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Elder (Jehovah's Witnesses)


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"We do not have a paid clergy in our organization. Instead, as was done when the Christian congregation got its start, qualified overseers are appointed “to shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) These elders are spiritually mature men who take the lead in the congregation and shepherd, “not under compulsion, but willingly before God; not for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)"

Each congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses has a body of unpaid elders, who are responsible for teaching the congregation. Elders maintain general responsibility for congregational governance, pastoral work, selecting speakers and conducting meetings, directing the public preaching work and creating "judicial committees" to investigate and decide disciplinary action for cases that are seen as breaching scriptural laws.

There are no secular educational requirements for Witness elders. Elders are considered "overseers" based on the biblical Greek term, ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos, typically translated "bishop"). 

"The word "overseer" is translated from the Greek word episkopos, which literally means "one who visits and inspects." It applies in Jehovah's organization to one who watches out for and takes care of the interests of God's flock. The apostle Paul says, at 1 Timothy 3 :1 (NW) :"If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a right kind of work." " - Qualified to be Ministers(1955)

Before 2014 prospective elders were recommended from among ministerial servants and former elders by the local elder body for appointment by the branch; Now the Circuit Overseer appoints and deletes elders.(
branch offices may also approve appointments to local Congregation Service Committees. As of September 2014, it will be the responsibility of circuit overseers to appoint the elders and ministerial servants, similar to how described by the Bible in Acts. This is in an April 2014 letter to congregations. Previously they were recommended for appointment by the local body of elders and then appointed by the Service Desk at HQ. Before that a congregation or company servant was appointed by the branch office. Before October 1932 (watchtower citation needed) such brothers were elected by the local congregations.
 

Qualifications for Overseers


The Apostle Paul set down the qualifications for overseers at 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 5.16.43 PM.png

Service Committee roles include:


Coordinator of the Body of Elders: (previously known as the Presiding Overseer) chairs elders’ meetings, assigns duties and speakers for most congregation meetings, and oversees financial matters. (as of Sept 2014 he must be less than 80 years of age)
Service Overseer: organizes matters related to public preaching, and oversees those handling Witness literature and territories.
Congregation Secretary: maintains congregation records, reports congregation activity to the branch headquarters, advises the congregation about conventions and assemblies, and oversees those handling accounts.[1]
 

Additional roles within the body of elders include:


Watchtower Study Conductor: leads the weekly study of The Watchtower.[2]
Theocratic Ministry School Overseer: conducts the Theocratic Ministry School, assigns student assignments, counsels students with a goal to improving their preaching skills, and conducts bi-monthly question-and-answer reviews.[3][4]
Auxiliary Counselor: responsible for providing private counsel, as needed, to elders or ministerial servants that handle meeting parts.
Operating Committee Members: responsible for the care of the building and property of Kingdom Halls that are shared by two or more congregations.
Group Overseers: oversee groups for public preaching and pastoral care.[4]
Public Talk Coordinator: schedules speakers and talks for the public meetings and co-ordinates traveling speakers from his congregation.
Literature Coordinator: responsible for inventory, ordering, and distribution of literature for Kingdom Halls that are shared by two or more congregations.
 

Additional roles outside the body of elders include:


City Overseer
Convention Overseer
Rooming Overseer
Headquarter's Representative (formerly Zone Overseer(sometimes referred to as a Traveling Overseer)
District Overseer (position deleted) (sometimes referred to as a Traveling Overseer)
Circuit Overseer (sometimes referred to as a Traveling Overseer)

(1 Timothy 5:17) 17 Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.
 

In Watchtower Publications elders are sometimes biblically referred to as:


Teachers
Glorious Ones
Overseer
Capable Men
Stars in the right hand of Jesus (See Revelation)
Dukes
Gifts in men
Princes (Not all elders, only GB Helpers, and Circuit Overseers)
"Hiding place from the wind"
Committee Chairman (or member)
Zone Overseer (Term has been retired from use)
Branch Committee member
Presiding Overseer (Term has been retired from use)
Coordinator of the Body of Elders COBE
Congregation Servant (Term has been retired from use)
"Spiritually qualified older men"
Pillars in the truth
"Those keeping watch over your souls.."
Mighty men
Sheiks
Shepherds
 

