Fred Franz Discredited the Concept of a "Governing Body"
The last page of the February 1, 1976, Watchtower, was devoted to a notification entitled "Governing Body Adjustments." The article advised that the Governing Body had, as of January 1, 1976, formed six supervisory committees: Service Committee, Writing Committee, Publishing Committee, Teaching Committee, Personnel Committee, and Chairman's Committee. This was, of course, big news in the world of JWs. Prior to this time virtually all important policy- and procedure-making decisions depended ultimately upon the approval of one man--the Society's president, Nathan H. Knorr. The February 1 article did not elaborate, but it soon became clear within Brooklyn Bethel that these committees were now operating with a measure of authority that previously had been possessed only by Knorr. The president of the Society no longer wielded absolute, total control.
A year later, in the January 1, 1977, Watchtower, the article "Serving With the Faithful Slave" said regarding these changes (in paragraph 16):
To meet further demands of expansion, it was arranged in 1971 to increase the number of "older men" serving as the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses from seven (the directors of the Watch Tower Society) to a total of eleven members. Further expansion, to eighteen members, took place late in 1974; of these, John Groh has since finished his earthly course. And it was during the next year, 1975, that one of the most significant organizational readjustments in the 100-year history of the modern-day witnesses of Jehovah came under consideration. After discussions that continued through most of that year, the reorganization was approved on December 4, 1975, by a unanimous vote of the seventeen members of the Governing Body. It became operative from January 1, 1976.
This article then continued on (in paragraph 17) to outline how the recently formed committees operated:
quote:The mention of "a unanimous vote" suggests that there was little or no disagreement about divesting President Knorr of complete control over operations of the Society and making all members of the Governing Body "equals". Why, then, did it require nearly a year's worth of discussion?
"Under this one Head [Jesus Christ], the anointed members of the Governing Body serve as equals, with a chairman rotating alphabetically each year. Administrative responsibilities are divided among the Chairman's Committee of three members (comprising the chairman for the current year, for the previous year and for the year to follow), and five permanent committees of from five to seven members, which oversee the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses world wide."
While very few at the time realized it, just four months prior to this "empowerment" of the Governing Body, Society Vice President Fred Franz had revealed some clues about the discussions that were then still taking place. In his September 7, 1975, Gilead Graduation talk, Fred Franz revealed his personal feelings about what was then being debated and negotiated among the seventeen Governing Body members, and in so doing Scripturally disproved the existence of any Christian "Governing Body."
To make his point that the graduating missionaries were being sent out by the Watch Tower Society--and NOT by any "Governing Body", he drew upon the example of those evangelizers sent out by the Antioch Congregation of the first century. Here are excerpts from a transcript of his talk [I have retained Franz's word whiskers and verbal gaffs, even though this at times interferes with the fluidity of reading; all caps have been used where he raised his voice for emphasis, and bolding has been used to identify key thoughts]:
quote:Fred Franz Discredited a GB -- Part II
Well, you missionaries, you're being sent forth today, after your graduation as missionaries. The last, eh, telegram we heard was about two being sent to Bolivia. There were others who're being sent, maybe four or six or, or eight to a, a different country as assignment for work. Now don't you missionaries think because you are being sent forth two together, or maybe four or six or maybe eight, that you are being sent forth as a committee to take over the work in the land to which you're assigned. No such thing. You are being sent forth as individual missionaries to cooperate together, and to cooperate with the branch of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society which is operating and directing the work in the land to which you are assigned to act as an evangelizer. So don't get this committee idea into your head because you're being sent out in groups to a special land.
Now, Jesus Christ finished his course as the greatest evangelizer of all. And then time moves on, and there is a man who comes on the scene, and he is the only one who is directly called an evangelizer; that's his personal title--we find it in Acts chapter 21, verse 8. And that is Philip of Caesarea. And when Paul visited him on his stopover there at Caesarea, why he was called "Philip the evangelizer." He's the only one! Paul told Timothy in his final letter, 2 Timothy 4:5, that he should "do the work of an evangelizer." But Philip is the one who is directly--and the only one--thus called personally "an evangelizer." But of course we know there were other evangelizers. Now how did this man come on the scene, and who made him an evangelizer or missionary? Now that's the point to observe. Well, we remember how the scripture in Ephesians four, verse eleven, tells us how the Lord Jesus Christ ascended on high and led a body of captive, and how he gave "gifts" in the form of men. Verse eleven says he gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelizers … and some as shepherds and teachers. The Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Congregation … he gave not only apostles, not only prophets, but also evangelizers.
