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Different approach in organisation of services #3

Radio calls and booklets

Today the Jehovah Witnesses are the biggest known Bible Student Group in Belgium. At first they could find Bible Students groups associating with them and start growing from the previous preparations of those groups. But they too had to see members leaving them.

Français : Jumet (Charleroi - Belgique) - Chap...

Français : Jumet (Charleroi – Belgique) – Chapelle Notre Dame de Heigne (XIIe siècle) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As result of the broadcastings in the mid 20° century, in French and sponsored by the Brethren of Dawn from the U.S; 3 Belgian families were interested in the Present Truth. It was Brother Armand Lechien who got in touch with Brother Félix Pilarski through the mail service of Radio Luxemburg: Brother Félix aimed him towards Jumet. These 3 families left the movement they were members of (the Jehovah Witnesses) because they thought the teachings they heard were not in harmony

with the Scriptures. The Polish-Belgian Brother and Sister Wlodarski had got French brethren and sisters in their circles and found more brethren from the French Association des étudiants de la Bible coming more and more frequently to serve the Word of God (brother François Wozniak, Kosmalski A. Liszka, T. Kubiak, J., Osorowski S.,TF et Ed. Pilarski, Speil, a few from Saint Etienne and many others …..); the family Kula, their younger daughter and one son attended the meetings, in the following years just like in France, pilgrim brethren came from the United States and later from Poland.

Courcelles coal mine ” 6 périer ” Souvret

The families – Armand et Louise Lechien – Ernest et Helena Duchateau –  Edmond et Jeanne Henrioule decided to have meetings during the week (on Wednesday and Thursday) to study the Figures of the Tabernacle. With their agreement, the families Wlodarski and Kula joined them. The studies were held in two languages with the help of a translator (2 languages were spoken French and Polish).

Brother Félix Pilarski and other brethren worked a lot for these meetings because they spoke French perfectly.
Brother Félix Pilarski made a handsome contribution to the development of the meeting of Courcelles with edifying biblical discourses and his visits. He was also personally active in the country of Liège and in Brussels where he had a deposit of booklets. Other brethren also paid many visits; among them we can mention Brother Joseph Wozniak, Adolphe Debski, and others.
After Brother Ernest Duchateau died suddenly, meetings continued for some time. When Brother Lechien died after a quite long disease, we could see a repetitive thing around the house churches, the ecclesia of Courcelles disappeared in the mid 70’s.

Former town hall of Jumet, where the film “Why did He come to earth?” of the Bible Students was given.

On October 24th 1987, the ecclesia of Jumet organised two projections of the film “Why did He come to earth?” in the community City Hall of Charleroi. Those shows were announced with advertising: posters in public places, advertising in the city with loudspeakers, spots on local newspapers radio and TV, display on electronic screens, distribution of leaflets.
More than hundred persons attended these film projections. Leaflets and tracts were given to the participants but only few asked for further information and other booklets.

Soothed to sleep with man’s talk

Very soon in history the majority in Christendom went running after the false teachers. The myths were more pleasing to the ear than the actual truth. They were soothed to sleep with it. Early on the Brothers, as true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, were in the minority. Their faith of the true gospel was of ‘origin’ pure, by the human impurities it was swung back and forth by the years gone.

In Belgium and the Netherlands remained Bible Faithful following Jesus’ command and continued preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The first nor the second world war had kept them from it, even though many of them were anxiously looking forward to the action of the two warring camps, because they were against fighting, and because they adhered to a faith that was not liked by anyone.

That Jesus and his apostles spoke about the news that there would be established a Kingdom on earth, that would be ruled by Jesus Christ and in which the faithful of all ages would have a place alongside their Lord: i.e. as co-rulers, this sounded obviously not fine in the ears for them (the German Fuehrer wished to be the only ruler). But the cheerful message for humanity survived now the fight under people and brought unprecedented peace in some families.

