Presiding Overseer - is this a permanent position ?

by twinkletoes 10 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • twinkletoes

    Can anyone tell me if the "position" of presiding overseer is one which changes every few years or is it now a "life time position"

    My old congregation has recently had a visit from the CO and the PO appears to have been removed - could be very interesting :)



  • Gopher

    Yes it is permanent, as are the other service committee positions (secretary, service overseer). They quit rotating the men through the various positions in about '82 or '83, as my memory serves.

    So unless one gets removed for wrongdoing or not being able to perform any longer, you're usually stuck with what you have there. They often move elders in & out of the Watchtower Study and Ministry School overseer positions.

  • twinkletoes

    Thanks Gopher

    In light of your indormation, I think that there must have been a number of complaints about the P.O. in question, as he isn't really in a situation where he could no longer serve the congregation, so I guess he must have been removed due to some wrongdoing. Of course, we are now being shunned as we have handed in our ultimatum letter, (which included complaints against this brother) so it's quite difficult to try to find out what really happened, do they have to make an announcement when they remove the Presiding Overseer, they are quick in announcing the ordinary brothers and sisters, when situations arise !



  • Gopher

    It takes a lot to remove an elder, because of the position. (Ministerial servants, OTOH, can be swatted away like a fly.) So the PO must have made someone really PO'd. (Sorry couldn't resist that one.)

    Whenever an elder is removed, an announcement is made to the congregation simply stating that "Brother XXXX is no longer serving as an elder." If he is being disfellowshipped, then they will add that or maybe just read the DF'ing announcement. That way the congregation knows to expect a replacement (if one hasn't already been announced).

    Of course now that you're shunned you might never know. You're off the grapevine!! Did your congregation ever post the names of elders and the position in which they serve? Some congregations do. If your old congregation did that, you could step into the hall to read the announcment board -- then you'd know. (I guess that's a long shot.)

  • BluesBrother

    One of my major disappointments as a dub was the abandonment of the rotation arrangement. It was great, if you did not like the way someone did their job, you only had to put up with it for a year . Now they stay forever. The P O has such a big influence on the congo that his appointment says much for the charecter of that cong. The one that my wife belongs to now, and I often attend although only as a listener (sometimes! yawn) to accompany her, has a particularly good one although others around here are very different.

    The rotation was put to us at the time as scriptual arrangement, but it was still abandoned. I believe that the Circuit Overseer has to agree the appointment of a P O whereas other positions are decided locally.

  • MacHislopp

    Hello twinkletoes,

    Thanks for the unusual question.

    I do hope that the following informations will be useful to you.

    1*** w71 11/15 pp. 695-697 A “Body of Elders” with Rotating Chairmanship ***

    A “Body of Elders” with Rotating Chairmanship

    In the concluding discourse at each of the “Divine Name” District Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses much was said about “elders,” enlarging on what is printed in the foregoing study articles. This information met with enthusiastic response, and it is published here for the benefit of all our readers:

    YOU will recall that in the discourse “Theocratic Organization Amidst Democracies and Communism” it was stated that the congregation servant acts as chairman of the congregation. We refer to him often as the presiding minister. According to the Scriptural presentation that we heard, the congregation servant is both an “older man,” or elder, and an overseer. The statement was also made: “When, in course of time, the chairmanship that he has occupied is rotated to another member of the presbytery or ‘body of older men,’ he still remains a member of that presbytery and he is assigned appropriate duties.”—Page 693, paragraph 21.

    Now some of the brothers are inquiring about what is meant by this rotation, and should this be taking place in our day?

    We noted that, according to the Bible, congregations may have a number of older men, all of whom are overseers. The apostle Paul refers to a “body of elders [Greek, pre·sby·te´ri·on].” At 1 Timothy 4:14 we read: “Do not be neglecting the gift in you that was given you through a prediction and when the body of older men [or, elders] laid their hands upon you.” Here there was a “body of older men” that had responsibility. And to Titus, Paul said, as recorded in the first chapter of Titus, the fifth verse: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders.” According to the footnote of the New World Translation, 1971 edition, Titus was to “appoint elders.” These men were appointed to be elders and overseers in the congregation. No one of them was reaching out for the most important, responsible, prominent and powerful position in the congregation, nor did anyone want to be that kind of a person. (1 Tim. 3:1) They were all one body of shepherds desirous of looking after the sheep, and they would all work and cooperate together as a body of elders.—Acts 20:17, 28.

