the meeting was to be held. When she was about ready to leave, her brother decided he would not go after all. Now, how to get to the meeting?
Marjorie immediately went down to the paddock and saddled her small pony. On arrival, however, she was completely taken aback when a brother said: “Sister, we cannot let you in to the meeting in man’s apparel!” She explained that they were riding breeches—a lady’s pair—and told of the effort she had made just to be there. She was allowed in, of course, and the joy of attending the meeting made it all worth while.
Sister Fry progressed rapidly in the truth, and, in 1932, while still in her late teens, she became a pioneer. She has continued in this service until now and since her marriage to William Moss has enjoyed serving also in Western Samoa.
At the age of 19 Arthur Willis began pioneering around Perth, and in 1932 he made trips to the southwest of Western Australia on a motorcycle. Two partners, Charles Harris and George Rollston, joined him the following year. They began a trip through the northwest of the state to Darwin, capital city of the Northern Territory, and thence across Queensland. At this time there were no congregations in all this area, a distance of more than two thousand miles (3,200 km). This trip took the brothers four months to complete, and it was the first time some of these areas had heard the good news. Brother Willis later settled in Pingelly, Western Australia, where the congregation he helped to form was made up mainly of aboriginal Australians.
WITNESSING IN VAST TERRITORIES
A hardy pioneer, Aubrey Baxter, explains how he preached in territory that covered thousands of square miles in central and northern Queensland in the days when phonographs were used:
“We packed our phonographs in sponge rubber and strapped the pickup arm down so it wouldn’t be broken on the rough, jarring roads. We witnessed in some interesting places. I spent one night with a kangaroo hunter, sleeping on the dirt floor of his little hut surrounded by hundreds of odorous kangaroo hides. Trying to sleep with packs of howling dingoes [native wild dogs] outside was not easy either.”
While visiting the congregations in this area, Brother Baxter, on one trip, found the roads cut off by heavy flooding. A local man to whom he spoke expressed concern for a van that had gone through some days before, as the creeks were flooded and the water was as high as the treetops in some places. Realizing that this was the van belonging to a group of pioneers, Brother Baxter was worried. He followed them and, when stopped by flooded creeks, swam across and walked on. Eventually he found the stranded group, who had nothing left for food but some white flour. He and the other brothers swam back across the creeks, found some food and then ferried this across to the sisters in a tub.
This pioneer group was made up of Percy and Ilma Iszlaub, who later became missionaries in Japan and are now in the Watch Tower branch there, and Norman Bellotti, who is now a missionary in Papua New Guinea along with his wife, Gladys. Also in the group was Beatrice Bellotti, who later married Aubrey Baxter. As in other areas where hardworking, intrepid pioneers had been, this early pioneer work bore much fruit, and congregations of Jehovah’s people grew up in many of the towns and cities in Queensland.
IN REMOTE AREAS
As early as 1929, Clem Deschamp and his partner, Viv Pusey, preached to the whole of the state of South Australia within a radius of 60 miles (100 km) of Adelaide. This seeding work paved the way for congregations and isolated groups in later years.
In 1932 Len Linke stepped into the pioneer service as a result of a fiery talk on the subject of pioneering by regional service director Bert Horton. With Ronald Payne, William Torrington and Stuart Keltie, he pioneered throughout South Australia during 1933. Later that year Brothers Torrington and Keltie made a trip to Alice Springs in the heart of Australia. On the way they met a hotelkeeper at William Creek, some six hundred miles (1,000 km) north of Adelaide. It was from this initial contact that he learned the truth. This man, Charles Bernhardt, still remembers the sound of Brother Keltie’s wooden leg thumping on the floor of the hotel as he was busy in the cellar below.
At the age of 72, Brother Bernhardt bought a rugged vehicle for use in the outback and then for 15 years pioneered some of the most remote areas of the country on his own. Before selling his store and hotel at William Creek, he set a fine example of putting Kingdom interests first, no matter what the circumstances.
Donald MacLean, serving as circuit overseer, tells of his first visit with Brother Bernhardt:
“Arriving at William Creek, I found that the train stopped for a considerable time while the men rushed to get to Bernhardt’s Bar for a supply of cold beer. On entering the bar I was delighted to find it theocratically decorated. A large sign on one wall invited the men to ‘read The Watchtower, announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, the hope of the world.’ A second sign invited them to read Awake! and keep awake to world events. Piles of magazines, booklets and bound volumes covered the bar counter itself.
“When everyone had finally been served and satisfied, Brother Bernhardt called for their attention. ‘Gentlemen, may I have your attention, please? I invite you to have copies of the finest magazines on earth today.’ Following his respectful, bold witness, each of the thirsty men contributed for copies of the magazines, threw a sack of beer over his shoulder and returned to the train. It was outstanding that out of respect for Brother Bernhardt’s Christian reputation there was no profanity or foul speech in the bar.”
Now almost ninety years of age, Brother Bernhardt is not able to make his trips into the remote outback areas anymore, but he still preaches the good news from his house in Adelaide.
PIONEERING IN THE OUTBACK
Outback pioneer Joe Bell learned the truth from a pioneer who was working country areas on a cycle. Within days of that first contact, he was witnessing himself. He visited homesteads 300 miles (480 km) northwest of Brisbane, Queensland, and tells of some of the hazards of travel in those days:
“I had to carry my cycle in many places because I ran into continuous banks of sand where there was practically no roadway. Some of these journeys were very perilous. Traveling through open country, the only living creatures to be seen were roving mobs [herds] of bullocks, and they could be dangerous as they are very curious. So it was necessary at times to take refuge in a tree and wait until the bullocks grazed away, allowing me to continue my journey.”
In one particularly isolated area, an owner of a cattle station (ranch) lent Brother Bell a horse to ride the 25 miles (40 km) to the next property, for, as he said, “You’ll never get there on a bicycle!” On Bell’s arrival at this next property, the owner, Jack Carey, was out mustering cattle. His wife said she would pass on to her husband the book and catalog that Brother Bell left with her. Many years later, at a convention in Sydney, this same Jack Carey sought out Joe Bell to say that he had learned the truth from the book left for him. He had written to the branch for more information and was now a dedicated brother!
A PIONEER AMONG PIONEERS
Noted for his determination and persistence to “get the message through” in the outback was Ben Brickell. For decades he plied the remote areas of the country as an isolated pioneer. Brother Brickell had come from New Zealand in 1932 and became another of the faithful band of rugged pioneers of those early days. He continued on in the full-time ministry right up until his death in 1974.
The following is typical of the colorful life and experiences that Brother Brickell enjoyed to the full:
“In early August 1932, I left Townsville, Queensland, on an 800-mile (1,300-km) journey to Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Loading my bicycle with 60 bound books, some booklets and magazines, a change of clothing, a roll of two blankets, some foodstuffs and a small water bag, I set out on the first stage of my journey over Mount Fox on the Great Dividing Range. The one-mile (1.6-km) climb over Mount Fox, on a track of one-in-three gradient, took me nine hours of arduous toil as I propelled my heavily loaded bicycle with my right hand and my left shoulder behind the load. Then down the steep track on the other side the next day, after witnessing to the small settlement on the mountaintop and receiving a night’s hospitality at one of the homes there.”
Many aboriginal Australians were contacted by Brother Brickell over the years. “After my giving a talk to one gathering,” he related, “the entire audience came forward to thank me warmly for the truths I had told them from the Bible. On another occasion, 50 aborigines came to hear a talk within a few minutes of my arrival, although the camp was in complete darkness.”
LONG DAYS IN SERVICE
Even for those who could afford a motor vehicle in those days, pioneering in the rugged Australian countryside was not an easy task. Alan Holtorf, a member of the Bethel family for a number of years, commented on using his car in Kingdom service:
“The fuel tank was under the front seat, so the seat had to be removed to refuel. Tires were of poor quality and punctures were frequent. Often it was necessary to patch tubes on the roadside, then wait for the patch to dry before putting the tube back in the tire. On steep hills it was sometimes necessary to turn the car around and back up, otherwise the gravity-fed fuel would not flow from the gas tank to the engine. To spend a day preaching, it often involved leaving home at about four o’clock in the morning, arriving at the town about eight o’clock, spending a full day witnessing in the town and then traveling home after dark.”
Life in the rugged outback country is not generally considered suitable for women. But Netta Pusey, for more than fifty years a pioneer servant of Jehovah, endured such demanding conditions, playing the phonograph to farmers and sheepshearers in woolsheds. She often found it necessary to wade a river, carrying her heavy phonograph and book bag, too. Netta’s sister Gladys, devoted wife and mother in the Mouritz family, reared her seven children while keeping active with her one-armed husband, among the hills of Bowral, New South Wales. It was fine to see the entire family out in service, packed into an ancient-vintage open automobile. Today, son Viv Mouritz serves as coordinator in the Australian branch. The other sons are all active in congregations in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, and one of them, Douglas, serves as city overseer.
AMID DROUGHTS—AND RAINS
A group of pioneers set out from Sydney, loaded with 31 cartons of literature. They headed for a sparsely settled area where landholdings were each about a quarter of a million acres. That summer was very hot and dry, and the group reported they went for six weeks without finding enough water to have a bath! Then, when the rains finally came, the roads were impassable. The group were stranded in one spot for a week. When eventually they got moving, it took eight days to travel 38 miles (61 km)!
Pioneer Robert Bell tells of cycling fifty to sixty miles (80 to 96 km) in a day and making just five or six calls. He says that dogs and snakes were the worst hazards on the bicycle. At seven o’clock one bitterly cold morning he rode to his first call. The mud was still frozen hard, and it took two hours to ride from the mailbox to the homestead. In these regions it is not uncommon for the homestead to be up to twenty miles (32 km) from the mailbox. After a favorable response at the homestead, Brother Bell then ventured back to the road, to find that by this time the sun had softened the mud, making it impossible to ride the bicycle. This made it necessary to carry it and its load of literature on his shoulders and stop every few steps to scrape the mud from his boots, because they became too heavy to lift. He reached the road five hours after he had left it and had made only one call.
THE “NEW NAME,” AND AFTER
The adoption of the new name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” by congregations in 1931 was a time of great rejoicing and presented the challenge to live up to it. The number of pioneers continued to grow steadily, and by the year 1932 there were 280 in the field.
