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Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Jehovah's Witnesses are organized hierarchically, in what the leadership calls a "theocratic organization", reflecting their belief that it is God's "visible organization" on earth.[103][104][105] The organization is led by the Governing Body—an all-male group that varies in size, but since November 2012 has comprised eight members,[note 1] all of whom profess to be of the "anointed" class with a hope of heavenly life—based in the Watch Tower Society's Brooklyn headquarters.[106][107] There is no election for membership; new members are selected by the existing body.[108] Until late 2012, the Governing Body described itself as the representative[109][110] and "spokesman" for God's "faithful and discreet slave class" (approximately 10,000 self-professed "anointed" Jehovah's Witnesses).[111][112] At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Watch Tower Society, the "faithful and discreet slave" was defined as referring to the Governing Body only.[113] The Governing Body directs several committees that are responsible for administrative functions, including publishing, assembly programs and evangelizing activities.[105] It appoints all branch committee members and traveling overseers, after they have been recommended by local branches, with traveling overseers supervising districts or circuits of congregations within their jurisdictions. Branch offices appoint local elders and ministerial servants, and may appoint regional committees (now called LDC) for matters such as Kingdom Hall construction or disaster relief.[114] (Updated June 2014 - Kingdom Hall Construction project approvals now only come from branch offices.)

Each congregation has a body of appointed unpaid male elders and ministerial servants. Elders maintain general responsibility for congregational governance, setting meeting times, selecting speakers and conducting meetings, directing the public preaching work, and creating "judicial committees" to investigate and decide disciplinary action for cases involving sexual misconduct or doctrinal breaches.[115] New elders are appointed by branch offices after recommendation by the existing body of elders (changed in 2014 - see article on elders). Ministerial servants—appointed in a similar manner to elders—fulfill clerical and attendant duties, but may also teach and conduct meetings.[105] Witnesses do not use elder as a title to signify a formal clergy-laity division,[116] though elders may employ ecclesiastical privilege such as confession of sins.[117]

Baptism is a requirement for being considered a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses do not practice infant baptism (although children as young as 9 years of age are routinely baptized),[118] and previous baptisms performed by other denominations are not considered valid.[119] Individuals undergoing baptism must affirm publicly that dedication and baptism identify them "as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization,"[119] though Witness publications say baptism symbolizes personal dedication to God and not "to a man, work or organization."[120][121] Watch Tower Society publications emphasize the need for members to be obedient and loyal to Jehovah and to "his organization,"[122][123][note 2] stating that individuals must remain part of it to receive God's favor and to survive Armageddon.[124][125][126]
 

References

  • "Overseers and Ministerial Servants Theocratically Appointed". The Watchtower: 16. 15 January 2001. "Theocratic appointments come from Jehovah through his Son and God’s visible earthly channel, “the faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body."
  • The Watchtower, October 1, 1967 pg 591–92: "Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of communication. Therefore, in submitting to Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, we must be in full and complete agreement with every feature of its apostolic procedure and requirements."
  • Penton 1997, pp. 211–252
  • Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 2007 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. pp. 4, 6.
  • Botting, Heather & Gary (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6545-7.
  • Franz, Raymond (2007). In Search of Christian Freedom. Commentary Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-914675-17-6.
  • The Watchtower, May 15, 2008, page 29
  • "Seek God's guidance in all things", The Watchtower, April 15, 2008, page 11.
  • Franz, Raymond (2007). In Search of Christian Freedom. Commentary Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-914675-17-6.
  • Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2010.
  • "Annual Meeting Report".
  • Penton 1997, p. 101, 233–235
  • Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (2006), Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America 2, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, p. 69, ISBN 0-275-98712-4
  • Taylor, Elizabeth J. (2012). Religion: A Clinical Guide for Nurses. Springer Publishing Company. p. 163. ISBN 0-8261-0860-1.
  • DuShane, Tony (2012). Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk. ReadHowYouWant. p. 126. ISBN 1-4587-8357-X.
  • Hoekema, Anthony A. (1963). The Four Major Cults. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans. p. 291. ISBN 0-8028-3117-6.
  • Franz, Raymond (2007). In Search of Christian Freedom. Commentary Press. pp. 116–120. ISBN 0-914675-16-8.
  • Chryssides Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 14
  • What Does the Bible Really Teach. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 182. "Going beneath the water symbolizes that you have died to your former life course. Being raised up out of the water indicates that you are now alive to do the will of God. Remember, too, that you have made a dedication to Jehovah God himself, not to a work, a cause, other humans, or an organization."
  • Franz, Raymond (2007). In Search of Christian Freedom. Commentary Press. pp. 449–464. ISBN 0-914675-16-8.
  • Holden & 2002 Portrait, p. 32, "The structure of the movement and the intense loyalty demanded of each individual at every level demonstrates the characteristics of totalitarianism."
  • You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1989, page 255, "It is simply not true that all religions lead to the same goal. (Matthew 7:21–23; 24:21) You must be part of Jehovah's organization, doing God's will, in order to receive his blessing of everlasting life."
  • "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth—But How?", The Watchtower, February 15, 1983, page 12, "Jehovah is using only one organization today to accomplish his will. To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it."
  • "Serving Jehovah Loyally", The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, page 21, "I determined to stay by the faithful organization. How else can one get Jehovah's favor and blessing?" There is nowhere else to go for divine favor and life eternal."
  • How are you funded? Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Media Web Site
  • "Jehovah’s Witnesses — Publishing Titans""AT THE TOP / NYC COMPANY PROFILES / NYC 40".
  • Yearbook 2002Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, p. 31, 2002

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