The doctrine of Christ’s reign on earth was first treated as highly symbolic, gradually became labelled as a very questionable and useless thought and was ultimately rejected as an absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism.
God’s light happily extinguishes not; it is an eternal flame. The people of Israel in ancient times also reached detritus. They even served other gods. Nevertheless, there remain at this time believers in the One God and history now could repeat itself. Faithful to God those bible students wanted to share their findings and in spite the continuous opposition dared to go against the most popular doctrine of men.

Getting a base in Holland

After attempts from the Netherlands were made to bring Truth to England (in the 16th Century) and having a flight of truth seekers to the New World in the 19th century, now letters of truth seekers from the New World could again send truth to Europe.

The teachings of Elias Smith and John Thomas now, the time was ripe, an opportunity was given to a ‘resurgence‘ of Bible Faithful. They also found their way across the ocean and in all English-speaking countries they could find a foothold.

Through the centuries, the Gospel of God’s Kingdom, which was preached by Jesus and the apostles, showed a dynamic force which has all the opposition of powerful religious groups defied and still serves as the sole basis of faith for those who want to search God.

Website of the Brothers in Christ or Christadelphians in the Netherlands - Website van de Nedrlandse Broeders in Christus

Website of the Brothers in Christ or Christadelphians in the Netherlands – Website van de Nedrlandse Broeders in Christus

In 1956 in the Netherlands finally the group of Brothers in Christ could get solid and communities as “de Broeders in Christus“, arose in Den Haag (The Hague), Amersfoort, Ede and Groningen.

From 1957 officially recognised, seeing it as our duty to our Lord to make his name known among the people in our area, as well as among other nations, they made work of it to go around billing leaflets. They kept their focus on the Bible as the source of all knowledge and followed the guiding principle of the word of our Lord, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” They also began to spread the magazine “Met Open Bijbel” (With Open Bible) of which Rudolf Rijkeboer was the driving force.

Vanishing interest

It clearly appeared that after the ‘golden age’ with the children boom and citizens of Belgium having their life becoming better, the interest for the biblical message of Truth is vanishing with time passing on.
The Bible Students saw their number of members in ecclesiae decreasing.The visiting brethren and sisters from the Christadelphian Bible Mission (CBM) for 25 years made regular visits to put leaflets and pamphlets in the postboxes. Their short visits trying to get people on the street interested in the works of Christ and in the promises of God, did not work out. At the time (early 21° Century) they wanted to give it all up and several Christadelphians left Holland to return to England or to go to Australia.
At the end of the 20° Century some Bible Students with ex-Jehovah Witnesses formed the Vrije Christenen or Free Christians. In that movement was also the non-trinitarian Baptist Marcus Ampe very active. Even before he himself became a Christadelphian he had already brought others to the Christadelphian faith. In Flemish Brabant and in Hainaut, plus on the net, with him, again an effort was made to bring the Good News of the coming Kingdom.
The Belfry in Mons

The Belfry in Mons, one of the meeting places of the Free Belgian Christadelphians

Last year brother Marcus tried to get several Bible Student groups together, but failed because of their will to have a certain power and the will to keep everything in control themselves. Plus some, like our confrères which we ourselves could not get over the bend to join the other Christadelphians in Belgium, made it impossible to have the different bible Students exchanging ideas, meeting sessions and information about their where-about and working. For our Australian brothers, of the Australian Bible Students, the CBM members were not close enough in following the teachings of brother Dr. John Thomas and mixing with the too loose teachings would dilute the whole system (they thought).

The man from the North and his organisation, have most of the Bible Students (except the JW) living in Belgian. But they resisted in giving the addresses of their ecclesiae in Oostende, Gent, (Brussels) and Antwerp. this made that the few but very active Christadelphians from Brussels, Leuven and Mons, could not meet with more Christadelphians in Belgium.
We too had to face the difficulty of bringing people together in peace and where confronted with a loss in our ranks, but our invitation is still open to join as members of the Body of Christ, united in the love of Christ.
We are convinced that our preaching work is important and that even when we do not reach so many people in Belgium, we do hope we can reach some others far away from us. We do hope that our voice may also sound in the darkness and bring some light to people we do not know, but who we do hope to meet in the Kingdom of God. We look forward to meet many new faces, happy to be under the Guidance of the Lord and not bounded by single people, but constructed on the cornerstone Jesus Christ.
Though we may have a different approach in organisation of services we do believe we all should go for the same truth and for the unification under Christ, by which each group might have a different name, but is willing to be united in spirit, sharing to build up and construct positively working to help each other entering the gate of the coming Kingdom.
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Preceding articles:
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Please do find out more about the Christadelphians and find further related articles:

