Bro. Sundbomís Short History of the Bible Students


Charles Taze Russell Born 1852 Died 1916


At 15, and enthusiastic Sunday school worker.


At 17, a skeptic, made so by the argument of an infidel acquaintance.


At 20, an earnest Bible student, which let to a restoration of full confidence in Scripture as inspired word of God.


At 25, a public speaker on Bible doctrines.


At 30, editor of religious journal and pastor of a Pennsylvania congregation


At 35, author of "Divine Plan of the Ages."


At 40, well know throughout the United States and Canada as a public speaker.


At 45, prominent as a writer of Jewish topics, having thoroughly studied the special divine promises to Israel regarding their restoration as a people to Palestine.


At 50, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.


At 55, writer of five additional works on Biblical research; pastor of the Brooklyn tabernacleand president of the New York Peopleís Pulpit Association.


At 60, pastor of London and Brooklyn tabernacles and a world renowned figure.


After the death of Charles Taze Russell


1916 Brother Russell Died.


1917 Seventh Volume Published


1918 "Standfast" group formed (First sizable group)


1929 First convention, on truth as Bro. Russell held it in, in Pittsburgh


1930 Investigation in Radio


1932 "Frank & Ernest"


1933 Dawn Published


1949 Network Broadcasting


1950 European Broadcasting


1952 First TV Program


1956 First Television Series



The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society


The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was organized about 1880 by Charles T. Russell for the dissemination of a message which he summarized in his first volume Studies, entitled "The Divine Plan of the Ages." He published during his lifetime six volumes of Scripture Studies in which he set forth his understanding of the Bible teaching. This message inspired many earnest Christians to cooperate in promulgating it, and it.became known among these as the Harvest Message, or Present Truth. Pastor Russellís books and booklets attained a large circulation, and at the peak of the work, under his direction approximately 1000 men and women were giving their time as colporteurs, 70 others were traveling as public speakers and two to four thousand newspapers and millions of tracts were carrying this message to the public.



"Judge" Rutherford


Among others who became interested was a lawyer in Booneville, Mo., Joseph F. Rutherford, who later became known as "Judge Rutherford" through a special appointment as a circuit judge for a limited period. Shortly after Pastor Russellís death in 1916, Mr. Rutherford gained control of the Watch Tower Society, and was elected president. In mid-1917 the new president declared four of the seven directors who had served at the time of Pastor Russellís passing improperly chosen, ousted them, and appointed others in their stead. At the same time he brought out a book, "The Finished Mystery", an interpretation of Revelation and Ezekiel. Extravagant claimís were made for this book, among them that it was the posthumous work of Pastor Russell, though as a matter of fact all quotations from Pastor Russellís pen had been previously published. The substance of the volume was the product of two of Mr. Rutherfordís associates, Messrs Clayton Woodworth and George Fisher. Within a few years this book was withdrawn from the list of Watch Tower publications, but it was followed by a large number of books which rapidly departed still further from the understanding of Pastor Russell as to the plan and purpose of God and the organization of His Church. Today, the Watch ToweróJehovahís Witnesses Organization proclaim a message not only un-Scriptural but fundamentally opposed to the Divine Plan of the Ages as taught by Pastor Russell.



Other Bible Student Groups


Mr. Rutherfordís seizure of control of the Watch Tower Society and his coincident effort to dominate in the government and teaching of the local groups of Bible Students alienated a large number of the consecrated men and women who had been actively cooperating with the general organization. Several thousand withdrew in 1917-18 and formed independent Bible study classes in many cities in the United States and Europe. In 1918, some of these organized the Pastoral Bible Institute, to serve as a connecting link between the independent groups and individuals. This organization began publication of a monthly peridical, "The Herald of Christís Kingdom", serving the classes also with visiting speakers, publishing tracts for free distribution, etc. The Pastoral Bible Institute is still actively engage in these avenues and continues to promote the Bible teachings and books of Pastor Russell.


In 1918, Mr. Rutherford and a number of his close associates were tried and imprisoned by the Federal Government on account of certain expressions in the "Finished Mystery" which were considered subversive. At that time some changes in the Watch Tower Societyís policy were made, including their previous disapproval of the purchase of Government Bonds issued for the prosecution of the First World Ward. Thereupon of their adherents who disagreed with these changes organized, and became known as "The Standfast Movement." These continued to believe the extravagant claims previously made by the Watch Tower Society for the "The Finished Mystery", and believed that they should "stand fast" in there adherence to its teachings. This group has swindled and most of them now reside in the Northwest.


Another group of those formerly associated with the work under Pastor Russellís direction withdrew from the Pastoral Bible Institute in 1918. Their Leader was Mr. Paul S. L. Johnson, who made his headquarters in Philadelphia and carried on his work under the name of "The Laymenís Home Missionary Movement." Mr. Johnson claimed to be a successor to Pastor Russell and that he was to lead the "Epiphany" movement in a forty-year period following Pastor Russellís death. His distinguishing teaching was that the call to membership in the Church had ended, and that those who consecrated their lives to the Lord after 1916 would, in the resurrection, live on the earth as perfect human beings. Mr. Johnson died in 1950, his group, too has dwindled, and is now led by Mr. Raymond Jolly whom Mr. Johnson appointed to be his successor.


