I was going to save this for Memorial day (the JW date) but then I realized a lot of other posters may want to do that topic then. Also, my post # two hundred just came up by chance today. Also my JW ex-wife's birthday is today. Great cosmic forces seemed to be at work...
So - "beware the Ides of March" and here goes!
The last JW memorial service I ever attended was also the last one which I personally conducted for the congregation. It did not follow the Society outline. It was also what triggered me out of being a fading doubter and into an activist who voluntarily left the borg.
It was in the buildup to the Ray Franz witch hunt days. I believe that this was in the spring of 1978, but it could have been 1979. Marion Dunlap and I had been talking over the core apostate issues for about a year. He was corresponding with his brother Ed at the NY bethel. This was also the time when Ed had just finished that publication on the bible book of James.
For both Marion and I, (and from his visits with Ed) the central issue was the absurdity of the two-class system and the inconsistent talk on "who is your mediator". We felt at the time that the WTS was sort of making itself the mediator. We were well aware that FDS really meant Governing Body. Those old men and women who were partaking at memorial had no say at all. Also - for us, neither of whom had put any stock in the chronology for a long time, the 1975 failure was no shock at all - rather a sort of perverse vindication of our skeptical viewpoint. So the really fundamental issue became "who really should be partaking of the emblems"? We all agreed it should be everybody.
When I say all, I mean Marion, Ed, myself, and a couple of other Elders who shall remain nameless and who in fact did not end up leaving. Ray Franz was not specifically part of our conversation, but I am sure he influenced Ed who in turn invluenced us.
This was also at the very end of the true Elder rotation episode. I understand that this got stopped later, but back then the tradition was that whoever came up in turn was the Presiding Elder and also did the Memorial that year. That was me for this year. So, while Ray and Ed were having the BIG CoC at Bethel, Marion and I had our own little one in Oklahoma City.
Marion, who was a wise older man, advised me to just not take the memorial that year. James, who was a rash young man, was not about to pass on this - especially when I knew in my own heart it was all over for me anyway. Of course, the Society provided an outline which mostly picked around random context scriptures to weave a ragged cause for the 144,000. I also knew I could not give that argument for them.
So, here is how it went down: I simply stated at the start of the ceremony that there had been various interpretations of the timing, the meaning, and the significance of this holiday over the years. I also stated that I did not feel impelled or qualified to place my own or anyone elses particular interpretation upon it. I suggested that perhaps it was a matter for each Christian's own conscience. I then turned direction to the NW translation and pointed out that I had done research to find everything possible which actually mentioned this ceremony "in context". I read those verses word for word up to the loaf. We then had prayer over the bread, passed it, and moved on the the cup. Same for the wine, prayer, and then passed it. There were no partakers. Concluding comments included the usual mention that after final prayer the emblems were no longer of religious consequence. This was not scriptural IMHO, but I had a reason for making that comment. I was covering my own butt. I also used the suggested songs just to not be a total bomb-thrower at the WTS.
The aftermath - first, this ceremony was over in record time. I was still on the platform, while a lot of the friends milled around the stage. I crunched up some of the bread, ate it, commented to the sister who made it how good it was, and washed it down with some of the wine. (Sterling Vinyards Cab. Sav. 1975 - I thought that was a great vintage and also an appropriate year!) A lot of the congregation kids came up, fascinated, and I let them sample both. No big deal at the time.
Aftermath part two: The rumors started that I had not followed the outline, I had partaken of the emblems, I had encouraged children to do so as well. I had JW legalistic defenses on all the above except the outline - but I had followed the BIBLE! The circuit overseer at the time was that Bennett guy we have been discussing on the CO threads from yesterday. I was ready to hang on as elder for as long as possible and make life miserable for him, but I had had a sort of catharsis by doing this memorial celebration. It was enough. When Bennett came to give me his WTF??? lecture on it, I resigned as an elder immediately after telling him my true opinion of the society.
I attended a very few meetings after this, and only one assembly (for about 5 minutes). But this was the spiritual end of the bad journey.