It’s the time of year when Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide look forward with eager anticipation to Watchtower’s Annual Meeting.
Usually hosted at the Jersey City Assembly Hall (or “Stanley Theater”), over recent years the Governing Body has increasingly used the event to showcase new releases, or announce new organizational developments or understandings of scripture.
The 2015 Annual Meeting, to be held next Saturday, October 3rd, will be no different. But this time, thanks to an anonymous contact within the organization, JWsurvey has exclusive details of what will be announced.
A letter to be read to all congregations dated October 4, 2015 (the day after the Annual Meeting) outlines a number of intriguing changes that, in different ways, highlight the new direction in which the organization is moving.
Gone is the much-loved Theocratic Ministry School, to be replaced by a 15-minute session for demonstrating preaching presentations. And, perhaps more tellingly, printing of the public Watchtower and Awake! magazines is being further scaled back as the organization continues to downsize.
[Update: 09/29/2015 – Letter removed –
For more information, please click here ]
As mentioned, the scaling down of magazine printing is perhaps the most telling of these changes. In July 2013, I wrote about how the magazine reductions for that year represented a 39% reduction in printing since 2005. That figure is now up to a staggering 57% reduction in monthly magazine printing, even after factoring in increased circulation figures for the Watchtower and Awake!.
If you want to check my math for yourself, please do…
Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to digest this news would do well to ponder the question: “If we are so deep in the last days, and more urgently in need of spiritual food than ever before in earth’s history, why is spiritual food in our magazines being reduced? Why would Jehovah give us MORE spiritual food 10 years ago, when there was supposedly more time to elapse before Armageddon, than now?”
The reduction in printed “spiritual food” will be especially noticeable to anyone who collects bound volumes of the organization’s magazines. As the following graph shows, the equivalent of only 9 months’ worth of pages out of the original 24 months (12 months for each magazine) will be printed from 2016 onwards…
The announcement about the updated “Organized” book also offers a glimpse at the direction Watchtower is being forced to move in as its woes deepen. Publishers have been told to ponder carefully whether they really need a printed copy of the book rather than viewing it online.
It really wouldn’t surprise me if, within the next few years, we reach a stage where printing operations are cancelled altogether and ALL material for preaching and meeting preparation is to be accessed online, with greater use of tablets or publishers printing out their own leaflets advertising JW.org.
The scrapping of the Theocratic Ministry School will similarly come as a shock and disappointment to many thinking Witnesses. As I mention in the video that accompanies this article (see below), if there was one nugget of goodness in my experience as a Jehovah’s Witness, it was in the training I received as a public speaker in the Theocratic Ministry School.
Not that the Theocratic Ministry School compensated me in any way for the many years I wasted being taught lies, but at least it gave me skills that were transferable for when I left the organization. Now, even that small personal benefit has been excised by the Governing Body, who are seemingly only interested in their followers learning how to be distributors of their propaganda rather than competent individuals who can express themselves effectively.
But any sadness and nostalgia I may feel for seeing the religion I grew up in bled of all useful cultural elements is quickly replaced by joy, for two reasons.
Firstly, I have the privilege of witnessing a harmful cult entering its death throes, forced by this wondrous new age of information to downsize and implement counter-productive measures in its floundering attempts to stay afloat.
And just as significantly, I am witnessing a Governing Body that, already unable to claim control over ALL of its 8 million members (many of whom stay inside through fear rather than choice), cannot even stop leaks from the bethelites it sits down for breakfast with.
Change is happening before our very eyes, and THAT is worth celebrating.
Update: for those of you who might be wondering whether this leak is genuine, the following images have emerged on a pro-Watchtower website (jw-archive.org) related to the new “Teach Us” book. The title differs from that mentioned in the letter (“What Can the Bible Teach Us”). Also, the letter advises that the cover will be only “slightly altered” from that of the Bible Teach book, so it could be that these are only early mock-ups before changes were made to the title and appearance. We shall see.
- More downsizing on the way? Multiple sources report bethel letter warning of further cuts
- Is Watchtower imploding? 10 reasons why the end could be nigh
- JWsurvey articles on organizational downsizing