The Estonia Branch (above) is the latest in a number of closures
The Estonia Branch (above) is the latest in a number of closures

With very little fanfare or ceremony, a further three countries have lost their local Watchtower branches, as the organization continues to quietly downsize operations.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have all been stripped of their branch status. Elders in those countries must now report to the branch in Finland for any matters that cannot be dealt with locally by the congregation.

It is only a year or so since similar “consolidations” were implemented on the other side of the Baltic, when Sweden and Norway were brought under the jurisdiction of the newly formed “Scandinavian Branch” in Denmark.

And 2011 saw the closure of branches in New Zealand and Ireland, not to mention a radical shake-up in Latin America as no less than six branches were axed. Bethelites from those countries were either sent home or reassigned as the Mexico Branch took control of the region. The reason? Because “technology has simplified the work,” and because former bethelites need to “spend more time preaching” – according to the recent JW.org article on branch “consolidation.”

Map from Aug 15, 2012 Watchtower showing Central American branches now merged with Mexico
Map from Aug 15, 2012 Watchtower showing Central American branches now merged with Mexico

Of the above six now-closed branches in yellow, the most recently dedicated branches were Nicaragua and Panama, which received dedication ceremonies to herald the construction of new facilities in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Little did the brothers know when Samuel Herd came and gave both dedication talks that the branch offices would be redundant within a decade.

And regarding the El Salvador branch, the 1990 Yearbook gave this glowingly-optimistic account of its 1988 dedication ceremony…

“‘Hail the Theocracy, ever increasing! Wondrous expansion is now taking place.’ On Saturday, November 12, 1988, 22,091 voices joined together to sing those stirring words in celebration of the dedication of the new branch office and Bethel Home in the Central American country of El Salvador.” – yb90 p.26

One can’t help but wonder, if El Salvador’s branch’s opening and dedication meant that theocracy was “ever increasing” with “wondrous expansion” taking place, how should Witnesses now interpret its closure, along with that of dozens of other branches globally?

But it is arguably in Europe where the Society’s retreat is most obvious and haphazard, as the following map demonstrates…

european-branches

Please bear in mind that information displayed in the above map has been put together to the best of my knowledge, and with precious little transparent information from Watchtower as to which branches have been closed. If anybody can supply further authoritative information, I will gladly update the map with any needed corrections.

Basically, the dark blue countries denote branches controlling more than one country, whereas the lightest blue countries show where branches have been recently closed and brought under the control of another country. For some countries (such as Belarus, Bosnia and Malta) there never has been a branch to my knowledge, but I have still tried to show which branches these countries fall under (Russia, Croatia and Britain, respectively).

Here is a written summary of what the above map shows…

  • Scandinavian Branch (Denmark) – this now serves Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
  • Finland Branch – this now serves Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
  • German Branch – this now serves Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland.
  • French Branch – this now serves Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, La Réunion, Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
  • Britain Branch – this now serves Ireland and Malta.
  • Slovakia Branch – this now also serves the Czech Republic.
  • Greek Branch – this now also serves Cyprus.

A dramatic U-turn

Of all the changes in the above map, the closure of the Estonian and Latvian branches will come as the biggest surprise to the local brothers in those countries. This is because these branches were only dedicated as recently as 2010, and are already being forced to shut down only three years later. And if there is ever to be a poignant symbol of Watchtower’s downsizing U-turns, it is the official welcome brochure for the now-defunct Estonia branch – published in 2010 and still available on this link.

Estonian Witnesses posing in a promotional brochure for a branch that would soon close
Estonian Witnesses posing in a promotional brochure for a branch that would soon close

Though Watchtower seems intent in hailing these branch closures, however drastic, as evidence of “God eras[ing] and eliminat[ing] national borders” (w12 8/15 p.16), it doesn’t take too much scepticism to see through the spin and realize that the organization is in steady retreat.

The 2010 Yearbook boasted 118 branches (for 2009), but by 2012 that figure had plummeted to 96. With these latest closures in Northern Europe, we can expect the 2013 figure to show yet more reduction in Watchtower’s global footprint. This is not the sort of smooth, staggered transition you would expect from the Society if this was simply about improved efficiency, with money as no object.

