The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Who or what is the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is a group of men that provide direction for Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities worldwide. While others write the material in Jehovah’s Witness publications, the governing body oversee the preparation of that material. That holds true for materials used at Jehovah’s Witness meetings and schools. The governing body is also responsible for supervising the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including directing public ministry and supervise the use of donated assets. Yet, although the governing body “governs” all the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they attempt to deny that they are leaders. How? They quote 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23 as if somehow these verses support the notion that there are no leaders. They don’t. The intent of these verses is to explain a hierarchical structure from a misogynistic perspective.

Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses 2018

As of February 2018, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is made up of 8 men, pictured above and listed below alphabetically:

  1. Kenneth Cook (appointed January 24, 2018)
  2. Samuel F. Herd (appointed October 2, 1999)
  3. Geoffrey W. Jackson (appointed September 1, 2005)
  4. M. Stephen Lett (appointed October 2, 1999)
  5. Gerrit Lösch (Appointed July 1, 1994)
  6. Anthony Morris III (Appointed September 1, 2005)
  7. Mark Sanderson (Appointed September 1, 2012)
  8. David H. Splane (Appointed October 2, 1999)

How is the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses organized?

The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has, since 1976, established six committees to oversee various aspects of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ work and the work of the governing body themselves. It wasn’t until May 1, 1992, that “helpers” were assigned to these six committees. Each member of the governing body serves on one or more of these committees. As of February 2018, the six committees are as follows:

Coordinator’s Committee

The Coordinator’s Committee supervises legal matters and responds to disasters, to incidents in which Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted for their religious beliefs, and to other matters affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses. The department is most definitely made up of lawyers but they are noticeably left out of the listing.

  1. John Ekrann – Member; Computer Department Overseer

Previous Committee Members

  1. Robert W. Wallen

Personnel Committee

The Personnel Committee oversees the arrangements for Bethel (local, regional and worldwide headquarters) family members (staff)

  1. Gerald Grizzle – Member
  2. Patrick LaFranca – Member
  3. Gerrit Lösch – Overseer
  4. Daniel Molchan – Member
  5. Ralph Walls –  Member; Bethel Overseer (Brooklyn, Patterson, Walkill & Warwick); Branch Committee Member

Previous Committee Members


Publishing Committee

The Publishing Committee supervises the production and shipping of bible literature and the construction of meeting places, translation offices, and branch facilities.

  1. Don Alden Adams – Member
  2. Robert Butler – Member; Treasurer’s Office Assistant
  3. Harold Cockern – Member
  4. Gajus Glockentin – Member
  5. Donald Gordon – Member; Int’l Printing Group
  6. Samuel Herd – Overseer
  7. Robert Luccioni – Member; Worldwide Design/Construction Overseer
  8. Alex Reinmueller – Member; Treasurer’s Office Overseer
  9. David Sinclair – Member

Previous Committee Members


Service Committee

The Service Committee oversees Jehovah’s Witnesses’ work of preaching the “good news” about how God is going to destroy the whole world so that a few million cult members can live in perfect peace where no one will question them on their extremely harmful child abuse policy.

  1. Gary Breaux – Overseer; Translation Department Overseer
  2. Joel Dellinger – Member
  3. Seth Hyatt – Member
  4. Christopher Mavor – Member
  5. Anthony Morris III – Overseer
  6. Baltasar Perla Jr. – Member; Branch Committee Member
  7. Mark Sanderson – Member
  8. William Turner Jr. – Member
  9. Leon Weaver Jr. – Member; Branch Committee Overseer; President of Watchtower, Bible & Tract Society of New York

Previous Committee Members

  1. Robert W. Wallen

Teaching Committee

The Teaching Committee directs the preparation of spiritual instruction provided by means of meetings, schools, and audio and video programs.

  1. Ronald Curzan – Member
  2. Kenneth Flodin – Member
  3. Geoffrey Jackson – Member; Writing Committee Assistant Overseer
  4. Stephen Lett – Overseer
  5. William F. Malenfant – Member
  6. Anthony Morris III – Member
  7. Mark Noumair – Member; Theocratic School Overseer
  8. David Schafer – Member

Previous Committee Members


Writing Committee

The Writing Committee directs the preparation of spiritual instruction provided in printed and electronic form and oversees the translation work.