Historical Publications Referencing Elders

The New Creation, Watch Tower, 1904, pages 289-290, "The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire [congregation]. ... If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. (Elders they may or may not be, but their eldership would add no force or authority in the case except as their judgment might be the riper and their influence the more potent.) If this committee decide unanimously with either party, the other should acquiesce and the matter be wholly at an end--correction, or restitution, so far as possible, being promptly made. If either of the original disputants still persists in the wrong course, the [accuser, a committee member] or, preferably, all of these together, may then (but not sooner) exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the [congregation]. Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members—hearing and judgment were left to the [congregation]. The two preliminary steps (above mentioned) having been taken, the facts being certified to the elders, it would be their duty to call a general meeting of the [congregation], as a court--to hear the case in all of its particulars, and in the name and reverence of its Head to render a decision. ... if the transgressor refuse to hear (obey) the decision of the entire [congregation], ... the [congregation] is to withdraw from him its fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood. [emphasis retained from original]
 

Talks Regarding Elders

Are We Really Spiritual Shepherds? - Timothy Pappas
 

See also



Kingdom Ministry School for the 2015 Service Year

List of JW Terminology
Bethel Elder (no longer used) 
Traveling Overseer
Kingdom Ministry School
School for Congregation Elders 

2014 “School For Christian Couples” Graduation - Audio
 

Publications referencing Elders


2015 Amendments included in this 2012 printing of the "Shepherd the Flock of God"
2014 Letters to Bodies of Elders

July 13, 2014 Letter to Body of Elders (regarding appointment and deletion of elders and ministerial servants)
2005 - Organized to do Jehovah's Will
2013 Kingdom Ministry School Videos (Elders only viewing please)
1991 - ks-91E * "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"
2010 - ks-10E * 'Shepherd the Flock of God' (Revised version)
1977 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"
1961 - Kingdom Service Questions
1955 - Qualified to be Ministers

