Trends within the organization

by MuadDib 4 Replies latest jw friends

  • MuadDib

    A little background before I get to my main thought. First of all: my dad is a pretty pedantic guy and he likes to keep track of all the stats in the annual statistical summary of the Society - numbers in different countries, which countries grow and which shrink, that sort of thing. He got me into it too, a few years ago, and I've noticed (as I'm sure many of you have) the general downward trend in membership in the Western world - North America and Europe - and the complimentary growth in the Third World - especially Africa. Second: at a bookstudy a few months ago, our conductor produced information on the current members of the Governing Body. All white, all American (maybe a couple of West Europeans, I can't really remember) and all old (couple of centenarians even). I was unimpressed - not very many tribes, nations, peoples, or tongues represented there.

    Putting this information together - how likely do you think we are to see a growing Third World influence over the Society? The rich white guys run the show now, but they're getting on and their demographic is shrinking as a proportion of adherents while poorer people of different ethnicities are growing in preponderance and, presumably, influence. This is a trend that's influencing other religions as well, with Anglican dioceses in Africa sending priests to serve in England and South American Catholics being considered for the position of Pope. So are we bound to see some brown or black faces on future incarnations of the Governing Body? Will Bethels in the Third World become the sites of more printing or administrative operations? Will doctrine maybe be influenced by the contribution of people from non-Western cultures? Or will the trend be resisted to the last by the classes entrenched in power over the organization?

    It's not like I really care, I just think it would be neat if there was some huge schism in the JWs as a result of these kinds of things. If nothing else, maybe it would show that God's chosen religion is subject to the same forces and trends as the rest of the world.

  • Seeker4

    Welcome to the board.

    Most of your stats are accurate. There is a black governing body member, and several of the body are quite young - having been born after the number of the 144,000 was completed in 1935. Now there's a conundrum!

    You right about the stagnant numbers in the developed world. Growth in Africa is very uneven. One country will have outstanding growth while the one next to it has almost no JWs.

    Will this unevenness create a schism? It's doubtful. What is more likely is that as the Internet spreads into the Third World, growth will cool down, as more people have access to information about the JWs.


  • MuadDib

    There's a black guy? Hmm, don't remember that. And you'll have to define "quite young" for me, as I don't think any of the members were under 50, although I suppose I might be wrong about that too.

    Good point about the internet too. I suppose growth will slow the more educated and informed people become, the standards for such things being lower in the Third World than over here. Here's hoping anyway.

  • Carmel

    If the Society had a modocum of democracy it would already look entirely different. Since it doesn't, it's unlikely those with power will voluntarily allow it to slip away unless Jarhover strikes them with lightening...


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    I found this over in the Best of section. I don't know if it is up to date but it shows who's who

    Notes on the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses

    Translated and adapted from Aquila's French pages

    Carey W. Barber (1905-)

    Born on the 4th of July 1905, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.

    On April 18, 1921, when he was 16 years old, he is baptized in a small assembly of the International Bible Students Association, in Winniped, Canada.

    In April 1923 starts working at Bethel, together with his twin brother Norman.

    In 1948 is appointed traveling overseer.

    In 1955 enters the 26th Gilead class, where he found Sydney Lee Brewer, a pioneer from Canada, with whom he marries on February 18, 1956. Appointed to circuit service in the Chicago Area, U.S.A.

    After 29 years as circuit and district overseer, he is called to the Brooklyn Bethel, to be a Governing Body member in the autumn of 1977. Source: w82 11/15 10-14 (French).

    John E. Barr (1913-)

    Born in 1913, in Aberdeen (Scotland), in a family of Bible Students. His grandmother Émilie Jewell was baptized in 1908 and the father was baptized in 1912. John Barr has a brother called James and a sister called Louie who are older than himself.

    They were the only Bible Students family in North Scotland. Sometimes Van Amburgh and A. H. Macmillan came from the headquarters in Brooklyn to visit them and stayed as hosts in the house of John's family.

    Shortly after the end of the World War I, John's mother and sister are the first Bible Students in that area who went from house to house. In 1927, John tells his father that he wants to go with him in the preaching work from house to house.

