Kingdom Hall Bomb

by Dr Jekyll 24 Replies latest jw friends

  • Dr Jekyll
    Dr Jekyll

    Old news but uncle Bruce wanted it dug up...

    The Guardian. 22nd July 1985.


    From Richard Yallop in Melbourne.

    One man was killed and 70 people were taken to hospital after a bomb exploded yesterday during a Jehovah's Witnesses service in a Kingdom Hall in the Sydney suburb of Lurnea.

    The explosion occurred close to the speaker's dais just as Mr. David Winder, a visiting elder from the Sydney suburb of Prospect, had begun his address on loyalty to God and the family. Mr. Winder, aged 39,

    was blown through the roof * of the building, receiving multiple fractures and injuries.

    Police did not release the name of the dead man, who was sitting in the front row. He is believed to be a father of three. His wife was also injured in the blast, but their three children escaped unhurt.

    More than 100 people attended the service. The explosion destroyed half the building, and tore a hole in the aluminium roof.

    Thirteen of the 70 people taken to hospital were still there last night and the condition of two adults and one three-month-old baby was said to be serious. Some of the injured refused blood transfusion because of their religious beliefs.

    Police have no idea of the motive for the bombing, nor has any group claimed responsibility, but it is thought to have been caused by a former member of the congregation with a grudge.

    Geez, what those Elders will do to make their talks memorable!

  • blondie

    *** w86 1/1 p. 10 Days Like "the Days of Noah" ***

    VIOLENCE! As in Noah’s day, so today, violence has become a household word. Even those who walk with the true God, as did Noah, are not immune to violence. This was forcefully drawn to the world’s attention when, on July 21 of last year, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sydney, Australia, was demolished by a bomb during a public Bible talk about loyalty to God and family. One Witness was killed. More than 40 were hospitalized. All of these have recovered, though some carry heavy scars as a result of this criminal outrage. A police detective commented: "There were 110 people inside and it is simply a miracle that we don’t have 110 dead."


    w88 3/15 p. 3 Is Prayer Worth the Effort? ***

    On Sunday, July 21, 1985, more than a hundred men, women, and children met for worship in their Kingdom Hall in Sydney, Australia. After a song of praise to God, prayer was offered on behalf of the congregation. When a minister was 15 minutes into his Bible discourse that Sunday morning, a bomb blast suddenly shattered the peace, critically injuring him, killing a man seated at the front of the hall, and resulting in the hospitalization of more than 40 persons.


    g92 1/8 We Survived a Murderer’s Bomb ***


    Survived a Murderer’s Bomb

    SUNDAY morning, July 21, 1985, promised a crisp, midwinter’s day as Jehovah’s Witnesses and friends began filling the Casula Kingdom Hall in a western suburb of Sydney, Australia. At 9:35 a.m., David Winder, the visiting speaker, began his discourse on Christian loyalty. Just a little after ten o’clock, we were looking down, following along in our Bibles as he was reading aloud John 6:68.

    He never finished the reading. An enormous blast from under the platform left him writhing on the ground, close to death. A friend of ours, Graham Wykes, a husband and a father, died instantly. Many others were hurt, some critically. Such unprovoked brutality in a place of worship shocked even a hardened world. As the news broke, Australians were glued in disbelief to their TVs and radios.



    Immediately after the explosion, there was momentary silence. I think most of us were stunned and bewildered, looking around in fright, unable to speak or come to terms with the incongruity of what had just happened. The air was thick with dust. The whole scene looked and smelled like a war zone. Children began to cry, and some started to scream from shock. Later, one observer, a taxi driver, saw an "unidentified girl who probably had a beautiful face being placed into an ambulance with half her face gone." That unidentified girl was my wife, Sue.

    Sue was knocked unconscious by something that flew from the platform straight into her face. My eardrums instantly burst. To me the explosion sounded as if someone had turned on an air hose inside my head —there was no bang, just a sudden, intolerable hiss as everything went gray. While we were in the second row of seats, the speaker was standing practically over the bomb, which had been hidden under the wooden platform.

    Instinctively I crouched with my hands over my head out of fear of falling debris. The next few seconds seemed like minutes. It dawned on me then that our hall had been bombed, and a sense of foreboding gripped me, for Sue had just vanished in the debris and dust. As I shouted "Susie, Susie!" my thoughts were a confusion of questions: ‘Has she been killed? What about David—and the rest? Have I been hurt?’