References


  1. Our Kingdom Ministry 10/98 p. 7 par. 1-2 Overseers Taking the Lead—The Secretary, "As a member of the Congregation Service Committee, he cares for the congregation’s communications and important records. ... He directly oversees those handling accounts and subscriptions as well as all convention-related matters."
  2. Our Kingdom Ministry 12/98 p. 8 Overseers Taking the Lead—The Watchtower Study Conductor
  3. Our Kingdom Ministry 11/98 p. 8 Overseers Taking the Lead—The Theocratic Ministry School Overseer
  4. Our Kingdom Ministry'10/07 p. 3 Theocratic Ministry School Schedule for 2008'
  5. The Congregation Book Study—Why We Need It, Our Kingdom Ministry June 2004, p. 4 pars. 4-5.
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    • Definitely should try the Bond roll here when you get a chance: this is a mom and pop place that does a great job  
    • An interesting concept, bible discipline. I am struck by the prevalence of ignorance about spiritual discipline on "Reddit." While physical and mental disciplines receive attention, the profound impact of spiritual discipline on a person's physical and mental well-being is often overlooked. Is it possible to argue against the words of the Apostle Paul? When he penned those words in Hebrews 12, he was recognizing that there are moments when an individual must be "rebuked" in order to be corrected. Even Jesus himself established a precedent when he rebuked Peter and referred to him as Satan for failing to comprehend what Jesus had already revealed to the apostles. Did that imply that Jesus had an evil heart? Not at all, it was quite the opposite; Jesus had a loving heart. His need to correct Peter actually showcased his genuine love for him. If he hadn't cared, he would have let Peter persist in his mistaken ways, leading to a fate similar to Judas'. There is a clear emphasis on avoiding the apostate translation and its meaning, yet many seem to overlook the biblical foundation for the reasons NOT to follow the path of the fallen brethren or those with an apostate mentality. Those individuals have embraced the path of darkness, where the illuminating power of light cannot penetrate, to avoid receiving the righteous discipline based on God's Bible teachings. They are undoubtedly aware that this undeniable truth of life must be disregarded in order to uphold their baseless justifications for the unjust act of shunning. Can anyone truly "force" someone or stop them from rejecting a friend or family member? Such a notion would be absurd, considering the fact that we all have the power of free will. If a Witness decides to distance themselves from a family member or friend simply because they have come out as gay, who is anyone within the organization to question or challenge that personal sentiment? It is unfortunate that there are individuals, both within and outside the organization, who not only lack a proper understanding of the Bible but also dare to suggest that God's discipline is barbaric. We must remember that personal choices should be respected, and it is not for others to judge or condemn someone based on their sexual orientation but should be avoided under biblical grounds. No one should have the power to compel an individual to change their sexual orientation, nor should anyone be forced to accept someone for who they are. When it comes to a family's desire to shield their children from external influences, who has the right to challenge the parents' decision? And if a family's rejection of others is based on cultural factors rather than religious beliefs, who can impose religious judgment on them? Who should true followers of Christ follow? The words of God or those who believe they can change God's laws to fit their lives? How can we apply the inspired words of Paul from God to embrace the reality of God's discipline? On the contrary, how can nonconformists expect to persuade those with a "worldview" that their religious beliefs are unacceptable by ostracizing individuals, when God condemns homosexuality? This is precisely why the arguments put forth by ex-witnesses are lacking in their pursuit of justice. When they employ misguided tactics, justice remains elusive as their arguments are either weak or inconsistent with biblical standards. Therefore, it is crucial to also comprehend Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 9:27. The use of the word "shun" is being exaggerated and excessively condemned by those who reject biblical shunning as a form of punishment. Eph 5:3-14 NIV 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.  8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. The impact of the message becomes significantly stronger when we emphasize the importance of avoiding any association with unrighteousness and those who remain unrepentant. In fact, it becomes even more compelling when we witness how some individuals, who dismiss biblical shunning as a method of discipline, excessively criticize and condemn the use of the word "shun". Therefore, Jehovah's Witnesses do not shun people; instead, they choose to focus on the negative actions being committed, which is in accordance with biblical teachings. This should be construed as ex-Witness rhetoric. Now, let's consider why ex-Witnesses specifically target one particular religion. What justifications do they provide when other Christian denominations also adhere to the same principle grounded in the Bible? Chapter 1 - Preface Both must therefore test themselves: the one, if he is qualified to speak and leave behind him written records; the other, if he is in a right state to hear and read: as also some in the dispensation of the Eucharist, according to  custom enjoin that each one of the people individually should take his part. One's own conscience is best for choosing accurately or shunning. And its firm foundation is a right life, with suitable instruction. But the imitation of those who have already been proved, and who have led correct lives, is most excellent for the understanding and practice of the commandments. "So that whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."  It therefore follows, that every one of those who undertake to promote the good of their neighbours, ought to consider whether he has betaken himself to teaching rashly and out of rivalry to any; if his communication of the word is out of vainglory; if the the only reward he reaps is the salvation of those who hear, and if he speaks not in order to win favour: if so, he who speaks by writings escapes the reproach of mercenary motives. "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know," says the apostle, "nor a cloak of covetousness. God is witness. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children."   (from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2) Divine promises 2. The manner of shunning, in the word escaping. There is a flying away required, and that quickly, as in the plague, or from a fire which hath almost burned us, or a flood that breaketh in upon us. We cannot soon enough escape from sin (Matt 3:7; Heb 6:18). No motion but flight becomes us in this case. Doctrine: That the great end and effect of the promises of the gospel is to make us partakers of the Divine nature. (from The Biblical Illustrator)  
    • Clearly, they are already demanding your exile. Yes! It's unfortunate that Pudgy spoiled a great discussion about science. I hope the discussion can continue without any more nonsensical interruptions. Just a suggestion since they are on your heels. Wow! You speak! It seems you have a lot to say! Now they are going to treat like, who do you think you are, mister big stuff! Are those aliens now going to imply that anyone who speaks out against the five or six key contributors to this site will be treated as though it is George just because those in opposition speak the language they hate to hear, the TRUTH? They are seeking individuals who will embrace their nonconformist values and appreciate what they can offer in shaping public opinion contrary to the established agenda of God and Christ. Their goal is to enhance their writing abilities and avoid squandering time on frivolous pursuits, mainly arguing about the truth they don't care for. They see it all as a mere game, even when leading people astray. They believe they have every right to and will face no biblical repercussions, or so they believe. They just want to have fun just like that Cyndi Lauper song. Be prepared to be belittled and ridiculed, all the while they claim to be angels. Haha! By the way, please refrain from using the same language as George. They appear to believe that when others use the same words, it means they are the same person, and they emphasize this as if no one else is allowed to use similar grammar. It seems they think only they have the right to use the same or similar writing styles. Quite amusing, isn't it? See, what I just placed in bold, now I'm George, lol! Now, let's leave this nice science thread for people that want to know more about science. I believe George left it at "Zero Distance."  
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    • It's truly disheartening when someone who is supposed to be a friend of the exclusive group resorts to using profanity in their comments, just like other members claiming to be witnesses. It's quite a ludicrous situation for the public to witness.  Yet, the "defense" of such a person, continues. 
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