October 1, 2011 Annual Meeting of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania at the Jersey City Assembly Hall
The meeting began with the singing of Song #28 “ The New Song ” followed by the opening prayer.
The chairman for the meeting was Brother Gerritt Losch. He also gave the first talk. Here are some facts he provided: At the United States Bethel some 73 different languages are spoken. These Bethelites have been assigned to 18 different language congregations/groups in the region. There are 20,000 Bethelites around the world. About 85 different countries were represented at this year’s Annual Meeting.
The beautiful “noise” of the growing flock of God’s people was noted after quoting Micah 2:12. The unity of Jehovah’s people was discussed at length. Zephaniah 3:9 and Ephesians 1:9, 10 were quoted to show God’s interest in unifying his people in word and deed. ‘Our unity has been demonstrated in having Black district overseers over predominantly white areas and Brothers who come from gypsy background serving as district overseers in Europe.’ Other examples were given to show the obvious love the brothers have for one another. Who was next?
Brother Baltasar Pala who is on loan from the U.S. Branch to the Bethel in Mexico spoke next. Six Central American branch offices have now been merged into the Branch office in Mexico. A more multi-cultural branch office has been the result. 252 missionaries were affected by this merger. A Special desk was set up just for the missionaries and they have been given e-mail access to this Desk for any needs. Some 80 language groups and some 70 translators are under this new consolidated branch office. About 800,000 publishers are now under this new arrangement.
Brother James Linton, originally from Australia, next spoke giving an update on the brothers in Japan. Following the tsunami disaster in Japan some 1,700 Japanese brothers and sisters volunteered to help those Witnesses affected by the disaster. (Prov17:17) The public has been favorably impressed by the outstanding love shown by the Witnesses in helping those suffering losses because of the tsunamis and the nuclear power plant disaster. The Japanese Branch covers not only Japan but Cambodia, Bangladesh and Mongolia. There are 300 publishers in Mongolia. Bear in mind, not long ago there were no publishers in Mongolia. In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, there are now 6 congregations. 38 were baptized in Cambodia last year.
Next on the program was Brother Steve Hardy and a panel of brothers. Phil Brumley from the American Bethel legal department discussed legal challenges that have faced Jehovah’s Witnesses. He reflected on the 16 year battle the Witnesses of Jehovah in France have had with the French government’s attempt to tax the organization on its voluntary contributions received. The tax amount was staggering and the motive behind all of this was clearly an attack on our faith. The situation looked very bad. The French higher courts upheld the tax claim against the Witnesses and so the Witnesses appealed the matter to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Prayers galore were going up to Jehovah. On the day and at the time the ECHR rendered a decision, it was 4:30am in Brooklyn, New York. Needless to say, some tired eyes at the international headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses were jolted awake with joy when the ECHR rendered a decision in defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses in France. The ECHR ruled that the French government violated Article 9 which outlawed government attacks on religion. It is felt this decision by the ECHR has positive implications for some 70 young Armenian Witnesses imprisoned because of their refusal to join the military. Armenia seems to have violated Article 9 also.
Following this, Brother Guy Pierce discussed the subject “Watchtower Properties.” He said “It is now official: Jehovah’s Witnesses are moving their headquarters out of Brooklyn. The rumors can now end.”
The headquarters is moving from 25 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn, New York to Warwick, New York some 50 north of Brooklyn. Some 12 newly constructed buildings are planned at Warwick. Elsewhere, since 2009 the facilities at Wallkill have been physically expanded. And the Patterson complex continues with its many functions, schools, audio-visual department etc. And, not far from Warwick—about 6 miles away-- the Society has purchased land in a town called Tuxedo
“In Tuxedo, we will have a staging area for the construction work that will be done.” Brother Pierce was emphatic “We will be moving completely out of Brooklyn to Warwick.” He mentioned that, currently, there is one Witness to every 920 people in the world today.
In a point of clarification, Brother Pierce said that we should not confuse the US Branch with the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are not the same. The US Branch like any other Branch is under the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Brother Pierce questioned, “What if Armageddon comes in the middle of all of these changes? “ After a brief pause, he exclaimed, “Wonderful” and the clapping of hands followed.