Every available opportunity was seized to further Kingdom interests and to contact people with the message of truth. The official opening of the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge in 1932 provided a good occasion to publicize the Kingdom because crowds of people were drawn into the city from all over Australia. Lilly Cattach, who later married Wally Wood, joined the throngs of Witnesses in Sydney that day. She relates that the publishers went into the city early, standing on the streets, offering booklets as people came by. One zealous sister went to a policeman in the middle of the road and gave him a booklet to use in directing the crowds. She told him it would help. He smiled and waved the booklet as he directed the milling people. One big man displaying a prominent gold watch chain alighted from a tram (streetcar), buried his face in his hands and groaned aloud: “I’ve just come from the United States, and to think I have to meet one of your crowd here, too!”
Ernest Clark, who first learned the truth during World War I, relates how interesting it is to look back at the various ways used over the years to present the Kingdom message. “Sometimes,” he says, “we were aggressive, sometimes mild and at other times we used a Testimony Card and did little talking.” He recalls with a smile the period when the brothers were advised not to allow the householder to interrupt because it was usually to say that he or she was not interested. So the publisher was encouraged to keep talking nonstop until the householder had at least been told about the Kingdom. One householder made several attempts to interrupt him but finally gave up. He continued on, as he describes himself, “like a wound-up spring, until I had completely run down.” When he finished, the woman finally was able to get in her comment: “But brother, I’ve been in the truth for 16 years!”
In March 1932 the Society arranged for a national convention to be held in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield. The brothers gathered in the Town Hall and enjoyed an edifying spiritual feast. The advantages of street witnessing were brought to the attention of the 600 brothers in attendance. Ensuing years saw an intensification of street work, and also the use of sound equipment came to the fore. Mob opposition began to be stirred up by priests, as in Wangaratta, Victoria, and Tamworth, New South Wales. Harold Gill, who still serves faithfully in England, led out in fearless campaigns against mobsters.
BROTHER RUTHERFORD VISITS SYDNEY
In 1938 J. F. Rutherford, the Society’s president, visited Sydney for a convention, which was held in the Leichhardt Stadium. Plans were made for him to give the public talk at the Sydney Sports Ground, and contracts were signed for his address to be published in a morning newspaper and broadcast throughout the country by radio. By this time Brother Rutherford was well known for his outspoken remarks about the activities of the Roman Catholic Church in public affairs. As a result, the press and radio authorities wanted to censor his speech before handling it, but this was unacceptable to the brothers. So arrangements were made to include it in a booklet under the title Freedom or Romanism? One million copies of this bright-red “bombshell” were printed for distribution throughout Australia. Meanwhile, Brother Rutherford was the center of intense publicity. As a result, close to ten thousand people came to hear him speak. At that time there were only 1,300 Witnesses in all Australia, so the witness given was great indeed.
One of the reasons for Brother Rutherford’s visit was to examine complaints about certain commercial activities that the Australian branch had developed to give brothers employment. He was satisfied that these things were not harming the preaching of the good news and commended Brother MacGillivray on his initiative. However, later on these enterprises were to bring trouble and difficulty.
SOUND CARS TO THE FORE!
Many sound cars broadcast the good news throughout cities, towns and rural areas. Cars were fitted with a loudspeaker on top and a turntable inside on which were played short musical items, followed by recordings of Brother Rutherford’s Bible lectures. After the lecture the brothers followed up by calling from house to house.
In Hobart, Tasmania, a sound car had been used several times to broadcast the lectures to over three hundred factory workers while they were eating their midday meal in pleasant surroundings at the docks. One day the brothers noticed the police waiting, obviously thinking of preventing the broadcast before it began.
A kindly old fisherman who had previously shown some interest had tied up his boat at the dock. The brothers approached him, and he agreed to allow them to set up their loudspeaker system on his boat, which, of course, was private property and could not be interfered with by the police. So the prepared program went on as planned. The workers continued to hear the lecture, while the police walked back and forth on the dock in sheer frustration.
An easily recognized vehicle in the cities was the “Red Terror,” a bright-red panel van with a large sound horn mounted on top. Bert Horton, in turn a regional service director, zone servant and finally a member of the Bethel family, along with his wife, Vi, operated this outstanding vehicle for many years. In one year almost every street in Melbourne resounded with stirring exposures of false religion.
Such work ideally suited Brother Horton, who was affectionately known in every state of the country as “Armageddon Horton.” This was because of his fiery talks and his encouragement to the brothers everywhere to put Kingdom interests first in view of the imminence of Armageddon. Bert Horton and his wife were fine living examples of doing this very thing, and Bert served faithfully at Bethel in his advancing years until his death in 1972. Sister Horton continues on as a member of the Bethel family and still does her day’s work at the age of 78.
IN AND OUT OF COURT
Pioneer George Powell spent a memorable period with Bert Horton in sound-car activity. After working in Melbourne, they moved out into smaller country towns. In Whittlesea, Brother Powell offered literature to a man who, without saying a word, held out a sixpenny (5-cent) coin on the end of his finger in return for some literature. “Now,” he said, “you are under arrest for selling books without a license!” He was the local policeman in plain clothes. It so happened that court was in session that day, so Brother Powell was taken along, and the judge said he would hear this case first. The courtroom was full. All present received a good witness and did not appear unfriendly toward Brother Powell.
By this time the other brothers began to wonder what had happened to him. While the court was in session, Bert Horton peered around the door and was shocked to see his partner on the witness stand. Brother Powell was fined ten shillings (then the equivalent of $2, U.S.) for “selling books without a license.” He refused to pay the fine, because, as he told the court: “I have ten shillings, but I’m not willing to pay it, because I am preaching the Gospel and we don’t pay fines for that!” He was released, but for years afterward the police were calling at his sister’s home in Melbourne, trying to collect the fine.
THREATS FROM MOBS
Angry Salvation Army members mobbed the brothers in Townsville, Queensland, threatening to turn the sound car over. Opposition to the Kingdom proclamation was growing, religious leaders striving to turn public opinion against Jehovah’s people. Matilda Marsh was pioneering in Tasmania when a priest-inspired mob attempted to roll her trailer over a cliff into the sea. Later an angry crowd hurled large stones at the group of pioneers, badly damaging the trailer, and while they were away witnessing in rural areas the trailer was set afire and destroyed.
As sound cars and zealous publishers broadcast the Kingdom message throughout cities and towns, they often met with opposition from clergy-incited mobs. Lloyd Barry recalls the time when he and Tom Bradburne (Sydney congregation overseer and circuit overseer in those days) were in Catholic Maitland, New South Wales, for an assembly. At the last moment local authorities canceled the use of the Town Hall by Jehovah’s Witnesses, so at the time of the public meeting the brothers parked a sound car outside the hall and, using the loudspeaker, made a strong statement of protest, calling for recognition of freedom of speech and religion.
As the statement ended, a large mob that had gathered swarmed around the car and started to turn it over. But just at this moment a policeman appeared on the scene, and the mob, thinking he was about to arrest the brothers, stood back. However, the officer put his head through the car window and said: “Boys, if you value your lives, get going out of this!” Brother Bradburne revved up the engine, a way seemed miraculously to open in the crowd, and the car accelerated its way down the road with the police officer riding as passenger on the running board! Events like this were not infrequent in the days of sound-car activity.
CONFRONTING MOBS AT ASSEMBLIES
For Brother Barry this was the first of three successive weekends of coping with opposition to the Kingdom. On the following weekend he was chairman at an assembly in Lismore, New South Wales, serving there with a longtime pioneer, Arthur Willis. The public talk “Fascism or Freedom” had been widely advertised, especially by an information march with placards, participated in by some sixty local publishers. Everyone was talking about Jehovah’s Witnesses. There was also talk of a large group of Catholic sugarcane cutters coming in from the rurals to disrupt the scheduled meeting.
Sure enough, by the time the chairman stepped forward to introduce Brother Rutherford’s transcribed talk, a mob of several hundred husky-looking men had gathered at the back of the hall. Seeing the situation, the chairman made an outright statement about the tactics that Catholic Action had been using up to that time to disrupt the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Immediately a spokesman for the group jumped up on a chair and started to call out, “Stop speaking against my ’ligion!” Turning to a lone police sergeant on duty, the chairman said, “Put that man out!” Even though this sergeant had arrested Brother Willis several days earlier during street magazine work, on this occasion he actually did put the man out!
The leaderless mob then listened in silence to the entire one-hour lecture. As it ended, however, they proceeded to create an uproar. They overturned a table displaying Bible literature. One of the mob threw a plastic “stink bomb” onto the platform, but as it landed the chairman caught it with a dropkick and sent it flying over the heads of the audience into the midst of the mobsters, where it burst—to their discomfort. By this time police reinforcements were on the scene. They separated the mobsters from Jehovah’s Witnesses and their friends, who were able to retreat from the hall to the tune of loud booing.
It was on that same weekend of September 3, 1939, that Britain declared war on Germany; World War II was to bring further problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The following weekend was marked by an assembly in the city of Toowoomba in the south of Queensland. This again was highlighted by a huge information march with the use of placards, the police providing protection against the mob that had gathered. On returning from the information march, Brother Barry and the zone (circuit) overseer, Douglas Begg, were summoned to the office of the city mayor. He informed the brothers that a short time earlier two Protestant clergymen had called at his office protesting against one of the signs in the march—“Religion Is a Snare and a Racket.” Shortly afterward a young Catholic priest had called on him with a message from the bishop, directing attention to the Church’s support of the war effort and requesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses be denied use of the Town Hall the following day. The mayor had therefore canceled our hall booking.
At the scheduled time our sound car was parked outside the Town Hall, but the police prevented an attempted announcement over the loudspeaker. The assembly had to disperse without hearing the public lecture.
However, the meeting of the local city council was to be held the following evening. This provided the brothers the opportunity to prepare a direct, strongly worded letter to the city council, protesting this denial of freedom of speech. At the meeting that evening, the letter was read and council members debated its contents at length. About half of them were in favor of freedom of speech and the other half supported the mayor. The following morning the entire proceedings, including the full text of the letter itself, were published in the local newspaper. This gave a tremendous witness to Toowoomba and the surrounding rurals, where many expressed themselves favorably about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
KINGDOM PREACHING DURING WORLD WAR II
Jehovah’s rich blessing continued on the preaching work, and each year notable conventions were held in most of the capital cities throughout the country. With the outbreak of World War II, it became increasingly difficult to rent public halls or auditoriums for conventions. The only place available for the convention planned for July 1940, when the book Religion was to be released, was under canvas on the grounds of Bethel in Sydney. Large tents were erected adjacent to the Bethel home and office in the area where now stands a Kingdom Hall and parking lot.
