Sometime in the 1890’s, a Swiss woodcutter named Adolphe Weber traveled to the United States, where he worked for Brother Russell. As a result of his association with Brother Russell, he obtained a deep knowledge of the Scriptures. Later, he returned to Europe to spread the Kingdom good news in European countries, including France.
In November 1903, arrangements were made to publish a French edition of Zion’s Watch Tower. It started as an eight-page quarterly edition.
The first big convention in Paris was held at the Pleyel Hall, May 23-26, 1931. It was a marvelous success with about 3,000 attending from various countries. Later, in 1939, a peak of 1,004 Kingdom publishers was reached in France. By the end of the second world war, the number of publishers had doubled to 2,003, despite harsh conditions. In 1930, to facilitate the organization of the work, the brothers found a suitable facility to house the Bethel family, in a quiet residential area of Paris. A total of eight persons served there.
In 1951, an international convention in Paris welcomed delegates from 28 lands. The attendance reached 10,456. Such a large convention had never before been organized by Jehovah’s Witnesses in France.
In 1963, the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was produced in the French language. Eleven years later, the complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in French was most enthusiastically received by the brothers. A complete revision was produced in 1995.
Recent Theocratic Developments
In 1997, new branch facilities located in Louviers, Normandy, were inaugurated. On this occasion, almost 100,000 attendees joyfully met at the Paris (Villepinte) exhibition hall for a special program.
Since 2011, territories located in the Caribbean, South America, and the Indian Ocean have been placed under the oversight of the France branch. It now oversees the Kingdom work in 16 territories, with a total of 150,000 publishers.
In recent years, remote translation offices have been developed. The France branch thus oversees the translation of publications into 20 languages (including French Braille and the French simplified edition). This allows zealous brothers and sister to reach honest-hearted ones in the language of the heart.—Acts 2:8.
In order to give impetus to the evangelizing work, since 1991 various theocratic schools—now including the School for Kingdom Evangelizers—have been organized. By March 2016, 90 classes will have been held in France. Many of the students who attended these classes are now serving as missionaries, special pioneers, Bethelites, or circuit overseers.