Witnessing to Jehovah’s name and kingdom in modern times requires both Bibles and Bible study aids. To have these always available as needed at a low cost, Jehovah’s Witnesses have found it advantageous to produce these themselves. To this end they have formed legal corporations of a religious, nonprofit nature. The first of these, formed in 1881 and incorporated in 1884, is known today as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. It is the parent of similar religious corporations formed world wide. Among such are the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., and the International Bible Students Association in a number of British Commonwealth nations. (This past year the religious corporation “Association Chrétienne Les Témoins de Jéhovah de France” was recognized by the French government.)
These legal bodies cooperate closely with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is located in Brooklyn, New York, at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, known as the Brooklyn Bethel. This body functions in a way similar to that of the body of apostles and elders in Jerusalem who directed the activity of Christians in apostolic times. Since the Governing Body of modern times strives hard to proceed according to God’s inspired Word and recognizes Jehovah God as its ruler, it, as well as the legal bodies directed by it, can properly be termed theocratic instrumentalities. “Theocratic” means to be divinely guided or ruled.
Even as the Governing Body in apostolic times served to keep Christians united in teaching, practice and preaching, so does the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. (Acts 15:1-29; Gal. 2:7-10) Only in this way is it possible for all these Christians to be obeying the command of the apostle Paul as recorded at 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”
The Governing Body functions by means of committees of which there are six: Chairman’s, Writing, Teaching, Service, Publishing and Personnel. In the past year Ewart C. Chitty resigned, so that at present there are 17 members of this body.
The year 1979 has seen much expansion in the building of structures needed for the carrying on of the Kingdom proclamation. New structures were completed in Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Guadeloupe and Kenya. Large-scale projects are now under way in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden. Smaller projects are under way in Guam, India, Ivory Coast, Peru, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands Antilles. Ghana and Liberia have obtained sizable acreages on which to build, and as the year ended, a number of other branches were working to acquire suitable locations for facilities far larger than those now being used. Nor would we overlook the expansion taking place at the world headquarters of the Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. Due to the ever-increasing size of the Bethel family as well as of the various departments, it has been found necessary to replace several of the old structures of the “Squibb” complex with a new office building. This expansion will house the Governing Body meeting rooms, the writing, art and service departments, the treasurer’s and computer departments, and others.
In addition to the work of publishing Bibles and Bible study aids, there is need of various schools to train the Witnesses to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to make disciples. Thus there is the Gilead missionary school formed in 1943 and from which more than 6,000 missionaries have been sent forth to serve in all corners of the earth. During the 1979 service year 55 of such were sent forth. Its five-month course places the emphasis on students’ being familiar with God’s Word, the Bible, and the skilled use of it. During the past year a total of $20,136,626.07 was spent to pay the expenses of members of Bethel homes, traveling representatives of the Society, missionaries and special pioneers. The ‘sowing bountifully’ on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide made all of this possible.—2 Cor. 9:6.
There were also six classes held during the year for the five-week Gilead branch school attended by branch committee members from around the world. As a result, these branch brothers are now better equipped to cooperate with the Governing Body and to discharge their duties in the local branches.
Periodically the Kingdom Ministry School is conducted for the benefit of elders, to enable them better to fulfill their responsibilities as evangelizers, teachers and shepherds. Then there is also the Pioneer Service School, which has proved to be such a blessing to all full-time preachers who have attended it. One report stated: “The Pioneer Service School was truly inspirational!” Another report said: “The Pioneer Service School was the highlight of the year!” Still another: “This school was excellent. I thank Jehovah and his organization for the privilege.” Other comments stressed the value of the school in learning how to get along with fellow pioneers, the need to cultivate the spirit of self-sacrifice, how to be more spiritually minded and how to be more effective in the field service.
And finally there is also the Theocratic School conducted in each congregation week in, week out, helping all in the congregation, old and young, brothers and sisters alike, to be better Kingdom preachers, better disciple-makers and also better examples of Christian conduct. All these schools serve as theocratic instrumentalities, even as do the various branches and the Governing Body committees.
GOVERNING BODY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
[Picture on page 258]
Former “Squibb” complex in Brooklyn, as it is to appear when renovation has been completed