By this time placard marching, or “information parades,” had become quite a feature of Kingdom publicity, and it was decided to use this means of advertising in a pronounced way during this convention. Unknown to the convention administration, police officers had quietly come to the roadside just outside the tents. They listened carefully to the field service announcements, taking down details of all the prearranged meeting places on specified corners of streets in Sydney and suburban shopping centers. Police were then sent to these areas, where they waited to arrest the brothers as soon as they put on their placards.
One brother recalls that he and his partner made a mistake and went to the wrong corner. Thus they were able to wear their placards without any interference. When no other publishers came to join them, however, they realized they had come to the wrong place. When they found their way to the correct corner, the policeman waiting for them there greeted them with a smile and said: “What kept you?” He then took the placards they were wearing and the banners they were carrying and asked them to accompany him and the other brothers, who had arrived earlier, to the police station. It was quite a procession and attracted a lot of attention as ten or twelve brothers followed the two police officers, who were carrying the signs in such a way that they could be clearly read by all the passersby. In fact, this brought more publicity than if the brothers had been permitted to wear their placards without interference!
In December 1940 Wallace Baxter and Percy and Madge Dunham arrived at the Strathfield Bethel home. Brother Baxter had been caring for the Branch at Tallinn, Estonia, since 1930, and Brother and Sister Dunham had been at the branch in Latvia. As World War II was raging and as Brother Baxter and the Dunhams were British subjects, the Society’s president advised them to try to gain entry to any English-speaking country available. The mature experience of these brothers was very much appreciated by those serving in Australia during these trialsome war years.
For several years after arriving in Australia, Brother Baxter continued his full-time service at the Society’s depots in Brisbane and Melbourne. In 1948 he returned to Bethel and he continues to serve as a member of the Branch Committee at the age of 85.
Brother and Sister Dunham were welcomed into the Bethel family immediately, and Brother Dunham’s fatherly manner and carefully chosen words of Scriptural wisdom, as well as his own long experience in life, were cherished by many of the young brothers then serving at Bethel. He died in June 1951, but Sister Dunham continues to serve at Bethel and is able to do a full day’s work though she is in her 79th year.
HEARING NEWS OF THE BAN
With the Battle of Britain raging and Australian troops fighting in North Africa, it is not surprising that hysteria mounted. The clergy of Christendom took advantage of growing adverse public opinion against Jehovah’s people and exerted pressure politically and through the newspapers to have the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses banned. Politicians in various state parliaments repeatedly demanded that the federal government act. Attorney General W. M. Hughes at first resisted this pressure, stating that the nation was fighting a war for freedom, and he did not propose to defeat its aim by taking that freedom from some of its citizens.
At this time the Society owned and operated four radio stations in Australia. A newspaper, which gasped its last not long after, threw out veiled insinuations that these radio stations were surreptitiously broadcasting information of value to the Nazis. This charge was never taken up in the courts, for there was not a shred of evidence. It was based on the old premise that if enough mud is thrown, some of it will stick. But, added to the prevailing war hysteria, it seemed to tip the scales.
In January 1941 an order-in-council was gazetted that “any body, corporate or unincorporate, . . . prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth or the efficient prosecution of the war, is thereby declared to be unlawful.” National security regulations provided that any such body was to be dissolved and its property forfeited to the Crown. Members would not be allowed to meet for study and worship, nor to print, circulate or have in their possession any books or other matter pertaining to the organization.
Equipped with these powers, the Commonwealth authorities seized the Society’s branch office, factory and warehouse at Strathfield on Saturday, January 18, 1941.
However, due to lack of coordination between Attorney General Hughes and Prime Minister Menzies, notice of the impending ban was actually given the brothers many hours in advance. This space of time allowed the brothers at Bethel to dispose of private material in the office. Commenting on this governmental mix-up, a military authority, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald on January 18, 1941, said: “The ban could not have been more incredibly bungled. No one could give eighteen hours’ public warning of intention to search a man’s premises, and then expect to find anything of interest when he arrived.”
Responsible brothers at the branch office could not but feel here was evidence of angelic direction and guidance. With this prior notice the brothers in the office were able to remove files and records from the property. Truckload after truckload of Kingdom literature was transported out of Bethel to hideouts throughout the city.
When later, in the early morning, some half dozen black government limousines arrived at the property, “the cupboard was bare.” Practically all the literature that the brothers needed so much had been cleared out of the shipping department and was safe in other areas.
The following week, five members of the Bethel family were imprisoned for six months each on the neutrality issue, the court denying their plea to be recognized as ministers.
SERVING UNDER BAN
All the Society’s departments were locked and barred with the exception of the residence where the Bethel family was permitted to continue living. Armed guards were placed on duty night and day to ensure that none of the Society’s property, now claimed as forfeited to the Crown, was moved away. All bags taken in or out of the premises were searched, and visitors had to state their business before being allowed to enter Bethel.
Office equipment, including typewriters, was put under seal by the security officers. At night, however, members of the Bethel staff could enter the office through the ceiling, remove some of the equipment and substitute blocks of wood, so that it appeared that the machines were still there. Branch operations continued unobserved, in the attic. For quite some time the branch staff continued underground operations above, while guards patrolled the grounds below! A system of buzzers was installed in various parts of the grounds to warn of approaching cars or security officers. At times the sisters, ostensibly washing dishes, would stay at their job by the hour so as to observe the approach of any suspicious visitors.
With the imposition of the ban, all literature, including Bibles and large supplies of paper, was either seized or sealed in the Bethel headquarters. Just prior to the ban, a very large shipment of the book Religion, the booklet Government and Peace and recordings of the latest Bible lecture by Brother Rutherford arrived at the wharf in Sydney. Due to the dark cloud that was hanging over Jehovah’s Witnesses at that time, the customs department refused to permit this literature to come into the country. So it just lay there.
When the ban was imposed, however, officialdom apparently realized that someone had to pay wharfage dues. Rather than do that, they trucked all this literature and the records to Bethel and stored them in the large shipping department. The knowledge about all this literature and valuable printing supplies, such as large stacks of hard-to-obtain printing paper, sparked the ingenuity of the Bethel family.
Four armed guards policed the Bethel property, and the shipping department and printery were under seal. However, the back wall of the shipping department bordered on a little-used railway siding. So at night, using methods reminiscent of Ezekiel 12:5-7, the brothers could enter through this wall by removing some of the brickwork. From the inside they managed to open the doors into the yard without breaking the seal, and so all was set for ‘bringing out the luggage.’
In this situation Bethel service would start after midnight and proceed to about 4 a.m., a period of time when the guards were least attentive. A hidden telephone system reaching out to the various Bethel buildings was monitored by a brother who was in a position to watch all four guards at their posts. While these slept, he kept the all-clear signal in effect. But if any of the guards moved, the warning would immediately be given, and the doors of the building would silently close until all danger had passed.
On one occasion when Brother MacGillivray was returning home by car the usual guard at the front gate was missing. He alighted and walked ahead of the car but was met by two guards running from their office. Two shots were fired at him. One of these pierced his shoulder. He was assisted into the Bethel building, with blood pouring from his wound. Brother MacGillivray made a good recovery, but six months later he died.
OTHER UNDERGROUND ACTIVITY
For two and a half years the brothers continued to operate underground. Not a single issue of The Watchtower was missed during the entire period of the ban. During that time tens of thousands of copies of bound books, magazines, tracts and other material were printed. The quality of printing was fairly comparable to the original product received from the United States. During the ban Jehovah’s people missed none of the new publications, the complete Yearbook also being reproduced each year.
All literature published by the underground printing arrangement bore the imprint: “Printed by George Gibb, whose usual place of abode is . . . .” This met the legal requirement that all publications should bear the usual place of abode of the printer. The police searched everywhere for Brother Gibb but could never locate him—he lived right at the published address! Brother Gibb’s name thus became well known throughout the entire country. He has served as a well-loved member of the Bethel family since 1928 and still works in the branch printery at 85 years of age.
Since the ban prohibited the literature of the Watch Tower Society, as well as the holding of meetings in halls or large groups, the brothers met regularly in private homes. Door-to-door work continued, using the Bible only. Where genuine interest was located, return visits were made and literature introduced.
A sister in Melbourne, who witnessed regularly from house to house using only the Bible, says that often householders phoned the police. They would keep her talking until they saw the policeman coming. Then they would excuse themselves, and, departing, she would walk straight into the policeman. Then it would be the same old routine: The police would look into her bag, inquire what she was doing and try to find even one piece of the banned literature. But, of course, all they could find was the Bible! Often they would take the names and addresses of publishers but could do no more. Our sister remembers at least two different policemen saying words to the effect: ‘Don’t worry, but it would be better now to move to another area, a few streets away. I would like you to know there are more policemen for you than against you!’
DESPITE THE BAN—A CONVENTION IN 1941!
A national convention in 1941—this is what the brothers in Australia desired. But how, with the ban on? We would see whether Jehovah would make possible and bless such a convention under ban conditions. The dates were set for December 25-29, and the convention was to be patterned after the one in Saint Louis, Missouri, earlier that year. Because it was impossible to obtain suitable facilities anywhere, the brothers used vacant land belonging to the Society, at Hargreave Park, about eighteen miles (29 km) from Sydney.
Brothers came from all parts of Australia, mainly by train because of gasoline rationing. The Western Australian government, however, refused to provide rail facilities for our conventioners, creating a seemingly impossible situation for brothers almost three thousand miles (4,800 km) away.
Undaunted, the brothers in the West equipped their cars with gas-producing units operating on charcoal. By departure time on December 11, they had prepared nine cars and trucks for the grueling six-thousand-mile (9,600-km) round-trip journey. A Kingdom Farm in Western Australia supplied charcoal to carry the convoy over the 720 miles (1,160 km) of rough, unpaved desert road from Norseman to Penong in South Australia. From then on there was at least a proper road and some towns.
The entire journey to Sydney took 14 days, one solid week of which was spent experiencing the hardships of the Nullarbor (meaning “No Tree”) Plain. Fine dust clogged hair and clothes, and washing in the limited supply of water, which was brackish and with a high mineral content, only turned the dirt into mud. Cars had to stop and refuel with charcoal every 50 miles (80 km). Slower-moving vehicles operated 24 hours a day, the drivers taking duty in shifts, eating and sleeping as the convoy crawled across the wilderness.
