REVEALED: The number of Bethelites over the years

by darkspilver 21 Replies latest jw friends

  • darkspilver

    In response to this thread. I've put forward the argument that I believe that the 'organization' is financially effectively bleeding itself dry - it is actually financially imploding.

    I believe that over the last 45 or so years, in particular, it has evolved from a relatively 'lean machine' into what is now a huge unwieldy organization

    As an organization grows I would expect increased efficiency through by both economies of scale, and advances in technology.

    How has the Watchtower organization fared?...

    • In 1964 there was one Bethelite for every 686 publishers

    • In 2015 there was one Bethelite for every 307 publishers

    Even with the increased language translation, how can an effective 123% increase in the WT's workforce be justified?

    Side note - interesting that there is now a kind of reduction in languages with the WT's withdrawal of the Study WT in simplified French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, effective from May/June 2017.

    Letter December 28, 2016 - Re: One Study Edition of The Watchtower in Languages Other Than English

    To bring staffing levels down to the 'efficiency' of the mid-1960's - WT needs to lay-off 14,368 Bethelites

    They're closing and selling off Branch Offices?

    Yes, from a peak during 2009 of 118 Branch Offices down to 89 during 2015. That's a substantial 25% reduction, but most were relatively small Branches, and guess what?... over the same time, the number of actual Bethelites increased by 31%, from 19,829 up to 26,011 - ha! ha! work that one out!

    Of course, it is true, Bethelites are now being laid-off - but how many? Well, we await the 2017 Yearbook when I'll update the following chart....

    Side note - Nathan Knorr was WT President from 1942 through to 1977 when Fred Franz took over.

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    Interesting overview!

    I'm wondering. who are counted in these numbers?

    • Full timers living at Bethel
    • Full timers and part timers living in their own homes, commuting?
    • Full timers and part timers working from home (there are assignment like translation, administrative stuff and IT projects that allow for that)?
    • If 4 people each serve a short term (e.g. 3 months) on the same function, are they counted as 4 Bethelites?

    In 1959 and many decades after that all Bethelites were full timers living at Bethell.
    Now the numbers may include a lot of workers who are hardly ever near a Bethell, and who likely provide for their own living expenses.

  • redvip2000

    You make it seem as if these folks are getting paid. These are slaves, why wouldn't they have as many as possible? You think that giving them 3 meals a day and a small room to sleep in is breaking their bank?

    I don't buy the idea that the Org is in financial decline, I think they are actually amassing great amounts of wealth, especially lately, with the "robbing" of congo's money and trimming down on real estate.

    What I think was truly declining was the donations, which is probably why they had to re-invent their model, from donations, to just outright taking the money they need.

  • sir82

    A lot of Bethelites are "commuters" now - considered Bethelites but live "off campus" and are not in the "special order". I don't think that was an option back in the 60's.

  • redvip2000

    Even better. Slaves that don't need dinner or even a place to sleep. I'm surprised they don't have 30,000 of them.

  • darkspilver


    Good points

    I fully understand your concern regarding the question of who actually counts as a 'Bethelite' - that is a full-time member of the Bethel Family - with the above figures I've listed above.

    The number has been listed annually in the Yearbook (in the Grand Totals page/chart) since the 2006 yearbook - the number is listed as being "a total of XX,XXX ordained ministers staff the branch facilities."

    I understand that Bethel is VERY hierarchical and specific with reference to what you are - ie are you an 'actual' member of the Bethel Family. I understood from those that have worked full-time on construction projects alongside working Bethels, including international, they had to be 'careful' - although the congregation they were assigned to viewed them as Bethel Family, they were not! they were construction.

    Also note the language used below

    Awake 22 December 2000, page 19
    Truly, it is remarkable that the number of branch offices has increased from one a hundred years ago to 109 today that serve the needs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 234 lands. And to think that these are staffed by some 13,000 dedicated Christian volunteers! Surely, their work along with that of the some 5,500 volunteers associated with the Society’s headquarters has been vital to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ that ‘this good news of God’s Kingdom would be preached in all the inhabited earth before the end comes.’—Matthew 24:14.

    I haven't included the 13,000 in my table (as it is not precise) but it fits for the number of Bethelites - notice WT makes a clear distinction with 'volunteers associated with the Society's headquarters' - they're not 'Family'.

