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Based in a Catholic country

The Belgian Bible Students and the Belgian Free Christadelphians both started a new year like the Catholic Church in Belgium and the schools, universities and clubs started a new year.

For the Catholic Church and for us there is the promise to the young girl Miriam (Mary/Maria) which let us look at the beginning of a new era, the time of salvation at hand. We, in contrast with our brethren and sisters from the Central Fellowship, like the CBM and CIL Christadelphians, start already now with reading about the Glad Tidings and the beginnings of the New Testament. The members of the Belgian Free Christadelphians in their ecclesiae follow the Bible Reading Plan by Robert Roberts and start only on the 1st of January with Genesis 1 & 2 plus Matthew 1 & 2.

Because there are so many Catholics in this country we like to show them from their readings, their religious year readings, what the Bible really says. Because every year they choose an other Gospel author as their main writer which they will follow, we also do take that writer his writings to put in the spotlight. It is a matter of coming closer to them and to have a better play on the ball with their readings and their traditions.

Different traditions

About those traditions, the Bible Students and several Amended Christadelphians may have a different feeling, because some Central Christadelphians join the pagan Christian festival and celebrate Christmas and Boxing Day. For us the real birth of Christ,on the 17th of October 4BCE is an other good reason to start in September/October with the new ‘church year’. But we do have to abstain from the pagan based holidays, like Christmas and the Catholic and some Protestants their Easter. The Easter we do have to celebrate and which the Free Christadelphians in Belgium also keep to is the remembrance day installed by Jesus Christ before he was going to die, on the 14th of Nisan.
Like the Belgian Catholics we may find that there is a time of advent in the Autumn, a preparation time to receive and celebrate the Good News of the one who brought us the Kingdom of God. Last year we looked at Luke and this year we shall therefore have a closer look to the Book of Matthew, the 1st book of the New Testament. There are more allusions to the Old Testament in this Gospel than in the others. It was clearly written for Jewish Christians, the purpose being to prove that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament and therefore it is also a very good book to introduce to those who do not know Jesus or to those who have a wrong view of this Nazarene man.

This year the Free Christadelphians in Belgium, like us, looked back at the awful year they had, and showed their good spirit to stand up again and to go forwards through the breakers which dash against our coast. The ecclesia Brussel-Leuven also found it wise to give an idea how the Christadelphian movement came into being and how it developed.

In the Gospel of Matthew is written how the Lord Jesus himself announced the work of Harvest of the Gospel Age.

“Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”” (Matthew 13:30 NIV)

Adolf Daens, Flemish Jesuit priest from Aalst who is especially known for his socio-political involvement after he joined the diocesan clergy. He created the Daensist movement from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Adolf Daens (1839–1907) Flemish priest from Aalst. Daens was a Jesuit from 1859 to 1871 but is especially known for his socio-political involvement after he joined the diocesan clergy. He created the Daensist movement from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. The Christene Volkspartij forced the radicalisation and democratisation of the Catholic party.

Sowing the seeds in the 19° century

Dr. John Thomas (1805–1871) founder of the Christadelphian movement, a Restorationist religion with doctrines similar in part to some 16th-century Antitrinitarian Rationalist Socinians and the 16th-century Swiss-German pacifist Anabaptists. - Dr. John Thomas (1805-1871) grondlegger van de Christadelphian beweging, een herstellers van religie groepering met doctrines vergelijkbaar voor een deel met een aantal 16e-eeuwse Antitrinitarische Rationalistische Socinianen en de 16e-eeuwse Duits-Zwitserse pacifistische wederdopers of Anabaptisten.

Dr. John Thomas (1805–1871) founder of the Christadelphian movement, a Restorationist religion with doctrines similar in part to some 16th-century Antitrinitarian Rationalist Socinians and the 16th-century Swiss-German pacifist Anabaptists.

Brother John Thomas in the 19° century tried to sow the seeds. He found many listening ears. One of them was Brother Charles Taze Russell who visited Antwerp and Brussels in 1891. Already at that time the fresh new country seemed to struggle with the Gospel Faith. The Roman Catholic Church was a very strong bastion with her hand in the political system and favouring the rich instead of helping the poor, priest Adolf and his brother Pieter Daens, or Pie Donsj for those from Aalst, an exception.

Brother Charles met there a Christendom that was ignorant of biblical truth. The fear of the clergy and of the fire of hell, doctrine that has no foundation in the Scripture, kept people away from opening the Bible.  But the Catholic Church had taken care that the people would not come to see the truth, by forbidding them to read the Bible. Mass was done in Latin and the readings as such, in that language, did not say so much to the people, who had not studied enough to get to know Latin and Greek.

