This change in dub procedure is not unexpected. And there may be more ahead.
Several years ago when Guy Pierce was named to the Gov Body, I wrote him a long letter. Having known him when he he visited our congo as the CO back in the late '80s, I though he might take my suggestions seriously. But after writing the lengthy letter, I decided not to mail it. I was beginning to realize that no real reform was possible in the organization and I was starting to rethink my position as a 25+ year dub. Not wanting to call attention to myself (I knew the letter would be forwarded to the congo where I was an elder and would create a shitstorm).
On hearing the news about the new meeting "arrangement," I went back to my file and read the letter again. In it I told Pierce I was "reporting from the front lines" and thought the Society ought to make a number of changes ASAP in order to align itself with the rank and file, most of whom were rethinking their "theocratic pace" now that the WTS had shit-canned the generation doctrine and put the "end" off, way off, into the future.
I suggested they immediately do away with the book study, freeing up a night a week. This would give the bro's some more rest. I told him they could soften the shock by incorporating the book study material into the School/Service meeting, as all three of those meetings were much longer than necessary. The letter specifically outlined shortening up the school and svc meeting to allow room for a 30-minute "book study." I also suggested they then promote the night off as a family or personal student opportunity. It's amusing to see that that's almost exactly what has happened.
Another suggestion I offered was to change field service as we know it, and replace it with "field and community service." In my outline, dubs would volunteer for various assignments: hall cleaning, visiting the sick, taking groceries or medicine or meals to shut-ins, performing other forms of community service, or go door to door with "the good news," as each individual chose to do. All of these activities would "count" and time could be reported. This would expand the scope of what constituted "service" and give everyone a chance to participate in "Christian activities." I suggested it would enhance morale in the congos and be a public relations boost, too.
There was much more; as I re-read the letter, it was proposing a sea change within the organization leading to the "mainstreaming" of the JW religion.
Either Pierce received some sort of telepathic mind transfer or these ideas are merely the inevitable evolution of the dub organization. Either way, for the sake of those still in I am happy to see their burden lifted - even if only slightly.