About 1930 a number withdrew from the Watch Tower Society, some of whom had been engaged in the radio work of that organization. These skilled in radio activity, together with some members of the Pastoral Bible Institute, undertook a public witness over the radio, which was sponsored by the New York City congregation of independent Bible Students. A year or two later this activity was turned over to those who were principally engaged in it, and thus the Dawn Bible Students Association" came into being. This activity has continued and grown and is today represented by the "Frank and Ernest" programs which are presently a feature on the Mutual Network and other radio stations in this and other countries. The Dawn Association has republished and recommends study of Pastor Russellís six volumes of Scripture Studies, distributes a large amount of free literature, and publishes the monthly DAWN MAGAZINE to supplement its radio work and to keep in touch with its supporters. It also send out visiting speakers to independent Bible Student classes.





The "Frank and Ernest" radio program was originated by Bro. Norman Woodworth when he was in the I.B.S.A. He wrote the dialogs. The responses were good, and his programs were not censoredófor a time. Later on he was criticized for not featuring the "Judge" (Rutherford). Eventually, he was put out of that organization and to "Frank and Ernest" program went off the air.


Bro. Woodworth then met with others who had also been put out. These had not been able to do much in the way of "letting the light shine". The were greatly interested as he explained how many replies came in from the "Frank and Earnest" program, and said anyone who supplied the money could put the program on the air. A few interested brethren raised the thirteen hundred dollars necessary, and a half hour program with the original "Frank & Ernest" (Bros. Woodworth and John Dawson) was put on WOR for.thirteen weeks under the auspices of the Brooklyn congregation of Associated Bible Students. Interested listeners were offered a copy of the dialog under the title "Radio Echo". The first program, in April, 1931 drew over 200 responses. This was very encouraging and indicated the Lordís blessing.


The "Radio Echo" was printed commercially by the Rutherford, NJ. newspaper plant, and mailed to those requesting it. It was then suggested that second-class mailing rates could be had if the RADIO ECHO were published regularly and had a bonafied list of at least two hundred paid subscribers. The Brooklyn class had formed a Radio Committee from among its members. Under the auspices of this Committee brethren in various parts of the country were circularized and subscription list sufficient to meet the Post Office requirements resulted.


The 13-week contract with WOR expired in June. Since the necessary funds for the second 13-week period were not forthcoming, and also since summer was not the best time for broadcasting, it seemed the Lordís will to discontinue the program for a time. The Postal regulation, however necessitated the regular mailing of the RADIO ECHO, so it continued to be published. The friends enjoyed its message and used it in personal witness work. Most of them renewed their subscriptions, sent copies to others, and new subscribers resulted. The ECHO advocated a public witness and helped occasionally by supplying speakers; it announced conventions, published letters from various friends and ecclesias, and also published a few "Witness Bulletins" for use in helping friends still in "bondage". In 1932, the name was changed to the "Dawn" and was published monthly instead of weekly or simi-monthly.


In the mean time, Bro. Woodworth suggested he could do the printing, and save that large cost of having it done commercially. A used food-operated press was purchased and installed in the basement of an apartment house run by a brother. Bro. Woodworth and afew volunteers did the printing, but it soon became evident that should have a power press as the work increased. Electric power lines of the required capacity made the insurance rates prohibitive in the apartment house, the Lord thus indicating a new location was necessary.


At this time a sister noticed an ad of a Brooklyn printer who wished to lease his building with entire equipment, and to retire. Years before, this very printer had done work (such as imprinting tracts) for Brother Russell. When he found that this was the same work, he leased the building and all the equipment at a most reasonable price. The upper floors of the building had rooms which provided lodging for some of the brethren who volunteered to help. After a time, the owner of the printing plan died, and his heirs decided to sell it and close up the estate. Thus the Lord indicated that is was time for the DAWN to find other quarters. The moved to 136 Fulton St., (Brooklyn) where they remained until they found the present enlarged quarters in Rutherford, N.J.


In September, 1931, the RADIO ECHO carried an offer to supply electrical transcriptions of the "Frank & Ernest" dialogs to any classes wishing them. While there were a number.who responded, this did not become a general witness. It was not until 1940, when small radio stations had sprung up all over the country, that the F & E radio program was revived in earnest. The price of time on these small stations was comparatively low, and some brethren thought it might be wise to try them out on a small scale. Under great handicaps, but with the help of faithful capable brethren, a few recordings of the program were made up. Several ecclesias broadcast them over their own stations. The effort was surprisingly successful. Many replies cam in; ecclesias from many cities asked for recordings. The DAWN supplied the recordings, but each ecclesia made its local station.


This continued with increasing success until 1949 when the program went on the ABC network, under the impetus of the "Good Hopes" expressed by the General Convention in Bowling Green, Ohio that year. It has continued under network contracts each year since then. The replies from these broadcasts show that many have been blessed by a better understanding of the Bible. Others, whose ears were first opened by this medium have become fully consecrated members of the Body of Christ. Still others who had left the "organization" in discouragement heard the Harvest Message over the air and were restored to active service and the joy of the Truth.


The Lordís guiding hand with this effort has been evident from its start. It started from the "grass roots" among brethren who wished to let the light shine to others. The brethren who formed this simple association made no elaborate plans for great works. They simply followed the Lordís leadings, step by step, as indicated by the zealous co-operation of the brethren everywhere.