Circuit Overseer Pensions and the Implications

by AlanF 29 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • AlanF

    I just learned that the Watchtower Society has instituted a pension plan of sorts for Circuit Overseers. This is a big change.

    Previous to this new plan, the various kinds of "traveling overseers" were pretty much on their own when they retired from the traveling work. In a few cases, such men were invited to live out their lives in Bethel, but in most cases they simply went back to being normal rank and file members who had to fend for themselves financially.

    I can only speculate that the reason for this change was that the Society has been having difficulty getting elders to become Circuit Overseers. Only such a problem would prompt WTS leaders to actually put up money for a "pension plan", in view of more than a hundred years of this being a completely voluntary work.

    This brings another thought to mind: Since elders really constitute a clergy class -- even though unpaid -- if COs are now covered by a pension plan, then they're being paid. Thus, the Society has instituted a limited but paid clergy class -- again something foreign to its history.

    Of course, anyone who knows how things really operate in JW-land knows that Circuit and District Overseers have been paid pretty good money for years via "the green handshake". Many of these men in the U.S. average about $500 a week, free and clear, with no taxes paid due to the "vow of poverty" that all such Watchtower officials now take. It's really a scam on the Internal Revenue Service. And remember that these guys have virtually all of their weekly expenses paid on top of the green handshake, so almost everything they get this way can be banked or used for discretionary spending. Geez, I wish I had $25,000 a year free and clear!


  • Scully

    Hi Alan

    I'd heard something like this happening in Germany (if I remember correctly) due to some kind of rule that required "churches" to pay a pension to elderly clergy members when they retire in exchange for their years of service. Is this being expanded to the US / worldwide?

  • Forscher

    I heard that Alan!
    I knew a CO who'd worked in that position quite a few years. His wife got sick. for awhile he would do his work as a CO during the day and go to his wife at night in the hospital. After a few months of that, he was let go from the circuit work. He got no help. No more coverage for his wife's hospital bills. And after she died, he ended up supporting himself working in a barber shop. I've never heard of him being allowed back into the circuit work. Somehow I doubt that happened while he was still trying to pay off his wife's hospital and funeral bills.
    I've never forgotten that. It struck me as rather callous on the part of the organization. And that was almost thirty years ago!

  • OtisBarker

    I have consulted a friend in the circuit work and this is news to him.


  • jwfacts

    My father is a CO and I have not heard anything about this, good news if it is, as he is 60 and i have been worrying about what he will do when he retires.
    I had never thought about the green handshake before. In Australia a tip is taxable. Even a gift is taxable if the relationship developed due to work done for a person. A CO and Bethelite are employees, as I used to put the car allowance on my tax return and then claim the car expenses as a deduction for travelling to the meetings. This was after advice from the Bethel accounts department. I doubt any claim gifts as income.

  • AlanF

    OtisBarker said:

    : I have consulted a friend in the circuit work and this is news to him.

    Interesting, since this came from a CO who is the beneficiary of the Society's largess.


  • TMS

    A "retired" circuit overseer in Texas was given our unlisted telephone number by one of our relatives. His call was a thinly veiled effort to see if we were still "in the truth." He actually invited me to give a public talk in his hall without specifically asking what my current standing was.

    When he inquired about our health, my wife volunteered that her pre-witness military service enabled her to get greatly discounted medicines through the VA.. The longtime CO replied that he was grateful that the Society took care of all his medical even though he no longer served. I don't know if this medical coverage is available to all former traveling overseers or just those with a certain length of service.


  • TheOldHippie

    Happy that I live in Europe, where the state provides pensions and social/health security, so that everyone gets at least a rather decent minimum. The retired COs and DOs I know, have never had as good an economy as they have AFTER they retired, because of the state provided funds.

  • luna2

    This is very interesting, AlanF. I'm curious to find out exactly how this new "loving arrangement" is being implimented as it appears as though some CO's don't know anything about it yet.

    It looks like the WTS is perhaps swimming more toward the mainstream by acknowledging that these people are, in effect, paid you think that there was perhaps a lawsuit brought?

    If they are doing this on their own, without the impetus of a lawsuit, it seems that they are admitting that THE END is not quite as imminent as they have been saying it is (for the past 100+ years).

  • TallTexan

    If I remember correctly, while growing up, my parents contributed to the CO via the 'green handshake'. I love that btw...that's funny. We had a small cong (about 50 pub at its max), so if every family head gave even $20, that's several hundred - and I know most gave more than that. Add meals and incidental work like doing laundry, repairing clothing, etc, and they made out pretty well.

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