    Ceiling panels, plastic chairs, splintered timber, bags, and torn Bibles and magazines were strewed everywhere. Soon dazed faces, many bleeding and some peppered with splinters, emerged from the rubble. Most of those who had been seated toward the rear of the hall were unhurt except for eardrum damage.


    Wife’s Nightmare

    I found Sue when I spotted her boots protruding from beneath a large, but fortunately very light, ceiling tile. When I threw it aside, I was unprepared for what I saw. Sue’s upper lip was severed horizontally beneath a crushed nose and was hanging near her chin. Her front teeth were smashed, and when I saw the damage to and around her eyes, I had fears for her sight. Her hair was a disheveled mass of blood, dirt, and splinters, and her upper left arm seemed badly cut. I was relieved, however, to see no ongoing heavy bleeding. But I learned later that I was deceived. Moments after I lifted her head and shoulders from the rubble, she weakly called out my name. I tried to calm her, mistakenly thinking she was becoming aware of what had happened. Sue later said: "I thought I was home in bed having a nightmare and desperately wanted Peter to wake me up." She seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness, and I did not want to leave her, but I did need help.

    Another Witness, in a state of shock, exacerbated no doubt by the sight of my wife, was talking irrationally as she approached us. With my free arm, I gestured that she bend down so I could talk to her. With her eyes on Sue, she bent down and gave me her hand. We then had a brief prayer together, supplicating Jehovah for wisdom and strength to cope. By the time we said amen, although she was still teary eyed, she had fully regained her composure. I asked her to find something to serve as a pillow for Sue.

    Amazing Survivals

    When the bomb detonated, young Paul Hahn was sitting directly in front of me and about six feet [2 m] from the piano. The blast hurled the piano into the air, and a large section of it landed on Paul, taking a sizable chunk of flesh out of his upper thigh. His beautiful front teeth, just out of braces, were smashed. Joy Wykes, widowed by the bomb, lay nearby, with a severe head injury as well as other wounds. Two of her girls were also hurt.

    Of the seriously injured, the most remarkable survivor was the speaker, David Winder. The bomb hurled him and debris from the platform right up through the open space where the roof had been only moments before. He came down almost on the spot where he had been standing. He was still conscious but in a state of severe shock. Since his feet and lower legs were mutilated, some thought he would never walk again but today he is able to walk reasonably well. Some of his clothing was found in a nearby eucalyptus tree. The speaker’s stand was found three houses away in a neighbor’s backyard. Because of massive blood loss, David was in a critical state. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital.

    Rescuers Arrive

    The police and ambulance officers, much to their credit, seemed to arrive very quickly. While ambulance officers attended to the injured, the police had their work cut out. Because the blast had been heard and felt suburbs away, roads approaching the Kingdom Hall were soon choked with hundreds of curious onlookers, and news cameras were running hot. Some of our immediate neighbors kindly offered to help in any way they could.

    Ambulances quickly filled and began ferrying the injured to local hospitals. Hospital staff were horrified at what had happened. Many local Witnesses came to the hospitals to offer comfort and support. David Winder and Sue were taken to a hospital especially equipped to handle trauma victims. That night in the Liverpool Hospital and while I was under general anesthesia, doctors removed splinters buried deep in my arm. The next day, with my anxiety growing, I wanted to see my wife. With just a little apprehension, the hospital released me that afternoon so that I could be with Sue.

    The Blood Issue Arises

    I found her in the intensive-care ward, and when I first looked at her from the foot of her bed, I wept. A grossly discolored face, swollen and distorted beyond recognition, greeted me. Groups of stitches, like miniature black zippers, held her face together.

    Sue could not see because her eyes, even her eyelashes, were submerged in swollen tissue. Of her facial bones, her nose, upper jaw, cheek, and orbital bones of the eyes were shattered. The real danger, however, lay in the fact that a section of her skull just above the bridge of her nose had been rammed back, puncturing an artery. While unconscious and buried under rubble, blood poured unseen into her stomach. Her blood count plummeted to six. (The average for a woman is about 14.)

    Blood transfusion immediately became an issue, eventually resulting in an impasse with the surgeon. He told Sue that her refusal to permit a transfusion, if needed, would tie his hands. Sue reassured him that we both appreciated this and "would accept any reasonable alternative procedure, but our request to ‘abstain from blood’ was not negotiable." (Acts 15:28, 29) He would not accept this.