I have already made my views on the causes of Watchtower downsizing well known on this website, so rather than repeat myself I will end this article with a quote. I don’t normally like to quote from uncorroborated sources, but given the preponderance of evidence I will make an exception in this case. Julia Orwell (a well-known visitor to this site) has made the following comment over on the jehovahs-witness.net forum

“A respectable and reputable elder told me earlier this year when I asked him about all the sell offs that the reason they’ve had to is because the donations just aren’t coming in from developed countries like they used to.”

Given the rapidity and ruthlessness with which these “sell offs” are now being made, this quote sounds credible.

 

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Further reading…

97 thoughts on “More branch closures as Watchtower continues to downsize

  • September 21, 2013 at 10:06 am
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    What if Nancy found $66 in the wallet some customer left behind?

  • September 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm
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    JBob, Nancy would still be convinced that Jehovah generously provided the exact AMOUNT OF MONEY, ($66) what she needed.”!!!!
    More convictions would come from
    (Deuteronomy 20:13, 14) . . .Jehovah your God also will certainly give it [a city] into your hand, and you must strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. 14 Only the women and the little children and the domestic animals and everything that happens to be in the city, all its spoil you will plunder for yourself; and you must eat the spoil of your enemies, whom Jehovah your God has given to you.

    The GB call all these enigmatic teachings it spreads throughout the world in 21st century matters of “Conscience educated by the Bible”!!!

  • September 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm
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    Micky & Kaik, thanks for the information. Too bad I won’t be able to share this info with my mom, who died recently. She was very happy to see the Praha Bethel and told a lot of people about it. They had quite a nice setup there, kitchen on one level, rooming/flats on another, KH on another, Translation Dept on another, etc. Everyone there was very friendly, and most spoke English. They were still working on finishing the place at the time we were there, but it was shaping up nicely. Pretty comfy for the people that lived there, IMO.

    BTW: I didn’t see any links in your posts regarding the scandal, so I suppose you aren’t allowed to post links on this site. In any case, I do appreciate your responses and found it quite informative and interesting.

  • September 22, 2013 at 5:41 am
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    NoJoNoMo, I put one link to Google maps so that you can check yourself how it looks there, just put Bryksova 37, Prague into search there a use street view. The other link was to Czech pages, but you could probably get some picture using Google translator. Anyway, just shortly:

    The money donated to the property was from investment fund fraud and money donated to buy some KHs and other buildings used by WT were donated by “brothers” and their companies running business in mafia style, including owning brothels.

    Moreover, dirty money was used to pay bethelites and COs/DOs, to provide personal gifts to highly ranked brothers, etc. Although these brothers are not police, they had to know that origin of the money is not clean, that it is if not illegal, at least on the edge of legality and far beyond what even “worldly” people would consider to be ethical. (Additionally, private business was supported or tolerated going through congregations, using letters from branch, ordering this stuff by publishers together with literature, etc.) They were advised by various brothers and sisters about it and they had information from media, as this was long-term issue. However, for more than 10 years this was ongoing. It had to be known to HQ as brothers were writing to them directly but they did not act (possibly because of amount of money was big and small scandals were not so bad). Finally, there were several big scandals published by media and thus HQ had to act. They replaced 4 out of 5 members of branch committee. Although they were using money from crimes, accepting personal gifts, supporting private business via WT, lying to publishers and authorities, this was the only punishment. Gradually, they were pushed to leave bethel but they stayed as elders and one was even assigned as special pioneer. Probably small reward for they did most of the bad things for benefit of WT.

    Nothing was communicated to publishers, only there were suddenly new brothers giving major talks on district convention and introduced as members of branch committee. Nicely clean and transparent organization, do not you think?

    • September 22, 2013 at 10:10 am
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      Micky, if this is true, it pinpoints what most secular enterprises now circumvent by installing codes of conduct and ethics to guide their representatives and employees. Common sense would leave one to think that a religious body by default has a code of conduct and ethics, but given the Wt’s repeated drilling of what proper behaviors are for an “exemplary Witness” the biblical moral values are not common sense. Thus, at administrative level it is critical to have a concrete statement of what is expected behaviors and what is inappropriate behaviors. This also would address the issue of making judgement calls regarding “pedophiles” rather than leaving it loose and arbitrary through a phone call/letter to HQ. Consistency. Although the scriptures do state that Jehovah waffles back and forth on morality issues and judgements..

