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History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower Society)

February 24, 2024 by

William Heinrich

1852Birth of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1867Russell joined a Congregational Church at the age of 15 (his parents were Presbyterians).
1869 Russell became an agnostic. (17)
1870Russell regained his faith and became very interested in the Bible after attending a Second Adventist Bible study.
1872 Charles Taze Russell founded the International Bible Students Association in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1874Year designated by Charles Taze Russell as the year of Christ’s invisible return (with the visible return to occur in 1914).
1877Russell co-wrote and published Three Worlds and the Harvest of This World.
1879Russell began publishing the Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence magazine.
1881Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was established as an unincorporated body (incorporated in 1884).
1886Russell began writing Studies in the Scriptures, which came to be considered second only to the Bible in its importance.
1908Russell moved headquarters from Pittsburgh to New York.
1914Year designated by Russell for Christ’s second coming.
1916Russell died and was succeeded by “Judge” Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942). Rutherford had not been chosen by Russell and was elected amidst some controversy.
1925Year predicted by Rutherford as year Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets would return to earth.
1931Judge Rutherford adopted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” for the group, based on Isaiah 43:10.
1942Rutherford died and was succeeded by Nathan Homer Knorr (1905-77).
1975Year predicted for Armageddon, based on calculation of Adam’s creation (determined to be 4026 BC) plus 6000 years.
1977Death of Knorr, who was succeeded by Frederick Franz. Franz explained the uneventful 1975 by noting that perhaps Eve was created several months or years after Adam, and Armageddon would occur 6000 years from that date.
1993Milton Henschel succeeded Franz.