Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part 9
The basis of organization, for the Witnesses, rest in two Societies. If what you are going to read does not sound like a Church of Christ, there is no wonder, IT IS NOT!! The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is the parent Corporation, and acts as the international Society. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., is simply the U. S. Branch headquarters of the Witnesses. There are other Corporations formed by the Society around the world, but these two form the basic and most important ones. The Pennsylvania Corp. is responsible for the worldwide work, directing the activities of all Branches in all nations. It is the legal governing body of the Witnesses. The Board of Directors of this Corporation is responsible for the spiritual oversight of the Witnesses. Not all Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of the Watch Tower Society. Membership is limited by charter to 500 members composed of men giving either full or part time to Society work, being devoted to the Society. They can be nominated by another member, or make application for membership; the Board of Directors then passes on their application. Most of these members of the Society are of the anointed class, the so-called 144,000. The major problem they now have is that most of their original 144,000 have died off and gone to a place they do not think exist. From the top down the Society is composed of the chief officers, the Board of Directors, then the Branch Servant, District Servant, Circuit Servant, Congregational Servants, Special and General Pioneers, and then the lowly Kingdom Publisher. This religious body is highly authoritarian and is run like a dictatorship.
Little is known about the “boys in charge” in this denomination so I will give a brief description of its power base. The Branch Servant is over an entire nation, or a group of small nations. He is THE direct representative of the Society in that area and controls all affairs for the Society. He must be appointed to this position by the Pennsylvania Corporation. The local headquarters is called Bethel. In New York, Bethel houses several hundred workers-from all administrative offices through the laborers and Gilead School students. The make about $14.00 per month. They all live in a large house, eat in one large dining hall and with their annual clothing allowance, do not feel or think themselves apart of the “144,000.” There is no pension or health benefit received. This makes a very cheap labor source for the Society. The District Servant is appointed by the President but is subject to the Branch Servant. Each time the District Servant visits a particular Circuit there is arranged a Circuit Assembly. He files a detailed report of the activities at the Circuit Assembly as well as figures regarding progress for the past six months. The Circuit Servant (each district is divided into circuits) is appointed by the President and is subject to the District Servant. He takes the lead of preaching work in demonstrating to the members of the congregations how to more effectively carry on the ministry. He takes his wife who does not make any talk when he visits the Congregation but does, of course, engage in the field ministry and goes out with the female members of the local Congregation, and herself being a proficient minister demonstrates and shows how to more effectively preach the “proposed message” in making door to door calls or presenting door to door oral sermons or in making back-calls. The congregation is the basic unit. They gather in buildings they have built or rented halls. They refer to their meeting places as Kingdom Halls, but for tax purposes they will admit them to be “churches” in the usual denominational sense, meaning the building. The buildings are paid for by the local company of Witnesses. Their “area” is assigned geographically by the Branch Servant. The Congregation Servant is seven in all. A woman can serve here if there is no man available. They, as a congregation can number from just a handful to up to 200 members. The Congregation Servant must have been a Witness for at least one year, faithful in attendance and labor who shows in devotion to the Society. Pioneers are special persons set apart in the ministry of Witnesses. Both men and women may serve here. They must have been baptized at least six months and have attended the Theocratic Ministry School for the same period. They can perform weddings, and conduct funerals as well as preside over the annual observance of the Lord’s Supper. They must put in over 150 hours of work and receive their books/ magazines at a special price and keep what they get for the book over that (a book selling for 50 cents they would pay 10 cents).