  • September 22, 2013 at 6:20 am
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    If it was due to God, don’t you think He is “a good ACCOUNTANT and Excellent ECONOMIST”?

    Of course, if you don’t believe that God exists that is another matter and you would be quite different to many other contributors here.

  • September 22, 2013 at 6:49 am
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    Maybe if she wasn’t a pioneer who works as a waitress and instead went to school so she could get a real job, she’d have $66 in her savings so she could pay the rent like real grownups. Anyone who decides school and training and working full-time isn’t for them is going to struggle to pay the rent; pioneers aren’t special that way. For god’s sake, if she doesn’t have $66 in the bank now, what is she going to do when she gets old and can’t work anymore? (Oh right I forgot, the new system will be here tomorrow so she doesn’t need to worry about that.)

  • September 22, 2013 at 9:38 am
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    You are absolutely correct. I also remember on the Czech website, that this issue came to public, once the Police of the Czech Republic was involved. Additionally, there was a whisper that some of the money were used for a personal enrichment. How much of this is true, I do not know. But I hear from my relatives to complain that the elders were driving nice expensive cars like Audi and BMW, and were asking for donations, dinners invitations, while average retiree benefits in Czech Republic is 10000 crowns or 400 Euros.

  • September 22, 2013 at 10:43 am
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    I am not sure how profitable these events are but I had notices that the size of the assemblies had shrunk significantly at least in Eastern and Central Europe. Gone are times, where assemblies could invite 80,000 thousands or more people. Generally, assemblies in Czech Republic barely attract 15000 people and most of the attendees go there for just one day.

  • September 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm
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    Micky, I just took a look at Google Street view for Bryksova 37, that really brought back memories! It’s been nearly 20 years since I was in that building, but it hasn’t changed a bit. Little did I realize that 20 years after that visit, both my mom and the Bethel office would be gone. I guess it’s even possible that some of the people I met when I was there were involved in this scandal. Brothers running brothels? Wow, that’s some pretty wild stuff! I don’t know how it could be much more scandalous than that…

    Back in the 90s, JW’s were still expanding in the Czech Republic, and there was endless talk about how well they were doing. I’m sure that since all this came to light there and the public now knows about the JW’s and their tactics, it had to affect their membership numbers and recruitment efforts, as kaik mentions.

    Personally, I believe the things that you and kaik speak of happen often but are seldom reported (well, maybe not running brothels…). I saw questionable things in the cong. I used to attend also (not as great a degree, though) and it was swept under a rug. Like you said, really clean & transparent :)

    Thanks for all the information. Highly interesting.

  • September 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm
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    I wonder nojonomo, if I had run into you back than in Czech Republic when I lived there. In the 80’s and early 90’s, it was very promising and exciting era in the organization, and I had a fond memories of it. We had a feeling being a part of modern faith, free of Catholic dogmatism and closest to the truth it was humanely possible. The JW membership peaked in early 90’s, but after 1994 the organization changed. Flip flopping on established doctrines, changed meaning of the Generation, brothers involved in various scandals (not paying taxes, money laundering, stealing money from donations, living of welfare while maintaining good living standard in pretense of having time to preach, and I can go on). One of the disfellowshipped elder put in his blog that for JW was no more important following the Bible, or upholding the established beliefs; but agreeing with momentary explanation given by GB.
    The membership started to dwindle, sometime entire families had left. Younger generation abandoned the congregation, and the older generation had died out. Remaining members are complaining about increasing donations, and demanding requests to cook and to provide dinners for oversee who arrived with Audi. Couple weeks ago when I was with JW relatives, a group of elders wanted to stop by to check on something, it was right before the noon… my relative told me that they came right along the lunch time to get one, and this was becoming more common. People are not stupid, and they take such abuse with a bitterness. In the Czech Republic which is made of small cities where everyone knows everyone, such issues are becoming well known even to the outsiders.

  • September 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm
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    “Matters of conscience, educated by the Bible” — does it always work? By the Watchtower’s own practice, conscience is “out”, obedience is “in”. And, obedience to the dictates of HQ/GB. However, in the case of Nancy and those in Czech Republic, if there is no “king in Israel,” the treacherous ‘heart’ [to use another Wt popular quote/statement used to convince horny teens not to go dating like the non-JW population] would convince anyone it’s okay to accept a gift from rank and file, or to appropriate funds by questionable methods if it “furthers the Kingdom interests”.

