Vol.IX No.III Pg.6
May 1972

How J. W.S Oust Elders

Robert F. Turner

From YEAR OF DOOM, 1975, by W. C. Stevenson (The inside story of Jehovahs Witnesses); we quote, p. 146-f.

It is important to see the Rutherford era as the gradual evolution of a theocratic organization, because this is in fact what it was, an ideal to which Rutherford dedicated every effort to realize. In the days of Russell the congregations had been run by elders elected by the members, thus making the congregations completely autonomous, independent of headquarters control. Step by step this arrangement was replaced by direct supervision by the Society.

The first step was taken when Rutherford outlined the work that was to be done in advertising the fact that Gods Kingdom now rules and will shortly bring an end to this evil world. A new magazine was introduced in 1919 called The Golden Age (now known as Awake), and this magazine was to be used in the house-to-house campaign which Rutherford launched. In a pamphlet entitled To Whom The Work is Entrusted (1919), Rutherford explained: The Golden Age work is a house-to-house canvass with the kingdom message, proclaiming the day of vengeance of our God and comforting them that mourn.

If a congregation wished to take part in this new campaign, it was asked to register as a service organization with the Society, who then appointed one of its members as the service director. In this way the Society gained control of the congregations house-to-house work, bringing it under its direct supervision. The elective elders however still had control of the congregations meetings.

In 1920 everyone in the congre- gations who engaged in house- to- house preaching was required to turn in a weekly report of his activities. The Society was really beginning to organize the work, and gradually to introduce the business methods which I have outlined in previous chapters. In 1922 the monthly broadsheet of in­structions began to be published encouraging all as valiant warriors to memorize Society — prepared testimonies, first called a canvass, in offering the Bible Literature (The Watchtower, May 15, 1955, page 299).

The word organization was insistently repeated year after year in the Societys publications, and finally in 1932 The Watchtower published two articles on The Jehovahs Organization which resulted in the abolition of the elective elders system to be replaced by the theocratic arrangement of Society — appointed servants. No longer would the congregation vote its elders into office. Rather they would be appointed by the Society headquarters staff. Quoting from the resolution on this matter which the congregations were required to adopt:

We... recognize.., that THE SOCIETY is the visible representative of the Lord on earth, and therefore request THE SOCIETY organize this company for service to appoint the various servants thereof, so that all of us may work together in peace, harmony, righteousness and complete unity. (SELAH!)