Congo Merger Elder Meeting Flashback: SUPER True-Believer Cong. Secretary

by Open mind 12 Replies latest jw friends

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    This thead is a little bit long and it's not earth-shaking. It just gives a glimpse into the inner-workings of elder meetings.

    Several years ago I was serving as an elder and the C.O. decided that it was time for our congo and a neighboring one to merge. The grandstanding, posturing and politicking by the various elders during those first few combined elder body meetings was nauseating and comical by turns.

    The Secretary from the other congregation was a rare breed of elder, IMO. Let's call him Starry Eyes. He was raised by a JW mom and a secular non-JW dad. He got baptized as an early teen and by his late teens and early twenties he was very money-oriented and got himself a reputation as a bit of a materialistic ladies' man. In actuality, he was probably fairly well-adjusted and had a good head for business and Dad's approval to pursue a career.

    Somewhere in his late twenties Starry Eyes began to truly start drinking the JW Kool-Aid. He scaled back his business and dove into pioneering and serving where the "need is great" full bore. Eventually he married a JW bride from one of his overseas "need great" excursions and they came back to a more comfortable life in American suburbia. But he still had his "true believer" goggles firmly attached.

    This guy positively oozed "appreciation" for all things "spiritual". Holy Spirit could be found all over the place if you just had the right frame of mind. I don't want to misrepresent him here, so let me clarify. He was not someone who liked to APPEAR super-righteous so as to receive accolades from a fawning congregation. He was 100% sincere. So sincere that he often seemed innocent and naive.

    Now lets drop in on what I'm pretty sure was the second time both elder bodies got together to hammer out the practicalities of how we were going to handle things going forward as one big happy Uber-Congregation. Elder blow-hards had been yammering on for at least a couple of hours when the earth-shattering topic of.....

    Meeting Days and Times....

    reared its ugly head.

    At this point in time I had just started posting on JWN and was fully aware that the bulk of JW doctrines and policies were B.S. Our old congregation's Theocratic School & Service Meeting were on Thursday nights which sucked big time. Why? That's when The Office (NBC) was on TV. This was the first season and the show, even though it was a knock-off of Ricky Gervais' British version, was fresh and hilarious. So that was my own personal reason for wanting a Wednesday night TMS & SM. A reason that I chose not to share with the rest of the Good Old Boys.

    Personal preferences aside, I did have what I thought was a pretty logical argument as to how a decision should be made.

    "Brothers, as JWs we know that no day is more sacred than any other day. We are not expected to have meetings on any particular day. I know of one congregation in Wyoming that was in a "Company Town" run by an oil company. The majority of the congregation were brothers and they all had to work Monday through Saturday and a few on Sunday, with rotating shifts. Sunday was the only day that most of them had off. So they chose to have ALL the week's meetings back-to-back on Sunday morning. The deciding factor was what day and time worked best for the majority of the congregation's members. I propose that we ask the friends a couple of questions re: the TMS & SM:

    1. Which evening would you PREFER? Wednesday or Thursday? (Tuesday was out of the question since another congo already had their meeting then.)

    2. Would either Wednesday or Thursday pose a GREAT HARDSHIP for you to make the meeting?

    At this point, Brother Starry Eyes couldn't take it anymore. I think he wanted us to employ the Urim & Thummim to make this momentous decision. He said:

    "Brother OM, there's something we need to keep in mind here. Who do the sheep belong to? (Insert, super long pause.)

    ...... They belong to Jesus and we should seek His direction in making our decision."

    Inside my skull was a giant, neon, flashing, W. T. F. ?

    Uh, OK, if Jesus wants to direct us towards which night would be best, I'm all ears. But, as far as I can tell, Baby Jeebuz is being silent on this issue so we're stuck with making a decision that works the best for the majority of "the friends".

    The preceding paragraph was being recited silently in my skull, but, as a fairly good-humored fellow elder told me later, it was pretty apparent on my face as well. I was speechless.

    Somebody else chimed in and another 5 minutes of hot air was expelled before we finally came to an agreement that we would put it to a vote for the congregation(s).

    I think Brother Starry Eyes thought we should stop the Elder's Meeting in our tracks and pray for guidance on this issue. He didn't actually say this, but it was the only explanation I could think of for what path he thought we should take. Of course no prayer was said, but plenty of opinions were expressed.

    I hope this wasn't too disappointing of a thread for you. It's just a snapshot, as well as I can remember, of the inner workings of Elder meetings.

    (BTW, Wednesday night won out and our family got to watch The Office for the next few seasons before we switched congregations.)


