When I was a JW (born and raised), I was lead to believe that the clergy class of Christendom was some elite class who ruled over the meek and mild sheep of the congregation; that they wore fancy robes to do their services in, and generally were every bad thing the WTS told me they would be.
I attended a Christian convention just this last weekend. It was a non-denominational one, meaning you didn't have to be of a certain faith to attend, neither were some of the speakers who participated. However, the organisers were from the Anglican (Church of England) religion so the communion on Sunday was conducted according to Anglican tradition, but I'll get to that later.
One of the things that hit me first was that you were allowed to wear what you liked. Being an Australian summer, very few were ties or business wear. Most were in smart casual, whatever each person felt appropriate. Some men wore beards, some women wore trousers, some (like me) were in jeans, some men wore earrings. But no one was looked down upon for what they wore.
Secondly, the "waters of Babylon" are not drying up! There was a full house on the Sunday. People of all ages - yes, many many young people were there!
The convention was/is still on for a whole week. It started last Saturday, and will conclude this coming Friday. So if people weren't interested in attending, do you think they would bother to hold a week-long convention?
And that was another matter - no one was obligated to attend. As I said, it was a non-denominational event, so anyone was welcome. Those who could and wanted to attend did.
The days started with singing. You have never heard at a JW convention singing like this before! They had a small band playing (electric guitar, flute, bass, drums) as well as 4 singers to lead us. Some of the songs were old hymms, some were modern up-beat numbers. But 1000 people joyfully singing is hard to beat.
There were creches for the littlies, plus play groups for older children, and groups for teenagers too. Thus, the adults were able to listen to the talks in peace, whilst the children were given activities that helped them to learn at their own level.
Bible talks were given straight from the Bible. No references were given to any publication as the cut and dried interpretation of a Bible passage. The speaker may have given a bit of history, or referred to an incident he thought was related, but the talks were based on the Bible, nothing else. Plus the scriptures were read in their context, often whole chapters at a time. Not a bad idea, eh?
What else? Oh yes, the clergy. THE CLERGY DID NOT WEAR FANCY GARBS, NOT EVEN TO DO COMMUNION. Milling in the crowd, you would not know who was the bishop, and who was a deacon. I couldn't even work out who was who, and I'd met some of them before! They (the deacons, bishops) are normal, down-to-earth men, who clearly have a great love for God, and who want to help others to serve Him.
Finally, I felt spiritually refreshed and encouraged by the convention. I'm not just saying that, like we did when we attended the JW conventions. I enjoyed the 2 days I experienced, and would have loved to been able to attend the rest of this week's sessions.
Sorry for the length of this post, but I just wanted to share my experience at one of "Christendom's" gatherings, and the difference between what the WTS told us, and the reality of church gatherings today.