[ … contents abbreviated … ]
And then after that, what happened? Why, God's, Jehovah's angel talks to Philip and says, 'Now you go.' This is … the assignment for you, from Jehovah's angel. 'You go down to the road that leads south from Jerusalem to Gaza.' And he went down there on that assignment from Jehovah's angel. And then is when he had the encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. And he baptized him, and after the baptism, why he was quickly caught away, or led away, by God's spirit. And he went down there to the Philistine people, then up the coast of Caesarea, where he settled down and he had four daughters, and he was there as an evangelist when the apostle Paul came on that boat trip back to the Holy Land. And so that's what happened with Philip, how he became an evangelizer. Now these are things to note, friends.
Then something happened right after that. And, eh, the Lord Jesus Christ took action. And he took direct action without consulting any man or body of men on earth. And that's when He, the Head of the Congregation, met Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor there, on the road leading to Damascus. He stopped him! And he said , 'Now, this is a chosen vessel unto me. I'm choosing him as the Head of the Church, without consulting any people on earth.' And he chose Saul to be an evangelizer, to carry the message not only to the Jews but also to all the gentile nations.
Well, what about Jerusalem and the body down there? Later on the account tells us that Barnabas took Paul, or Saul of Tarsus, down to Jerusalem. But they were all afraid of him! And Saul of Tarsus, or Paul, tells us that when he went up there to Jerusalem he saw none of the apostles except Peter, with whom he spent fifteen days, and also, uh, the apostle James. [Nota bene: this is an error, as Galatians 1:18, 19 indicates it was "James the brother of the Lord," not the apostle James.] Those are the only two. And then he went back to Tarsus, and, uh, he continued on his way. Later on, why, Barnabas was sent down there to Antioch, and he hunted up Saul, brought him there, and, uh, they talked in Antioch for quite a while. Paul became a member of the Antioch congregation. And he was one of the prophets there in that congregation, specially mentioned. And then, all of a sudden, as he was serving there, uh, in Antioch, in Syria … not in Israel, but in Syria … why, God's spirit spoke to that congregation there in Antioch and said, 'Now, of all things you set aside, you, this congregation in Antioch, YOU set aside these two men, namely, Barnabas and Saul, for the work for which I have commissioned them.' And so the Antioch congregation did that! And they laid their hands upon Paul, or Saul, and Barnabas and sent them forth as a number of translations read … 'sent them forth.' And then they went forth by the holy spirit operating through the Antioch congregation, and they went out on their first missionary assignment.
So you see, the Lord Jesus Christ was acting as Head of the congregation and taking action directly, without consulting anybody here on earth what he could do or what he could NOT do. And he acted in that way with regard to, to Saul and Barnabas. And they were both apostles of the Antioch congregation. And so they went out on the work and had great success, and in course of time they completed their first missionary tour, and where did they go … where did they report? Well, there's a record, you read it for yourself in the closing verses of the fourteenth chapter of Acts: THEY WENT BACK TO ANTIOCH, TO THE CONGREGATION THERE, and the account says they related things in detail to them, to this congregation that had committed them to the undeserved kindness of God for the work that they had performed. So there's where they reported. So the record also says, now they stayed in Antioch not a little time.