  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. Learn how to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom
  33. Harvest in Belgium
  34. Building up the spirit of the soul
  35. No reconciliation possible between CBM and Duncan Heaster from Carelinks
  36. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  37. Change of name
  38. Quibbling siblings united or allied children of an organisation or a church
  39. Small churches of the few Christadelphians

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Different approach in organisation of services #2

Time of the gentiles ending

After the Germans had invaded Belgium the faithful Bible students continued their preaching work. Even when they had to walk 99 kilometres from Liège to Charleroi along the railroad tracks, these humble coalminers were zealous to attend meetings.

The families Tilmant and Verdière continued to spread the Good News of the Kingdom.

Following Russell’s death, October 31st 1916, a seventh volume—entitled The Finished Mystery—was published in 1917 and advertised as his “posthumous work”. This seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Book of Revelation, but also included interpretations of Ezekiel and the Song of Solomon. An advertisement for the book in Zion’s Watch Tower called it “the true interpretation”, and had it promoted as being “of the Lord—prepared under his guidance.” Immediate controversy surrounded both its publication and content. It was soon established that it was largely written and compiled by two of Russell’s associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Russell’s successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford.

The position and air which Rutherford took was not appreciated by many. The Russellites accused him for betraying Russell. In Belgium as in other countries where the Present Truth was established, a few problems came to light, some people intended to divide.

In the course of events, for what concerns Jumet and the district of Charleroi, the Tilmant family and other people joined Rutherford who was elected president of the Watchtower Society. The strong personality of Rutherford like the one of Robert Roberts made people choosing for other lesser dictatorial figures. Several core doctrines of the Millennialist Restorationist Christian movement that emerged from the teachings and ministries of Dr. John Thomas and Charles Taze Russell, also known as Pastor Russell, got changed. Throughout the world thousands of members left congregations of Bible Students associated with the Watch Tower Society throughout the 1920s prompted in part by Rutherford’s failed predictions for the year 1925, increasing disillusionment with his on-going doctrinal and organizational changes, and his campaign for centralized control of the movement.

Followers in Belgium

Prolific writer and bible Student Paul Samuel Leo Johnson

Prolific writer and bible Student Paul Samuel Leo Johnson

The U.S.A. immigrant from Poland and a prominent Hebrew scholar, Paul Samuel Leo (formerly Levitsky) Johnson attracted many followers in Belgium and other places. In 1903 he had begun began fellowship with the Columbus Ecclesia of the Watch Tower Society and was appointed by Russell as a Pilgrim of the Bible Student movement in 1904. He eventually served as Russell’s personal secretary and in time became Russell’s most trusted friend and advisor. Though for him it became very difficult to cope with those Bible students who challenged the teachings of Pastor C.T. Russell on questions around his understanding of the new covenant and the ransom for all.

The illegal introduction of new by-laws for the Watch Tower Society gave the President Rutherford full control over the affairs of the Society. However, this was not Pastor Russell’s wish. In his last will and testament he had provided for a seven-man board of directors to succeed him. Four members of the Society’s Board of Directors, a majority of the Board, took strong exception to what they regarded as Rutherford’s high-handed behaviour and opposed him. Eventually tension between Rutherford and the directors grew and on July 17, 1917, Ruther­ford simply announced to the Bethel family in Brooklyn, New York, during meal time that he had replaced the four directors with his own appointees, using the legal jargon that the directors who had opposed him did not hold their positions legally under Pennsylvania law.
Ru­therford falsely claimed that the four directors and others with them were refusing to cooperate with the Society. Even today Jehovah’s Wit­nesses are told that the four directors who were expelled from the Watch Tower headquarters were wicked and self-serving.

