The modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses began toward the end of the 19th century with a small group of Bible students near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.In 1879 we began publishing the Bible journal now called The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. It is published in more than 180 languages and is the world’s most widely circulated religious magazine. The name Jehovah’s Witnesses was adopted in 1931. Previously, we had been known as International Bible Students.
Following the model of first-century Christianity, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no clergy-laity division. All baptized members are ordained ministers and share in the preaching and teaching work. Witnesses are organized into congregations of up to 200 members. Spiritually mature men in each congregation serve as elders.
A body of elders supervises each congregation. About 20 congregations form a circuit, and about 10 circuits are grouped into a district. Congregations receive periodic visits from traveling elders.
Guidance and instructions are provided by a multinational governing body made up of longtime Witnesses who currently serve at the international offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York.This international brotherhood of people of all races is made up of about 7.3 million practicing members organized into more than 105, 000 congregations in more than 230 lands.