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Nathan Homer Knorr (April 23, 1905 - June 8, 1977) was the third president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society,[1] becoming so on January 13, 1942, replacing Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who had served in the position since 1916.

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Nathan Knorr was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He began to show interest in the International Bible Students at age 16. He left the Reformed Church in 1922 and was baptized on July 4, 1923 as a Bible Student following a baptism talk by Frederick W. Franz, with whom Knorr became close friends. Knorr became a volunteer at the Watch Tower headquarters in Brooklyn on September 6, 1923, and became its factory manager in September 1932. On January 11, 1934, at age 28, Knorr was elected director of the Peoples Pulpit Association (now Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.), and was made its vice president the following year. In January 1942, Knorr became president of International Bible Students Association and the corporations now known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York.[2] Knorr was married to Audrey Mock in 1953.

He died from a cerebral tumor June 8, 1977 while receiving hospice care at an extension of world headquarters, quieter Watchtower Farms in Wallkill, New York.[3]


Contribution to Jehovah's Witnesses

Knorr contributed significantly to Jehovah's Witnesses, with an intense educational focus. Within a month of his taking office, arrangements were made for an Advanced Course in Theocratic Ministry, a school that featured Bible research and public speaking. On September 24, 1942, Knorr suggested that the Society establish another school to train missionaries for service in foreign countries. The suggestion was unanimously approved by the board of directors. The first class of the Gilead School - the name given to this missionary school - commenced February 1, 1943.
Knorr arranged for the creation of new branch offices in many countries. In 1942, when he became president, there were 25 branch offices worldwide. By 1946, despite the events of World War II, the number of branch offices increased to 57. Over the next 30 years, the number of branch offices increased to 97.
The doctrine of not accepting blood transfusions was also introduced during Knorr's leadership.
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Organizational adjustments

From October 1, 1972, adjustments began in the oversight of the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. The writing of Aid to Bible Understanding led to a new understanding of the Bible's mention of elders and "older men" and seems to have been the catalyst for the religion to adjust its organizational structure.(Franz 21-22) A revision to the Watchtower Society's organizational manual in 1972 explains, "it is noteworthy that the Bible does not say that there was only one 'older man', one overseer, in each congregation. Rather, it indicates that there were a number of such."[4] There would no longer be one congregation servant, or overseer, but a body of elders and ministerial servants. One elder would be designated chairman, but all the elders would have equal authority and share the responsibility for making decisions.

Later, the chairmanship of the Governing Body would also be affected, rotating in alphabetical order. In December 1975, leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses passed from the president of the Watch Tower Society to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Beginning January 1, 1976 the Governing Body formed several committees to oversee publishing, writing, teaching, service and personnel. Knorr worked with the new arrangement until illness shortly before his death forced his move from the world headquartersin Brooklyn, New York. Following Knorr's death in June 1977, Frederick W. Franz succeeded him as corporation president.


Some of the publications used by Jehovah's Witnesses which were released during Knorr's stewardship were:




  1. William Henry Conley served as president for almost four years before the Society's legal incorporation in 1884. See Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania #Presidents
  2. Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom//. p. 91.
  3. "Watching the World", Awake!, August 22, 1977, page 29, "On June 8, 1977
  4. Organized to do Jehovah's WillWatchtower Bible and Tracy Society, page 53

See also

Gathering Men of All Nations - 1953 
After Armageddon - God's New World - 1953
Closing Remarks at the 1953 New World Assembly 


Preceded by
Joseph F. Rutherford........... 
President of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania............. 
January 13, 1942-June 8, 1977

Succeeded by
Frederick W. Franz




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