  • zeb

    I recall a change to meeting times was announced and on the day the hall was packed. The decison was made. Over the coming days and weeks those who voted for the later sunday morning (1030 start) meeting were conspicuous by their absence.

    I spoke for 0900 as did some others but no; 1030 it was. Getting out of their pyjamas was all too difficult any earlier. What do they do on school /working days ?

    Oh. There was no debate at all. just a vote.

  • OnTheWayOut

    Why not stop and pray? I mean, they think they are being guided. I wouldn't expect the phone to ring after the prayer and God on the other end saying "Wednesday" but true believers could believe in Holy Spirit helping with a cooperative meeting or helping someone to bring up some valid point about meeting nights and congregation circumstances.

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    zeb: "There was no debate at all. just a vote."

    When it came down to the congregation, that's how we did it too. We let everyone know the two possible time slots that the "spirit-appointed" elders had narrowed it down to and that one week later a vote would be taken.

    Alan Miller aka OTWO: (Just finished reading the last few chapters of your book, BTW.) "Why not stop and pray?"

    Well, we certainly could have. In fact, I half-way expected Starry Eyes to possibly suggest it. We had already been meeting for two hours and of course, the meeting was opened with a long-winded prayer by one of the two likely future P.O.s (COBE) who was trying to show how spiritual he was. Some of the other issues we had been discussing were even MORE fractious and we hadn't stopped for prayer then, so why bother now. Let's just hear the arguments, make a decision and hopefully get home before midnight.

    In over ten years serving as an elder, I can only remember one occasion where the body stopped in the middle of an elder's meeting and prayed for guidance, wisdom, peace, unity, etc. All the other prayers were at the traditional times.


  • jookbeard

    great thread, when I was a kid our cong that met in a crappy , dirty public hall always had the meetings on Tuesday-book study, Thursday night TMS and SM and Sunday afternoons was the PT and WT, now I always hated Sunday afternoons because the main reason was a TV soccer programme called The Big Match was always broadcast then and I loved this show as it showed the football highlights of the past Saturday, I used to nag my old man why we couldn't have a Sunday morning meeting and he said it's always been like that maybe I'll bring it up to the elders one time, never happened , but when my old man was transferred to the neighbouring cong in the mid 80's we got Sunday morning meetings! the only problem was that The Big Match had ceased broadcasting!

  • flipper

    OPEN MIND- Good thread ! Quite entertaining actually ! I remember sitting in Elders/Ministeral servants meetings and just shaking my head at all the posturing that went on and on and on. I imagine it was even more noticeable at elders only meetings. LOL !

    I guess one thing that might have determined whether you'd be successful or not in convincing Brother Starry Eyes to put the meeting on the night you wanted was if you could convince him the " baby Jesus's " favorite show was " The Office " and that if it was good enough for " baby Jesus " - it should be good enough for Brother Starry Eyes to accept as divine guidance towards that particular meeting night to accept it.

    But it sounds like it wouldn't have worked because Brother Starry Eyes was probably similar to some elders I knew named " Brother Head up his a$$ " so anything you say bounces off their thick dome. Just doesn't register due to mind control. Sounds like you handled it best you could ! And now- just think of it- you can enjoy " The Office " guilt free without getting ANYBODY elses permission because you control your OWN nights ! Ah- Sweet is the Freedom ! Peace out, Mr. Flipper

  • mamochan13

    For most of my growing up years we had the service meeting on Friday nights - which really sucked because that was the best tv night.We also had Sunday meeting in the late afternoon - which completely wrecked the day for anything else. The elders would not consider a morning meeting because that's what christendom did.

    There was no other cong. in the hall, we could have had the meetings any time, but the elders were stuck to those times. I don't recall it ever being put to the cong. for a vote or an opinion or anything.

  • minimus

    Loved the thread!

    We stopped in the middle of a huge argument in the BOE meeting and I was asked to pray to get the meeting back under control.

    That body of elders was crazy at times! LOL

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    jookbeard: "The Big Match was always broadcast then and I loved this show as it showed the football highlights of the past Saturday"

    I've only recently started to watch a little bit of the game that the rest of the planet knows as football. As a newcomer, watching "highlights" is absolutely the best. I'm sure I'll appreciate the subtleties of the game as time goes on. Too bad you were denied that.

    flipper: "! Ah- Sweet is the Freedom ! "


    mamochan: "There was no other cong. in the hall, we could have had the meetings any time, but the elders were stuck to those times."

    Yeah, unless there's some outside pressure, meeting times never change.

    minimus: "I was asked to pray to get the meeting back under control."

    Do you remember the topic that got the crazies so worked up?


  • Scott77

    Very interesting story. Please, can you explain what you mean by "But he still had his "true believer" goggles firmly attached."


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