  1. Robert Ciranko – Member; President of Watch Tower, Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  2. Kenneth Cook – Member
  3. Geoffrey Jackson – Assistant Overseer
  4. James Mantz – Secretary
  5. Izak Marais – Member; Translation Services Overseer
  6. David Splane – Overseer
  7. Gene Smalley – Member; Librarian
  8. Hermanus Van Selm – Member

Previous Committee Members

  1. John Wischuk

Who are the former members of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Post December 15, 1971 Governing Body

In the December 15, 1971 edition of The Watchtower,  it was stated that the governing body has the strictly spiritual field for its operation. The legal, nonprofit coporation, the Society (The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania) is the administrative agency of Jehovah’s witnesses. Former members of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses from December 15, 1971 (Years in office in descending order):

  1. Guy Hollis Pierce (October 2, 1999 – March 18, 2014)
  2. John Edwin Barr (September 7, 1977 – December 4, 2010)
  3. Theodore Jaracz (November 28, 1974 – June 9, 2010)
  4. Carey W. Barber (September 7, 1977 – April 8, 2007)
  5. Daniel Sydlik (November 28, 1974 – April 18, 2006)
  6. Albert Darger Schroeder (November 28, 1974 – March 8, 2006)
  7. Milton George Henschel (August 3, 1947 – March 22, 2003) 6th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  8. Lyman Alexander Swingle (September 24, 1945 – March 14, 2001)
  9. Karl Frederick Klein (November 28, 1974 – January 3, 2001)
  10. William Lloyd Barry (November 28, 1974 – July 2, 1999)
  11. John C. Booth (November 28, 1974 – January 8, 1996)
  12. George D Gangas (October 15, 1971 – July 28, 1994)
  13. Frederick William Franz (October 2, 1944 – December 22, 1992) 5th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania; 3rd President of Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York
  14. Martin Pötzinger (September 7, 1977 – June 16, 1988)
  15. Leo K. Greenlees (January 2, 1965 – circa December 1984) Resigned (allegations of child abuse)
  16. Grant Suiter (October 1, 1938 – November 22, 1983)
  17. William Kirk Jackson (October 15, 1971 – December 13, 1981)
  18. Raymond Franz (October 20, 1971 – May 22, 1980) Resigned (defected)
  19. Ewart Charles Chitty (November 28, 1974 – 1979) Resigned (allegations of homosexuality)
  20. Charles J. Fekel (November 28, 1974 – April 24, 1977)
  21. Nathan Homer Knorr (June 10, 1940 – June 8, 1977) 4th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania; 2nd President of Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York
  22. John Otto Groh (April 5, 1965 – January 23, 1975)
  23. Thomas James Sullivan (October 31, 1932 – July 30, 1974)

*N.H. Knorr was vice-president of People’s Pulpit Association since 1935. People’s Pulpit Association was renamed Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. in 1940 and changed again to Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York in 1956.

Portion of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society's Charter (as amended in 1944)
The purposes of this Society are: To act as the servant of and the legal world wide governing agency for that body of Christian persons known as Jehovah’s witnesses; to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom under Christ Jesus unto all nations as a witness to the name, word and supremacy of Almighty God JEHOVAH; to print and distribute Bibles and to disseminate Bible truths in various languages by means of making and publishing literature containing information and comment explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ Jesus: to authorize and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers, instructors, evangelists, missionaries and ministers to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house to preach and teach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon: to improve men, women and children mentally and morally by Christian missionary work and by charitable and benevolent instruction of the people on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects: to establish and maintain private Bible schools and classes for gratuitous instruction of men and women in the Bible, Bible literature and Bible history: to teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and lecturers; to provide and maintain homes, places and buildings for gratuitous housing of such students, lecturers, teachers and ministers: to furnish gratuitously to such students, lecturers, teachers, educators and ministers suitable meals and lodging and to prepare, support, maintain and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature, and for public Christian worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus; to arrange for and hold local and world-wide assemblies for such worship: to use or operate radio broadcasting stations for preaching this gospel of the kingdom; and to do any and all other lawful things that its Board of Directors shall deem expedient for the purposes stated.