    Psychological harassment began and persisted. Sue was asked if she had any children, and when she answered, "No," the reply was, "Good, because they would have an ugly mother." He also spoke to Sue of the possibility of my divorcing her because of her face. Sue’s reaction? "That was most distressing. I determined that even though the surgeon, in his own way, wanted me to look as good as possible, I was not going to let him trample on my conscience." His relentless badgering about blood transfusion only heightened tension and wasted valuable time. During this traumatic period, what stood out in sharp contrast was the compassionate and tender care given Sue by every one of the nursing staff. They earned our respect.

    It was now 11 days since the explosion had taken place. Sue’s facial bones were at that critical stage when they were about to start setting but in the wrong places. She needed surgery quickly! On his next round, her doctor, in a final burst of anger, exclaimed, "I’m not touching her!" and then walked away. These were the most anxious moments of our lives. In retrospect, however, the surgeon’s abandonment of Sue proved to be a blessing.

    A Compassionate Surgeon

    A Witness who is also a doctor spoke on our behalf to a plastic surgeon who agreed to treat Sue using an alternative technique. While not the medically preferred method, it eliminated the question of blood transfusion. This surgeon proved to be respectful and kind. He earned our respect, for he was prepared to do his best without the use of blood.

    Threaded steel pins, about three inches [8 cm] long, were screwed into Sue’s broken facial bones. Steel bridges, in turn, held these pins in place, allowing the bones to set correctly. "With spikes protruding from my face for about six weeks, sleeping was no pleasure!" confessed Sue. Her shattered upper jaw was wired to her undamaged lower jaw to ensure that it would set correctly. Her sense of smell could not be restored.

    Sue has a fine sense of humor and, more important, was able to laugh at herself, such as at the thought that she resembled a ‘walking TV antenna.’ She would need more than a good sense of humor, though, for she would be having surgery for the next two-and-a-half years. This included eardrum grafts and extensive dental work.

    Lessons Learned

    Both of us learned many lessons, including the power of prayer and that Jehovah never allows us to suffer more than we are capable of bearing. When confronted by the first surgeon over the blood issue, Sue confided, "I was very nervous and sad that there had to be such a confrontation. Each time I prayed to Jehovah, and the feeling of total calm that swept over me was very reassuring. I had read of other Witnesses who had experienced something similar, but now I felt it for myself." We are now more confident about facing possible future tests, having seen how Jehovah helps in situations we previously would have considered daunting.

    Some have asked us why Jehovah would permit a Kingdom Hall to be bombed and a brother to die. Throughout history, and in our time, God’s people have been subjected to many brutalities. Had Jehovah put a protective fence around them, as Satan claimed had been done for Job, their motives for serving God would indeed be open to question. We have no basis for thinking that we are beyond harm—that God will always save our skin, even from ‘unforeseen occurrences.’ Our acceptance of suffering, or even the loss of our lives for our beliefs or otherwise, recommends our worship as genuine, unselfish—not opportunistic.—Ecclesiastes 9:11; Job, chapters 1 and 2; Matthew 10:39.

    Brotherhood in Action

    During this time of stress, our spiritual companions proved to be "sticking closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24) Sue explains: "Some of my family flew 2,500 miles [4,000 km] to be with us during the critical first two weeks. It was such a comfort to have family and friends sit with me, for I suffered frequent nightmares." A seemingly endless stream of cards, letters, telegrams, and flowers poured in from thoughtful brothers and sisters both here and abroad. How thankful we were for these "apples of gold in silver carvings." (Proverbs 25:11) An excellent witness resulted. This was indeed brotherhood in action.

    Sue adds: "Practical help came too. Close Witness friends juiced fruits and vegetables particularly rich in iron. We felt that since we were asking doctors to respect our wishes, we were obliged to be supportive of them, and in my case, this meant building up my blood. I also received an iron supplement." Many of us became quite adept at converting a complete meal into a liquid, and to her credit Sue became equally accomplished at drinking it. (Have you ever tried to eat a roast dinner through a straw?) "The result of all of this was that my blood count shot up three points prior to surgery, much to the delight of my new surgeon," says Sue.

    Patience, love, prayer, the help of God’s spirit, and simply the passing of time, as well as a sensible diet, have all contributed to Sue’s recovery. Some injuries have left a legacy that only God’s Kingdom rule will correct in its own time. As for Sue’s face, to those who know her well, it is a little different but a credit to her surgeon regardless. And to me she is still beautiful.