The military, police and fuel board officials demonstrated how mean officialdom can get when they seized the supply of emergency gasoline at the last town before the desert crossing. This meant that the brothers had to push the first car two or three miles each morning until it was started on charcoal gas; then, this car would tow the others until they got started. But, triumphantly, the convoy arrived in time for the opening of the convention. The newspapers, so derogatory in their advance publicity when the trek across the Nullarbor was in progress, were strangely silent when the entire group of delegates arrived in Sydney safe and sound.
A highlight of this convention was the release of the Australian-printed edition of the Children book. This book had been released at Saint Louis, just four months earlier. On obtaining a copy of the book, Brother MacGillivray gave the order: “Print the Children book!” It seemed impossible for the underground factory to carry out such an assignment. Even under ordinary conditions the branch in Australia had never yet produced a bound book! However, under the oversight of master printer Malcolm Vale, a fearless organizer, the underground organization got to work!
The various printeries used were ostensibly doing ordinary secular printing, and when police officers inspected them from time to time that was all they saw. But in the middle of the night the wraps would come off the Society’s printing project. Many were the book signatures that were produced by the time dawn came around.
One of the biggest problems was binding the books. The brothers rented an unused warehouse, and the bindery equipment was carted in there at night. Shifts of brothers and sisters worked there day and night, producing books after the same pattern as those published in Brooklyn. Sometimes, after a few days, the neighbors got curious as to what was going on, and perhaps the local police would take an interest. This was the signal for packing up the entire bindery in the middle of the next night, loading it on trucks and transporting it to another rented warehouse. And so the process of binding and producing the books went on week after week. The bindery had to change locations 16 times. But the brothers were rewarded with seeing a fine supply of the book ready for release at their convention.
Since the Society’s literature was banned, the release of the book also had to be done quietly. For one early-morning session of the assembly, the conventioners were directed to private homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in various locations. There the book was released to the small group in attendance at each place. The branch overseer’s report in the next Yearbook said: “In the face of overwhelming odds, the printers did a job which could have been completed only by consecrated labor and in the strength of the Lord. Each child received his gift, and 20,000 of the book are now in circulation throughout Australasia.” Six thousand attended the convention under ban!
Closely following the convention, an eviction notice was delivered to the Bethel family on May 8, 1942, requiring them to leave within 24 hours. The army was to occupy the premises. Members of the Bethel family took up residence in houses nearby.
Shortly after the death of Brother Rutherford on January 8, 1942, Brother MacGillivray also finished his life course, on July 22, 1942. Philip Rees now carried on as branch overseer. Then 26 years of age, Brother Rees had been in Bethel since he was 15. He knew the workings of the branch thoroughly, having had constant contact with its development. Today he and his wife, Maudie, are members of the London, England, Bethel family.
Before his death, Brother MacGillivray had begun legal proceedings in the High Court of Australia to challenge the validity of the ban. At the same time, letters of protest and petitions were sent to various officials in a steady stream.
Stirred on by this fight for freedom and by nationwide publicity of the work, the publishers’ activity continued to prosper. Due to the disruption of mail services, however, it took time and hard work to get the organization back to its former efficient working basis. But after several months, with Jehovah’s help, this was done.
DIFFICULTIES UNDER BAN
The brothers experienced difficulties and pressures due to the ban conditions. Alex Miller remembers police breaking up a meeting where a number of brothers were being trained for the servant-to-the-brethren (circuit) work. However, by the time the first policeman, who discovered the meeting in progress, went back to tell his colleagues, the brothers had left the building via a railway embankment, and all got away safely.
Later the Society asked Brother Miller to go to Brisbane to take care of one of the congregations there. But how was he to get there? Train travel was restricted to military personnel or those traveling with orders from the government. Brother Miller thought about the problem for a while and then decided to go dressed as a clergyman! He succeeded in getting passage on the train, carrying two large suitcases filled with copies of the Yearbook, which had been printed underground. In this way the brothers in Queensland received their copies of the 1943 Yearbook.
Aubrey Baxter used another ruse to get literature into the hands of the brothers. He collected Children books in Brisbane and traveled by train to the far north of the state. At each place where there was a congregation he left the train with a carton of literature. Each time he tied a circular saw blade to the outside of the carton. Police always met the trains and passengers were scrutinized, but the circular saw blade and our brother were always allowed through!
Brother Baxter relates the type of suspicion that war hysteria had created in the minds of the authorities at that time: “One day at the Kingdom Farm in North Queensland two carloads of police and military men swooped in, wanting to know where the searchlight was that we were supposed to have used for the enemy’s benefit. It so happened that we had worked for several nights with a light shining on a dam that we were building. Another ludicrous charge was that we were supposed to have a field of corn planted in code so that the enemy could read it from the air! This ridiculous charge was, of course, also proved false.”
Brother Lloyd Barry, who later served as a missionary and branch overseer in Japan, and who is now a member of the Governing Body in New York, recalls with delight some of those difficult yet exciting times. He relates that the 1942 convention had to be held in household groups. Serving as chairman at the Melbourne convention that year, he remembers the tremendous effort the brothers made to present the program.
One large convention was out of the question, so the conventioners who had come from all parts of Victoria were distributed among 12 homes of the brothers. There were fifty or sixty in attendance each day at some of these homes. Each speaker would give his talk at all these locations, which meant his giving the same half-hour talk 12 times. Although the brothers did not hear the convention talks in the regular order, they were able to enjoy the entire program due to the fine efforts made by these traveling speakers.
During the convention Brother Barry stayed at the pioneer home in Hawthorne. All went well on the first day, but about five o’clock the next morning there was a cry from the front of the house: “Police!” It was an early-morning police raid!
Brother Barry had in his satchel a detailed outline of the program for the convention and written details on procedures to be followed if police should raid any of the convention meetings. This was really “hot” material, and there he was trapped in the back room of the house with it!
The police were now coming through the home, pulling out drawers and overturning things. First, he tried to stuff the satchel under the mattress of the bed, but it was obvious that it could be seen there. He went to the window, and sure enough, there was a plainclothes policeman standing at each corner of the house.
Looking out the window again a few moments later, Brother Barry saw one of the policemen momentarily leaving his post. Opening the window, Brother Barry threw the satchel as far as he could into the vegetable garden. What a wonderful sight to see it land amid a patch of cabbages and the cabbage leaves close over the top of it! The next moment the police were in the bedroom, pulling everything to pieces, asking probing questions, but they never did obtain that valuable information concerning our convention plans.
FURTHER RESTRICTIONS FOILED
The several Bethel departments had been decentralized and were working in underground offices in various parts of the city of Sydney. The Witnesses were able to work from door to door with the Bible only. This resulted in many home Bible studies being started with those who showed genuine interest on the first few calls. The work of preaching and disciple making continued to increase, in spite of the ban conditions.
When the authorities saw that the Kingdom work continued to prosper, they tried harder to disrupt it. Restriction orders were served on all the prominent brothers that they could find. These orders required each brother concerned to live in an isolated town or village. He was not allowed to move outside a five-mile (8-km) radius of the center of the town, under penalty of imprisonment.
The authorities restricted Australian branch overseer, Philip Rees, to the town of Picton, where he was kept under surveillance. Happily, the town was only 70 miles (110 km) out of Sydney. Though he was not permitted to move out of that town, there was no restriction on other brothers visiting him there. Hence, two nights each week the brothers who were not restricted, and who were keeping things going, stoked up a charcoal-gas car and drove out to Picton to meet with Brother Rees in a secluded ravine.
COURT ACTION TO LIFT BAN
In due course, the Society’s legal action against the Commonwealth came to trial in the High Court of Australia. Litigation was based on Section 116 of the Constitution, which forbade prohibiting the free exercise of religion. As there were no lawyers among the brothers, the Society was obliged to meet the high fees involved in securing the best counsel in the country, and they put up an excellent fight. The chief counsel for the Society told the brothers that, contrary to his expectations, he had so thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings and was so impressed with the sincerity of the brothers that he wished to reduce his fees.
Legal examination revealed that the edict that had brought forth the ban was in violation of the Constitution. The High Court of Australia is equivalent to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the case was heard by the trial judge, Mr. Justice Starke. This judge had no difficulty in seeing the injustice that the ban had perpetrated. Opposition lawyers tried to whip up an emotional case based on what the Society had said about the symbolic beasts of Revelation in volumes such as Light (Books One and Two). After listening to that kind of argument for an entire morning, the judge yawned and, looking at the clock, remarked: “The beasts have a hungry look—let’s adjourn for lunch.”
In his opinion, Mr. Justice Starke declared that the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses was “arbitrary, capricious and oppressive.” He recommended the lifting of the ban, but since the case was such an important one he referred it for final decision to the full High Court of five justices. The Court’s findings were in favor of the Society. This decision was handed down on June 15, 1943, one day after the notable decision in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the flag-salute case in the United States. Hence, the brothers in Australia rejoiced at the same time as their brothers in America over grand theocratic victories! Eventually the government returned all the Society’s property.
Commenting on the banning of the work and the subsequent lifting of the ban two and a half years later, Mr. Justice Brennan, a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, summed things up with heartwarming perception, when he said:
“A state of hysteria existed in our public life for some time after the outbreak of the present world disaster. When it became evident that our very existence was likely to be immediately threatened by an invasion of a foreign power, the hysteria became a panic. Jehovah’s Witnesses, as an organization, was set upon and was subsequently banned. When matters somewhat cooled down, the High Court of Australia, in its traditional British calmness, gave judgment against the banning of the organization and restored the Jehovah’s Witnesses its constitutional rights to religious freedom.”
Under ban conditions the number of Kingdom publishers had increased notably. From just over 2,500 for the 1940 service year the number rose to 4,328 reporting for the month after the ban was lifted. This was made possible by keeping the theocratic organization intact, even though it had to operate underground.
FLAG-SALUTE AND NEUTRALITY ISSUES
Shortly after the High Court victory, the flag-salute issue was discussed in newspaper articles. By the end of July 1943, there were 50 children who had been expelled from schools in the state of Victoria for refusing to salute the flag. Later an agreement was made with the authorities in Victoria that children of Jehovah’s Witnesses could make a brief declaration each Monday morning of their willingness to obey the laws of the land that were in harmony with the law of God.
