Corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses
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A number of corporations are in use by Jehovah's Witnesses. They publish literature and perform other operational and administrative functions, representing the interests of the religious organization. "The Society" has been used as a collective term for these corporations.
The oldest and most prominent of their corporation names, "Watch Tower Society", has also been used synonymously with the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, even in their own literature. Particularly since 2000, Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained a distinction between their corporations and their religious organization. The primary corporations are operated by Governing Body "helpers" who implement its decisions.
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is a non-stock, not-for-profit organization headquartered in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, United States. It is the main legal entity used worldwide by Jehovah's Witnesses, often referred to as "The Society". It holds the copyrights of most literature published by Jehovah's Witnesses. The society was founded in 1881 with William Henry Conley, a Pittsburgh businessman, as the first president and Charles Taze Russell as secretary-treasurer. The society was incorporated as Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society in Pennsylvania on December 15, 1884, with Russell as president. The corporation was officially renamed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1896; similar names had been in unofficial use since at least 1892.
- President: Robert Ciranko (as of 2014)
- Vice Presidents: Robert W. Wallen, William F. Malenfant (both Governing Body "helpers")
- Secretary/Treasurer: Richard E. Abrahamson
- Directors: Danny L. Bland, Philip D. Wilcox, John N. Wischuk (Governing Body "helper")
- Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (1881–1896)
- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (1896–1955)
- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (since 1955)
United States corporations
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. is a corporation used by Jehovah's Witnesses which is responsible for administrative matters, such as real estate, especially within the United States. This corporation is typically cited as the publisher of Jehovah's Witnesses publications, though other publishers are sometimes cited. The corporation's stated purposes are: “Charitable, benevolent, scientific, historical, literary and religious purposes; the moral and mental improvement of men and women, the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers and other religious documents, and for religious missionary work.” In 2001 Newsday listed the Watch Tower Society as one of New York's forty richest corporations, with revenues exceeding $950 million.
Originally known as the Peoples Pulpit Association, the organization was incorporated in 1909 when the Society's principal offices moved to Brooklyn, New York. In 1939, it was renamed Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., and in 1956 the name was changed to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Until 2000, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses was president of both the Watch Tower (Pennsylvania) and Watchtower (New York) corporations, as well as Britain's International Bible Students Association corporation; in 2001, it was decided that the corporations' directors need not be members of the Governing Body.
Selected Personnel (as of April 1, 2018)
- President: Harold L. Corken (Governing Body "helper")
- Secretary: Mark L. Questell
Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses
Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, Inc. was established to organize and administer the congregational affairs of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States. It filed for incorporation on August 21, 2000 in New York State as a “domestic non-profit corporation” in Putnam County, New York. An incorporation record was also filed with the State of Florida on March 3, 2006, as a "foreign non profit corporation" with agency in Collier County, Florida.
As announced to congregations in January 2001, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses is a corporation used by their United States Branch Committee, which oversees the preaching work of Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States, Bermuda, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. All Branch Committee members are appointed by and report to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
As with other agencies of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses may correspond directly with any circuit overseer, local body of elders, or individual, or it may assign someone else to communicate on its behalf. Any of these persons or groups may function as an agency acting at the explicit direction of the Governing Body.
Other US corporations
Reorganization in 2000 resulted in the creation of several additional corporate entities to serve the needs of the United States branch of Jehovah's Witnesses. Since then, most written communication with congregations and individuals in the United States involves the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, Inc; other corporations include:
- Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses, New York, incorporated in 2000 for administration of full-time preaching activities.
- Kingdom Support Services, Inc., New York, incorporated in 2000 for construction and fleet management.
Corporations outside the United States
International Bible Students Association
The International Bible Students Association (IBSA) is a corporate not-for-profit organization used by Jehovah's Witnesses in the United Kingdom for the production and distribution of religious literature. Its stated purpose is "to promote the Christian religion by supporting congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses and others in connection with their spiritual and material welfare in Britain and abroad within the charitable purposes of the Association."