Well, now, what happened? All of a sudden something, eh, occurs, and, uh, Paul and Barnabas, they go up to Jerusalem. Well, what's the matter? What brings them up to Jerusalem? Well, is it, uh, the body of apostles and of other elders of the Jerusalem congregation that have summoned them up there and said, 'Looka here. We have heard that you two men have gone out on a missionary tour … and you finished it, and you haven't come up here to Jerusalem to report to us. DO YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE? We're the Counsel of Jerusalem! Do you two recognize the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ? If you don't come on up here in a hurry, we're going to take disciplinary action against you.' Is that what the account says? Well, if they had acted that way toward Paul and Barnabas, because they reported to the congregation, uh, by means of which the holy spirit had sent them out, then this Counsel of Jerusalem, of apostles and of other elders of the Jewish congregation would have put themselves ABOVE the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But that isn't what occurred. You know what happened, how Jews came down from Jerusalem and stirred up the matter of circumcision, and, eh, it troubled the congregation there in Antioch so much that the ANTIOCH congregation sent Paul and Barnabas UP TO JERUSALEM, to have the Counsel settle the issue. And, of course, being sent by the Couns … by the congregation at Antioch, they had to come back and report and advise the congregation of the settlement of the question, or the decision that was made by the Counsel there at Jerusalem. And THEN it was, when they were arguing in favor of Christians from the gentiles not having to be circumcised like Jews … it was THEN that Paul and Barnabas told what God had done by means of them in the gentile world. And THEN it was that the counsel got the report. Then they went back to Antico...och,, which had sent them forth to make known the decision, and the Jewish, then, eh, Counsel , why, sent along two men, Judas and Silas, with them. And so they delivered the report from the Counsel and, eh, there was great rejoicing among the gentile believers.
Now time passes, and Paul and Barnabas are at Antioch. And what occurs now? Well, did they receive an assignment from somewhere … on their next move? The account says that, eh, the two men, Paul and Barnabas, Paul says to him, he says, 'Of all things let us go and visit the congregations that we have established.' And, eh, they were agreed on, on this matter. And then, eh, the matter of, uh, accompaniment came up-who was gonna go with them? And, eh, Barnabas was in favor of Mark … John Mark. But, eh, Paul didn't want him, because he had left them in Pamphylia in Asia Minor and had not gone along with them to the finish of the first missionary tour. So Paul didn't have any confidence, eh, in Mark for the time being. And they had a great altercation, as you know. And it resulted in a split! And Barnabas took along Mark, and it proved to be a good choice, because afterwards Paul appreciated now the faithfulness of Mark and said, 'He's a useful servant even to me.'
But what about Paul? Well, he chose Silas, or Silvanus, as his companion in his missionary tour. And here's one thing we must note again … now this happened up in Antioch. Toward the close of the fifteenth chapter of Acts it says that after Paul and Barnabas had been commended by the brothers of the Antioch congregation to the undeserved kindness of God, that they went forth on the second missionary tour of the apostle Paul. So again the Antioch congregation is being used to send out missionaries. …
And so, as we examine this account of these two most outstanding among the missionaries, uh, recorded, in, uh, Bible history, we find that they were sent out especially by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church … a fact which the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has upheld and accepted ever since the Society was formed. So we see how the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church has a right to act direct, without other organizations in view, no matter WHO we are. He's the Head of the Church, and we can't challenge what HE does.
After elaborating on how Jesus Christ had 'used' C. T. Russell as a modern-day evangelizer, Franz continued his talk with an historical look at the origins of the Gilead School, evidently intending to remind his audience that it was not a "Governing Body", but the president of the Society who had been 'used' by God to bring about this marvelous educational institution. His comments regarding how the Society's president was "viewed" are of particular note, as they suggest what the Governing Body's nearly year-long discussions were aimed at bringing about …
quote:It is interesting that, after a nearly year-long struggle to wrest control of the Society from its then president, Nathan Knorr, the Governing Body twenty-five years later has seemingly relinquished that control by resigning their positions as directors and transferring oversight of the existing and newly created legal entities to others. One wonders whether these recent developments will--like similar adjustments in the past--become future "fulfillments" of prophetic speculation and a divinely ordained corrective realignment of "God's Organization."
Well, so that Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, uh, operated throughout the years, and then, to make the story short, we come down to the year 1942. And I can remember a special meeting that was held on Thursday, September the 24th, of the year 1942. A new president had, eh, arisen to preside over the affairs of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. And on this specified date, why, he called a joint meeting of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Corporation and of the New York Corporation. There was a joint meeting of us members of these boards. Because both of these corporations were involved, now, in the project that was going to be submitted, uh, to this body of men. And I can remember how there was at that meeting, which was held up in Brother Rutherford's, eh, the former president's, eh, office, there were present the president, the new president, N. H. Knorr, and also vice president H. C. Covington, and secretary-treasurer W. E. Van Amburgh, and, uh, H. H. Riemer, who was my roommate at the time, and also T. J. Sullivan, and Arthur Goux, and myself. There were all seven members of the New York Corporation present at that meeting. And there were five members of the Pennsylvania Corporation at that meeting.