    This opens another question, the old JW teaching that humans are influenced by a rational and irrational consciousness–id, ego and super-ego to put it in Freudian terms. Id – urges and feelings; super-ego – morality; and ego – the negotiator of feelings against morality. But, in JW terms, the ego is “out”–doesn’t exist–replaced by “external authority” (the Watchtower belief structure). And, to further scare the believers, the “feelings” could be a masquerading “Devil,” so WATCH OUT!!

  • September 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm
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    Vast number of JW in the Czech Republic started to leave as of 1994, just after WT got official registration as authorized religion in the CR in September 1993. This registration was achieved by deception. Branch committee, with approval of HQ, submitted false answers to the questions asked by the authorities, just to get this registration that simplified many things for WT. This led many witnesses to the conclusion that they do not want to have anything in common with this organization and it is still playing major role for many considering leaving (as this is clearly documented).

    Since 1993 (numbers are not available before as they were common for Czech and Slovak Republic before their split in January 1993) there is in total zero growth in the CR. I calculated turnover (number of leavers after deduction of deceased); for 1993-2012 it is 45%. This is more than double comparing to worldwide number of 20% for the same period. It means that in 20 years almost every second witness that I have known in the Czech Republic has left. Can you be surprised by it?

  • September 23, 2013 at 3:41 am
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    Tudo isso é para que se cumpra uma nova profecia: até 2017 o Corpo dos Governantes cairão se não se arrependerem de todos os seus pecados e logo em seguida peçam demissão dos seus cargos antibíblicos e apóstata.

    Jesus havia dito que em sua congregação ‘não seria assim’, com a existência de um Corpo de Governantes quais ‘amos da fé’ das Testemunhas. (Mt 20:26; 2Co 1:24) Agora eles verão como cairão às mãos dos Deuses santos Jeová. Serão punidos com a maior severidade . . .

    Apóstolo TDS

  • September 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm
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    It sounds alot like a secret society.

  • September 24, 2013 at 2:13 am
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    Jeannette, it is a real secret society though it denies it. Read it from their own publications you will be SURPRISED:

    “Jehovah’s Witnesses are in no sense a secret society. Their Bible-based beliefs are fully explained in publications that are available to anyone. Additionally, they put forth special effort to invite the public to attend meetings to see and hear for themselves what takes place.
    True religion in no way practices secretiveness. Worshipers of the true God have been instructed not to hide their identity or to obscure their purpose as Jehovah’s Witnesses
    ” (w97 6/1 p. 6, Secrecy in the Name of the Lord)!!

    Please, read all the article “Why All the Secrecy?” in the Watchtower magazine issue of 1st June 1997 pp.3-4 and make YOUR OWN JUDGEMENTS!!!

  • September 24, 2013 at 2:22 am
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    William Benson, I believe that God exists. He or She says “(Leviticus 15:18) . . .“‘As for a woman with whom a man may lie down with an emission of semen, they must bathe in water and be unclean until the evening. (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=Leviticus+15%3A18)!

    William, do you BELIEVE in that, too! Are you now “unclean until the evening”? Please, tell me!!

    • September 24, 2013 at 3:13 am
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      Why did you change the subject? I was only questioning your sarcastic comment that God must be a good Accountant and excellent economist.

  • September 24, 2013 at 7:47 am
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    These branch closures will also affect the already inadequate child protection in the society.

    Elders with concerns about paedophiles in their congregation will send their concerns to a branch office that isn’t in their country. The oversight can only get worse as the physical distance adds to the problem.

    How can a branch office hundreds of miles away in a completely different country decide who is predatory?

  • September 24, 2013 at 8:23 am
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    @George – facebook, twitter, skype, tumblr, tagged, hi5, linkedin…

    oops, that’s right, no internet social media–

  • September 24, 2013 at 8:31 am
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    Thanks, I will the first chance I get. Secret societies are evil. The Devil hides.

  • September 24, 2013 at 11:01 am
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    Jeanette, I would add to be sure and read in full the article that Hakizimana Jean de Dieu quotes: “Secrecy in the Name of the Lord”.

