PBI Annual Report for Fiscal 2020
The Directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute, Inc. (PBI) and the Editors of its publication, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, rejoice to have served another year in the work of the vineyard (Matthew 20:7).
This past year witnessed many changes. Events have occurred worldwide that have changed the economic, political, and social aspects of our time. The rapid pace at which these happenings have transpired has surprised and startled many. Not only Bible students, but serious people everywhere are searching for the meaning in the midst of the tumult.
Many have endeavored to connect the events to Biblical prophecies and to predict still future events. While none can predict with certainty the impact of any crisis, we attempt to adhere to the Apostle Paul’s admonition to respect prophecy, to prove all things, and to hold to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). We seek to understand these events in the context of what we know must occur during the harvest time of the Gospel Age, preparing for the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth — the proclamation of which this Institute is committed to uphold. Let us rejoice that we are still able to publish this proclamation in the midst of such uncertainty.
A significant change in the Institute occurred during the past year with the sudden death of our beloved Chairman, Timothy Thomassen, just prior to last year’s annual meeting. Brother Tim’s humble devotion to the work of the PBI was evidenced by his length of service, as a member of the Editorial Committee from 1978-1987, then as Chairman of the Board from 1988 until his death in July 2019. His unwavering commitment and diligence in assuring the continuation of the publication of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom was an example to all. He will be sincerely missed.
Since Tim’s death occurred after our annual election by the membership, the Board was required by the PBI By-Laws to appoint an interim director to fill the remainder of his term. After prayerful consideration, at its first quarterly meeting, the Board elected Dan Wesol to complete this term and he humbly accepted. Additionally, the Directors want to express our gratitude for the service of Bro. David Christiansen, who has served as a director and Secretary of the Board for the past eight years. Though he will still be active in service work for the Institute, due to health reasons, Bro. David is no longer able to accept service as a director.
Our activities during the year in addition to publishing The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom included cooperation with brethren in Poland, India, and Croatia to publish foreign language versions of the magazine; publication of the Revised Version Improved and Corrected Bible (see insert in this issue); and representation at conferences/conventions in Brazil and Australia.
PBI Directors Elected. The election of the Board of Directors occurred during April and May. The membership of the Pastoral Bible Institute elected the following brethren (in alphabetical order) to serve as Directors for one year beginning in July: Todd Alexander, Jeff Earl, Len Griehs, Ernie Kuenzli, Tom Ruggirello, George Tabac, Dan Wesol. These directors will appoint a new editorial committee at the Institute’s annual meeting. Due to uncertainties surrounding the near future of large gatherings and the postponement of the General Convention of Bible Students, the current directors voted to hold the PBI annual meeting via videoconference on Saturday, July 25, at 2:00 Eastern time. A letter and notification of the meeting have gone out to all members. Those wishing to attend the online meeting should call or write the PBI office for information on how to do so.
The Board and Editors wish especially to thank all those volunteers who labor on our behalf to produce our publications and to assure that the PBI continues to use its resources and energy to accomplish the tasks that Jehovah sets before us.
The Directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute, May, 2020
The Museum of the Bible announced its intent to return approximately 5,000 papyri fragments and 6,500 clay objects to officials in Egypt and Iraq. In the statement, Steve Green, Chairman of the Museum, cited the “insufficient provenance” of the objects and his aim to “do the right thing” as the primary motivations for the return. The announcement came less than two weeks after the museum published a report that all the Dead Sea Scroll fragments in their collection are modern forgeries. — Bible History Daily, 4/6/2020
The British Labour party elected a new leader, Keir Starmer, who plans to do more than just replace former leader Jeremy Corbyn — he plans to “tear out” the “poison” of anti‑Semitism that had become associated with Corbyn and the party. Starmer’s stance against the anti‑Semitism that had become associated with Corbyn has given some Jews in the UK hope. — The MidEast Update, 4/5/2020
Medicine has waged a war, aided by ever‑improving technology, to forestall death as long as possible, even if some patients’ most important moments were spent in a hospital, largely disconnected from loved ones and often unaware of what was going on. Our culture of medicalized death has become so strong that, remarkably, overtreatment still takes place in 38% of cases, when the patient has made it known that they do not want it. — RNS, 4/13/2020
The mass transit systems that allowed some of the world’s most densely populated financial capitals to grow and flourish for a century, including New York City and Tokyo, are emerging as a major concern because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Challenges with commuting could keep offices in those locations shut for longer than other places where people can more easily drive to work, human resources and real‑estate executives say. Companies are starting to consider alternatives to mass transit, such as company car allowances, private bus services and leasing smaller office space in suburban locations closer to where many workers live. — Wall Street Journal, 4/27/2020
Food banks face going millions of dollars over budget as they struggle to meet surging demand from those hit hard by mass layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Across the US, not‑for‑profit groups are buying truckloads of increasingly expensive food to cope with the sharp increase in the “new needy” — and the dramatic decline in donations from supermarkets left empty by panic shoppers. The pressures are widespread and growing, according to more than 20 food banks and pantries across 15 states consulted by the Guardian. For example, in Pennsylvania, food banks are spending an extra $1m a week and yet still turning families away. — The Guardian, 4/17/2020
Farmers around the country have been forced to dump milk and waste fresh produce as schools and restaurants remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Publix Supermarkets announced that it will purchase fresh produce and milk from farmers impacted by the coronavirus crisis and donate the goods directly to Feeding America food banks. — SunnySkyz, 4/24/2020
When a small local grocery store in Ontario (Canada) caught someone stealing, they decided to offer help. A Twitter user said he witnessed a man stealing at a grocery store. Instead of calling police, the owner of the store gave the stranger bags of free food “We were simply helping someone in need, many are very fortunate NOT to worry about their next meal,” the company wrote on Twitter. The decision to help the person in question has had a far‑reaching impact on the community. — Sunny Skyz, 4/24/2020
Healthcare workers surprised a taxi driver in Spain with a standing ovation and an envelope of money to thank him for routinely bringing Coronavirus patients to the hospital without charging them. The cab driver was lured to a hospital in Madrid under the impression that he was picking up a patient. Instead, he was greeted with a round of applause from dozens of healthcare workers lined up just inside the hospital’s entrance. The Spanish taxi union shared footage to social media, where it has been viewed more than 11 million times. — SunnySkyz, 4/20/2020
Governments that use the Euro as their currency agreed to a lending program of 540 billion Euros to deal with the short-term impact of the health crisis across the bloc. But Eurozone finance ministers couldn’t agree on sharing the burden of extra public debts arising from the deep economic slump in southern Europe. Germany and other EU nations have balked at helping Italy with the financial crisis there. Italian pollster Renato Mannheimer, “I am very worried for Italy and for the very survival of Europe. If this goes on, Europe will collapse.” — Wall Street Journal, 4/10/2020
In December 2019, as protests against a controversial new citizenship law swept India, three incidents in different parts of the country revealed the state’s growing powers of surveillance. In Delhi, police officers used facial recognition devices to screen individuals entering a protest venue. In Chennai, surveillance drones circled above a protest march. And in Hyderabad, police stopped a pedestrian and fingerprinted him to check for “past criminal activity.” The CEO of an Indian facial recognition software company called FaceTagr made the pervasive character of such surveillance starkly clear when he proudly proclaimed that his company’s new technology would enable the police to photograph anyone who looked suspicious and check the image against a criminal database. — Foreign Affairs, February 2020
