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A class in progress during a 2017 Gilead School course


Gilead School—Its Global Scope

Gilead School—Its Global Scope

DECEMBER 1, 2020

 Each year, a number of special full-time servants from around the world are invited to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, held at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York. a At this school, students learn how to become more effective in their various assignments in Jehovah’s organization. This training helps them to strengthen and stabilize the congregations and branch organization around the globe.

 Gilead is a truly international school. For example, the 147th class, held in 2019, had 56 students, from 29 countries. The students who attend Gilead have been serving in some form of special full-time service as Bethelites, circuit overseers, missionaries, or special pioneers.

 Preparations for the school begin long before the first classroom session. For instance, the World Headquarters Travel Department (WHQ Travel) purchases flights for those invited to attend the school. For the 147th class of Gilead, the average cost of getting each foreign student to and from Patterson was $1,075 (U.S.). Students from the Solomon Islands had to take four flights to get to Patterson and later another three to get back home—traveling a total of over 35,400 kilometers (22,000 mi)! Those flights cost $2,300 (U.S.) per student. To conserve costs, WHQ Travel uses a computer booking tool to find reasonably priced tickets. And even after securing a ticket, the computer program keeps searching for weeks and even months checking to see if the price drops. WHQ Travel also uses donated airline credits and mileage to obtain tickets.

 Many of the students need visas to enter the United States. To that end, the World Headquarters Legal Department helps them to obtain student visas. The visa and registration fees cost an average of $510 (U.S.) per student.

 How do we benefit from the training these students receive? Hendra Gunawan serves as an elder in Southeast Asia. He is in a congregation with a married couple who graduated from Gilead. He says: “Previously, our congregation had no regular pioneers. But after the graduates arrived, their zealous and willing spirit spread to others, who decided to start pioneering. Later, one sister in our congregation even attended the School for Kingdom Evangelizers!”

 Sergio Panjaitan works alongside Gilead graduates at a Bethel in Southeast Asia. He says: “The training they received was not just a blessing for them; it has also become a blessing for us. They learned so much! But instead of trying to stand out because of it, they share what they learned. This creates a ripple effect of spiritual encouragement.”

 How are the costs of this school covered? By donations to the worldwide work, many of which are made via one of the methods found on Thank you for your generous contributions, which support this global school.

a The curriculum of this school is developed and maintained by the Theocratic Schools Department, under the direction of the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The school is taught by instructors from that department as well as guest instructors, including members of the Governing Body.