    There is much that can be said about the duplicitous nature and secretive shroud under which the WTBTS operates behind their outwardly righteous and neighborly facade, but I don’t want to violate the site rules and risk going too far off topic. However, if you want to research then I highly recommend taking a look at the “Links” section webpage of this site and scroll down to “Documents and Research”. I personally would suggest starting with JW Facts (jwfacts.com) and then gradually research the other links. Collectively, these sights offer a vast amount of valuable and insightful research. I also would suggest watching the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBa9HRSrnFk&feature=related

    After watching the video I strongly recommend reading “Crisis of Conscience” by Ray Franz, a former member of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society.

    A Man For All Seasons
    4th generation JW

    “A simple man believes every word he hears; a clever man understands the need for proof.” (Prov. 14:15 ~ The New English Bible)

    “But do most people carefully analyze the real issues involved….? Or do they just accept what they are told?” ~ Awake 2000, 6/22, pg.6 par.10

  • September 25, 2013 at 12:52 am
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    William Benson, did you know JWs believe he is everything?

    “The name Jehovah means “He Causes to Become.” It is an assurance that God will become whatever is needed to fulfill his purpose.”w12 6/1 p. 16, http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=w12+6%2F1+p.+16)

    “Jehovah will become whatever is needed to fulfill his purpose”, Good accountant, economist INCLUDING 2 Samuel 12:11-12 (A good JUDGE, A MERCIFUL JUDGE)!!

    • September 25, 2013 at 4:17 am
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      Don’t you think God can be anything? He is the Creator, after all. I might understand your criticism and attacks on JWs but I am confused by your attacks on the Bible.

  • September 25, 2013 at 5:15 am
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    William Benson; I do not understand why you are confused when YOU say JEHOVAH can be ANYTHING. Being anything according to you should not include 2 Samuel 12:11-12 (WONDERFUL JUDGE), that’s why you are CONFUSED!!!

    • September 25, 2013 at 7:29 am
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      Sorry but you’re making absolutely no sense. I said no such thing. I asked you a simple question.
      I am even more confused now: you say that I said God could be anything (which I didn’t actually say) but then say that should NOT include being a wonderful judge. Please could you explain your reasoning on that matter because it’s nonsense to me.

      • September 28, 2013 at 10:44 am
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        William…, you said “Don’t you think God can be anything?” and I say “YES” to agree with you and now you are reporting your becoming “even more confused now” just after learning Jehovah is a MERCIFUL JUDGE who spared lives of DAVID AND BATHSHEBA.

        I can now understand how much CONFUSED OUR CHILDREN will be reading the book “Bible Stories” published and DISTRIBUTED by JWs

        *** my story 62 Trouble in David’s House ***
        But Jehovah says: ‘Because you have done these bad things, you will have a lot of trouble in your house.’ And what trouble David has!
        First, Bath-she′ba’s son dies. Then David’s firstborn son Am′non gets his sister Ta′mar alone and forces his love on her. David’s son Ab′sa•lom is so angry about this that he kills Am′non. Later, Ab′sa•lom wins the favor of many of the people, and he has himself made king. Finally, David wins the war against Ab′sa•lom, who is killed. Yes, David has a lot of trouble.

        Compare that story with the ARTICLE “Disturbing News Reports and Your Children” in the Awake! October 2012 from p.19. (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=g+10%2F12+p.+19)!!!

        WHAT WILL YOUR COMMENT BE? “Don’t you think God can be anything?”, even a writer contradicting HIS/HER PRINCIPLES, PROTECTING CHILDREN!!

        • September 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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          I have nothing to say on that as it is irrelevant to what was being discussed. Your total lack of ability in being able to reason logically is very annoying and so there seems no point in continuing.
          Whilst I am not a JW, it is clear that your hatred for them prevents you from debating coolly, rationally and logically.

        • September 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm
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          Well, HJdD, according to the little blue book that was a world leading #1 publication, wasn’t the world supposed to be “too dangerous to live in” (by 1975, and beyond)? So, how can kids be overestimating the prevalence of–? Was there an age to cut-off telling kids about murder and violence? Was there ever an age cut-off for parents to escort their younger kids from assemblies where speakers delved into the “dangers of toying with sexual immorality”–sex, sex, sex, and more sex [Knorr was obsessed with it].

