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Brooklyn Bethel—100 Years of History


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THE WATCHTOWER 2009-05-01
 
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THE year 1909 was a momentous one for New York City. The Queensboro Bridge was opened, connecting the borough of Queens with Manhattan, and the Manhattan Bridge was opened, making another connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

It was also a momentous year for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Earlier, Charles Taze Russell, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the legal arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had seen the potential for expanding the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) He believed that moving the Society’s headquarters from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Brooklyn, New York, would be an important step in doing so. Preparations for the move had begun in 1908, and the move was made early the following year.

Why Move to Brooklyn?

Those taking the lead in the preaching work back then knew that evangelizing by  sermons printed in newspapers was an effective way to spread Bible truth. In fact, by the year 1908, Russell’s weekly Bible sermons appeared in 11 newspapers with a combined circulation of 402,000.

However, Russell wrote: “Brethren familiar with newspaper methods . . . assure us that if the weekly sermons emanated from a [larger center] it would possibly result in the publication of the sermons all over the United States; that within a year there might be hundreds of papers publishing them regularly.” Therefore, the hunt was on for the best location to expand the preaching work.

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Russell’s newspaper sermons

Why Brooklyn? Russell said: “Altogether we concluded, after seeking Divine guidance, that Brooklyn, N.Y., with a large population . . . and known as ‘The City of Churches,’ would, for these reasons, be our most suitable center for the harvest work.” The results speak for themselves. In a short space of time, 2,000 newspapers were publishing Russell’s sermons.

New York was a good choice for yet another reason. By 1909, branch offices had been established in Great Britain, Germany, and Australia, with more soon to follow. Hence, it made sense to locate the world headquarters in a seaport city that also had substantial road and rail links.

Why Called Bethel?
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18 Concord Street (1922-1927)

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117 Adams Street (1927 to the present)

The original headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was established in the 1880’s, in Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. Back then, it was called the Bible House. By 1896, this facility was staffed by 12 members.

With the move to Brooklyn in 1909, though, the new residence for the staff members was called Bethel. * Why Bethel? The property that the Watch Tower Society purchased at 13-17 Hicks Street was owned by the prominent clergyman Henry Ward Beecher and was known as the Beecher Bethel. Beecher’s former residence, located at 124 Columbia Heights, was also purchased. The March 1, 1909, issue ofThe Watch Tower reported: “It certainly seems very remarkable that we should get the old Beecher Bethel and then by accident get his former residence. . . . The new home we shall call ‘Bethel,’ and the new office and auditorium, ‘The Brooklyn Tabernacle’; these names will supplant the term ‘Bible House.’”

Today, the greatly expanded facilities in Brooklyn and at two other locations in New York State, Wallkill and Patterson, including both the residence, the printery, and the offices, have come to be called Bethel. In fact, worldwide there are now Bethel homes in 113 countries. They are staffed by more than 19,000 ministers, who help to distribute Bible information.

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35 Myrtle Avenue (1920-1922)

A Warm Welcome to Visitors

The facilities were dedicated on January 31, 1909. Monday, September 6, 1909, was Reception Day at Bethel. Hundreds of Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, toured the facility. Many of them came directly from a Christian convention held in Saratoga Springs, about 200 miles [320 km] upriver from New York City. Charles Taze Russell personally welcomed and greeted the visitors. *

Visitors continue to be welcome at Bethel. In fact, each year more than 40,000 people tour the Brooklyn facilities. Brooklyn Bethel continues to play a vital role in the expansion of Jehovah’s Kingdom interests, to the blessings of untold millions.

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Wallkill printery

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Patterson Educational Center

What Do You Know About the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?
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The corporation now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania was chartered in 1884 as 

Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. Its purpose was to spread abroad Bible truth, especially by means of the printed page. Today, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society remains one of the legal instruments used worldwide by Jehovah’s Witnesses. *Philippians 1:7.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has produced Bibles and Bible-based publications in 473 languages. It has published in whole or in part more than 150 million copies of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in 72 languages. In addition to the New World Translation, the Society has printed on its own presses or has commissioned the printing of the following Bible translations: theAmerican Standard Version, The Bible in Living EnglishThe Emphatic Diaglott,Holman’s Linear Parallel Edition, theKing James Version(including the Bible Students Edition), and The New Testament Newly Translated and Critically Emphasized, Second Edition.

Apart from printing Bibles, over just the past ten years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced more than 20 billion other items, such as books, magazines, tracts, CDs, DVDs, and similar Bible-based material. * The majority of these items have been printed, packaged, and shipped from Bethel homes located in such countries as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.

1998-2008PRODUCTIONBooks458,230,708Magazines11,292,413,199Tracts7,996,906,376Brochures862,050,233CDs/MP3s34,621,130DVDs13,500,125Other129,083,031Total20,786,804,802
 

http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20090501/brooklyn-bethel-history/

Edited by 1gemstone
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