    Of course, there would have to be a chairman of this “body of elders” in taking care of the shepherding work that had to be done in the congregation. Very likely in those early days of the Christian congregation, the chairmanship rotated among the elders.


    Now, the question that the brothers have been asking is, How is that going to work today? It would seem good for the rotation of elders to take place yearly. Does that mean that the congregation servant will be changed each year? Yes! He will still be an appointed elder, still be one of the overseers, but another elder in the congregation will now become congregation servant, or the chairman of the “body of older men.” That does not make the new chairman the most important elder; it simply means that he will be caring for added responsibilities for a time.

    The information we received Friday afternoon of the District Assembly pointed out that there could be five different men filling five key positions in the congregation, namely, the congregation servant, the assistant congregation servant, the Bible study servant, the Watchtower study servant and the Theocratic Ministry School servant. These should all be “older men” of the congregation if the congregation has that many appointed elders, and they would make up a “body of elders.” If they would be rotating, then each year there would be a new chairman. Under the rotation arrangement the one serving as the chairman, the congregation servant, would move out of his position and logically the one serving as the assistant congregation servant would move in as the chairman, or congregation servant, for the next yearly term.

    It seems good, in harmony with what was said in the “Theocratic Organization” talk, that beginning with October 1, 1972, we put the rotation method into operation. If that be Jehovah’s will, then next year, on October 1, 1972, the one serving as assistant congregation servant, where feasible, will move into the congregation servant’s position and all of the other older men or elders in the congregation will shift position. Logically, the Bible study servant will become the assistant congregation servant, the Watchtower study servant will become the Bible study servant and the Theocratic Ministry School servant will become the Watchtower study servant. The former congregation servant, still being one of the “body of elders” and still assigned to shepherding the flock of God, will (if there are only five elders) fill in the remaining vacancy of the overseers, which will be the position of Theocratic Ministry School servant. So for the next year he will have that privilege of service as part of his responsibility in shepherding the flock of God. He will continue to be, along with the entire “body of elders,” one of the overseers. But the chairman of the “body of elders” will be the new congregation servant and he will look after the general supervision of the work. If there are five different elders filling these five different appointed offices, then all of them will move, each one, into a different position each year.

    The question might be asked, What if some elder does not wish to take on the office of chairman or, for some reason, is unable to do so? Then it would be up to the “body of elders” to make the recommendation that he be allowed to be bypassed and perhaps the next one in line in rotation would serve as chairman. Under those circumstances the Bible study servant might move into the position of congregation servant for the coming year, and be the presiding chairman. But there should be a change in all positions unless it is a small congregation and there is only one elder. This might be the case in newly formed congregations. We must keep in mind that all the older men that have been appointed as elders and overseers by the governing body at headquarters take on an office of responsibility. Therefore each one should be willing to rotate as respects his office and be the chairman for a year and take on the position of the presiding minister. Also, any elder that is bypassed at his request would not serve another year in the office then held but would be shifted to another acceptable office of responsibility.

    It is true that some congregations do not have enough qualified elders or overseers, and some brothers may be filling two positions now. In such cases, the “body of elders” will have to make a recommendation to the governing body as to who could fill two positions in the next round when there is a new chairman, or presiding minister, of the “body of elders.”


    2*** km 8/75 p. 4 To All Bodies of Elders ***

    Rotation—or, pp. 67, 68.

    At the elders’ meeting in September the body of elders will decide which elder will serve in each position of oversight during the new service year. If there are positions that any of the brothers might not be able to serve in, according to the regular pattern of rotation, those positions will then be filled by qualified brothers, the decision on this being made locally by the body of elders. When the new assignments are decided upon by the local elders these may be announced to the congregation. It is not necessary to wait to hear from the governing body, except when new recommendations for elders are being made or when recommended removals are pending. Temporary arrangements can be made until the new appointments are received. But even when there are new recommendations this does not hold up all the other brothers from taking up their new assignments. This rotation should take place early in September, immediately after the details are decided upon by the body of elders. Normal rotation is explained on page 67 of the Organization book, paragraph 2. Other information regarding this is found on pages 68 and 69.

