On my introduction post a few people expressed interest in how the Worldwide Church of God (wwcg) imploded. I think maybe in hopes something similar will happen with the JWs. I think the JWs will also eventually experience a meltdown but probably not in the same way since the power structure was a bit different. This may be a bit long but I hope people find it useful
The catalyst happened as a result of the transfer of power/authority
WWCG was founded by Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) who was a egocentric in the extreme. He maintained near absolute power up to the very end of his life. I can't say what was in his mind but I suspect that his choice of sucessor was an attempt to ensure that his reputation as "God's endtime apostle" would be firmly in place. So even though dead his memory would continue to rule.
In order to do that he needed a sychophant who he believed idolized him and would continue to idolize his memory. He had several to choose from. He wanted someone who seemed to demonstrate the proper humility in his presence. He thought he had that in Joseph Tkach Sr. (There were several accusations that Joe Tkach played the game for the position but that really doesn't matter in the end)
The problem with choosing someone like that meant that the power structure couldn't be as easily maintained. It really took took someone charismatic and equally power mad as HWA to keep things running in the same manner. But I don't think HWA could broke any rivals while alive or after his death. He had to be top dog.
When Tkach assumed authority he was more of a organizational leader. He didn't possess the personality to be the jet setting witness to world leaders as HWA posed to be. As a consequence he paid more attention to the church and its members. He began advocating a kinder gentler approach. "Less sheriff, more shepherd", was how he put it.
Behind the scenes his son Tkach Jr and few other church leaders in rank just below Tkach Sr were beginning to explore church doctines. Other than the booklets/books written by him, HWA resisted any attempts to actually codify the churches beliefs by anyone else. As they began to study the churches beliefs they started feeling each other out to see they were seeing the same things. When they established trust with one another they began taking what they found to Tkach Sr who listened. They started gradually changing things.
Its funny and sad in retrospect but the first firestorm of controversy was when they said it was no longer frowned upon to seek medical help (previously people were considered "weak in the faith" if they got medical care). Then they said women could wear makeup.
It really hit the fan when they debunked British-Israelism. Because that meant that the 7th day sabbath and Old Testament holy days were no longer requirements for Christians.
That was an agonizing time. About a third to half of the members were reactionary. They split off and formed splinter groups that adherred to "the faith once delivered" as they saw it. Families split along doctinal lines, marriages ended. A few people went off the deep end because the church was their control and they had little internal self control. Most of us who accepted what we were told about our former beliefs were shellshocked over realizing that we had been living a lie and the consequences.
I stuck it out until about 2006. But eventually had to leave because even though the doctrines had changed for the better. The same old power structure was in place. Many of the same leaders who had rode roughshod over the members were still around. Sure many said they regreted their actions but they needed to learn better people skills. Like one former pastor who gave up on the whole mess (David Covington) said, "we're like a man who goes from beating his wife daily to once a week and are now holding marriage seminars"
There were also problems with rewriting history to make the leaders look less culpable in how they handled changing things and commitments to the laity that were broken. So I had to get out so I could heal.
I'm currently attending an Episcopal church. Talk about going to the opposite end of the spectrum:) But I deliberately chose them because of their liberal reputation. I thought it would give me the space the work things out yet provide me with a spiritual outlet. So far it is working out pretty well. But I still have a long way to go. And it is difficult at time because while they are often sympathetic people don't understand what its like to have been raised in a cult.
Sorry if this was too long winded. If people are still interested, I can post another time about the abuses and control issues in wwcg so they can be compared to JWs