Monday, April 7, 2014

Asking for the Impossible

Russell and other Watch Tower evangelists visited Newark, New Jersey, several times in the 1880s. I've looked everywhere I can think of for an outside-the-Watchtower notice of his visits. Can't find anything ... Can you?

In incomplete rough draft, here is what we have ...

A meeting in Newark, New Jersey, was hosted by E. M. Deems. This may have been the wife of Rev. Edward M. Deems, a Presbyterian. If so, she didn’t maintain an interest in Watch Tower teachings. It is, we think, more likely that this is a misspelling for F. M. Deans who occasionally wrote to Storrs. A poem by Deans appeared in the September 1879 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower.

            A Second Adventist congregation in Newark was described as small by the May 2, 1860 issue of The Troy, New York, Daily Whig: “The Second Adventists of Newark still keep up their weekly meetings, and are firmly grounded in the belief that the end of all things is close at hand. The number of believers habitually in attendance at the meetings is but small, but there is no lack of zeal or fervor."

            By Russell’s visit, there were two Adventist congregations in Newark, The First Society of Second Adventists, apparently a sort of unity congregation hosting both Life and Advent Union and Advent Christian Association believers, met at 12 Academy Street. The were “numerically weak and of slow growth. [1] The were “numerically weak and of slow growth.” Church of the Messiah, an Evangelical Adventist congregation, met at 24 Washington Street.[2] More importantly because their theology was much closer to Russell’s, a small One Faith congregation met in a private home. We first find them mentioned in a report about a One Faith conference held in Brooklyn, New York.[3] They seem to have been a committed body of believers, and at least one of their number wrote a tract. Published in 1876 and entitled The True Church, it was based on Matthew 16:16, 17, and meant to “show that the True Church is neither Greek, Protestant, nor Catholic.”[4] Interest would have come primarily from these groups. The Newark meeting was by far the most successful, and we will return to it.

[1]               W. H. Shaw: History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey, Everts & Peck, Philadelphia, 1884, volume 1, page 522. They drop out of the record in 1894.
[2]               Quarter Century of Progress of New Jersey’s Leading Manufacturing Centres, New York, 1887, page 54.
[3]               J. Donaldson: Report of Conference: Brooklyn, New York, The Restitution, November 5, 1874.
[4]               Publications for Sale at the Restitution Office, The Restitution, November 16, 1876. The tract was by William Shepherd.  We couldn’t locate a copy.

1 comment:

Ton Hollander said...

The Washington Street Church could be gathering with Mrs EM Deels, 500 Washington Street, see reprints page 112

NEWARK, N.J...Mrs. E. M. Deems, 500 Washin't'n st.
Tuesday night, June 9th.