Secret Elder's Manual
Jehovah's Witness Elders are provided with a manual which outlines their procedural responsibilities, including details on judicial committees and disfellowshipping. This book is highly confidential and not to be shared with other congregation members. It is a red flag when a religion withholds such important information from its followers.
Pay Attention to Yourselves And To All The Flock was released as an elder's guide in 1977, and updated in 1979, 1981 and 1991.
Pay Attention to Yourselves And To All The Flock 1991 edition cover.
In 2010, it was replaced with "Shepherd the Flock of God" (sfl_E_202010), with revisions in 2012, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
"Shepherd the Flock of God" 2010 and 2020 edition covers.
Its 2010 release was preceded by a Letter to Elders on August 23, which made it clear that only Elders are to have access to the manual.
"The information is designed for use by the elders only, and other individuals should not have any opportunity to read the information."
I know of many Jehovah's Witnesses that are not aware of an elder's manual, and the secrecy behind its very existence is disturbing.
An elder may request a brother bind the manual, provided the elder watches that the brother does not read it. Sisters and non-witnesses are not even allowed to bind it under supervision, as directed in the following quote from the Letter to Elders, October 7, 2010:
"There is no objection if an elder personally spiral binds or laminates his own textbook or does so for other elders. If he has another baptized brother who is not an elder do the work for him, the elder must watch while the work is being done. Outside companies, unbelievers, or sisters are not permitted to do this work. The material in the book is confidential, and confidentiality must be preserved."
Not only the contents of the manual, but its very existence, is to be kept secret from female Jehovah's Witnesses. Why the secrecy? This reinforces Watchtower's unwholesome patriarchal "boy's club" power structure.
For decades, Watchtower has regularly released a Letter to Elders or Announcements and Reminders with a section for Elders only, and a section to be read to the congregation. In Announcements and Reminders January 2021 (S-147-21.01-E), the Elder's section announced a revised edition for April 2021.
Yet again, the confidentiality of this book was highlighted by the sentence, "The books will be wrapped to ensure confidentiality and will be labeled for delivery to the coordinator of the body of elders."
Watchtower articles claim that secretiveness have no place in a true religion.
"True religion in no way practices secretiveness." Watchtower 1997 Jun 1 p.6
What information should Elder's have access to that other members do not? Since the Governing Body claim their teachings are critical for salvation, why withhold some of them? Upon baptism, Jehovah's Witnesses must abide by all the rules laid out in the Elder's Manual to avoid being disfellowshipped, so why are they not provided with the manual before choosing to be baptised?
This is yet another area that highlights Watcthower is a high control religion that cannot be trusted.
Written Jan 2021.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2022