This reminds me of my first church experience as a former JW. It has to be about four or five years ago. For over a year, I debated with myself whether to go to the Episcopal Church around the block from where I live. It seemed inviting for various reasons. Finally one Sunday morning I gathered the courage, got dressed up in a suit, took my NWT, the one my parents gave me when I was baptized and went. My partner still laughs at me when I came home disappointed, because not once I was invited to open my Bible (they have "programs" that follow a theme each Sunday and include many Bible verses for the day in the program). I also was a bit turned off at first by the openness there since it was gay friendly Church, and one gay guy got up to make announcements about their movie watching club and with a lisp he said the movies coming up were with Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift and James Dean, I thought to myself, "Mary, sit down" Well I went back a few weeks later and now go periodically. I even volunteered to mow the lawn for a month this past summer. I don't feel guilty when I don't go; I go when I need and want to. People are friendly and don't pressure me to come every week. Believe it or not, I've learned more about the Bible in the times I've gone that all my years as a JW. I enjoy the sermons, hymns and choir and the Easter and Christmas services are amazing. I also join my partner at the Greek Orthodox Church occasionally which is equally beautiful and enlightening.
I really enjoy the formality and rituals and even cross myself since I believe that is giving proper reverence. One Easter I was moved enough to take communion (later I felt guilty and spoke to the pastor but he told me I was fine since I was baptized). I have to say the Easter services are very moving and inspiring...a far cry from the memorial services. By the way, the JW Memorial is what I attribute to my personal catalyst. It was one of my last few I attended and I was all stressed because I had to take care of the songs and we had a Bethel representative so I wanted it to be perfect. I was a Ministerial Servant. I bought a new tie and shirt because I couldn't afford a new suit back then. I also was an usher (forget what the JWs called it) and had organized the hall cleaning prior to the Memorial. Since the hall was over-packed I stood in the back and while I was standing there listening to exactly the same talk that I heard for 20 years or so before, I thought to myself, "what does this all mean?" "Jesus death has no meaning to me anymore?" "I don't feel like I belong here." It may seem like nothing, but for me, it was kind of shocking, I couldn't believe I was having those thoughts.
Although now I consider myself Agnostic and a Humanist, I still enjoy Jesus' teachings and the Church services. It's great to be able to explore my spirituality and belief system on my terms while keeping an open mind about non-Christian beliefs.