Charles T. Russell Biography
Active in the Christian Congregationalist church in Pennsylvania, Charles T. Russell broke off and formed an independent congregation in 1880. Russell wrote and lectured on Biblical prophesy, preaching that the return of the invisible spirit of Jesus Christ happened in 1874. Russell believed that Jesus would rule for 1,000 years, and that all people (living and dead) would eventually be divinely judged. Russell began publishing his journal, The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, in 1879, and in 1884 he formed The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society. He traveled internationally and relocated to Brooklyn, New York, earning followers across the globe. Russell did not claim divinity himself, nor did he declare any special revelations, but he did have a strict interpretation of the Bible and his leadership caused some to call him a messenger chosen by God. After his death his followers split, with some following Judge Joseph F. Rutherford, who coined the term "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the 1930s. Today the religion claims 6,000,000 members worldwide.