It has finally been confirmed on JW.org that Mark Sanderson is the latest brother to be appointed as a member of the Governing Body. The news comes an astonishing two and a half months after the announcement was first made to the bethel family in New York on September 5th 2012, and subsequently leaked online.
Sanderson, 47, has thus completed a meteoric rise to prominence. Only a few months ago he considered himself as only one of 12,000 anointed members of the “faithful and discreet slave” class, with no special role in dispensing “spiritual food”. Now, thanks to the “new understanding” unveiled at the Annual Meeting in October, he is officially one of only eight members of a reduced slave class, which is now only composed of members of the Governing Body (in other words, the small group of anointed brothers during Jesus’ presence serving at Watchtower Headquarters who are directly involved in the preparing and dispensing of spiritual food).
“Need to know” basis
As with the announcement about the “new understanding” on the slave class, the Society has been painfully slow when it comes to confirming information to lowly rank-and-file members of the worldwide brotherhood. Rather than being open and transparent about new developments, information seems to be being drip fed on a “need to know” basis.
The dramatic news about the slave class “new light” was in circulation online for over a month before finally being confirmed on JW.org – and even then it was only first made available in the English language to brothers with internet access. Similarly, the announcement about a new Governing Body member has been in circulation on the internet for two and a half months before official confirmation was belatedly provided in late November 2012 by means of a passing mention in an informational video.
In one of the latest videos to be uploaded to the new-look JW.org website, two members of the 133rd Gilead Class are interviewed during a meal at the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, New York (which was recently offered by the Society as surety in appealing against a verdict in a case involving child abuse).
Early in the video, at 00:19, the narrator Anthony Morris III says: “Brother Mark Sanderson, serving as Chairman for the noon program, made his first televised appearance to the bethel family as a newly appointed member of the Governing Body.”
To view the video for yourself, please click on this link.
This is the first and (thus far) ONLY mention of the appointment in any of the Society’s official channels. Some witnesses would argue that the understated way in which the news was released demonstrates how humble and lowly the Governing Body considers itself. However, the Governing Body could never be described as downplaying its role when the members demand such prominence on the Society’s DVDs, and have their positions announced every time they appear in public. Rather, the lack of timeliness and transparency in delivering the news clearly demonstrates that information is being dispensed on a “need to know” basis, and in that respect the worldwide brotherhood is not as unified as we are often led to believe.
An Unknown Quantity
As with all members of the Governing Body, little is known about Mark Sanderson by those outside the privileged circle of informed brothers serving at Worldwide Headquarters. It is hoped that, at some future point, the Society might finally get round to making a printed announcement in the publications that will shed some light on Sanderson’s background, even if this is just a brief summary of his accomplishments within the organization.
What is known is that Sanderson is extremely young when considering the normal age at which Governing Body members are usually appointed. He was born on February 4th 1965, making him only 47 years old (at the time of writing).
Obviously, such relative youthfulness would be considered normal for someone in a position of leadership at most worldwide organizations. However, many older long-serving Witnesses who have been in the organization for decades (and who expected Armageddon to have been and gone by now) will be at least slightly bemused to learn that someone young enough to be their son is now in a lofty position of oversight over them as one of only eight members of God’s chosen channel with mankind.
To shed more light on the appointment, Blog writer and Watchtower researcher Marvin Shilmer has written a short piece on Sanderson detailing his background in defending the blood issue. In the article, which can be found on this link, Shilmer reveals that Sanderson worked in the Society’s Hospital Information Services Department prior to being appointed. During his time in this position, Sanderson is said to have responded to a question about the number of fatalities among Witnesses who have refused blood transfusions by saying that it was difficult to estimate such a figure.
In the same blog, Marvin Shilmer conservatively estimates the number in question to be somewhere in the region of 50,000 deaths based on an extrapolation of Witness mortality figures provided in New Zealand. One could rightly ask: “If it is so easy for a blog writer to figure out the approximate number of deaths, why did Mark Sanderson say it was difficult when he has arguably more information at his disposal?”
A job that will get tougher…
I obviously do not know Mark Sanderson personally, and for that reason it would be unfair of me to judge his character. I can well remember how easy it is as an indoctrinated publisher to jump to the defence of the organization, even if this means distorting or exaggerating what one knows to be true. For all I know, Mark Sanderson may well be a perfectly nice brother who, like the rest of the Governing Body members, is simply deluded into thinking that he really truly is serving in a prominent role in God’s chosen organization.
It is such delusion that will ensure that, like the rest of the Governing Body members, Sanderson will do whatever is necessary in the coming months and years to try to guarantee the Society’s growth and longevity as the decades tick by without any sign of Armageddon’s arrival. One thing is certain – it is now harder to fulfil this role than it was in recent years.
The worsening saga of legal battles in defence of the Society’s negligent child abuse policies, not to mention the continuing havoc that the internet is wreaking on the worldwide growth figures, will ensure that Sanderson has his work cut out for a good few years to come. We can only hope that his increasingly high-pressured role will be somewhat easier to bear with the knowledge that, as one eighth of the slave class, he now carries Jehovah’s direct approval and authority!