Editor – We are so indebted to this wonderful lady who recorded so much of the early history of the Israel Truth Movement in Canada and Britain. Her father, Rev. A.E. Hetherington was an early participant in the movement so she too, and her sister, were brought up in the message. In fact, for many years, Alma Hetherington served as Secretary and the right-hand person to Col. Wright, the leader of our organization during the early mid 1900’s, some of the most difficult times in our history.
Our long-time board member and just about everything else, including designer of our Logo, the late Don Hammond, had this to say about Ms. Hetherington, “I did meet and was so impressed with British-Israel’s [now ACP] local manager, Alma Hetherington, whose knowledge and capability was a powerful influence with so many of us seeking the truth. She was certainly a driving force in the many branch operations throughout British Columbia”.
I mention this because I received an e-mail from Michael Clark, the President of BIWF England who wrote, “The First Annual Congress of the British-Israel-World Federation was held in London, from Monday 5 July to Saturday 10 July 1920 and was attended by the Patron-in-Chief, HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone”.
Before she passed on, Ms. Hetherington penned a small booklet on ACP entitled “70 years old”. In it, she included a couple of small paragraphs about that Congress. She wrote, “During these years just after the Great War, we find there was a vigorous correspondence taking place between students in other parts of Canada, Britain and the United States. So much so that by the year 1919 Mr. Herbert Garrison of London England called a Congress in London of those interested in the British Israel Message to join him in discussing the best way of spreading the Message. This resulted in the formation of the British Israel World Federation, the inaugural celebration took place July 3rd, 1919 in the Caxton Hall London.
Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone was pleased to be appointed Chief Patron of this British Israel World Federation, and previous to the 1920 Congress we find Rev. R. H. Sawyer of Portland, Oregon spending considerable time with Mr. Garrison drafting the Constitution. This Federation brought together many of the groups into one organization in Britain. These groups had been carrying on studies and meetings for many years previously. Bishop J.H. Allen of California, and Vancouver’s Rev. Merton Smith, Prof. Edward Odlum, Rev. Wm. P. Goard, at this time Secretary General of the British Israel Association of Canada, and Mr. F. W. Godsall of Victoria attended in London as delegates. This Congress was held in Kensington Town Hall in 1920.
Just before we depart from Memory Lane, there is one other paragraph in Ms. Hetherington’s booklet worthy of mention. And that is relative to our own organization formed under the driving force of Professor Edward Faraday Odlum. It was he who brought factions together and attracted such men to the movement as Rev Merton Smith, Rev Dr. Wm. Pascoe Goard, later the driving force of BIWF, London, England and many others destined to be giants in the Israel Truth Movement.
Ironically, at the outset. Professor Odlum didn’t even believe in it. Here is how Ms. Hetherington described it, “It was through the instigation of Prof. Odium that a regular series of study was begun. I recall his telling us more than once, from the platform, of his introduction to “British Israel”. He had been living for some years in Japan, having gone there as principal of a college in Tokyo, conducted by the Methodist Church of Canada. On returning to Canada in 1889, he was visiting with relatives in Vancouver. At the same home was another guest, a lady, and knowing the Professor was a student and teacher of history, she asked if he had considered the possibility of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples being the modern day descendants of Israel of old. He immediately replied, that this was pure nonsense. However the idea stuck in his mind, and as he travelled across Canada by train to his former home in Ontario a few days later, he began reading the Bible with the idea of preparing a paper to refute such an idea. However, by the time he reached Toronto, five days later, he found he had become intrigued by the study and that there was much to commend the suggestion. When he later moved to Vancouver, he met with others who were interested in similar study and hence the beginning of the group for the study of British Israel”.
For those interested, Ms. Hetherington’s book “70 Years Old” can be viewed in the ACP Website Library.