          I need to refer to my records on this but I believe the obsession with extremely correct behaviors came shortly after disfellowshipping came into vogue in the 1940’s-50’s with JW’s becoming a structured and centralized group with branch offices everywhere.

  • September 25, 2013 at 6:20 am
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    Thank you, kind sir. I certainly, certainly will. Being blindfolded for 40 years makes me unhappy. Love.

  • September 25, 2013 at 6:27 am
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    I’m sorry. My comment went to “A Man For All Seasons”. Love you.

  • September 25, 2013 at 7:34 am
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    Please can you make yourself clear (and try not to use so many all upper-case words).
    Are you criticizing the Bible? Are you criticizing JWs? Are you criticizing both?

  • September 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm
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    kaik, it’s possible I met you at some point when I was in Praha. I was there multiple times between October 1991 and June 1997, for various reasons. If you or Micky want to contact me to talk more and share experiences, my email address is (Removed by AdminJeni per poster’s request). I never lived in Praha but almost moved there back then (long story). Praha is still my favorite city in Europe!

  • September 26, 2013 at 8:41 pm
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    NoJoNoMo, I lived in Praha around 1990 till 1994. I had not much attended congregation there but went outside of Prague where most of my relatives lived. In the early 90’s, I run into couple brothers who were from English speaking countries and I was helping with a translations etc. with Czech community. I do not remember their names anymore unfortunately, but they were very nice and polite. Later years (around 1994), we were told not to communicate with foreigners without approval of the elders. I do not know why. I remember we had foreigners from USA, Canada, UK, and elsewhere; and they were disappointed that not many people could speak English to them and they were isolated. I remember one of the woman had a mental breakdown after while, because she was completely isolated in the countryside without help. She eventually returned to native country.

  • September 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm
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    kaik, I’m surprised that they told you not to communicate with foreigners. I know you said you don’t know the reason, but I have to wonder what their justification was? Since it was around that time that I was visiting Bethel there, I didn’t get any indication from the people I met that they weren’t supposed to talk to us. Everyone we met were friendly and outgoing, even inviting us to their flat for a meal and discussion.

    I noticed that virtually everyone we met there spoke at least some English, although not everyone. I wish I could remember the names of the people we met but it’s too many years ago. If I could find the video tape I made there, possibly they mention their names when we were introduced…not sure about it. I haven’t watched the tape in quite a few years now. Were there a lot of people there from outside ČR?

    Are you still in? I’ve been out for over 30 years, the only reason why I was visiting Bethel there was due to my mom being in (lifelong JW). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have set foot in that place. I had a couple of girlfriends over those years that lived in Praha, which was my real reason for being there. One lived in Praha 5 (on PLZEŇSKÁ) and another some years later from Praha 9 – Prosek). I ended it with both over several years (long story). I live in California, and almost transferred to Praha for work back then, however I changed my mind when I found I would earn substantially less there. If you’d like, we could continue the conversation by email. It was nice talking to you, but it’s hard to have a conversation through a blog post. Thanks for all the interesting and useful information!

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:05 am
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    NoJoNoMo, it was time when English congregation was already established and they just wanted publishers from this congregation to speak with people in English. This I understand, as while many people here speak English to some extent, it is different to be able to preach and convert people. So publishers were requested to pass the address through elders to English and later to other foreign congregations. Of course, elders could decide that it is more convenient in some cases to proceed differently.

  • October 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm
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    2NoJo: I do not know what was the reason to limit our communication with outsiders, but my personal guess is that they were afraid losing a control over their sheep. Only Bethel dealt with outsiders, but the local KH had a policy to be suspicious of them. I had a visit from elders to elucidate what I had debated with one of the brothers that was from UK and we spent long weekend together during large assembly in Strahov. I also remember that many foreigner visitors, complained that they felt excluded, people did not want to speak to them as they were afraid of them. One Englishwoman who moved to Czech Republic eventually suffered a mental breakdown; and returned to her native country due complete isolation in a small city outside of Prague. We were told that we should not initiate a contact on our own without proper channels. I felt the same policy was abroad when I moved overseas. I walked to the local KH and tried to initiate contacts, but I did not feel welcomed at KH. They were constantly verifying something with someone in CZ. I felt totally isolated and stopped participating with the JW for good. In that period nobody from KH even bothered to check on my spiritual needs even once. This was almost 20 years ago.
    Meanwhile, the doctrines had changed, and I did not feel that the elders were looking out for the community. I remember when we were sent to visit inactive elder JW in CZ, who was lonely single sister only to find out that she died alone and was already buried probably at the city expenses. The elders only shrugged, and told that they do not have a time to check out on everyone because they are busy preaching and doing theocratic work, and Armageddon is just behind the corner…
    I still have extensive family in CZ that are in various degrees connected to JW, some of them since 1950’s. I do not question their attachment to the organization and they do not try to proselyte me anymore.