The Bible translations in Dutch, French or German were forbidden and blacklisted.

Walloon grocery and mining

Because there was so much French spoken Russell did find it a good idea to have a modest Swiss forestry worker named Adolphe Weber to proclaim “the good news of great joy” in the French speaking countries of Europe. Adolphe Weber began the translation in French of books of the “present truth” and published in Swiss, French and Belgian daily newspapers advertisements referring to the first volume of the studies in the Scriptures and some booklets.

Location in the municipality of Charleroi

Jumet is a section of the Belgian town of Charleroi within the Walloon region in the province of Hainaut. It was a commune of its own before the merger of the communes in 1977. – Location in the municipality of Charleroi

In 1901, a grocer named Jean-Baptiste Tilmant (father) working in Jumet-Gohissart, city located near Charleroi, answered one of these advertisements and asked for some literature. As a result, a small group of bible students started meetings at his house in 1902 and used material from Russell.

Urged by his desire to know more about the truth, Jean-Baptiste Tilmant wrote to the Swiss brother asking to receive more information. As an answer to his demand, Brother Weber came to Charleroi during his missionary tour, to strengthen the faith of this small group.
In 1903, the periodical “lighthouse of Zion Tower” was published in French for the first time. The light of truth began to
shine so brightly in this mining area. Indeed, each Sunday morning, a small group of Biblestudentsastheywerecalledat the time, were going “in the fields” to sow the seeds of truth contained in this eight pages periodical; they waited for instance at the exit of churches. That is how the two first editions of “Zion’s Watch Tower” were largely distributed.

Borderareas

The Borinage is an area in the Walloon province of Hainaut in Belgium

The small group of Jumet Gohissart pushed away the limits of its territory to the south in the French part of the country. Some time later, the truth of God’s Kingdom also expended among the Flemish population.

In the month of august 1904, ten years before the First World War, these brave messengers of the Good News went to Denain in France, to offer booklets to people getting out from a Baptist temple. In Belgium and France the non-trinitarian Baptists mostly were not openly known, because of the fear of persecution.
The results of their activity was that two years later, a congregation started near Denain in Haveluy.
Jean Baptiste Tilmant and his friends continued to bravely preach the biblical truth and other groups appeared to face this big growth, a deposit of books was opened at brother’s Tilmant house in Jumet Gohisart and in 1906 a bible student community was founded in Denain.
The “Lighthouse” of August 1904, page 64, mentions for the first time the name and books from “Dawn”; (It has to be Volume I of the Studies in the Scriptures); subscriptions to the “Lighthouse” and request for free booklets and papers.
In 1906 the leaflets “Do you Know?” and the “Wage of sin” two other booklets and Volume 1 were to be published in Dutch and delivered in Brussels.
In 1908 Heinrich Brinkhoff published the first edition of The Watchtower in Dutch: De Wachttoren

Throwing pearls to pigs

Around 1910, François Caré who had known the truth in France went to Liège to a protestant friend named Edouard Verdière. He could not help it speaking with him about the truth. He wanted to help him leaving the false religion. His friend was so opposed to the message of brother Caré that at the end he finished by telling him
“ I don’t want to argue with you any longer , I don’t want to throw pearls to pigs “
After these words, he went to bed , these words bothered Mr Verdière all night long. The next morning, he asked brother Caré to tell him what he meant. He told him that he will no longer speak about the truth to him because he did not appreciate the “pearls” he was offering him. After this explanation, his friend became more conciliating so that after his return to France brother Caré started to send him regularly periodicals. He also dispatched a few volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. It did not last long before Edouard Verdière accepted the Truth and even began to speak in public. In another district of Belgium, light began to break through the darkness.

From Catholicism to Protestantism to coming in the Truth

The Rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning “Crown of Roses” or “garland of roses” , in its most commonly known format as the Dominican rosary, is a form of prayer used especially in the Catholic Church or a string of prayer beads used to count the component prayers

In the coalmine where he worked, Edouard Verdière had a colleague named Léonard Smets searching the truth. He was a sincere catholic; he diligently attended religious services with his family. He used to pray with a rosary. This man from Flemish origin lived in Heure-le Romain near Vivegnis (Liège). In 1900, a protestant offered him a Bible saying, “I have the Book of God”. Another day, at the confessional, Léonard Smets confessed to the priest that he was reading the Holy Scriptures. The priest said that if he still wanted to receive absolution for his sins he had to give back his Bible. From that day on, Léonard did not attend the service any-more. He thought,