The IBSA was founded in 1914 as a corporation of the Bible Students by Charles Taze Russell in London, England, and was the first legal corporation representing Russell's ministry in Europe. The Watch Tower Society stated in 1917 that the IBSA, along with its Pennsylvania and New York based corporations "were organized for identical purposes and they harmoniously work together." Other similarly named corporations operate in various countries to promote the interests of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Since the formation of the International Bible Students Association, many other corporations sanctioned by the Governing Body have been used throughout the world to further the interests of Jehovah's Witnesses by supporting the activities of their respective branch offices in different countries, for example:
- Associação Torre de Vigia de Bíblias e Tratados (Brazil)
- Association culturelle des Témoins de Jéhovah de France
- Association of Jehovah's Witnesses of East Africa
- Los Testigos de Jehová en México
- Wachtturm-Gesellschaft, Selters/Taunus (Germany)
- Watchtower Bible & Tract Society Of Australia, Inc.
In some countries, Jehovah's Witnesses use the corporation name Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, or a similar name translated into the local language. In 2005, the branch office in Canada began using this name for a separate Canadian entity for most correspondence, while retaining Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada for other matters. In Mexico the corporation, Congregación Cristiana de los Testigos de Jehová, is used. Literature of Jehovah's Witnesses has also referred to the denomination generally as the "Christian congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses".
- Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs
- Jehovah's Witnesses practices
- List of Watch Tower Society publications
- Organizational Structure of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Such as in their book Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace” (OCLC 15485620), ©1986 Watch Tower, pages 26-27, "That momentous date [that is, 1914] had been pointed forward to since 1876 by those who became associated with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. ... In all the warring nations [during World War I], the dedicated Christians who were associated with the Watch Tower Society came under tremendous pressure to abandon their resolve to keep free from bloodguilt."
- "How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation". The Watchtower. 15 January 2001. p. 29.
- Isaiah's Prophecy—Light for All Mankind, volume 2, ©2001 Watch Tower, page 317
- ""Keep Holding Men of That Sort Dear"". The Watchtower. October 15, 2015. p. 3.
These helpers, from among the "other sheep," provide valuable support to the Governing Body. ... They attend the weekly meeting of the committee to which they are assigned, providing background information and offering suggestions. The Governing Body members make the final decisions, but the helpers implement the committee's direction and carry out whatever assignments they are given. The helpers accompany Governing Body members to special and international conventions. They may also be assigned to visit branch offices as headquarters representatives.
- "Pennsylvania Department of State". Corporations.state.pa.us. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (Watchtower, 1993), p. 576.
- J. Rutherford, A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, Archived April 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine 1915, p. 14.
- "Printing and Distributing God’s Own Sacred Word", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 603
- George D. Chryssides. Jehovah's Witnesses: Continuity and Change. p. 143.
- "The Warning Work (1909-1914)", The Watchtower, March 1, 1955, page 141
- "AT THE TOP / NYC COMPANY PROFILES / NYC 40".
- "Early Legal Corporations", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 229
- Letter from Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., to All Bodies of Elders in the United States, dated February 27, 2001.
- Our Kingdom Ministry, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 2002 January p7
- "NYS Dept of State, Division of Corporations, site retrieved March 23, 2009". Archived from the original on August 20, 2009. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
- "Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, site retrieved March 23, 2009". Sunbiz.org. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2005, page 1
- The Watchtower, January 15, 2001, page 14-15
- The Watchtower, July 15, 2006, page 20
- Awake!, June 2006, page 19
- The Watchtower, April 1, 2007, page 25
- "Charity Commission (UK): International Bible Students Association". Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- See “The History and Operations of Our Society,” Watch Tower, 1917, pp. 327-330, as referred by The Watchtower, March 1, 1955, page 141
- "How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation". The Watchtower. January 15, 2001. p. 29.
The International Bible Students Association is used in Britain. Other legal entities are used to promote Kingdom interests in other lands.
- Our Kingdom Ministry, January 2002, page 7.
- The Watchtower, August 1, 2004, page 6
- Awake!, January 22, 2005, page 21
- Awake!, June 8, 2002, page 11