    The numbers (references for which I got from the two WT Index Books under the heading 'Bethel Families') are spoken of by WT in a variety of terms - but all indicate to me that they refer to full-time Bethelites. Apart from the 2007 to 2015 references (with the wording as listed above) the others I used are:

    Yearbook 1991, page 9
    The full-time ministers who serve at Bethel help keep the publishers in their country organized for Kingdom-preaching and well supplied with literature. In 1980 the worldwide Bethel family numbered 5,039; ten years later the figure is 11,092.

    Yearbook 1987, page 11-12
    the 8,920 volunteers who serve in the Bethel families

    Yearbook 1985, page 58-59
    the Society increased the number of Bethel family members by 9.9 percent, for a total of 7,233 worldwide.

    Yearbook 1984, page 8
    Working at the Society’s headquarters and other factories, offices and farms are 6,582 members of Bethel families.

    Yearbook 1981, page 14
    During 1980, 5,039 volunteer workers staffed the 98 branch facilities

    Yearbook 1979, page 10
    At the Brooklyn headquarters there are 1,825 members in the Bethel family, and, together with the 646 serving at Watchtower Farms, we now have a total of 2,471. Earth wide there are upward of 3,000 who enjoy this special privilege of Bethel service. All of them share in preaching the good news of the Kingdom in association with the congregations to which they are assigned.

    Yearbook 1977, page 10
    Around the world Jehovah’s Witnesses have 97 branch offices. Working in these branch offices there are upward of 3,000 members of Bethel families. The largest group is located at the international headquarters in Brooklyn, New York

    Yearbook 1976, page 259
    In addition, the Society has operated 96 branch offices, where 3,734 members serve.

    Yearbook 1975, page 258
    In addition to these expenditures, there were expenses for the upkeep of the Bethel homes, where there are 3,307 persons who work in offices, kitchens, laundries, housekeeping and in the manufacturing of literature—all to further the preaching of the good news

    Yearbook 1974, page 255
    In addition to these full-time workers that were assisted, we have 2,733 members of the Bethel family working in 95 branch offices.

    Yearbook 1973, page 256
    The Society, with the help of 2,590 members of the Bethel family in 95 branches, is well prepared to see that everyone has plenty of Bible literature.

    Watchtower 1 June 1971, page 335
    Additionally, 2,304 served throughout the world as full-time ministers at the Society’s 93 offices producing literature and supervising the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses.

    Yearbook 1970, page 79
    Families such as this are found in the 94 branch offices around the world. The other branch offices are not nearly as large as the one in Brooklyn, but all of them are doing the same kind of work. The members of all the Bethel families throughout the world total 2,126.

    Yearbook 1969, page 61
    World wide there are well over 1,800 individuals

    Yearbook 1968, page 286
    We also have 1,717 members of the Bethel family working in the 96 branches throughout the world. This is an increase over last year's membership of 1,591.

    Yearbook 1967, page 319
    In addition to all these full-time workers, we have 1,591 brothers and sisters working in Bethel homes around the world in 95 branches. This is grand!

    Yearbook 1965, page 531
    Some 1,500 Christian ministers are privileged to serve in what are known as Bethel homes, which are attached to branch offices

    Yearbook 1965, page 271
    Additionally, the Society operated the Bethel homes where 1,461 full-time workers were employed.

    Yearbook 1963, page 49
    There are 1,423 members of the Bethel families living at the eighty-seven branch offices of the Watch Tower Society.

    Yearbook 1962, page 42
    In order to keep up with the world-wide demand for literature the Bethel families have grown to 1,376 members in number.

    Yearbook 1961, page 30
    In these main offices of supervision known as Bethel homes there are 1,299 ordained Christian ministers working.

    Watchtower 1 January 1960, page 25
    At the eighty-five branches throughout the world there are large and small Bethel families, and in this group there are 1,236 persons
  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    really off topic--but

    i was baptised in 1962 ( age 14 )

    less than a million dubs.

    i resigned in '71

    1.5 million by then.

    up untill 8 years ago--when i found this ex jw internet club--i thought the whole thing had more or less died out ! never had a door knocker--and my old mum and dad rarely mentioned their religion in my earshot.

    still very surprised at the sheer numbers now.

  • slimboyfat

    Very interesting thanks for putting this together.

    I made a graph of part of this data a few months ago.

  • Crazyguy

    Yeah but Stan can we really believe the numbers? They count baptisms every year like there additions to the cult when in all reality they are just those converting from publishers to baptised. So what are the real numbers, with all the different accounting methods used now it's hard to tell. I think one of the main reason other then lawsuits thier selling off everything is do to this.

    Someone finally told the higher ups that the number of ones still in that can afford to give them money is down way down I think.

  • shepherdless

    Excellent work, Darkspilver.

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