In June of 1943, special pioneer Frank Grundy was sentenced to imprisonment for refusing to take the oath of enlistment in the army. His defense that as a minister of religion he was not required to take the oath was not upheld by the magistrate. An appeal was lodged. Eventually a written judgment, holding that Brother Grundy was a “minister of religion” within the meaning of the Defence Act, was handed down by the higher court. This judgment became an accepted precedent of inestimable value in gaining recognition for other representatives of the Society.
These favorable decisions preceded a noticeable change in the attitude of magistrates when hearing the claims of young men of Jehovah’s Witnesses for exemption from military service as ministers of religion.
Even as World War II had ended, prejudice whipped up by superpatriots and their religious allies continued to have its effect. From April 27 to 29, 1945, a series of conventions featuring the public talk “The Meek Inherit the Earth” was arranged for 14 cities throughout Australia. In most of these cities the conventions were held without interference. However, the situation was different in Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. Here, while Hubert Clift was introducing the speaker, Bill Carnie (later to become branch overseer in Hong Kong), a large group of soldiers entered the hall, creating an uproar and demanding that the program start with the national anthem. One group made a rush at the sound equipment. However, a brother who had previously been a well-known boxer was guarding this equipment. He warned the men that if they tried to do damage to the Society’s property, he would have to protect it. After two of them had failed to heed the warning, the remainder very quickly retired with cries of, “We thought they wouldn’t fight!” But the uproar continued. It was impossible to control the intruders, and the meeting had to be canceled.
It seemed important, however, that this message should be delivered to the people of Adelaide, as it had been to the people in 13 other main cities of Australia. Hence three brothers, Philip Rees, Lloyd Barry and Norman Barnett, flew over from Sydney to Adelaide to organize a further campaign and meeting.
Brother Barnett used to relate that he had been the fourth volunteer accepted for enlistment for overseas service in the Australian army during World War I. Captain Barnett had suffered severe shrapnel wounds during the Anzac landing at Gallipoli in April 1915. However, he later became a valiant fighter for the Kingdom interests. His function in the campaign of Adelaide was to visit various returned soldiers’ meetings, introducing himself as “Anzac No. 4” and then reasoning with these men on the attitude they should show toward Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this way, he was able to give a very effective witness.
At the same time the other brothers wrote up a special issue of Kingdom News. This was then dictated over the telephone to Sydney. As each section was typed out it was handed to the Linotype operator in the Society’s factory. Within a period of hours this Kingdom News was not only typeset, composed and printed but was on its way to Adelaide by air freight. Twenty-five thousand copies were available for distribution by the South Australian publishers on the Saturday prior to the public talk, which was again scheduled, this time for the Adelaide Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
During the distribution of the Kingdom News, in the suburb of Glenelg, three brothers, including two of the visitors from Sydney, were accosted in the street by a large mob of soldiers. These ruffians seized the brothers’ literature bags and strewed their magazines over the street. They demanded that the brothers put up their hands and fight. However, the brothers stalled matters for about an hour by trying to reason with them from the Scriptures. But suddenly the mob dispersed, as into thin air. What had happened? Looking down the street, the beleaguered brothers could see someone coming from the next corner. It was no other than the former boxer who had so ably protected the Society’s sound equipment on the occasion of the first meeting. The mob had no stomach for facing him again.
Shaken by this hard experience, the brothers returned by streetcar to the Adelaide Kingdom Hall. There was Norman Barnett standing on the steps of the Hall, and when he saw them he waved at them with a copy of a newspaper in his hand. Looking at the newspaper, they were thrilled to find that the evening Adelaide News, with a circulation of some seventy-five thousand copies, had reprinted most of the Kingdom News word for word on its front page, without comment. Taking their cue from this, radio stations that had refused paid advertisements up to this time started freely to announce the forthcoming public lecture as part of the news.
Again on Sunday morning the publishers in the field were delighted to be able to distribute the Kingdom News, including an invitation to the talk “The Meek Inherit the Earth” to be given that afternoon. Many fine experiences were enjoyed. Those who at first showed opposition were introduced to the previous evening’s Adelaide News. Many changed their attitude then and there, gladly accepting a copy of Kingdom News. Sunday afternoon, despite threats of violence, the lecture was given as advertised, at the Kingdom Hall, which was packed full to overflowing, with many listening out on the road. There was frequent applause from a most enthusiastic audience. Thus Jehovah provided a far greater witness than would have been given if the opposing superpatriots had refrained from interfering with the initial lecture scheduled at Glenelg.
SERIOUS SPIRITUAL DIFFICULTIES FOR AUSTRALIA
It started to become evident that all was not well with the work in Australia and that Jehovah’s blessing was not flowing as it should be. The first hint was a drop of publishers from an average of 3,898 in 1944 to 3,532 in 1945. At first the decline was attributed to circumstances of the time. But when the decline continued the following year to 3,294 publishers, there was cause for genuine concern. With the war over, most countries were enjoying stimulating increases. The series of legal victories should have fired the brothers with greater zeal and enthusiasm.
Voicing concern, Philip Rees commented in the report sent for the 1946 Yearbook: “During the hard years of opposition, particularly 1943 and 1944, a greater witness was given by more publishers, putting in more hours, than was done during the service year of 1945. Beyond understanding though it is, the vision of some has dimmed and they have lapsed into irregularity or in some cases even into inactivity. In discussion, these brethren usually agree that there is much to be done and that there is a responsibility resting upon them. Because they lack the flow of the holy spirit, however, they are slow to shake off their lethargy.”
The commercial activities of the previous five years now began to take their toll. During the years of war and ban, they had provided a means of supporting many former full-time servants who could not carry on their pioneer service because of the ban. However, the organization had actually gone too far by establishing commercial enterprises, and this had had a disturbing effect on many brothers.
RESTORATION OF JEHOVAH’S BLESSING ON THE BRANCH
As soon as he was in a position to do so, Brother Rees took steps to liquidate these enterprises. But it was a very hard process, involving the lives of many who had accepted this kind of service in support of the organization. The adjustments were made, however, and by the time Brother Rees was called to the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in 1946, the enterprises had been completely cleared out.
Nevertheless, mistakes had been made over those years, and something was needed to clear the air. Then all the brothers could again press forward wholeheartedly in the all-essential work of Kingdom preaching. The first visit to Australia by the Watch Tower president Nathan Knorr in March 1947 provided the occasion for this.
Brother Knorr dealt forthrightly with the situation. Accompanied by the acting branch overseer, Brother Laurie Wills, he visited all the provincial capitals of the Australian states. He talked plainly to the brothers about the situation that had existed. Then he presented a resolution for their consideration.
Following is the full text of the resolution adopted by the brothers in assembly in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Brisbane and Sydney:
“THAT we may enter with clean hands and hearts upon the blessed postwar privileges of service which our brethren in all other lands are enjoying, we do not wish to shield ourselves from any due responsibility for this falling off, both in publishers of God’s Kingdom and in the publication of the Kingdom message.
“THEREFORE, that no secret faults may cling to us, we desire herewith, in the presence of Jehovah God and His King Jesus Christ, to confess that during World War II we put forth our hands in various ways to the iniquity of this world at war; we put various properties of God’s consecrated people to what we now realize was a part of the war effort and propaganda, thereby violating the true neutrality of all footstep followers of Christ Jesus who were in the world but not authorized to be part of it. This, as is very evident to us now, has not had Jehovah’s blessing. It has brought reproach and misunderstanding with respect to his name and cause, and has troubled and weakened the brethren. We do not wish to shift the blame for this course of conduct upon any particular one or ones, but wish humbly to confess to a common responsibility for this matter here in Australia.
“THEREFORE, we, Jehovah’s witnesses in this great Continent, do hereby confess our sins and faults and shortcomings openly and jointly before Him and we do ask his forgiveness and mercy through Christ Jesus, that he may blot out our transgressions. Trusting in his gracious restoration of us to his favor, we declare our purpose to walk more circumspectly through this postwar period, turning away from worldliness and seeking to maintain our integrity henceforth unspotted from the world.”
Tears of joy filled the eyes of men and women as the occasion had at last arrived when, jointly, the Australian brothers could plead for Jehovah’s forgiveness.
During his visit to Australia, Brother Knorr could see that a fresh administration was needed, so he appointed as branch overseer Floyd Garrett, who had been sent to Australia the previous year from the United States. Brother Garrett had received training in the first class of Gilead School and at the Brooklyn headquarters. He soon endeared himself to all the Bethel family, as well as to the Australian brothers.
A fellow graduate from the first class of Gilead, Benjamin Mason, had come with Brother Garrett and was appointed as district overseer. The service of these brothers was most effective, as they had received fine training in the Society’s new arrangements for the postwar period.
Semiannual circuit assemblies began in February 1947, with the first being held in Perth. Moreover, from their inception in 1948, district conventions were to stand out as milestones in spiritual progress. A postwar circuit overseer remembered by many was Adrian Thompson, who covered every section of Australia before leaving in 1947 with the first contingent of 17 students for Gilead School; later he was to serve as Japan’s first circuit overseer.
From the beginning of 1948, three more circuit overseers went into the Australian field. These brothers, John Cutforth, Donald MacLean and Robert Smart, had arrived from Canada following training at Gilead School.
Before the three brothers left Brooklyn Bethel for their voyage to Australia by ship, Brother Knorr called them into his office and explained the special reason for their being sent to Australia. Their aim was to work hard to counter the depressed spirit many brothers felt because of the events of the World War II years and the mistakes that had been made. By encouraging and building up the brothers, accompanied by a strong lead in the house-to-house ministry, much good could be achieved. Undoubtedly the faithful service and example of brothers such as these contributed in no small measure to fine spiritual progress in the following years.
When assigned to a circuit that covered hundreds of miles, Brother MacLean served the congregations by means of a motorcycle. This was a difficult means of transportation on some of the Australian country roads of the late 1940’s. We will let him relate some of his first impressions of this new and strange land:
“We newcomers experienced some fascinating moments in traveling through remote, isolated areas. My first encounter with a flock of emus [huge, ostrich-like birds] was interesting, but unnerving. On my way through an outback area on the motorcycle, I met a family of emus blocking my passage. They are extremely curious birds and were apparently fascinated by the flashing of my chrome mirror and handlebars in the sunlight. Not knowing how to treat an emu, I hesitated to rush through the flock and possibly risk my life, so I stopped the vehicle. Having no intention of moving, the big birds stood there for some time, so I decided to make the first move.