“If they are sincere, they will come to meet me, because they have to come and catch back the lost sheep”.
However, the priest never came to see him. Léonard Smets began to attend the protestant temple.
File:Collegiale-Thann-p1010106.jpg

A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church. – Traditional confessional in Saint-Thiébaut Church, Thann, France

Even on his working place, in the coalmine, Smets was reading the New Testament. One day, Vedière noticed it. He was curious to know which his religion was; he began to sing a protestant hymn. “I was protestant”, answered brother Verdière “but I have something better for you.” He offered him a copy of the “watchtower of Zion” and witnessed with all his strength of the truth. It happened in 1912. Léonard Smets did not keep this truth for himself; he shared it with a Flemish colleague named Joseph Poelmans, father of seven children. He was disillusioned by the teachings of  Catholicism and chose Protestantism. However when he read the periodical that Smets gave him, he recognised the accent of truth.

Later, the three coalminers Verdière, Smets and Poelmans questioned the protestant minister of religion of Herstal (Liège) about the doctrine of immortality, trinity and Hell. Instead of helping them, the pastor was very angry and threw them out. They realised he was not better than the catholic priest, so they decided to meet and to study the Scripture with the help of the books they received from France.
In 1908 5000 “watch Towers” were distributed in Belgium.
In 1911 Brother Russell could only stop for a few minutes in Liège where dear brethren Pétré and some others were waiting to greet him on the train: sister Miss Peerkings (an English sister living in Liège where she learned about the Truth) served as an translator. With the same train, Brother Russell arrived in Charleroi where he took the road to arrive in Denain in the evening.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869–1942), also known as "Judge" Rutherford, president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, who played a primary role in the organization and doctrinal development of Jehovah's Witnesses. - Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942), ook wel bekend als "Rechter" Rutherford, voorzitter van het Wachttorengenootschap, die een primaire rol in de organisatie en leerstellige ontwikkeling van Jehovah's Getuigen had.

Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869–1942), also known as “Judge” Rutherford, president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, who played a primary role in the organization and doctrinal development of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In 1912, there were seven municipalities: Haine-Saint-Paul, Flémalle-Haute, Engis, Amay, Ampsin, Liège and JumetGohissart. Each of these groups was organizing monthly meetings and was welcoming Brother Weber from the Swiss office for periodical visits.

At Pentecost on June 26th and 27th 1912 there was a a general meeting or their first general assembly in Jumet Gohissart.

Brother Rutherford was in Jumet on Monday 22nd September for a private meeting.

The group also grew strongly in the most northern part of France and in 1913 more than 1,000 people attended a lecture by Joseph Franklin Rutherford when he visited Denain. On August 31, 1913 70 Belgian supporters visited a conference in Paris where Russell was present.

+

To be continued: Different approach in organisation of services #2

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Andere aanpak in de organisatie van de diensten # 1

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Please do find out more about the Christadelphians:

