Even though I didn’t have the title of “Elder,” I was still active in my work at Bethel and the congregation used me as much as possible. When the congregation recommended that I once again serve as an elder, one elder raised the objection that that Barbara was a low-hour publisher. There were legitimate reasons for her status. By this time, Barbara’s respect for the organization had eroded significantly. This incident moved her to read her Bible with greater intensity to see how scriptural all of this was. Thus began a process of discovery for her. Her big epiphany was the understanding that Jesus’ teaching regarding the faithful and discreet slave was a parable, not a prophecy, and that the leadership has arrogantly asserted that they are the fulfillment of that teaching. At the same time it was evident that they have blasphemously assumed the role of co-mediator with Jesus by asserting that salvation for the rank and file is not possible apart from them.
I loved study and research, and the organization’s teachings held together for me until 1995. When the Governing Body rendered Jesus’ words regarding the generation that will not pass away until all these things occur meaningless in order to retain the 1914 chronology, I saw them regard their own tradition as more important than the clear words of Jesus. Over the next ten years I saw the effects on the leadership of having a less defined expectation of when the end would come while trying to sustain a sense of urgency within the membership. The increasing emphasis on the “faithful slave” and its governing body and the increasing demands that we trust and obey them replaced motivation based on the content of their teachings. This, I believe, was due to the Governing Body’s losing a measure of confidence in its own teachings and discerning the need to be more assertive in demanding loyalty and obedience. The emphasis on increased activity for its own sake replaced emphasis on that which properly motivates such activity. Over time, Barbara and I lost any joy we had in connection with the congregation. Our joy returned somewhat when we simply read the Bible. Our prior Bible reading had always been through the subjective lens of the organization’s teachings. A more objective reading provided an understanding of the marvels of God’s grace, as opposed to the limiting, condescending and guilt inducing “underserved kindness” of the New World Translation. It became more evident that, in the first century, it was the power of the holy spirit acting on individuals that made possible the spread of the good news about Jesus, not some central authority in Jerusalem. The importance of faith in Christ and his role as the singular mediator between God and man stood out as never before. Once we had sufficient indication from the Scriptures that there might be another way of understanding them, we made a thorough investigation of our religion, including its history and development.
By 2007 we could no longer in good conscience support the Organization. We would have probably come to this realization earlier had my mother not lived as long as she did. She was emotionally dependant on me, mainly because I was the only one of her children who had embraced her religion. I resigned from my congregation responsibilities and withdrew my participation in the Society’s music projects. Our leaving was abrupt, not gradual. Our closest friends shunned us from the start as we had shared with them some of our reasons for leaving.
The first year after leaving the congregation was harder on Barbara than on me. She is a social person who enjoys entertaining friends at our home. Naturally, it hurt us both to lose lifelong friends and realize the conditional nature of those friendships.
After two years of inactivity, I received an official call from a long-time friend inviting us to a judicial committee meeting. I was told that there was sufficient evidence that my teachings provided basis for judicial action. Our efforts to explain ourselves and even defend ourselves to our close friends and been construed as “teaching”. In reality, we never sought to “draw away” others from the Organization. When asked if I wanted to write a letter of disassociation, I declined. Barbara and I had previously decided that writing a disassociation letter was playing by their rules. This was their initiative and I wanted them to finish what they had started rather than to finish it for them. I declined, on behalf of both of us, the invitation to attend the judicial meeting. I knew, and thus stated, that the judicial committee would do as it is told. A few days later I was informed that we had been disfellowshipped for apostasy. I indicated that we would not appeal the decision.