    Finishes school in 1932 and is baptized as Jehovah's Witness shortly after that. Becomes member of the Bethel family in April 1939. After that serves 3 years as circuit overseer and returns to Bethel in April 1946.

    On October 29, 1960 marries with Mildred Willett, a long time pioneer who had belonged to the 11th Gilead class and who was in Ireland.

    In September 1977 is called to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and from then on lives in the headquarters of the organization, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. Source: w87 7/1 26-31 (French).

    Samuel F. Herd (1935-)

    Samuel Herd was elder in a small congregation of Arkansas, U.S.A., and started as pioneer in 1958.

    From 1965 to 1997 was circuit and district overseer.

    Shortly after, he and his wife, Gloria, entered Brooklyn Bethel, where he worked in the Service Department and in the Service Committee.

    On October 2, 1999, Samuel Herd was appointed to the Governing Body. He is the only Afro-American in the Governing Body. Source: w2000 1/1 29.

    Geoffrey Jackson

    Announcement of his appointment to the Governing Body was made on August 24, 2005.

    Theodore Jaracz (1925-)

    Theodore Jaracz was born in 1925. He was baptized sometime in the 40s.

    He frequented the Gilead school of the Watchtower (missionary school of Jehovah's Witnesses) and then was sent to Australia, where he was circuit and district overseer. In 1951 Jaracz was appointed branch overseer of Australia.

    Sometime in 1955/1956, after having been in Australia for 5 years, he returned to the United States, where he made the circuit overseer service.

    On November 28, 1974, he was appointed to the Governing Body. Sources: w75 5/1 284; w77 2/1 95; w96 6/1 25; yb83 103-105 (French).

    M. Stephen Lett (1949-)

    Started as pioneer on December, 1966.

    From 1967 to 1971 served in Brooklyn Bethel. In October 1971 married to Susan and entered in the special pioneer service.

    From 1979 to 1998 served as circuit overseer.

    In April 1998 was called to Brooklyn Bethel.

    On October 2, 1999 was appointed to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Source: w2000 1/1 29.

    Gerrit Lösch (1941-)

    Gerrit Lösch was born in 1941 (in Austria?).

    He was pioneer since November 1, 1961 and was circuit and district overseer in Austria between 1963 and 1976.

    In 1965/1966 he was invited to the 41th Gilead class.

    In 1967 he married to Merete and sometime after that they entered to the Bethel in Vienna, Austria, where he stayed 14 years.

    In 1993/1994 was called to the world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn, where he worked for the Executive Committee and Service Committee.

    Lösch knows well the Watchtower activities in Europe and speaks German, English, Rumanian and Italian.

    On July 1, 1994 he was appointed to the Governing Body. Source: w94 11/1 29 (French). Photo: Aquila collection.

    Anthony Morris

    Announcement of his appointment to the Governing Body was made on August 24, 2005.

    Guy H. Pierce (1934-)

    Guy and his wife, Penny, started working as pioneers in April 1982, after they raised their children.

    Between 1986 and 1997, Pierce was circuit overseer (in the U.S.A.?)

    In 1997 Pierce and his wife were invited to come to the Brooklyn Bethel, where he worked as assistant of the Personal Committee.

    On October 2, 1999, Guy Pierce was appointed to the Governing Body. Source: w2000 1/1 29.

    Albert D. Schroeder (1911-)

    Albert D. Schroeder was born around 1911 in Saginaw (Michigan, E.U.A.)

    His maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Darger, used to associate with the Bible Students during World War I. In 1923 Schroeder found the publications of the Bible Students.

    First he had the "earthly hope", but after his baptism, in July 24, 1932, in Vandercook Lake, he decided he wanted to be of the "anointed".

    On September 13, 1932 he enters to Brooklyn Bethel.

    In 1937, when he was only 26 years old, Schroeder is sent by Rutherford to England, to 'put order in the house' among the Jehovah's Witnesses. On May 6, 1942, the English government declared him persona non grata and expulsed him from the country.