What was prior to December 15, 1971?

There was no official governing body prior to December 15, 1971. Prior to that date, the Board of Directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were also considered the “governing body”. Here you will find the list of Board of Directors for the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the Board of Directors for the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of New York and the Board of Directors for the International Bible Students Association.

Board of Directors

The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania

  1. Robert Ciranko (2014 – present) 8th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  2. David W. Schafer (2014 – present)
  3. David G Sinclair (? – present)
  4. Danny L. Bland (October 7, 2000 – present)
  5. William F. Malenfant (October 7, 2000 – present)
  6. Philip D. Wilcox (October 7, 2000 – present)
  7. John N. Wischuk (October 7, 2000 – 2014)
  8. Robert W. Wallen (October 7, 2000 – 2014)
  9. Don Alden Adams (October 7, 2000 – 2014) 7th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  10. John Edwin Barr (September 7, 1977 – December 4, 2010)
  11. Daniel Sydlik (November 28, 1974 – April 18, 2006)
  12. Richard E. Abrahamson (2000 – 2004)
  13. Milton George Henschel (August 3, 1947 – March 22, 2003) 6th President of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  14. Lyman Alexander Swingle (October 1, 1945 – March 14, 2001)
  15. John Charles Booth (November 28, 1974 – January 8, 1996)
  16. Frederick William Franz (October 2, 1944 – December 22, 1992)
  17. Grant Suiter (October 1, 1938 – November 22, 1983)
  18. William K. Jackson (October 1, 1972 – December 13, 1981)
  19. Nathan Homer Knorr* (June 10, 1940 – June 8, 1977)
  20. John Otto Groh (April 5, 1965 – January 23, 1975)
  21. Thomas James Sullivan (October 31, 1932 – July 30, 1974)
  22. Hugo Henry Riemer (October 1, 1923 – March 31, 1965)
  23. William Edwin Van Amburgh (January 6, 1917 – February 5, 1947) Resigned due to illness
  24. Hayden Cooper Covington (January 13, 1942 – September 24, 1945)
  25. William Pratt Heath Jr. (October 1, 1941 – January 13, 1942)
  26. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)
  27. Alexander Hugh Macmillan (July 12, 1917 – October 1, 1938)
  28. G. Y. McCormick (October 31, 1935 – October 1, 1938)
  29. R. J. Martin (November 1, 1926 –
  30. J. A. Baeuerlein (October 1, 1923 – November 1, 1926)
  31. Charles H. Anderson (January 5, 1918 – November 1, 1926)
  32. George H Fisher (July 12, 1917 – October 1, 1923)
  33. William F. Hudgings (January 4, 1919 – October 1, 1923)
  34. Walter E. Spill (July 12, 1917 – October 1, 1923)
  35. Richard H. Barber (January 4, 1919 – April 15, 1919) Resigns in favor of Alexander Hugh Macmillan
  36. John A. Bohnet (July 12, 1917 -January 4, 1919)
  37. Andrew N. Pierson (January 6, 1917 – January 5, 1918)
  38. Isaac F. Hoskins (January 6, 1917 – July 12, 1917)
  39. Alfred I. Ritchie (January 6, 1917 – July 12, 1917)
  40. Henry Clay Rockwell (January 6, 1917 – July 12, 1917)
  41. James D. Wright (January 6, 1917 – July 12, 1917)
  42. Robert H. Hirsh (c. 1917) Claimed to be a director
  43. Charles Taze Russell (December 15, 1884 – October 31, 1916)
  44. J. H. Giesey (1909)
  45. William M. Wright ( – April 3, 1906)
  46. Henry Weber (April 25, 1894 – January 21, 1904)
  47. Simon O. Blunden (April 25, 1894 – January 6, 1908)
  48. Rose J. Ball (April 25, 1894 – ?)
  49. Maria Frances Russell (December 15, 1884 – February 12, 1900)
  50. William C. McMillan (December 15, 1884 – May 13, 1898)
  51. John B. Adamson (December 15, 1884 – Jan 5, 1895)
  52. William Imrie Mann (December 15, 1884 – April 11, 1892)
  53. J. F. Smith (December 15, 1884 – April 11, 1892)
  54. William Henry Conley (February 16, 1881 – December 15, 1884)