Next Brother Mark Sanderson conducted a memorable session. Sitting in 5 chairs facing the auditorium were 5 widows. All 5 of these sisters had been married to members of the anointed. They were Sister Barber [Carey Barber], Sister Suiter [Grant Suiter], Sister Jaracz [Theodore Jaracz]. Sister Berry [Lloyd Barry] and Sister Sydlik [Daniel Sydlik]. Each sister talked about being married to a very busy husband who worked tirelessly in behalf of others. All commented on how their husbands took time with them and helped them grow spiritually. Sister Barber met Carey while at the Gilead missionary school. They worked 20 years in the circuit work before coming to Brooklyn Bethel. They were married for some 51 years. Before Sister Barry married Lloyd she had served a company servant [presiding elder] in a congregation in Australia. There were no baptized brothers in that congregation for awhile. Later after she married Lloyd, she and Lloyd served in Japan for a number of years. When they first came to Japan there were only 3 baptized Witnesses in Japan. They shared some 72 years of full time service. Next was Sister Jaracz. Sister Jaracz is from Canada. She married Theodore Jaracz in 1956. Eight weeks after their marriage they were assigned to the circuit work in the US South. Ted was invited to be a member of the Governing Body in 1974. Sister Suiter now spoke. Sister Edith Suiter started pioneering in 1946 and married Grant Suiter in 1956. She mused that she never heard him complain about anything. The last sister to comment was Sister Sydlik. Her part was very moving.
She stated what most of us know and that is that Dan Sydlik was a kind, warm engaging person. She said that she missed the quiet times they had together discussing spiritual things. As he was dying he became a little difficult, but she said that her reassuring words of love and firmness was comforting to him. She said that women married to spiritual men have an immense influence on such men and that their words of love and support can do much to encourage, strengthen and comfort them. ‘ Wives, commend your hard working husbands !” Tears could be seen in the audience.
At this point, there was a pause as all stood and sang Song 86 “Faithful Women.”
Governing Body member Brother Steve Lett was the next speaker. His part was headed “Beware of the Roaring Lion.” ‘Even though the lion can symbolize good things as at Revelation 5:5 where the “lion” represents our Lord Jesus Christ, there are places in the Bible where the lion represents what is bad. One place is 1 Peter 5:8, 9 where we read: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him.” Brother Lett then identified how it’s that Satan is like lion:
Lions kill without mercy . A male lion taking over a pride of females will often kill their cubs so that all cubs they produce are his. Shows no mercy on lion cubs or the animals he kills to eat. The Devil does not care if he “devours” you or your children. The Devil shows no mercy to others. He does not care how you suffer.
Lions are exceedingly strong . You cannot stand up against them in battle. You will lose. The Devil is a strong spirit creature. You cannot stand up against him in battle. Unless Jehovah is in your life you WILL lose!
If a lion approaches, do not run and do not fall and play dead. If you run he will catch you and if you fall and play dead he will proceed to enjoy his dead meal. Scientist s have seen that the most effect thing to do is to stop and face the lion and slowly move away. Facing the lion has saved many a soul. How about the dealing with an attack of the Devil? The scripture says:
“Take your stand against him.” Which means you do not run or play dead!! You face him in power of Jehovah standing shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters. You refuse to give up or give in.
Brother Samuel Herd from the Governing Body next spoke. His part was entitled “Appreciating Our Place in Jehovah’s House.” He reflected “There is no place like home!! During the last few days of Jesus life on the earth, he talked about going home. (John 14:1, 2) David commented that no place was like Jehovah’s House and being there. Ps 26:8; 27:4; Psalm 84:10. All of us should love being in Jehovah’s house and appreciating our place in Jehovah’s house –where ever it is.
Following Brother Herd was Brother David Splane of the Governing Body. His talk was “True Christians Respect God’s Word.” He showed how the Early Christians constantly used God’s Word, the Bible as the fundamental source of Truth but that after the apostolic period the new brand of “Christianity” increasingly wanted to make itself more appealing to the educated pagans and thus started to weave into its “Christianity” pagan notions and philosophical views that were opposed to Bible truths. The foretold apostasy took root in Christianity but there were always some, that is members of the wheat class, who attempted to get back to the Bible truths. Brother Splane mentioned the names of some who tried to get back to Bible truths—men like Peter Waldo, Henry Grew etc. ‘We do not know if they were members of the anointed but they may have been.’ He then brought the history up to the time of Charles T. Russell. Jehovah’s modern day organization honors, respects and promotes the Bible as God’s Word. He then announced the Year Text for 2012 which from John 17:17 where Jesus says in prayer to Jehovah: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.”
Next Brother Anthony Morris of the Governing Body gave a talk on the status of our missionaries and he mentioned that beginning 2012 there will be no separate meeting during the district convention for those wanting to go to Gilead Missionary School. The Society has set up a new school called the Bible School for Christian Couples. Those interested in going to this new school will be invited to a session on how to do so during the district convention. Since many who have attended Gilead were married couples that raises the question: What is the difference between these two schools? It turns out that in the future those going to Gilead will be from the ranks of special pioneers, circuit overseers etc. whereas that will not be the case for those attending the Bible School for Married Couples. More information will follow.
Brother Losch gave the last talk. He noted that as of July 2011 the New World Translation had been produced in 100 languages. He mentioned that there were 5,519 in attendance at the Jersey City Assembly Hall and tied in: 2,887 at Brooklyn Bethel, 410 at Canadian Bethel, 2,940 at Wallkill, and 2,836 at Patterson for a total of 18,592. A final prayer ended the meeting.