“I blew the horn and roared the motor. The emus only moved closer, their curiosity increasing. This was rather frightening, so I backed off a little, blew the horn and roared the motor again. But the emus moved even closer! I decided to take my chances and charge through the flock, which even then only slightly parted to allow me to go through. As soon as I got through, the birds began to give chase alongside the road. It was only when I reached about forty m.p.h. [64 k.p.h.] that I was able to leave those huge birds behind, much to my relief!”
Brother MacLean’s motorcycling days are now, of course, well in the past. In 1951 he married an Australian sister, and since then he and his wife, June, have continued faithfully in the circuit and district work in every part of Australia right up to the present time.
Toward the end of 1948 Benjamin Mason was called to Bethel from the district work, and Brother Cutforth was appointed to care for the work of district overseer. At this time there was just one district for the whole country, consisting of 14 circuits. So the overseer had to cover many thousands of miles as he served circuit assemblies twice each year. For nine years Brother Cutforth continued in this service, becoming known and loved throughout this vast land. Still remembered are his vivid word pictures and illustrations, as well as his kind approachability and willingness to take time to listen to problems of brothers and sisters of all age groups, no matter how pressing his schedule. In 1957 Brother Cutforth left Australia to work in Papua New Guinea, where he still serves despite advancing years and poor health.
Brother Cutforth told about one circuit assembly he served in western Queensland: “A few hundred brothers from Queensland journeyed hundreds of miles westward to Goondiwindi for our first circuit assembly there. Since no hall was available, a very large tent was brought out from Brisbane and erected on a vacant lot. Earlier in the week heavy rains had been falling. On Saturday, torrents of rain fell, and our circuit activity meeting was almost a ‘washout.’ Sunday the rains eased off and the sun shone for the public talk, but the townspeople knew that the effects of these heavy rains were not over. The nearby river would become higher and higher as floodwaters would reach the town in some hours. Sure enough, floodwaters started lapping into our tent. Soon they were swirling around and we were walking knee-deep in water, with slime, snakes and debris all around. The waters ran through the stores in the town, in the front doors and out the back. Our cafeteria was under water. What a job the cafeteria servant had as he fed a few hundred of us until the following Wednesday, when the waters had abated sufficiently to allow all safely to return to their homes!”
The circuit overseers stressed the need for personal study, as well as conducting home Bible studies with interested persons. With increased Bible studies came more publishers and expanded activity throughout the land. A comment in the report for the 1949 service year states: “The large attendances of good-will people at the circuit assemblies and [congregation] public talks show there is no lack of interested persons in this land. Multitudes desire the truth and want to serve the true God, Jehovah. Now that the vision of the brethren is increasing as a result of more private study, they are beginning to perceive that the ‘harvest is truly plenteous.’”
STIMULATING PROGRESS IN THE 1950’S
Excitement mounted in early 1951 as the second visit of Brothers N. H. Knorr and M. G. Henschel drew near. What a different atmosphere greeted the travelers from Brooklyn headquarters for this visit! It was in sharp contrast to four years earlier when it had been necessary to deal with deep-seated problems. Truly Jehovah had blessed the work of his servants as they went to work with renewed zeal and cleansed Christian consciences after adopting the resolution put to them by Brother Knorr.
This 10-day visit was highlighted by a national convention at the Moorefield Park Racecourse in Sydney. Outstanding at this assembly was the Memorial celebration, which was celebrated in the open stands of the convention grounds. As Brother Knorr spoke, and later the emblems of unleavened bread and red wine were passed around, the bright, full moon shone serenely from a cloudless sky over Botany Bay.
By this time Floyd Garrett had returned to the United States, and Roy Moyle had been looking after the responsibilities of branch oversight prior to Brother Knorr’s arrival in March 1951. During this visit, Brother Moyle received an invitation to attend the 18th class of Gilead School. He subsequently returned to Australia, where he continues to serve as an elder in one of the Brisbane congregations.
Soon afterward Theodore Jaracz was sent to Australia as branch overseer. He greatly encouraged the brothers throughout the country by his zeal for theocratic orderliness and a fine lead in the field. He often took the opportunity to serve circuit assemblies reasonably close to the branch office in the role of district overseer. After some five years in the Australian branch, Brother Jaracz returned to the United States, where he and Sister Jaracz now serve at the Society’s headquarters, Brother Jaracz being a member of the Governing Body.
THE CHALLENGE OF REACHING REMOTE AREAS
“Unassigned territory” work began in 1952, and probably few countries in the world would have as great a challenge as does Australia with its great stretches of isolated inland areas. For many years it had been a source of concern as to how these remote parts of the country could be reached more regularly with the Kingdom message. Faithful brothers had worked the isolated regions in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but they had really only scratched the surface as far as preaching and disciple-making work was concerned.
Enthusiastically, the brothers developed this field of activity. Trucks, cars, motorcycles, camping gear and large stocks of literature were all readied for trips extending from a few miles to many hundreds of miles. One congregation asked for an assignment of territory that was 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from their home base. A three-ton truck was prepared for the trip, with a motorcycle and several bicycles in the back, along with supplies. Several cars joined the truck, and some months were spent working that territory assignment.
One small congregation held a permanent territory assignment stretching over six hundred miles (960 km). One brother called at a home where he remembered placing literature back in 1933. After a brief conversation, the householder was able to recollect the previous visit, accepting all the latest publications and subscriptions for both magazines. After the brother witnessed to the aboriginal employees, the host and hostess accompanied him to the gate and, with beaming faces, said they hoped another 19 years would not pass before he was able to revisit them!
In some areas the territory was assigned to groups of regular and special pioneers rather than to congregations. These brothers had to live under primitive conditions in many cases, but the spirit they showed was reminiscent of the pioneer spirit of the early 1930’s.
One such group in the northwest of New South Wales lived in an old abandoned house. The brothers would travel many miles to calls and witness from property to property using bicycles. They sometimes had little to eat and generally, in that area, the people’s response to the truth was slow, but this did not dampen their spirit. When Brother John Wilson, circuit overseer at that time, visited this group, he recommended that they make fresh return calls on all those who had shown any interest, even though the interest may have appeared to have waned.
This unassigned territory campaign and the groups of pioneers working such areas meant that the whole of the Australian field was receiving a fine witness. Congregation after congregation sprouted up in these country towns.
With the arrival of the film “New World Society in Action” the brothers were introduced for the first time by motion pictures to the international magnitude of Jehovah’s organization. The precision of the operations of the Society’s factories, office procedures and facilities at the world headquarters helped the brothers to feel closer to the “mother” organization. This film was shown throughout the country in towns and cities to packed halls.
The year 1954 saw the average number of publishers in the country rise to 6,874. The number of circuits increased to 21, and there were now 3 districts. Donald MacLean became the second district overseer, with another brother serving part-time in this capacity.
In March of 1956 Brother Knorr made his third visit, at which time we held a national convention in the same Sydney Sports Ground that had been used during the visit of Brother Rutherford in 1938. The 1956 convention drew an attendance of 8,149.
It was in November 1956 that a new branch overseer, Douglas Held, from Canada, took oversight in Australia, supervising the work for seven years. The work continued to expand without letup during the latter part of the 1950’s. The 10,000 mark was exceeded for the first time in 1957 with a new peak of 10,290 publishers. Just 10 years earlier the number of publishers had been 3,516.
Bible students continued to come from the ranks of tens of thousands of migrants pouring into the country from Europe each year. An urgent call was sent out to brothers in Western Australia to consider serving in the eastern states where most of these migrants settled, thus making the need there much greater.
Western Australia had always had a much higher number of publishers in proportion to population than the other states. When Brother Theodore Jaracz was branch overseer, he made an announcement at one of the Perth district assemblies that was to become almost legendary. Speaking directly to the spiritually prosperous and expanding West Australians, he said: “You make ’em, and we’ll take ’em!” This saying really caught on, and brothers and sisters from all parts of Western Australia responded marvelously to this call for assistance. To this day many of those who answered the call to ‘step over and help us’ (Acts 16:9) from the West are filling key positions of responsibility in eastern cities and towns where congregations have developed from “barren soil.”
During the decade from 1950 to 1960 the publisher ranks increased from 4,502 to 12,746, with a peak of 14,090 in the field.
As the years passed, problems caused by lack of transportation over the tremendous distances around the country diminished. More and more centers began to be served by regular air, rail and coach lines, and roads were greatly improved. In 1961 a “first” in Australian history was recorded when brothers from various parts of Australia attended a district assembly in the isolated city of Darwin. Brothers from all over the country were invited to travel to the convention. Chartered coaches set out from Adelaide in the south, Sydney in the southeast and Queensland in the east. This was the first time that coaches had attempted to cross the thousands of miles to the northernmost city of Australia. Prior to this the only links with the other centers had been by rail or air. After the success of the convention and the coach journey, two commercial coach lines opened up regular services over the same routes.
Assemblies stand out as milestones in the lives of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia, as in other countries of the world. One such was the convention held in Melbourne in the wintry month of August 1963, as one of the series of Around-the-World “Everlasting Good News” Assemblies. Newspaper reports of the assembly said: “Melbourne has seen some marvelous conferences . . . but I don’t think we have ever seen anything like the ‘Everlasting Good News’ Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . When F. W. Franz, [the then] vice-president of the Watch Tower Society, was to give his address, ‘When God Is King Over All the Earth,’ over 12,000 were jammed into the huge Sheep Pavilion [of the Melbourne Showground].” The actual attendance was 13,142, including 682 who listened to the talk in German, Greek or Italian.
By the beginning of the 1964 service year, 15,045 Witnesses were serving Jehovah God throughout the land. Three hundred and eighty-five congregations were served by 29 circuits and 3 districts. During this year a journey was undertaken by two young pioneer brothers that was to take in territory never before worked.
The proposed preaching expedition was to cross the Nullarbor Plain, the treeless desert stretch that spans 720 miles (1,160 km) between South Australia and Western Australia. Once across the desert, the pioneers would head due north across the wilderness center of Western Australia until reaching the northwest coast of Australia. From there the coast would be followed to Darwin. Thirty-four years previously, Brothers Bert Horton and Frank Rice had driven their vehicle across this desolate area on their way to Sydney, witnessing to the few settlements found along the dirt-track road. Since then, occasionally pioneers had also crossed this desert plain, witnessing along the way. None of these expeditions, however, followed the railway track instead of the regular highway. The brothers making the 1964 trip intended to reach the men working in gangs on the railway.