Missionaries

Lots of serious Bible students like the Thomasites, Russellites and several associated members of the Bible Student Movement opposed the way Rutherford wanted to have the Bible Students moving. The four directors formed an institute to continue the work of Pastor Russell independent of the Society. Others would form corporations of their own. Some Bible Students followed the lead of their favourite elder or teacher. Still others, leery of organization and societies, stayed independent of all others.
Brother Paul Johnson gave his movement the name “Interior Missionary Laity Movement” (one of the unincorporated names used by Pastor Russell and the early IBSA).  From that group the Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Bible Students gave their ideas to some Belgians. Some joined Alexander F.L. Freitag, also known as Freytag, who at the end of 1917, still was responsible manager of the Watchtower edited in French in Switzerland. Freitag founded the group Angel of the Lord (inspired by a verse of the Apocalypse), Angel of Jehovah Bible and Tract Society, then Church of the Kingdom of God or the Philanthropic Assembly of the  “Friends of Man”. A small group was living in the area of Charleroi. Some of them have not followed the 3 movements and have formed an Association of Bible Students. The Young Men’s Mutual Bible Study Associations of brother Robert Ashcroft could attract others. The talks of Frank George Jannaway and his work to protect those who did not want to fight in the World War got probably also some attention, but the different groups were very small and as such came in the danger of oblivion.

Pearls not seen

In 1915 worldwide 50 million Tracts were distributed by the Bible Students.

Belgium got through a period that pearls were not seen.
“47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matthew 13:47-49 NIV)

During World War I there were two small groupsBible Researchers in the Netherlands, namely in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. In 1918 three trial issues of The Watchtower were issued, but there proved insufficient incentive to switch to regular edition.

20° century cries

Members of the Christadelphian Bible Mission (CBM)regularly came to the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium and North of France) or the Netherlands and some of them even found some base to stay in Holland where they started to from again some little groups of Bible Students.

Albert O. Hudson

Albert O. Hudson, founder of the Bible Fellowship Union

Bible Fellowship Union Web site in 2014 November The Bible Fellowship Union has published the ‘Bible Study Monthly’ and literature since 1945 continuing a magazine founded in 1924. Its objective is to promote Bible knowledge. - Bible Fellowship Union Web site in november 2014 - De Bijbel Fellowship Unie heeft  sinds 1945 de 'Bible Monthly' en andere literatuur gepubliceerd in voortzetting van een tijdschrift opgericht in 1924, met als doel de Bijbel kennis te bevorderen.

Bible Fellowship Union Web site in 2014 November The Bible Fellowship Union has published the ‘Bible Study Monthly’ and literature since 1945 continuing a magazine founded in 1924. Its objective is to promote Bible knowledge. – Bible Fellowship Union Web site in november 2014 – De Bijbel Fellowship Unie heeft sinds 1945 de ‘Bible Monthly’ en andere literatuur gepubliceerd in voortzetting van een tijdschrift opgericht in 1924, met als doel de Bijbel kennis te bevorderen.

Also from Great-Britain, where the Bible Fellowship Union was formed, they began publishing The Bible Students Monthly in 1924, later renamed The Bible Study Monthly so as not to be mistaken with the new Watch Tower which previously published a paper by that name. Albert O. Hudson became the general director and served in that capacity until his death at age 101 in 2000. Today it is run by an editorial committee.

But they too had to face a split, with William Crawford, an original member of the British Board of Directors, founding the Old Paths Publications and produced the monthly journal Old Paths. Countless booklets, books, and tracts were produced.

At the time of the split in 1917, the Forest Gate Church was the second largest Bible Student group in England. F. G. Guard, father-in-law of William Crawford, led the class in ­divorcing themselves from the Society. In 1939 they started publishing The Forest Gate Church Bible Monthly, along with booklets and tracts. This group disbanded in 1979.

Facing an other war

The Thomasites found too many where gone to far away from Dr. John Thomas his ideas. They and Australian Biblestudents who also found the Birmingham Christadelphians and CBM were not any more real followers of John Thomas got in contact with some Belgian Biblestudents who wanted to stay as close as possible to the Biblical Truth.