Now, we got together, and the president of the Society, of both societies, Brother Knorr, uh, he first read a portion of the charter of the New York Corporation to this joint board meeting. How it was devoted to, uh, promoting the preaching and teaching of the Good News. And then he called attention to the fact that up there at Kingdom Farm there was this building, Gilead by name, and it was not being used to the full extent, only to one third of its capacity. And then he pointed out the fact, something that he had cherished in his heart for a long time, that this would be an excellent place to establish a SCHOOL, for the training and preparing of missionaries.
Well, this was a delightful proposal that was submitted by the president to all the rest of us, uh, board members, and there was favorable discussion all around about this proposed school. And then my roommate, H. H. Riemer, he made the motion that the president of these societies set in motion the operation to establish such a school for the preparing of men and women who at a moment's notice could be sent out in preaching work to different countries. Then, H. C. Covington, the vice president and also the legal counsel, he added something to Riemer's motion, and he said that the president of the Society should be AUTHORIZED to make all plans and arrangements to see that this school is established according to his discretion, and that he should also make all plans and arrangements to see that this school is financed and kept in operation. Well, I seconded that motion, and the motion was unanimously, eh, acc, eh…accepted, approved by all those present. And right after that, then, the president, he made further proposals about educational work of the societies, and proposed the publication of a school textbook that would be used by ALL the congregations of Jehovah's people. And after the motion was made, why T. J. Sullivan approved of that educational motion, too. So that now the question was thrown to a united board meeting and this was also unanimously approved.
So, you see, dear friends, that the boards of directors of the New York Corporation and of the Pennsylvania as constituted back there, they had respect for the office of the president, and they did not treat the president of these organizations as a poker-faced, immobilized figurehead presiding over a society, a 'do-nothing' society.
Well, you can ask Brother Arthur Goux what he remembers of that meeting, he was there. And here is a copy of the minutes of that meeting [he opens a copy of the minutes; a rustle of noise is evident from the audience], to verify what I've told you. So you can see that, eh, this society really has the right and the authority to send out missionaries. That's the challenging question I raised at the very beginning of this talk. And that society has continued on till now sending out missionaries now to the number of more than five thousand. Now isn't that a wonderful? [Audience responds with sustained applause.]
And I'm sure that many of us here today are very glad that Jehovah has preserved the original president of the school down till now, and as president of the New York Corporation, why, he will continue in his office until the end of the current term on July 1st, Nineteen Hundred…or rather January 1st, eh, Nine…Eighteen…, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Six.
And when you come to think about it, dear friends, it's really remarkable. Today, do you know, is the seventh day of September, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Five. [Loud audience stirring can be heard.] And do you know what that means according to this diary, Hebrew diary, from the land of Israel? Why this is the second day of the month Tishri of the lunar year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Six. And do you know what that means? That here on this day of your graduation, why, it is the second day of the SEVENTH MILLENNIUM of man's existence here on earth. Isn't that something? Isn't that something, friends? [Loud applause from the audience.] That the opening days of the seventh millennium of mankind's existence is signalized by the operation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in full compliance with the terms of its charter, sending out the fifty-ninth class of the Gilead School for missionaries. And furthermore, I'm told that, eh, by the arrangement of the New York Corporation, we already have some twenty brothers and sisters who are going to form class number sixty in the Gilead School. And, very interesting that at the end of sixty centuries of human existence here on earth, why class number SIXTY is going to start its schooling at the opening of the seventh millennium of mankind's existence.
These are, eh, surprising things, startling things, HAPPIFYING things over which we can rejoice. And I'm sure that many of us here can be very, very happy that Jehovah God put into the mind of Brother Knorr and into his heart to establish this missionary school at Gilead. Jehovah God certainly has blessed it, and by its fruits, why it has become KNOWN as an approved agency in the hand of Jehovah God, so that there is no NEED to challenge the RIGHT and the AUTHORITY of this society to send out missionaries. And, friends, notice this, that just as God used the Antioch congregation to send out the two most out...two of the most outstanding missionaries of the first century, Paul and Barnabas, so today Jehovah God is using the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the New York Corporation, to send out further missionaries. And they're determined to keep ON in that course. That's something very, very gratifying.
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