Two pioneer brothers in northwest Queensland were asked by the branch office to work their way south to Sydney. From there they would cross the Nullarbor Plain to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and go north to Port Hedland, Broome, Derby, Wyndham and then across to Mount Isa in Queensland for the district assembly in October 1964. The two brothers, Frank Lambert and Terry Reynolds, set out in June for the Sydney branch office.
Between Mount Isa and Sydney they traversed the infamous Birdsville Track, a dangerous stretch of barren, unsealed desert road stretching for over five hundred miles (800 km). A few months earlier an entire family had lost their lives on this inhospitable stretch of road. Their car had broken down, and because of not carrying sufficient water, father, mother and children all perished. The pioneer brothers were glad that they safely reached the small town of Bourke in western New South Wales, and from there on to Sydney they witnessed along the way.
At Bethel some work was done on the Land-Rover vehicle, and Brother Lambert, with a new partner, Harold Burkett, set out to cross Australia.
On July 15 they left “civilization” at Port Augusta in South Australia and headed west alongside the railway line toward Kalgoorlie. Sometimes not even a rough track was visible. At one property they were greeted with the words: “There is only one religion that I have any time for—and that is Jehovah’s Witnesses!” Needless to say, the brothers were thrilled with this announcement. Arrangements were made for a study of the Bible to be resumed by mail with these people, as they had lost touch with the truth since moving to this isolated property. After an evening spent in Bible discussion, the two pioneers left next day with full tanks of fuel and a sheep that had been slaughtered for them the day before.
Sometimes they would have to travel through drifting sand hills for miles at a time, necessitating the continuous use of four-wheel drive. During one particularly heavy section, they were startled by a loud bang from underneath the vehicle. Examination revealed that the crown wheel and pinion in the differential had broken. Brother Lambert set off to walk along the railway track to the nearest small town. When he had covered about five miles (8 km), a railway linesman met him in a small motorized rail trolley and gave him a ride for the rest of the way. After telegraphing for the parts to make repairs on their vehicle, they had to wait eight days, allowing time for a thorough witness to the small town of railway workers.
At last, on August 11, the two pioneers arrived at Kalgoorlie and the congregation there gave them a warm welcome. The trip from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, including the time lost because of the breakdown, had taken five weeks. They had covered 1,395 miles (2,245 km), spent a total of 426 hours in field service, and placed in the hands of workers and families 606 magazines, 48 books, 15 booklets, 16 subscriptions and conducted two public meetings.
After leaving Kalgoorlie and heading north into the wilderness region of the center of Western Australia, things went more smoothly. Without any further major mishaps the two brothers finally arrived back at Mount Isa, just in time for the district assembly there in October 1964. They were both very grateful for the experience of this eventful trip involving many miles of desolate stretches of inland Australia.
BRANCH ADJUSTMENT AND STIMULATING ASSEMBLIES
On January 3, 1964, branch overseer Douglas Held left for the United States to attend Gilead School and to serve again in his native Canada. Melbourne-born John Wilson, who had spent eight years in the traveling work, was appointed in his place.
Interestingly, quite a number of brothers who served as circuit overseers and in other capacities in Australia later became branch overseers (or coordinators) in various parts of the world: brothers such as Robert Lazenby, who served in New Zealand; Maxwell Lloyd in Paraguay; Donald Clare in Fiji; Douglas King in Sri Lanka; Harvey Logan in Taiwan; William Carnie and later Kenneth Gannaway in Hong Kong; Ronald Jacka in Indonesia; Norman Bellotti in Singapore; Joseph Jenkins in Cyprus; Keith Young in Pakistan; Alfred Wicke in Malaysia; Lloyd Barry in Japan; James Smith in Papua New Guinea and Glenn Finlay in the Solomon Islands.
The “God’s Sons of Liberty” District Assembly in 1966 resulted in an upsurge in the ranks of the pioneers. From 758 that year, the number climbed until the total of 1,946 was reached in 1970.
With the arrival of 1969, the grand international assembly to be held in Melbourne and another visit by Brother Knorr occupied the thoughts of the brothers. This assembly precipitated the largest movement of brothers ever in Australia. Six special trains came from different parts of the country, in addition to about forty coaches and many chartered aircraft. The opening day of the previous international assembly, held in 1963, saw close to seven thousand in attendance; but in 1969, just six years later, this figure was trebled! The peak attendance of 26,075 showed the fine spirit of the brothers, as many of them came thousands of miles to attend.
ENTERING THE 1970’S
The 1970’s saw great changes in both theocratic and commercial areas of life throughout the country. There were just over twenty thousand publishers of the Kingdom and by the end of the decade more than thirty thousand.
In the northwest of the continent, mining boomtowns sprang up virtually overnight, and the preaching work followed soon thereafter. The administrator of an iron-mining town said of the town’s inhabitants: “Most are of non-Australian birth—like me, 17 years in this country but born German. We’re a melting pot and that’s good.” The towns of Port Hedland, Dampier, Exmouth, and Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula, dormant for years, started to grow at a staggering rate as mineral discoveries were made. This has caused a shifting in population, and pioneers have been assigned to reach the people there.
High wages and opportunities for quick material gain in these mining towns often make interest in spiritual things hard to stimulate. However, here and there interested persons are found. District overseer Donald MacLean tells of one such thrilling response:
“My companion and I were finding the going difficult in this very unresponsive part of the territory. Finally, in response to another negative reaction to our doorstep approach, I said: ‘All we wish to do is simply find people with a sincere heart who are fed up with this ungodly system and long for God’s Kingdom to take over!’ To our amazement she looked me right in the eye, paused, and then said, almost demandingly: ‘Come in. Sit down. I have something I want to ask you!’
“Somewhat stunned, we entered and were drilled with about five questions, which were basic matters of concern to most thinking people today. The answers took no more than twenty-five minutes. Within that short time this sincere young married woman accepted the truth! She explained that for several days prior to our visit she had ‘put God on the line’ and in prayer had said that unless someone answered her questions, she would give up belief in God, the Bible and religion. We both felt humbled and privileged to have been used by Jehovah in such a dramatic way to answer her prayers almost immediately.
“Her next concern was for her husband to hear the ‘good news.’ He was a Canadian mining engineer. As I had come to Australia from Canada after graduating from Gilead School, what better rapport than for a Canadian to witness to a fellow Canadian! I was soon to find out how wrong this assumption had been. After a rather fruitless discussion of some length, he stomped out of the room in disgust, as he was told that all of us are born in a condemned state due to being sons of imperfect Adam.
“When my wife and I left the following week to attend the next circuit assembly, this call was handed over to a young pioneer couple who had recently begun full-time work. The brother was not well educated and spoke slowly, having come from the cane fields area of north Queensland. He was such a contrast to the Canadian engineer that we really wondered whether he would be able to make any progress with this proud intellectual. But once again the eternal truth that it is ‘God who makes it grow’ proved correct. (1 Cor. 3:7) The very warmth, sincerity and happy spirit of the pioneer brother gradually wore down the hard shell of the crusty Canadian until he agreed to a regular home Bible study and accepted the truth!”
A DECADE OF THEOCRATIC CHANGES
In this 10-year period changes of a far-reaching effect have been experienced also in theocratic matters. The end of 1971 and beginning of 1972 saw the introduction of the elder and ministerial servant arrangement. Looking back over the 10 years since then, one can see the tremendous spiritual advantages that have come to congregations as a whole, as well as to publishers individually.
Later these same benefits flowed when branch administration was moved from the care of just one man to a group of mature and experienced elders. Here in Australia, Brother John Wilson was appointed branch coordinator, and the other four brothers of the Branch Committee were Wallace Baxter, Maxwell Lloyd, David Madzay and Ronald Walters.
ASSEMBLY HALLS APPEAR
It was also in the decade of the 1970’s that Assembly Halls were acquired. In Sydney, a clothing factory that had closed down was purchased in July 1974, and by the end of September that same year, a fine Assembly Hall had been created, capable of holding 1,600 people.
In December 1975 the beautiful Assembly Hall in the picturesque suburb of Ridgehaven in Adelaide was dedicated. The hall is situated on five tastefully landscaped acres. Just two years later, on 10 acres of land less than 10 miles (16 km) from the heart of Perth, the third Assembly Hall was dedicated at Welshpool. This Assembly Hall is also set in attractive surroundings, with a refreshing stream flowing through the landscaped grounds.
In 1982 another Assembly Hall was completed, in Melbourne. It is the largest of the four halls built so far. Capacity crowds of up to 3,000 can be accommodated here, and the 40 acres of ground provide much scope for landscaping and beautification in the years ahead.
IMMIGRATION BRINGS VARIETY AND THEOCRATIC GROWTH
For decades the Australian government has pushed its immigration plan, believing that this sparsely populated island continent urgently needs more people. By the mid-1970’s about 40 percent of Australia’s population had either been born overseas or were descendants of overseas parents. This number included many Witnesses who were not very much at home with the English language. The migration of so many people from other lands to Australia also provided large tracts of non-English-speaking territories.
During 1974 and 1975 there were 14 ethnic congregations formed, and this number has since risen to 52. Now there are congregations speaking Arabic, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish and Serbo-Croatian. Their meetings are conducted entirely in their respective languages. Recently small groups of Chinese, French and Vietnamese have also been formed. A great deal of the increase in recent years has come from these ethnic congregations and groups. Circuits have been formed consisting entirely of congregations in the Greek and Italian languages. Circuit assembly and district convention sessions are held in all the above-listed languages, in addition to the English programs.
BRANCH OFFICE ENLARGEMENT
One of the most tangible evidences of growth in Australia took place during the 1970’s. This was the enlargement, in 1972, of the Bethel home, offices and factory to about four times its previous size. The entire construction was performed by volunteer labor under the oversight of Roy Battle, a brother who is an experienced builder.
The brothers responded magnificently with contributions toward construction costs. A brother handed the branch overseer an old playing-card box, which, when opened, revealed no less than $1,000. An elderly pioneer brother sold a house and made an outright donation of $10,000 to the Society, with an additional $10,000 given as a loan.
The resultant three-story building added 32,000 square feet (3,000 sq m) of floor space to our original 8,000-square-foot (750 sq m) building. Dedication of the new structure took place in January 1973.