China’s supply chain for medical goods is devolving into a freeforall as foreign governments, hospitals and businesses descend on the country to secure protective gear. Chinese factories are taking advantage of the position, dictating buying conditions and demanding advance payments in full. Chinese manufacturers demand as much as 50% upon signing the supply contact and the other 50% before the goods are handed over. Some medical institutions have been asked to put down payments before being provided with an address for a factory where ventilators are being held. Normal terms are 30‑day payments after goods are received. — Wall Street Journal, 4/24/2020
In the U.S., over 9 million homeowners 65 and over — 40% of that age group — have mortgage debt, up nearly 60% from a decade ago, with the median debt totaling $72,000. About 20% of seniors 80 and over have mortgage debt, with a median amount owed of $43,000. It will likely become more burdensome as the number of out-of-work seniors find savings eaten away. — Wall Street Journal, 4/11/2020
Lebanon and Argentina have already defaulted on their debts this year; Ecuador and Zambia are on the edge. Behind them, a large group of countries could be pushed into default by the coronavirus crisis, including Angola, Tunisia and Ghana. Even rich countries like Italy face such serious debt crisis that it threatens to rip the Eurozone apart. Before we had even heard of Covid19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that 34 countries were at risk of debt distress. It is not simply the impact of coronavirus that has created this debt crisis. Rather, the pandemic has exposed, once again, what a crisis‑prone and unsustainable global economy we have. — Global Justice Now, 4/23/2020
The U.S. federal government’s massive stimulus to cushion Americans and businesses from the coronavirus is forecast to swell the U.S. federal budget deficit by $1.6 trillion during this fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office said, making it equivalent to more than 10% of gross domestic product. That would make it the biggest by that measure since World War II as well as a record in dollar terms. — Bloomberg News, 4/16/2020
Tourism will fall all across the world this summer due to the effects of the coronavirus shutdowns, and southern Europe will be among the hardest‑hit regions. Travel and tourism account for a relatively large portion of the economy: 15% of gross domestic product in Spain, 13% in Italy and 21% in Greece, according to World Travel and Tourism Council, while also providing a high percentage of jobs. “Fear of traveling will probably last longer than the pandemic itself, said a Dutch Bank economist. — Wall Street Journal, 4/23/2020
The number of Jews in the world currently stands at 14 million, according to data released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). According to the CBS, there were 14.7 million Jews at the end of 2018, just shy of the 14.8 million there were in 1925, but significantly fewer than the 16.6 million that were on the eve of World War II in 1939. At that time, only 3% of the world’s Jewry (about 449,000) lived in prestate Israel, with that number increasing to about 650,000 on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. The 6.7 million Jews who live in Israel now account for 45% of the world Jewry. Of them, 5.2 million were born in Israel. The United States has the second‑largest Jewish population with 5.7 million, followed by France with about 450,000, Canada with 392,000, the United Kingdom with 292,000, Argentina with 180,000, Russia with 165,000, Germany with 118,000 and Australia with some 116,000 Jews. — Ynet News, 4/18/2020
The town of Bethsaida appears in the New Testament as a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee and the hometown of the apostles Peter, Andrew, and Philip. In the first century C.E., it became a polis (Greek city) and was renamed Julias. Over the past two millennia, the exact location of this site was lost — partly due to the Sea of Galilee’s shifting shoreline. However, archaeologists think they have found Bethsaida once more! In fact, two sites now vie for this identity. The candidates are et‑Tell, excavated by Rami Arav, and el‑Araj, excavated by Mordechai Aviam and R. Steven Notley. — Bible History Daily, February 2020
The names of three places that appear in the Biblical account of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt correspond to Egyptian place names from the same era. The Bible recounts that, as slaves, the Israelites were forced to build the store‑cities of Pithom and Ramses. After the ten plagues, the Israelites left Egypt and famously crossed the Yam Suph (translated Red Sea or Reed Sea), whose waters were miraculously parted for them. The Biblical names Pithom, Ramses and Yam Suph (Red Sea or Reed Sea) correspond to the Egyptian place names Pi‑Ramesse, Pi‑Atum and (Pa‑)Tjuf. These three place names appear together in Egyptian texts only from the Ramesside Period. — Biblical Archaeology Review, 3/7/2020
Israel intelligence services are playing a significant role in the effort to eradicate the coronavirus. Mossad chief Yossi Cohen heads a multi‑agency team coordinating emergency acquisition efforts for medical equipment around the world. At the Sheba Medical Center, the largest such facility in the Middle East, a specially created nerve center amasses, reviews and analyzes all the information about the virus published around the world. It is staffed by some 400 IDF intelligence experts and analysts working around the clock under the command of the Intelligence Directorate’s technological branch. The elite Sayeret Matkal commando force has been mobilized for the nationwide coronavirus testing effort, taking advantage of its skills and flexibility for the unusual mission. — Al‑Monitor, 4/24/2020