    Yes, our hope as Jehovah’s Witnesses is something special. It can carry us through any trial. And rather than weaken the congregation spiritually, this ordeal strengthened our bonds. An interested friend, present at the bombing, admits with a smile to being ‘bombed into the truth.’ Having seen firsthand such a brutal attack on peace-loving families, he became more determined to pursue his Bible study.

    To date no one has been charged with the bombing, but the police do have a prime suspect, allegedly a vengeful murderer who hated the Witnesses. However, they have insufficient evidence to bring charges. He has been linked to a number of other crimes.

    Now, over six years later, Sue and I continue to enjoy the privilege of serving as members of the Watch Tower branch office staff in Australia. A special delight for us was the dedication of our new quickly built Kingdom Hall, constructed June 22-24, 1990, next to the location of the old bombed-out hall. Christian love has overcome one man’s blind hatred.—As told by Peter and Sue Schulz.


    The Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 1985.

    [Pictures on page 10]

    Recent photograph of Peter and Sue Schulz

    Sue Schulz with her face wired to reshape it

  • LDH

    I remember this well.

    Urban Legend has it, the scripture has just 'invited' the audience to 'step over into Matthew 24:14" with him.

    Since it was a familiar scripture, the brothers could have chosen not to read it along with the speaker. Instead, most OBEDIENTLY turned to the scripture. Therefore, when the bomb went off, it went over their heads and they were spared.

    I guess you know who was the disobedient one. The one that was killed. He couldn't be bothered to turn to a well-known scripture.

    Brothers, do you heed the counsel and invitations of the Organization when they are extended to you?


  • LDH
    Just a little after ten o’clock, we were looking down, following along in our Bibles as he was reading aloud John 6:68.

    I told you. You can't make this shit up. OK, so I had the scripture wrong.

    But notice what time Blondie made her post. I was busy typing mine.

    This horrible story went around the US.

  • Dr Jekyll
    Dr Jekyll

    I used to know an Elder who would scoff at the lack of faith the ancient israelites had because they would tie a sash around the waist of the high priest when he went into the holiest of holies. Their reasoning was that if anything like a heart attack or stoke happened to him in there they could just pull him out again by the sash.

    The Elder I knew scoffed because he reckoned Jehovah would never let anything like that happen to one of his servants whilst he was serving him like that...

    I guess that Elder never heard about this Bomb!

  • MinisterAmos

    That is exactly what the Dubz want for the other 99.99% of the world.

    If you doubt it, just check the children's book pictures about Armegeddon.

  • Dr Jekyll
    Dr Jekyll
    That is exactly what the Dubz want for the other 99.99% of the world.

    Put like that its hard to feel sorry for them

  • unclebruce

    Thankyou for the digging Dr Jekyll, Blondie, LDH.

    This happened just over a year before I moved to Sydney. The witnesses handled it as well as they could. So this is what it would be like to blow up a Kingdom Hall.

    I think it's a good reminder that in spite of our frustration with the cult, when all said and done it is made up of individuals just like us .. well maybe not exactly like us.. not yet anyway


    Of course the Watchtower™ put its usual spin on things – we can't have the survivors developing doubts™.

    Some have asked us why Jehovah would permit a Kingdom Hall to be bombed and a brother to die. Throughout history, and in our time, God’s people have been subjected to many brutalities. Had Jehovah put a protective fence around them, as Satan claimed had been done for Job, their motives for serving God would indeed be open to question. We have no basis for thinking that we are beyond harm—that God will always save our skin, even from ‘unforeseen occurrences.’ Our acceptance of suffering, or even the loss of our lives for our beliefs or otherwise, recommends our worship as genuine, unselfish—not opportunistic.—Ecclesiastes 9:11; Job, chapters 1 and 2; Matthew 10:39

    Is that sick reasoning or what. Thanks again Dr Jekyll and on your birthday too!

  • truthseeker

    "Where there are two or three gathered in my midst, there I am"

    I guess Jesus was doing something else when this bomb went off.

    I would alos be curious as to people's faith right now, those who were present and survived.

    To me, when I was a loyal dub, could not get my head around how a BOMB could go off in Jehovah's house and he did nothing to intervene. Yet, he'll miraculously supply packets of sandwiches to a pioneer couple fom the back of a truck or he'll make a cheque out for the insurance for just the right amount to keep a poor pioneer's car on the road.

  • Dr Jekyll
    Dr Jekyll

    oh maybe Satan was just testing the wife and kids of the poor bastard that got blown up on the front row

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