OPEN LETTER TO CONVENTIONERS:
Boston, Mass., August 4, 1917.
Beloved Brethren in the Lord:-
Our hearts have been grieved that a paper, "Brother Rutherford's Harvest Siftings," should be circulated amongst you at this Convention in the name of our beloved Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society which contains so much of misrepresentation and evil speaking.
We will not attempt to reply in kind. We will not discuss personalities; nor return evil for evil; railing for railing; slander for slander. We will follow the inspired advice, "Recompense to no man evil for evil." The Lord is our judge. We willingly leave all to Him whom we earnestly endeavor to serve and please and to His own due time the clearing of our good name. We believe that the Lord's dear sheep will not be misled in this matter; that they will realize that this difficulty is in no sense a personal controversy.
RE BROTHER JOHNSON
Brother Johnson is in no sense the cause of the controversy between the President on the one side and Brothers Pierson, Ritchie, Wright, Hoskins and Hirsh on the other side. The President's treatment of Brother Johnson is only one of the circumstances in which we could not approve of Brother Rutherford's course. Our contention is that Brother Johnson, in whom Brother Russell reposed great confidence and who has manifested much love and zeal for the Truth during the 14 years of his public service, during which he has travelled as a Pilgrim paying all his own expenses except for one year, should be given a full and fair opportunity to present his case. At present he has been condemned without a trial, and to our personal knowledge shamefully misrepresented and treated.
SOME OF THE POINTS AT ISSUESHALL BROTHER RUSSELL'S CHARTER
SHALL BROTHER RUSSELL'S WILL AND TESTAMENT AND
SHALL BROTHER RUSSELL'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS BE RECOGNIZED AND SUPPORTED BY THE FRIENDS OR SHALL ALL THESE BE SET ASIDE AND DISREGARDED?
We believe that this should not be so. For your information we present below in parallel columns the fundamental differences which have arisen between the President and ourselves:
1. Believes one man, (himself) can better manage the Society's work than the Board of Directors; thus taking an exactly opposite view to Brother Russell on this subject.
2. Personally interprets resolutions passed by Shareholders on Jan. 6, 1917, at Pittsburg, Pa., to give him practically absolute control of the Society's finances and affairs in general. He has uniformly acted in harmony with this interpretation and never given the Board, during his term of office as President, a statement of the finances and other affairs of the Society, of which we are today still ignorant. It will be a matter of interest to you that Brother Rutherford himself wrote the By-Laws even before his election.
3. Through his interpretation of certain technicalities of law, but positively contradicted by eminent counsel, he declares four of the undersigned illegally elected Directors (though himself served for years as a Director, elected exactly as they were), and assumes to appoint other brethren to take their places.
THE BOARD'S VIEW:
1: We believe Brother Russell's plans for carrying on the Harvest Work after his death should be followed: "The corporation is to be managed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven members."- (Extract from Society's Charter, written by Brother Russell.) "It being understood that they (the Board of Directors), should come to the front in the event of my death." (Extract from booklet published by Brother Russell.)
2. The Common Law or practically universal interpretation of said resolutions passed at Pittsburg Jan. 6, 1917, is that the President as "Executive and Manager" is subject to the Board of Directors, whose directions he is required to follow. The entire responsibility of the Corporation both to the Shareholders for the use of funds donated to the Society, and to the Business Public for the obligations of the Society, rests, not on the President alone, but upon the full Board of Directors. They cannot escape this responsibility.
3. (a) Upon the best legal advice we can obtain, and concurred in by Attorney Brother MeGee, assistant to the Attorney General of New Jersey, it appears that Brother Rutherford's interpretation of these technicalities is erroneous, and we are still the legal Directors of the Society.
(b) We recognize a still higher law?Divine Justice?and a moral obligation to fulfil the trust reposed in us by the Lord and Brother Russell. Three of us having been elected under the direction of Brother Russell, served harmoniously with him on the Board for years, and whose wish it was that we continue to serve as Directors during our life time, unless removed by a two-thirds vote of the Shareholders.?Extract from Charter, "The Directors shall hold their respective offices for life."
"It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful, every man according to his several ability," and our greatest desire is to be faithful to the Lord and to the Shareholders of the Society, organized by Brother Russell and conducted so successfully by him for 34 years.
We, and hundreds of other friends, have endeavored to find some legal means of calling a special meeting of the Shareholders of the Society to pass upon these matters, but so far without success. It may be that the law which created our beloved Society shall have to be invoked to determine the validity of its very existence, since its life has been threatened by our President in setting aside its Board of Directors. If he cannot himself rule absolutely, he has apparently determined to put to the front the Peoples Pulpit Association, of which he claims to be President for life.
In regard to the relationship of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to the Peoples Pulpit Association, and to the I.B.S.A., our dear Pastor in "The Watch Tower" of Dec. 1, 1915, page 359, 2nd col., says:
"Thus the whole management is by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and these auxiliary organizations merely help in carrying on its work."
"In other words, the Peoples Pulpit Assn. cannot transact business except through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has the management, and the Peoples Pulpit Assn. does the work?absolutely."
Brother Rutherford now repudiates all this and says he will act through the Peoples Pulpit Assn., and has issued a command that Brothers Wright, Ritchie, Hoskins and Hirsh shall, like Brother Johnson, be required to leave Bethel.
In conclusion, dear friends, our only desire is to be found faithful to our trust. We believe this is the essence of the text: "It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful."
The Lord bless you and keep you. Pray that all concerned may have wisdom and grace to walk humbly and circumspectly before our Maker, that we may thus be prepared for His presence and kingdom.
Your brethren and fellow-servants of our dear Redeemer and King,
A. N. Pierson,
J. D. Wright,
A. I. Ritchie,
I. F. Hoskins,
R. H. Hirsh.
Thats how he entered the scene.