Sunday, June 25, 2017

The First WTS President

Most people generally say that Charles Taze Russell was the first president and founder of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Actually, the first president was William H. Conley, and the C. T. Russell served as secretary and treasurer during Conley’s brief presidency. When the Society was formally incorporated legally, Russell was named as president, and it is only concerning the “legal” corporation that one could speak of Russell as the first president.

The following is from Wikipedia:

Bethel Home Mission
The Conleys frequently held prayer meetings and events in their home ministry.[1] The Conley home was sometimes kept open for weeks at a time in support of religious and charity efforts.[4][5] According to Zion’s Watch Tower, annual celebrations of the Memorial of Christ’s death were held at the Conleys’ home. Conley’s home mission was described as Bethel (literally, “house of God”). The first recorded mention of Bethel in association with Conley appeared in 1890, in reference to the missionary house of Miss Lucy Dunne, established by William and Sarah Conley in Jerusalem.[8]
Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society
Conley was the first president of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, from 1881 to 1884. In December 1884, the Society was incorporated with Charles Taze Russell as president.
In 1896, the Society was renamed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and later became associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
While president of the Society, Conley provided assistance for the three-volume series, Theocratic Kingdom by George N. H. Peters; Peters dedicated the work partially to Conley, claiming to be “deeply indebted for sympathy and pecuniary aid in the prosecution and publication of the work.” However, the May 1883 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower criticized Peters’ work, recommending that readers not purchase the title.
In 1894, Russell introduced a letter from Conley by briefly referencing him as “a member of the early Allegheny Bible Class.” Following Conley’s death in July 1897, Zion’s Watch Tower provided no obituary, nor any statement that specifically mentioned his name and his involvement with the Society.


The above appears to be fairly accurate, except for the reference to Peters’ “Theocratic Kingdom”: the statement that “Zion’s Watch Tower” recommended “that readers not purchase the title” is not accurate..

One should note, however, the Watch Tower Society during the lifetime of Brother Russell was not the  JWs' "Watchtower organization" of today. Russell did not believe in such an organization and preached against such authoritarianism. Russell's WTS virtually ceased to exist shortly after Russell died, as Rutherford deceitfully had new by-laws passed that, in effect, destroyed the WTS that Russell had created.

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