Presidents of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania:

  1. Robert Ciranko (2014 – present)
  2. Don Alden Adams (October 7, 2000 – 2014)
  3. Milton George Henschel (December 30, 1992 – October 7, 2000)
  4. Frederick William Franz (June 22, 1977 – December 22, 1992)
  5. Nathan Homer Knorr (January 13, 1942 – June 8, 1977)
  6. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)
  7. Charles Taze Russell (December 15, 1884 – October 31, 1916)
  8. William Henry Conley (February 16, 1881 – December 15, 1884)

Vice-Presidents of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania:

  1. David W. Schafer (2014 – present)
  2. William F. Malenfant (October 7, 2000 – present)
  3. Robert W. Wallen (October 7, 2000 – 2014)
  4. Milton George Henschel (June 22, 1977 – December 30, 1992)
  5. William Lloyd Barry (November 28, 1974 – July 2, 1999)
  6. Frederick William Franz (October 5, 1945 – June 22, 1977)
  7. Hayden Cooper Covington (January 13, 1942 – September 24, 1945)
  8. Nathan Homer Knorr (June 10, 1940 – January 13, 1942)
  9. Charles A. Wise (January 4, 1919 – June 10, 1940)
  10. Charles H. Anderson (January 5, 1918 – January 4, 1919)
  11. Andrew N. Pierson (November 2, 1916 – January 5, 1918)
  12. Alfred I. Ritchie (November 2, 1916 – July 12, 1917)
  13. J. H. Giesey (1909)
  14. Henry Weber (April 25, 1894 – January 21, 1904)
  15. William Imrie Mann (December 15, 1884 – April 11, 1892)

The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York

The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York was previously known as:

  • Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Inc (1940 – 1956)
  • People’s Pulpit Association (1908 – 1940)
  1. Lon R. Schilling (October 21, 2013 – )
  2. John Charles Booth (November 28, 1974 – January 8, 1996)
  3. Frederick William Franz (October 2, 1944 – December 22, 1992)
  4. Leo K. Greenlees (January 2, 1965 – circa December 1984)
  5. Grant Suiter (October 1, 1938 – November 22, 1983)
  6. Nathan Homer Knorr* (1935 – June 8, 1977)
  7. John Otto Groh (April 5, 1965 – January 23, 1975)
  8. Max Harry Larson
  9. George M. Couch
  10. Hugo H. Riemer ( – March 31, 1965)
  11. Hayden Cooper Covington (January 13, 1942 – 1949)
  12. William E. Van Amburgh (January 6, 1917 – February 5, 1947) Resigned due to illness
  13. A. R. Goux
  14. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)

Presidents of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of New York:

  1. Lon R. Schilling (October 21, 2013 – )
  2. Nathan Homer Knorr (January 27, 1942 – June 8, 1977)
  3. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)

Vice-Presidents of Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of New York:

  1. Hayden Cooper Covington (January 13, 1942 – 1949)
  2. Nathan Homer Knorr (1935 – January 27, 1942)

International Bible Students Association

  1. Grant Suiter (October 1, 1938 – November 22, 1983)
  2. Ewart Charles Chitty ( – 1979)
  3. Nathan Homer Knorr* (1935 – June 8, 1977)
  4. Alfred Pryce Hughes
  5. Jesse Hemery (November 1, 1901 – 1947)
  6. William E. Van Amburgh (January 6, 1917 – February 5, 1947) Resigned due to illness
  7. Edgar A. Clay (1947
  8. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)
  9. H. J. Shearn
  10. William Crawford

Presidents of International Bible Students Association:

  1. Nathan Homer Knorr (January 27, 1942 – June 8, 1977)
  2. Joseph Franklin Rutherford (January 6, 1917 – January 8, 1942)