  1. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  2. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  3. Who are the Christadelphians
  4. What are Brothers in Christ
  5. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  6. Christadelphian people
  7. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  8. About the Belgian Free Christadelphians
  9. What Christadelphians teach
  10. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  11. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  12. 19° Century London Christadelphians
  13. Breathing and growing with no heir
  14. Commitment to Christian unity
  15.  Parts of the body of Christ
  16. What part of the Body am I?
  17. The Church, Body of Christ and remnant Israel synonymous
  18. United people under Christ
  19. Fellowship
  20. The Ecclesia
  21. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem
  22. The ecclesia or Christadelphian church
  23. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  24. Our ecclesia or Christadelphian-church
  25. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  26. An ecclesia in your neighbourhood
  27. Communion and day of worship
  28. Christadelphians today
  29. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  30. Who Celebrates Easter as Religious Holiday
  31. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  32. Harvest in Belgium
  33. Biblestudents & T.C.Russell
  34. About the Belgian Biblestudents
  35. What the Belgian Biblestudents believe
  • 37 “Theses” Nailed to the Front Door of the First Baptist, Evangelical, Protestant Church (blackchristiannews.com)
    Some may think that it is prestigiousto be invited to meet with the Pope and to go and actually meet with the Pope. But it is not. In fact, it is foolishness and dangerous. And it flies in the face of what we have learned from church history about the thousands of people whose bloodwas shed because they opposed false Catholic teachings. We believe that this is a Satanic attempt to soften up the true church of Christ so that the Pope can, in the future, gain influence over Baptists, Evangelicals, and Protestants, and get them toparticipate in doing things that are contrary to Christ and the Bible.Many scholars believe that the “Great Whore” of Revelation is the Catholic Church situated in Vatican City in Rome. According to Christian apologist Dave Hunt, “There is only one city on the earth which, in both historical and contemporary perspectives, passes every test John gives, including its identification as Mystery Babylon. That city is Rome, and more specifically, Vatican City…The first thing we are told about the woman is that she is a ‘whore’… Against only one other city in history could a charge of fornication be leveled. That city is Rome, and more specifically Vatican City.”
  • Event Transcript: Religion in Latin America (pewforum.org)
    Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 Latin American countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico).Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic. Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether.
  • Vatican lifts ban on married priests for Eastern Catholic churches in U.S., Canada, Australia… (catholicculture.org)
    The Vatican has lifted a longstandingbanonthe ordination of married men to the priesthood in the Eastern Catholic churches.The tradition and discipline of the Eastern churches allowsforthe ordination of married men to the priesthood. (Bishopsmust be unmarried, however, and once ordained, a priest cannot marry.) The Vatican has repeatedly approved this tradition, while insistingonthe importance of priestly celibacy in the Latin rite.However, in the late 19th century, with the arrival of many Byzantine Catholic immigrants in Canada, Latin-rite prelates complained thatthe presence of married Catholic priests could create a “grave scandal.” The Vatican eventually ruled that the Eastern churches could not ordain married men in the countries where their communities forma minority of the Catholic population. The rule has historically applied primarily to Canada, the US, and Australia.With a decree approved by Pope Francis, and signed on June 14 by Cardinal Leonard Sandri, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has now rescinded that ban. Catholic bishops of the Eastern churches serving in eparchies (dioceses) in the West are explicitly authorized to ordain married men.
  • Catholic ‘cannibalism’ (cruxnow.com)
    One evening a couple of years ago, I saw a bloodstained Eucharistic host.It was displayed in a home in Worcester, Massachusetts, about a five-minute drive down the street from my house. The host was the sixth Eucharistic phenomena associated with the late Audrey Santo — a young woman who was left mute and motionless after an accident in 1987.Up until her death in 2007, “Little Audrey,” as she was called, became the focal point for intense devotion as a “victim soul” who offered up her own sufferings for the salvation of others. Her case also attracted intense criticism, particularly given the claims about supernatural happenings in her presence.
  • Priests as Husbands and Fathers? (nytimes.com)
    This week, Pope Francis announced plans to visit the United States in 2015. The trip will be watched for signs of how U.S. bishops are adapting to the shift in tone coming from the Vatican. Not only has Pope Francis called for an open discussion on the Catholic Church’s views on gays and divorce, he’s also talked about priestly celibacy — a policy that a growing number of Catholics are pushing to change. If clerical marriage became more common, how would the Catholic Church change?
  • Victims of historic child sex abuse speak out, after Catholic Church refuses to accept “liability” for the crimes of their priests (secularnewsdaily.com)
    The Catholic Church is refusing to accept “liability” for long-term sex abuse that went on at the Mirfield Junior Seminary, despite paying out £120,000 to eleven victims of child sex abuse.
  • Cleric urges girls, women to shun abortion (dailypost.ng)
    Olanrewaju, who is also a former Parish Priest of Saints Joachim and Anne Catholic Church,Ijegun, Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).He spoke at the end of a rally on `’Walk for Life” organised by the churchtosensitise public on the dangers of abortion to human life.Olanrewaju said: “abortion, in any form, is an irreparable harm done to the innocent.“Any female, who procures a completed abortion, incurs excommunication by the commission of the offence as provided by Canon Law of the Catholic Church.

    “Human life must be respected and recognised by the civil society and the state from the moment of conception as an embryo until death, “ he told NAN.

    The cleric also urged relevant authorities to provide appropriate sanctions for “every deliberate termination of human life”.

  • Florida High School Implements ShoreTel Mobility on iPads (shoretel.com)
    Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High is a Roman Catholic college preparatory school of the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida. Located in nearby Southwest Ranches, with a student enrollment over 1,500, the high school is among the top private schools in the U.S. On the cutting edge of technology, McCarthy High School has a one-to-one iPad program to enhance the student learning environment.  Within the school’s progressive tech-savvy learning environment has been the ability to quickly reach teachers, anywhere anytime. Classrooms were not equipped with desk phones and the estimates to install them and wire the buildings were cost prohibitive. Also, the existing phone system and infrastructure were due for upgrades.
  • The Third Way ~ curated by Tom Cutts (UTS’83) (utsalumni.org)

    The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church. A 40-minute documentary film focusing on the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding Homosexuality.

    “Original Sin for all of us, for every human being on this planet, has disoriented our desires. We often find ourselves hungry for things that do not satisfy the ache.”

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