  • October 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm
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    Micky and kaik, thanks for all the information. It sounds like JW’s have not made a lot of progress in the Czech Republic, in spite of starting out strongly. For sure, it will turn people off when there is corruption involved, especially since it was reported in the media there. It’s not a huge country and news travels fast…it’s harder to hide when things happen.

    I don’t know, but I have to assume some of the same things happened in other FSU satellite countries, and they are shrinking the size of the “footprint” there to minimize damage and losses.

    I guess time will tell if they ever recover from these scandals. As far as I know, this is not common knowledge here in the USA. Thanks for informing me about all this.

  • October 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm
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    This is not even common knowledge in the Czech Republic but at least some witnesses and some part of public know. On the other hand, there is almost no knowledge about scandals like child abuse, UN, Menlo Park KH, etc. from the US and other countries. So, many witnesses can still think that everything in WTBTS is like the paradise on the Earth and even if they know more about the financial scandal here, they can think it was just exceptional local issue that has been solved. Therefore, it is good that there are pages like this (for people understanding English) and activities like AAWA does that can raise awareness about major issues in many non-English speaking countries.

  • October 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm
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    I think it would be great if all of this information about the goings-on in the Czech republic could be collected and written up, perhaps with the help of Cedars here? Very interesting stuff in any case. It’s difficult for non-Czech-speakers to find the relevant news articles (once you have them Google Translate helps).

  • October 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm
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    Actually, growth in all of Eastern Europe has been stalling for at least a decade, but at much lower levels than in the West. They used to be all excited about the masses of Jehovah-starved people who’d flock into the Truth real soon now, but it was really just a short spike in the 1990s.

  • November 2, 2013 at 12:09 am
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    We hear that the Italian Bethel will soon close……
    Only rumors, but very strong; almost from the horses’ mouth!

  • November 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm
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    Speaking of downsizing does anyone know if the CO’s are still driving those fuel sucking Buicks?

  • December 17, 2013 at 7:17 am
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    The Bible is absolutely right. Here is what the Bible said 2 Timothy 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.

    In ancient times, many Israelites accused Moses and discriminates his rulership as a mediator of Jehovah. Even in Jesus time, many dont believed Jesus.

    Now in modern times, our time, the prophecy is keep on coming. Apostasy is mention in the Bible. I am not surprised of this and thepeople who discriminates Jehovahs Organization.

  • December 17, 2013 at 7:19 am
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    The Bible is absolutely right. Here is what the Bible said 2 Timothy 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.In ancient times, many Israelites accused Moses and discriminates his rulership as a mediator of Jehovah. Even in Jesus time, many dont believed Jesus.Now in modern times, our time, the prophecy is keep on coming. Apostasy is mention in the Bible. I am not surprised of this and thepeople who discriminates Jehovahs Organization.

    • December 17, 2013 at 8:11 am
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      boots, welcome to JWsurvey. Here below is a pre-recorded answer to your argument. I would be interested to hear your thoughts after you have watched it…

  • December 25, 2013 at 3:21 am
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    What news of the India branch?

    When I joined them in 1986, they had a smaller branch in a pretty hill-station in Western India. In the 1990s, the Society ‘foresaw a great ingathering work’ that will be done in India, which is why the hill-station branch was sold off and a much larger branch in Southern India opened.

    From what I understand, the ‘large ingathering’ in that part of the world has not yet arrived. Perhaps the Watchtower realises it isn’t so easy to proselytize in India. I wonder if anyone can tell me if the Indian branch has downsized along with their ambitions?

  • January 19, 2014 at 10:33 am
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    Terrific video, Cedars. As you say, the incontestable mark of an anointed prophet is completely absent in the governing body.

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