Demographics of Jehovah's Witnesses
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As of August 2012, Jehovah's Witnesses report an average membership of approximately 7.53 million actively involved in preaching, with a peak of 7.78 million. Jehovah's Witnesses have an active presence in most countries, though they do not form a large part of the population of any country.
To be counted, an individual must be a publisher, and report some amount of time preaching to non-members, normally at least an hour per month. Under certain circumstances, such as chronic and debilitating illness, members may report increments of 15 minutes. Jehovah's Witnesses' preaching activity is self-reported, and members are directed to submit a 'Field Service Report' each month. Baptized members who fail to submit a report every month are termed 'irregular'. Those who do not submit a report for six continuous months are termed 'inactive'. In 2012, these reports indicated a total of more than 1.7 billion hours of preaching, and an increase of 268,777 baptized members. Over 8.7 million were also reported as studying the Bible in their homes with Jehovah's Witnesses, which includes Bible studies conducted by Witness parents with their children.
Because Jehovah's Witnesses only count as members those who submit reports for preaching activity, secular estimates of their numbers are typically higher than those indicated in the Witnesses' official membership statistics. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses report approximately 1.2 million active publishers in the United States; however, an academic study at Trinity College (Connecticut) based on the American Religious Identification Survey conducted in 2008, reported an estimated 1.914 million adults in the US who self-identify as Jehovah's Witnesses. Their official statistics indicate membership according to territories, some of which are not independent countries.
The number of people who attend Jehovah's Witnesses' annual commemoration of the Memorial of Christ's death (also termed the Lord's Evening Meal) includes active Witnesses, their children, and others who are invited to attend. According to the 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, worldwide attendance at the 2012 celebration of the Memorial was 19,013,343. In the United States, 2.52 million people were present. In Zambia 738,978 attended, or 1 person for every 19 in the population. Of those attending worldwide, over 12,000 partook of the memorial emblems of unleavened bread and wine. Those who partake profess to be of the 144,000 "anointed" and hope to go to heaven, based on their interpretation of Revelation 14:1.
Congregations are generally organized geographically, and members are requested to attend the Kingdom Hall to which their neighborhood has been assigned, resulting in an ethnic mix generally representative of local population, though congregations based on language and ethnicity have also been formed. In the United States, 37% of adults who self-identify as Jehovah's Witnesses are African Americans. This is the highest proportion among the 22 largest religious identifications in the United States.
- 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 2011. p. 31.
- "Annual Worldwide Statistics". Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Media Web Site: Our History and Organization. Retrieved 2010-01-01. "While other religious groups count their membership by occasional or annual attendance, this figure reflects only those who are actively involved in the public Bible educational work."
- "Keep the Word of Jehovah Moving Speedily". Our Kingdom Ministry: 1. October 1982.
- "Question Box–Should a family Bible study be reported to the congregation?". Our Kingdom Ministry (Watch Tower Society): 3. November 2003.
- "Question Box—May both parents report the time used for the regular family study?". Our Kingdom Ministry: 3. September 2008.
- American Religious Identification Survey, 2008 Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
- "My Love for the Earth Will Be Satisfied Forever". Awake!: 15. August 22, 1998. "Additionally, congregations of Aboriginal people have been formed in Adelaide, Cairns, Ipswich, Perth, and Townsville."
- "My Love for the Earth Will Be Satisfied Forever", Awake!, August 22, 1998, ©Watch Tower, page 12-15
- "I Have Found Many Good Things". The Watchtower: 32. April 15 2011. "Today, Ibarra has six Spanish-speaking congregations, one Quichua-speaking congregation, and one sign-language congregation"
- American Religious Identification Survey, 2001, City University of New York