    He then returns to the U.S.A., and Nathan H. Knorr, third president of the Jehovah's Witnesses, appoints him as secretary and president of the Committee that will organize the Gilead Biblical School (training of missionaries of Jehovah's Witnesses). The school is inaugurated in February of 1943.

    In 1955, at an assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe, Schroeder met Charlotte Bowin (born 1920), who had belonged to the 1st Gilead class in 1943 and had been missionary in Mexico and El Salvador. They married in August of 1956 and had a son called Judah in February of 1958.

    On December 18, 1974 Schroeder was appointed to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Sources: w83 3/1 10-17; w85 12/1 26 (French).

    David H. Splane (1944-)

    David Splane started as pioneer in September 1963.

    Belonged to the 42nd Gilead class and was missionary of Jehovah's Witnesses in Senegal.

    After that, he was circuit overseer in Canada during 19 years.

    In 1990, David and his wife, Linda, went to the Brooklyn Bethel, where he worked at the Service and Writing Departments.

    In 1998 he was appointed "helper" of the Writing Committee.

    On October 2, 1999 he was appointed to the Governing Body. Source: w2000 1/1 29.

    Daniel Sydlik (1919-)

    Daniel Sydlik was born in February 1919, near Belleville, Michigan (U.S.A.), where his family lived in a farm. Sydlik had a difficult childhood: his father, who belonged to the Bible Students, died when he was 3 years old and his mother had to raise the 6 children.

    At the end of the 1930s, Sydlik started to show interest for the Jehovah's Witnesses. In September of 1941 he became pioneer and in 1942 became special pioneer in San Pedro (California, U.S.A.) and in Richmond (San Francisco, U.S.A.)

    In the Second World War, the government refused to give him the status of Christian minister. Sydlik is judged and in 1944 is condemned to 3 years of forced labor.

    He is freed in 1946 and goes to Hollywood as a pioneer.

    Sometime after that, Milton G. Henschel (at the time secretary of President Nathan H. Knorr) invites him to Bethel. Sydlik accepts and starts service on October 20, 1946.

    At Bethel, he helps in the writing service for 20 years. He is appointed member of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York and Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

    Sydlik is married to Marina, a young girl from Hebburn, England.

    On November 28, 1974, he was appointed to the Governing Body. Source: w85 6/1 21-26 (French).

    Karl F. Klein (1906-2001)

    Karl F. Klein was born around 1906, in Southern Germany.

    In 1910 his family moves to the United States (Blue island, Chicago suburbs).

    In 1917, together with his younger brother, Ted, he meets the Bible Students for the first time.

    Baptized in 1918.

    On March 23, 1925, enters to Bethel. In 1950 starts working in the Writing Department, where he does research and writes articles.

    After having been 38 years at Bethel as a bachelor, he marries in 1963 with Gretel Naggert, whom he had met 12 years before in a trip to Europe.

    On November 28, 1974, he was appointed to the Governing Body.

    Died January 3, 2001. Source: w85 5/1 20-27 (French).

    Lyman A. Swingle (1910-2001)

    Lyman Alexander Swingle was born on November 6, 1910, in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was baptized in 1923.

    Enter Bethel in April 1930.

    On October 1, 1945 Swingle was elected to the Directors Board of the Watchtower.

    On June 9, 1956, Lyman Swingle married Crystal Waldrop.

    Around 1984 he was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Watch Tower Society of Pennsylvania and Watch Tower Society of New York.

    Died March 14, 2001. Sources: w84 5/15 24; jv91; yb81 188 (French).

    Milton G. Henschel (1920-2003)

    Born on August 9, 1920.

    He was baptized while adolescent and in 1939 was already Bethelite.

    Shortly after is appointed secretary of the Watchtower's President, Nathan H. Knorr, and travels with him all around the world for several decades.

    Milton Henschel is married to Lucille and has a brother called Warren Henschel.

    Was appointed to the Governing Body in 1976.

    On December 30, 1992 was selected to be the successor of Frederick W. Franz (who had died a week before, when he was 99 years old) in the Presidency of the Watchtower. Henschel was president of the Watchtower until October 7, 2000, when there was a reorganization in the leadership and Don Adams (not a Governing Body member) became the new President of the Watchtower.

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