Freitag, former Branch manager of the Swiss Watch Tower Society since 1898, claimed he was the legitimate successor of Charles Taze Russell and sent to the Bible Students The Message of Laodicea (Le Message de Laodicée) and published two journals, the monthly The Monitor of the Reign of Justice (Le Moniteur du Règne de Justice) and the weekly Newspaper for All (Le Journal pour tous).

Freitag’s movement was later continued under the leadership of Édouard Rufener, then Marie Roulin, then Mr. Kohli and the main headquarters became based in Cartigny, Switzerland.

When Freitag died in 1947, one of his followers, Bernard Sayerce (1912–1963), a Roman Catholic schoolteacher, claimed he was his successor. Almost all of the 900 French and Belgian assemblies joined this new group which had a peak of 9,700 members between 1958 and 1962. In 1963, Lydie Sartre (1898–1972), who was named the “Dear Mom”, then Joseph Neyrand (1927–1981) in 1971, replaced Sayerce as leaders of the movement, named “Amis sans frontières” (Friends without borders) in 1984 which is still active today.

The Association of Bible Students and the Association of Bible Researchers (Associatie of Vereniging van Bijbelonderzoekers) got alls sorts of people, from all sorts of denominations, who wanted seriously to investigate what was written in the Holy Scriptures and how we had to interpret it.

Throughout the world many small independent bible student groups got to see how several who first followed Rutherford, also became dissatisfied of the way things where going. As the years went by, more and more of the brethren seeing a change of direction and attitude within the Society soon departed and thus the big exodus started. By 1930 the majority of the brethren who worked closely with Pastor Russell had left the Society — many had been forced out. By this time, all of Pastor Russell’s writings were discarded in favour of the writings of Ruther­ford, writings that contradicted each other. By 1929 over a hundred changes in doctrines had been made; the Society no longer resembled that which was established by Pastor Russell and his early associates. The Society had a new look and a new attitude. No longer was it simply a publishing house for the dissemination of Bible literature. Now it was “God’s Theocratic Organization.” To disagree with it was tantamount to treason against God himself.

Shortly after founding the “Goshen Fellowship” after he was disfellowshipped by N.H. Knorr in 1951 Jesse Hemery died. Jesse Hemery was appointed overseer of the Watch Tower Society’s British Isles branch office by Russell in 1901, holding that post until 1946. In Belgium this group became known under this name but from the 1960-70ies also under the name “Zion’s Herald” after their publication (which started in 1965), which was for years published under directorship of Frank Lewis Brown.

Pamphlets published by opposing sides during t...

Pamphlets published by opposing sides during the dispute over Rutherford’s leadership, 1917. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although many of the original 19° century Bible Students have died, their grandchildren and faithful followers of the first hour group still carry on. Though even today there may be disputes between certain groups claiming that they and not the other one is following the original teaching of Dr. Thomas or Pastor Russell. The Christadelphians became the lesser group in the Bible Student Movement, whilst the International Bible Student Association (IBSA) may find it very difficult to have people to come to see that they are the true followers of Charles Taze Russell and not the Jehovah Witnesses who claim unjustified that Russell would have founded their organisation.

The Watchtower and Tract Society from Brooklyn has gone so far as to state that Bible Students no longer exist, that they have died out and none remain or they say they are the only bible Students.

Hopefully we can convince you that this is not the case and that all over the world several students of the Bible or Bible Students can be found who have nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The American Association of followers of Charles Taze Russell his teachings: the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), not to be confused with the English IBSA of the Jehovah's Witnesses - De Amerikaanse Vereniging van de volgelingen van Charles Taze Russell zijn leer: de International Bible Students Association (IBSA), niet te verwarren met het Engelse IBSA van de Jehovah's Getuigen

The American Association of followers of Charles Taze Russell his teachings: the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), not to be confused with the English IBSA of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – De Amerikaanse Vereniging van de volgelingen van Charles Taze Russell zijn leer: de International Bible Students Association (IBSA), niet te verwarren met het Engelse IBSA van de Jehovah’s Getuigen

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Different approach in organisation of services #1

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

++

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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