The previous article in this series published in “The Lampstand” Volume 1, Number 6 set out the background to the establishment of the GPA telling how, from small beginnings, a major work of gospel proclamation was developed. In this concluding article the history of the GPA from 1967 to the present day is considered.

GPA meetings were held regularly every month on a Monday evening and a very good excuse was required if a committee member was not to be in attendance. If you could not come, Brother Lindsay would ask you to send a report on your work performed during the month. Brother Arthur Edgecombe became President and Brother Lindsay Colquhoun continued as Secretary with Brother Lewis Luke the Treasurer.

The Association’s activities were varied and many. They sponsored public addresses in country and suburban halls with the ecclesia in the area and provided “hymn books” specially printed for this work, plus display stands for booklets, charts, signs and lighting etc. Brother Gordon Riddle, who built a trailer for the purpose, ably erected and manned these displays.

1967-1973 A Time of Change—Israel at War and the Effects on the GPA

 Constant tension in the Middle East, the cold war, friction between the super powers, the persecution reports of the Jews in Communist Russia, Arab powers flexing their muscles over the supply of oil, all set an environment for public interest in our message. In 1967, the Six Day War saw Israel re-capture Jerusalem, highlighting the remarkable fulfilment of Bible Prophecy. The ecclesias were alive, and enthusiastic, loyal support for all meetings was evident to all. Sadly those who recall the excitement of that time lament the drift into the indifference so evident in our ecclesial life today. Mr Rabin is assassinated bringing leaders from all parts of the world to Jerusalem, yet does the brotherhood sit with fixed expectancy and ponder yet another urgent sign to the household to “watch and pray”?

 The New Look Digest of Truth

 Brethren Peter Weller, Jeff Berry and Arthur Edgecombe worked on the “new look” coloured Digest of Truth leaflet No 148 based on the recapture of Jerusalem and sent it to ecclesias Australia wide to seek orders.

The result was astounding. The normal 35,000 distribution of the cheaper single colour digest was immediately increased in a first run to 100,000 for the new look version, only to result in many thousands of re-runs following. The original Digest leaflet was a written article on some topic of interest either doctrinal or prophetic and was rather drab when compared to the new illustrated model featuring pictures, charts and colours.

It would be interesting to know how many brethren actually found their interest in the Truth during this period, particularly through the extensive preaching activity conducted by the ecclesias around the world at this time.

 Amazing Personal Efforts

 Some individual brethren showed amazing zeal, and one in particular placed a regular order for 10,000 Digest leaflets every three months just for his personal distribution with his wife, putting to shame many ecclesias.

Widespread Public Response

 Many hundreds of applications for literature resulted from these distributed leaflets and Brother Lindsay Colquhoun would report monthly on the numbers and locality of them from all around the world.

During this time, the GPA Post Office Box number was almost exclusively used by all ecclesias and after recording the details and placing the names on a twelve monthly list to receive the Heralds, the names were forwarded to ecclesias who were asked to regularly report on progress.

Brother Bruce Johns and Sister Jeanie gave wonderful support to Brother Lindsay and Sister Del from this time until Brother Lindsay’s illness and demise, and largely took over their duties. Brother Arnold Cheek held stocks of Heralds as advertised on the leaflets and in newspapers and distributed them in bulk as they were required. Brother John King held the printing blocks used by ecclesias in their local paper adverts and lent them out as required.

All committee members had their specific roles and knew the importance of fulfilling their duties for the overall success of this labour of proclaiming the Gospel. Little did we all realise in 1967, nor would we have believed it possible, that now thirty years later we would still be patiently awaiting our Lord’s return.

Printer Problems Solved

 Brother Stan Mansfield, our printer in Victoria, indicated his inability to handle the volume of work and suggested we look for a local printer. Brother Perce Mansfield asked brethren Peter and Arthur to arrange the Digest separately, doing the artwork, writing the material, arranging orders and distribution. This was duly done for the next issue and again over 100,000 Digest leaflets were printed for ecclesias using an “outside” printer in Adelaide.

As the only thing we were not doing was the printing, Brother Arthur and Brother Peter decided to set up a small printing business to do this work and to buy the necessary offset printing machinery, plate making equipment, guillotine, etc.

On the Easter weekend of 1968 the first offset printing machine was delivered for a trial run. Much was learned about printing hazards. Which way does the grain in the paper run? How do you overcome “static” which causes the paper to stick to the printing drum instead of being discharged? How much ink do you allow to feed through the jets? etc. Sisters Sandra and Shirley kept up snacks and drinks while Arthur and Peter covered themselves in paper and ink in the Weller garage from early morn to early morn for four days. After much pain and anxiety the orders were completed.

Later Brother Neil and Sister Doreen Arnold took the printing machine home to their storeroom and learned how to operate it. They did this work faithfully for a long period, Sister Doreen filling in the “gaps” in her housewife’s day by running leaflets through for the ecclesias.

The printing wing of GPA bore the name “Artwell Press”, a combination of the names of the brethren involved and operated for over fifteen years.

How the System Worked

 Peter designed the leaflets on the drawing board, Arthur arranged the materials, then the type copy and photo negatives were produced by Brother Maynard O’Connor (Jnr) and the “offset metal plates” developed by Peter and Arthur ready for the printer. The hand rubbing of the metal plates led to “tennis elbow”, and the printing ink to clearly defined “finger prints” on the workers’ hands! When the printed leaflets were ready Brother Arthur guillotined the paper stacks, cutting the edges clean and sorting out the orders for the various ecclesias.

Orders Dispatched

 Brother Lance and Sister Jan Weller filled their garage in Hammersmith Avenue, Edwardstown with leaflets and parcelled them up and sent them off to ecclesias all around Australia and overseas. They visited the local shops collecting their cartons for packing. This was a demanding and constant job deliveries. They did a wonderful work.

Changes in Technology

 Printing techniques became simpler with newly designed offset machines, and some ecclesias found they could print their own advertising materials. Consequently there was a fall-off in demand for GPA leaflets, finally resulting in “Artwell” closing shop as a printing source. Brother David Beale had joined GPA and as he was a printer took over the printing of leaflets as required.

Today

 The GPA has representatives from the suburban ecclesias meeting together to plan joint functions, common lectures, seminars and joint advertising for preaching efforts. The “Association” also plans the Combined Weekend preaching work through the Inter-ecclesial Advisory Committee.

Conclusion

 Those exciting days when youthful enthusiasm, guided by the wisdom and maturity of Brother Lindsay Colquhoun and others, bore another fruit beside the spread of the Gospel. The brethren and their sister wives who worked so closely together forged a bond of love and loyalty one with the other which passing years has not diminished. If there is a final word for our younger brethren and sisters it would be this. Be committed to the preaching of the Truth: work together diligently in your ecclesia’s efforts in this regard; encourage each other in this work; be reliable and trustworthy in tasks assigned to you. If you do this, you will build close and lasting bonds with others of like mind and ultimately your labours will be rewarded in that day we all long for.