    What happens when new elders are being recommended? The newly appointed elder is appointed because he has the spiritual qualifications and thus he should be able to take care of an office of oversight, even dealing with judicial matters, if necessary. Under ordinary circumstances, where there are now five elders and another one is being appointed, the outgoing presiding overseer would not occupy one of the five principal positions for the coming year. He would customarily take his place in rotation following any new appointee(s). However, the local body of elders have the responsibility to determine where the elders will serve, taking into consideration the rotation arrangement.

    3*** km 8/78 p. 3 Adjustment Affecting Rotation of Elders ***

    Adjustment Affecting Rotation of Elders

    As announced at the international conventions this summer, there will be a further adjustment in the congregation arrangement for elders. Starting with the 1979 service year (September 1, 1978), rotation will take place only with respect to the position of presiding overseer. There will be no rotation with regard to the positions of field overseer and Bible study overseer.

    This means that, for the present, elders who are currently serving as field overseer and Bible study overseer will continue in these positions until further notice. Details will be provided in the near future regarding the arrangement for each body of elders to select and recommend certain elders to serve continuously in caring for various matters.

    As to rotating into the position of presiding overseer in September 1978, it may well be that the person next in line to serve as presiding overseer, no matter what position he holds now, can continue to serve in his present capacity temporarily and also serve as presiding overseer. If an elder feels he is not in a position to serve as presiding overseer due to health or other reasons, then the next one in line will be given the opportunity.


    Then in the book “ Organized to accomplish our ministry “ published by the

    WTBS Inc. in 1983, it was published, under the subheading – POSITIONS OF

    RESPONSABILITIES - , the following:

    “ In each congregation there is a presiding overseer who serves for an indefinite

    period of time. The same is true of the secretary, service overseer, Watchtower

    Study conductor and Theocratic Ministry School overseer. The elders do not serve

    in these positions on a rotational basis.

    Well I do believe that’s all!

    Greetings, J.C.MacHislopp

  • MacHislopp

    Hello again twinkletoes,

    these few line to add that ...for the rest

    Gopher information is correct and updated.

    "Whenever an elder is removed, an announcement is

    made to the congregation simply stating that "Brother XXXX is

    no longer serving as an elder." If he is being disfellowshipped,

    then they will add that or maybe just read the DF'ing announcement.

    That way the congregation knows to expect a replacement

    (if one hasn't already been announced)."

    Greetings, J.C.MacHislopp

  • twinkletoes

    Thanks to all for the quick response

    I have printed out the info thanks MacHisslop!

    Probably what I haven't made too clear, is that this Presiding Overseer has not (as far as we know) been removed as an elder, but he has been replaced as P O by another elder - one who in our opinion is an awful person, a real liar who has upset many in the congregation.

    This action of replacing the P O was taken shortly after the visit from the C O and after our letter requesting details of UN involvement etc. We had already waited 6 months for the Society and two elders to get back to us with the answers, and so this letter was requesting answers within 14 days, failing that we said that our conscience would no longer allow us to be associated with the organisation. Of course they didn't reply to us with any answers but waited the 14 days and then briefly said that they would take our names of the cong. local records.

    We are now being shunned by JWs, as if we were the guilty ones !!!! when in fact all we have done is to ask questions, using only the WT information

    thanks again


  • MacHislopp

    Hello Twinkletoes,

    I’m glad that the information can prove useful to you.

    Btw what they did in your congregation, ahs become quite

    common use in Europe.

    The BoE, in many cases, even if the brother/sister did not

    dissociate by words or by letter, the fact that they refused

    or just did not go to ‘ judicial hearings’ or even ‘ meeting with the

    local elders’ would be a valid and sufficient reason to

    ‘announce ‘ to the congregatioin that “… brother/sister has

    dissociated himself/herself from the congregation’.

    You know the result…complete shunning and even label

    of …apostasy, …serious sins etc. etc.

    All this in the name of Jehovah and Jesus Christ…but the true

    Reason is that many dared to ask…questions that unmask the

    dealings of the mighty WTBS Inc..

    Should you need some more informations, quotes etc. don’t hesitate

    To e-mail me.

    Greetings, J.C.MacHislopp

  • minimus

    Only the Presiding Overseer is appointed directly by the Society.If a new P.O. is made, it is under the direction of the Circuit Overseer and ultimately, the Society. If the Secretary's position changes, the Society must be notified. Everyone else is handled thru the local elders and the C.O. If the P.O. is removed from his position, it doesn't necessarily mean that he is not considered qualified to serve as an elder.

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