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I was looking for information about the founders of Jehovah's Witnesses. It looks like some notable early people were the founder Charles T. Russell and then Joseph F. Rutherford who was the president after Russell's death.

The material at Jehovah's Witnesses websites (here, and here) however does not provide a lot of information on the titles these or other leaders were referred by, or how their statements or writings were viewed.

Example from paragraph 7 in an article titled "Methods of Preaching​—Using Every Means to Reach People" (located here):

The second event was the death of Brother Russell on October 31, 1916. Thus, The Watch Tower of December 15, 1916, announced: “Now that Brother Russell has passed beyond, the sermon feature [in the newspapers] will be discontinued entirely.” Although this avenue of preaching came to an end, other methods, such as the “Photo-Drama of Creation,” continued to have great success.

Example from an article titled “When Are We Going to Have Another Assembly?”, located here:

During his visit, Brother Rutherford encouraged these faithful ones very much with two motivating talks at the convention and five lectures that were broadcast on the radio.

The only reference to a title I have found so far is "brother".

Questions to JWs:

  1. Do you use any other titles ("Reverend"/"Prophet"/"Elder"/etc.) when referring to those who are currently, or have been in the past, in high standing in your organization?
  2. Do you consider anybody currently alive, or anyone who has been on earth since Jesus, to be a prophet (someone put in position by God to foretell future events)?
  3. Do you consider any current or past JWs to have been infallible?
  4. Do you have any books or other writings that are considered sacred or infallible (excluding the Bible)?
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    By the way, JWs don't refer to Charles T. Russel as the founder, because there were others who were also involved in the initial Bible studies, and even then they were only trying to reestablish the first-century congregation. Bro. Russel is more commonly known as the organization's first president or as the Watchtower magazine's first editor. – 4castle Jun 23 '17 at 14:46
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Do you use any other titles ("Reverend"/"Prophet"/"Elder"/etc.) when referring to those who are currently, or have been in the past, in high standing in your organization?

"Brother" and "Sister" are the only titles we use if we're referring to a specific person. There are some "job titles" though, which refer to the responsibilities that person has. We don't use their "job title" unless we need to clarify their role to the person we're speaking to.

For example:

  • Governing Body member - one of the brothers who meets to discuss organizational changes and refinements in the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • Bethelite - A brother or sister who works full-time at a Bethel facility or remotely.
  • Circuit Overseer - the brother who visits and cares for about 20 congregations within a specific region along with his wife. He also appoints elders and ministerial servants.
  • Elder - A brother who cares for the needs of those in the congregation and handles judicial matters along with the other elders in the congregation. They can give talks at meetings.
  • Ministerial Servant - A brother who assists the congregation and the elders and also gives talks at the congregation meetings.
  • Pioneer - A brother or sister who works in the ministry full-time with a goal of at least 70 hours per month.

For more information, there's "Should Christians Use Religious Titles?"

Do you consider anybody currently alive, or anyone who has been on earth since Jesus, to be a prophet (someone put in position by God to foretell future events)?

There were some prophets in the first-century congregations after Jesus ascended to heaven (1 Corithians 12:28), but nobody within Jehovah's Witnesses has ever prophesied. Following the completion of the Bible, there was no more need for prophets, as the scriptures make us "fully competent, completely equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)

Do you consider any current or past JWs to have been infallible?

No. Infallibility belongs only to Jehovah God. Even Satan, a perfect angel, was evidently not infallible. Likewise, the apostles sinned at times. The Governing Body is also not infallible. Only through holy spirit can ones be protected from error, because holy spirit comes from God.

Do you have any books or other writings that are considered sacred or infallible (excluding the Bible)?

No. Infalibility is once again reserved only for God's Word, the Bible. The beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses have been known to change over time, and our publications have never claimed infallibility. The Bible is our only source of truth.

  • thanks for the answer! So I take you don't have anyone titled as "prophet and seer", or "monsignor", or "Your Most Reverend Eminence" or "His All-Holiness";-P – user100487 Jun 23 '17 at 15:15
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    Right. There isn't even really a "clergy class," because all JWs are considered equal in importance and try to be humble. None of the "job titles" I mentioned above are used as a prefix to someone's name. – 4castle Jun 23 '17 at 15:19

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