As of September 2012, the oversight of more than 20 branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been transferred to larger branches.
Additionally, new branches have been established in Serbia and Macedonia. There are two main reasons for the changes.
1. Technology has simplified the work
In recent years, improvements in communications and printing technology have reduced the need for personnel in some branches. With fewer people working at larger branches, room became available that could be used for housing some who were working in smaller branches in other countries.
Now, each key location has a greater pool of experienced Witnesses caring for the work of Bible education. For example, the preaching work in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama has come under the supervision of the Mexico branch. Consequently, the branch offices in those six countries were closed.
Forty Witnesses from those six branches were reassigned to the Mexico branch. About 95 others remained in their native countries, where they took up the full-time preaching ministry.
Others in those Central American countries began working in translation offices under the supervision of the Mexico branch. For example, in Panama about 20 Witnesses translate Watchtower publications into indigenous languages. At the former branch office in Guatemala, another 16 Witnesses now translate publications into four local languages. Thus, in Central America, the reorganization efforts have reduced the number of branch office members from 300 to about 75.
2. Workers are available to spend more time preaching
Because of the mergers, qualified ministers who had been serving in small branches can now concentrate on preaching the good news.
A Witness in Africa, who was reassigned to the preaching activity, wrote: “Adjusting my lifestyle to suit the new circumstances was a challenge during the first few months. However, being in the ministry daily has brought me joy and blessings beyond measure. Presently, I am conducting Bible studies with 20 people, and some of them now attend congregation meetings.”