Watchtower Bible School of Gilead

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Watch Tower Bible School of Gilead
United States
EstablishedFebruary 1, 1943; 77 years ago (February 1, 1943)
Number of students145 (2019)
AffiliationJehovah's Witnesses

Watchtower Bible School of Gilead is the formal name of the missionary school of Jehovah's Witnesses, typically referred to simply as Gilead or Gilead School.[1][2] Gilead is the flagship school at the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, New York, United States.[3][4][5]


In 1942, Nathan H. Knorr, then president of the Watchtower Society, proposed the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead as an opportunity to expand their global preaching efforts.[6] Originally intended as a temporary program,[7] the first class began on February 1, 1943. No tuition was to be charged. Five months later, graduating students began to move out to their assignments in nine Latin-American countries, including Cuba.[8] As early as 1956, graduates were serving "in about a hundred different lands".[9]

Gilead School has held classes at several of the facilities operated by the Watchtower Society:

As of 2014, Gilead has trained 136 classes.[13] In 2008, Gilead School surpassed 8000 students.[14][15][16] Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Gilead was intended to train "missionaries and leaders";[17] two current members of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses are Gilead graduates,[18][19] as were four deceased members.[20][21][22][23]

In 1987, an ancillary 8½ week Bible School for Single Brothers was introduced for single elders and ministerial servants (their term for deacons).[24][25][26] A similar Bible School for Christian Couples was introduced in 2010 for wives to attend with their husbands.[27]

Curriculum and goals[edit]

First class of Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in 1943.

Theology lecturer George D. Chryssides writes that the initial Gilead syllabus was "described as the Advanced Course in Theocratic Ministry"; within months the program led to "similar training" in congregations as the Theocratic Ministry School.[28] Female Witnesses could enroll in Gilead school and present talks since its inception in 1943, but could not enroll in congregation schools until 1959.[29][30]

The school is held twice each year and lasts about five months.[31] Students are selected by invitation, and are usually married couples in their thirties who have been involved in missionary work in their home countries for a number of years.[32] After graduation, they are assigned mainly to Africa, South America, Asia and islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Gilead School's main textbook is the Bible. Lectures and student presentations focus on a verse-by-verse study of each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old and New Testaments, which they refer to as the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. The curriculum is based on Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, although other reference material, including other Bible translations are used.[33][34] Students are also taught about changes in culture and language as well as techniques for conducting meetings and Bible classes. Some students receive additional practical training for translation and literature production.[35]


  1. ^ "Happy Climax to 80 Years of Gathering". The Watchtower: 22. 15 April 1986.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999 edition), page 563
  3. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, December 1990, page 10
  4. ^ 1993 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 25
  5. ^ The Watchtower, November 15, 1999, pages 8-9
  6. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 20, ©2000 Grolier Incorporated, page 13, As Retrieved 2009-08-24, "[Knorr] established congregational Theocratic Ministry schools and the society's missionary college, the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead."
  7. ^ The Watchtower, June 15, 2001, page 26
  8. ^ “Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom” 1993, chap. 23 p. 522; “Missionaries Push Worldwide Expansion” © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  9. ^ Interpretation, Volume 10, ©1956 Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, As Retrieved 2009-08-24, page 329
  10. ^ Religion in the Twentieth Century by Vergilius Ture Anselm Ferm, ©1948, Philosophical Library, page 387, As Retrieved 2009-08-24
  11. ^ "A New Home for the Gilead Missionary School". The Watchtower: 21. 1 June 1989.
  12. ^ The Watchtower, December 1, 1995, page 24
  13. ^ The Graduation of the 136th Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
  14. ^ "Missionaries Encouraged to Be Like Jeremiah", The Watchtower, [he Graduation of the 136th Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead February 15, 2009, page 22]
  15. ^ The Watchtower, August 15, 2008, page 30
  16. ^ The Watchtower, November 1, 2001, page 23
  17. ^ Watch Tower Bible School of Gilead. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  18. ^ "Gilead Graduates Go Forth as Zealous Harvest Workers!", The Watchtower, June 15, 2004, page 25, "Gerrit Lösch, a member of the Governing Body and a graduate of the 41st class of Gilead."
  19. ^ "Motivated to Serve", The Watchtower, December 15, 2000, page 27, "David Splane, a former missionary and a graduate of the 42nd class of Gilead who is now serving as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses."
  20. ^ "Graduating Students of the Word of God", The Watchtower, June 1, 1997, page 30, "Lloyd Barry, also of the Governing Body, was a graduate of the 11th class of Gilead and served as a missionary in Japan for over 25 years."
  21. ^ "New Members of the Governing Body", The Watchtower, November 15, 1977, page 680, "The new members of the Governing Body [include] Martin Poetzinger of the Federal Republic of Germany. ... Martin Poetzinger entered the Kingdom service in 1926 and entered pioneer service in 1930. He is a graduate of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead."
  22. ^ "Gilead Graduates Urged to Cultivate Good Communication Skills", The Watchtower, June 1, 1990, page 26, "C. W. Barber, also a member of the Governing Body and himself a graduate of Gilead's 26th class, briefly discussed."
  23. ^ "Gilead Graduates Go Forth as Zealous Harvest Workers!", The Watchtower, June 15, 2004, page 25, "Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body and a graduate of the seventh class of Gilead..."
  24. ^ Awake!, September 8, 1993, page 18
  25. ^ 1996 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 16
  26. ^ The Watchtower, June 15, 2011, page 32
  27. ^ "A History-Making Meeting", The Watchtower, August 15, 2011, page 21"
  28. ^ "Introduction", Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses by George D. Chryssides, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, Page lvii
  29. ^ “Jehovah Is My Strength”, The Watchtower, October 15, 2008, page 18, "At that time [1951], sisters were not yet enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School in the local congregations, but at Gilead we sisters received assignments to give student talks and reports."
  30. ^ "Divine Will International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses", The Watchtower, February 15, 1959, page 120, "[1958 conventions announced that] from the beginning of 1959, sisters in the congregations were to be privileged to enroll in the weekly Theocratic Ministry School."
  31. ^ Sect, cult, and church in Alberta by William Edward Mann, ©1955, University of Toronto Press, page 109, As Retrieved 2009-08-24, "Watch Tower Bible Society of Gilead [sic] in the eastern United States, which gave a five-month training course to leaders selected by the central organization from branches in all parts of the world."
  32. ^ “Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom” – 1993, chap. 23 p. 523
  33. ^ "Be Joyful With the Kingdom Hope!", The Watchtower, June 15, 2001, page 26, "The main textbook is the Bible. And then we have Bible study aids to help us understand the Bible. Those are available to all. There is no secret information dispensed at Gilead."
  34. ^ 1970 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, ©Watch Tower, page 71, "Of course, an intensive study of the Bible constitutes the major part of Gilead School's curriculum. Students must read the entire Bible, starting when they receive their letter of invitation to the school. ... Bible courses, which consist of a verse-by-verse study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, also two other subjects designed to cover the Bible from the doctrinal standpoint and, finally, the practical application of the Bible's principles of everyday living in Jehovah's organization and the Christian ministry."
  35. ^ Andover Newton Quarterly, Volume 3, ©1962 Andover Newton Theological School, As Retrieved 2009-08-24, page 16, "[Students] work for half a day at the factory and attend the Gilead School for half a day. The work at the factory is on-the-job training, intended to fit them to operate printing establishments in their own countries."

Coordinates: 41°29′46″N 73°34′30″W / 41.4960°N 73.5750°W / 41.4960; -73.5750