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The first study groups or congregations were established in 1879, and within a year more than 30 of them were meeting for six-hour study sessions under Russell's direction, to examine the Bible and his writings.In an 1882 Watch Tower article he said his nationwide community of study groups was "strictly unsectarian and consequently recognize no sectarian name ...An expert witness may NOT be compelled to testify by subpoena, but you have the option of paying the expert witness the expert witness' fee for coming to Court to testify.You must arrange for service of the subpoena and the payment of witness fees and, where appropriate, travel expenses for the person subpoenaed.It discussed the concept of parallel dispensations, which held that there were prophetic parallels between the Jewish and Gospel ages, and suggested the "new creation" would begin 6000 years after Adam's creation, a point in time he believed had been reached in 1872.Russell, Barbour and Paton began traveling to hold public meetings to discuss their beliefs.Further refinements of its doctrines led to the prohibition of blood transfusions by members, abandonment of the cross in worship, rejection of Christmas and birthday celebrations and the view of the biblical Armageddon as a global war by God that will destroy the wicked and restore peace on earth.
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He rejected Adventist teachings that the purpose of Christ's return was to destroy the earth explaining his views and his belief that Christ would return invisibly before the battle of Armageddon.
He later acknowledged the influence of Adventist ministers George Storrs (who had earlier predicted Christ's return in 1844) In January 1876 Russell read an issue of Herald of the Morning, a periodical edited by Adventist preacher Nelson H. Paton had concluded that though their calculations of the timing of Christ's return were correct, they had erred about its manner.
In 1881, Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed as an unincorporated administrative agency for the purpose of disseminating tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and Bibles, with "Pastor" Russell, as he was by then called, as secretary and William Henry Conley as president.
Russell began to write a stream of articles, books, pamphlets and sermons, which by his death totaled 50,000 printed pages, with almost 20 million copies of his books printed and distributed around the world.