GROWTH IN KINGDOM PUBLISHERS
The 1976 service year saw a new peak of 29,101 Kingdom publishers. Perhaps some were disappointed when their expectations of dramatic events failed to take place in that year. This test of our motives for serving Jehovah may have had some bearing on the fact that the publisher figures did not reach this total again for over three years. Then in January 1979, we reached a new peak of 29,247 publishers. Happily, a steady, healthy growth in those publicly praising Jehovah has been seen since then, with over thirty thousand reporting during the year of 1980. By August 1981 a peak of 31,898 had been reached, and five more peaks in the 1982 service year brought the publisher figure up to 33,982 in April.
ANOTHER THRILLING ENLARGEMENT—A COMPLETE NEW BETHEL COMPLEX
In February 1977 we enjoyed a visit by Brother Milton Henschel of the Governing Body, serving as zone overseer. Over fourteen thousand persons attended the two talks he gave in Brisbane and Sydney. During his visit, the proposal was made to make further enlargement to the branch headquarters.
Situated approximately twenty miles (32 km) southwest of the existing branch headquarters in Strathfield is the Society’s Kingdom Farm. It occupies about a hundred acres of the choice heights of Ingleburn at Denham Court. This is a fine location, elevated and semirural, yet situated just under thirty miles (48 km) from the heart of Sydney with its busy seaport. What better place could there be for a larger new Bethel complex! The proposed new structure was planned to be three times the size of the existing complex in Strathfield.
Just as had been experienced with the enlargement of the Strathfield premises in 1972, response by the brothers and sisters in volunteering their time and skills has been outstanding. For those unable to be present physically, the support in financial and other ways has been marvelous.
There was a regular construction Bethel family of about one hundred and thirty for more than a year on the project. Many brothers, some skilled in construction work, were not able to devote full time to the project. So special arrangements were made to have groups of 50 at a time from all states of the Commonwealth come to spend periods of up to two weeks working and living on the site. Some busloads came the long distance of 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Perth, and these groups stayed for three to four weeks each time. As portions of the factory and office sections of the complex were completed, these were turned into dormitories to house the brothers making up these groups of 50. Most of them came without their wives and families for the two-week period. One of the brothers on the building committee said: “I think the two-week program was a highlight of our working arrangement, and it has run very smoothly and has been a tremendous help.”
One group of 20 brothers from Perth hired their own minibus, towing a trailer for their luggage. Three of their number did the driving in shifts so that the long trip could be made in three days. Another group of 40 came by means of a larger coach hired from a commercial company. Brothers from various congregations along the way would meet the buses and provide refreshments, meals, accommodations and shower facilities. Christian love and genuine concern for one another were shown.
As so often happens on long trips, the coaches did not always arrive on schedule. This meant that on one occasion brothers had been waiting at the Kingdom Hall with breakfast prepared at five o’clock in the morning. The coach did not arrive until 10:15 a.m. But there were no hurt feelings, just much pleasure and joy at being able to care for the weary travelers who were volunteering a few weeks of their time toward the sacred service of sharing in Bethel construction.
A brother, speaking on behalf of one of the groups with which he made the trip from Western Australia, relates: “Our schedule showed that we were to have lunch with a brother and his family at his farm, which was a few miles off the beaten track at Minnipa in South Australia. This farmhouse is also their Kingdom Hall, and there are only four publishers in the congregation. Distances are great in this area—the brother’s farm covers 4,000 acres. But here these few brothers spread a fantastic meal for the 40 of us!
“When we arrived at Port Pirie we went to the Kingdom Hall, where we found, across the center of the hall, a row of tables laden with beautiful food ready to eat. There was about twice as much food as we could eat, so we were given food and fruit to eat along the way.
“It was 9:30 p.m. when we arrived at the Adelaide Assembly Hall, where we were to stay that night. We were shown two rows of beds all ready, complete with pillows and towels. What a welcome sight after a night and two days spent in the coach! After a good night’s sleep and a tasty breakfast, we loaded up and said farewell at 7:15 a.m. The local brothers had supplied all our needs. Some of them had come in from a long way out, and a few of them had to rise at 3:30 a.m. to help take care of our needs. Where else would we find such great love but in Jehovah’s organization?”
Outstanding contributions of loving efforts, as well as material assets, have been made by brothers from every corner of the country. In the far north of Queensland brothers cut down trees, milled the timber themselves and others transported it in four semitrailer loads, making a donation of this finished timber to the Society. Some idea of the extent of the brothers’ generosity can be gained when it is realized that each of the four round trips was over four thousand miles (6,400 km) and the estimated value of the timber, if it had been purchased locally, was between $60,000 and $70,000.
In multitudes of small ways, thousands of brothers and sisters had a share in contributing to the overall effort. An example of all being willing to help was when the Society was able to make a good purchase of one ton of fish freshly caught at Batemans Bay, a town on the south coast of New South Wales, situated 180 miles (290 km) from the construction site. The brothers in the local congregation all got together and took on the massive task of cleaning the fish and then delivered it to Ingleburn.
The final section of the complex to be completed was the dining room, kitchen and living quarters for the Bethel family. The family moved out of their previous home during February 1982, in time for the new owners of the Strathfield buildings to take occupancy.
For some of the older members of the family, such as George Gibb and Maude Johnston, who had lived at the Bethel home in Strathfield since it was transferred from Melbourne in 1929, there was, of course, a tinge of sadness at saying “good-bye” to the old home. Others who have been in the family for 40 or more years—Wallace Baxter, Charles Randall (who subsequently died at the age of 87 on May 18, 1982), Madge Dunham, Vi Horton, Linda Moir and Melva Wieland—also felt a degree of nostalgia when it came to leaving the home they had grown to love for so many years. But what excitement these older ones showed, along with the rest of the Bethel family, at being settled into their comfortable rooms in the beautiful new Bethel home at Ingleburn! Those who have been part of the Bethel family for so many years are so grateful to have lived to see the thrilling expansion Jehovah has granted, which has made such a new complex necessary!
FURTHER PROGRESS AND CHANGES
With the move to new premises at Denham Court, Ingleburn, came other changes, too. To keep in step with the rest of the worldwide printing facilities of the Society, a Heidelberg offset press was installed at the new factory premises. An IBM Selectronic Composer now does most of the work previously done on the Linotype machines. Photographic, platemaking and other necessary equipment for the graphics section of the prepress work needed for preparation of the offset printing was also installed. This will eventually replace all the older hot-metal type of preparation and platemaking for letterpress printing.
A further change took place in branch administration with the arrival of Brother Harold V. (Viv) Mouritz and his wife, Ann, on September 1, 1981. Brother Mouritz had served in the Australian Bethel as a young man prior to his marriage in the early 1950’s and then shared in circuit work and other full-time activity before attending the 33rd class of Gilead in 1959. Since that year Brother and Sister Mouritz served at the Bethel home in Finland. At the invitation of the Governing Body, they have come to join the Australian Bethel family once again, where Brother Mouritz is a member of the Branch Committee and serves as branch coordinator.
Now, in 1982, the small group of brothers who associated in ecclesiae around the country back in 1904 at the time of the branch’s formation have grown to about thirty-four thousand publishers. The pioneer ranks are also growing month by month. April 1982 saw 67,724 gather for the celebration of the Memorial of Christ Jesus’ death. The work is obviously not yet finished in this part of the world field, and while Jehovah God allows the time for it his people are determined to keep on preaching, by his undeserved kindness and with the strength that he supplies.
Among the men who have been privileged to care for branch oversight, two betrayed their trust, causing many of those associated during the dawn of the work to lose faith. By far the majority of the brothers, however, have remained faithful to Jehovah God and loyal to his organization. The results are to be seen in the strong band of brothers throughout the country in this day.
The pioneers, old and young, the many circuit overseers, various district overseers and Gilead-trained brothers, spanning the years, have also played their part in the advancement of the work in this country.
Whatever have been the contributing factors in the development of the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Australian branch, one eternal truth stands out: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich.” (Prov. 10:22) This has certainly proved true in the vast field of this “land down under,” where Jesus’ words appear to have had fulfillment in a special way: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
[Chart on page 121]
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Increase in publishers
thousands of publishers
[Maps on page 39]
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GULF OF CARPENTARIA
GREAT BARRIER REEF
GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT
[Picture on page 47]
William (“Daddy”) Johnston, who served as branch supervisor from 1918 until 1930
[Picture on page 56]
For 15 years Charles Bernhardt pioneered some of the most remote areas of Australia
[Picture on page 57]
The type of vehicle used by pioneer groups for covering outback territory
[Picture on page 58]
Ben Brickell, a most outstanding pioneer in theocratic history
[Pictures on page 65]
J. F. Rutherford, who spoke to these conventioners at Sydney’s Leichhardt Stadium in 1938, and A. MacGillivray, branch supervisor from 1930 until his death in 1942
[Pictures on page 66]
Bert Horton’s redheaded wife, Vi, and red sound car were affectionately known as the two “red terrors”
[Picture on page 73]
A group of Witnesses just prior to going on an information march in Dubbo, N.S.W., about 1940
[Picture on page 82]
Part of the convoy, equipped with charcoal gas-producing units, which made the long trek from Western Australia to Sydney for the 1941 convention
[Picture on page 89]
Philip Rees, who capably carried on as branch overseer after the death of Brother MacGillivray and whose daughter, Maudie, he later married
[Picture on page 103]
Floyd Garrett, who graduated from Gilead School’s first class, was appointed as branch overseer when Brother Knorr visited Australia in 1947
[Picture on page 105]
Theodore Jaracz was appointed branch overseer in 1951 and greatly encouraged the brothers
[Pictures on page 114]
Doug Held, who supervised the Kingdom work in Australia from 1956 until 1963, and his wife, Helen
John Wilson, who served as branch overseer for 17 years, from 1964, and his wife, Beverley
[Pictures on page 119]
A factory was converted into an Assembly Hall for the Sydney area
Large Assembly Hall for the Melbourne area, completed in 1982
[Pictures on page 127]
Recent photo of original Bethel at Strathfield, Sydney,
its enlargement in 1972
and the present Bethel at Denham Court, Ingleburn
[Picture on page 128]
Old-timers in the new Bethel lobby (from left to right): Wallace Baxter, Vi Horton, Maude Johnston and George Gibb
[Picture on page 129]
Harold V. (Viv) Mouritz, who has served as branch coordinator since 1981, and his wife, Ann