I'm don't know why Dave hasn't posted this article? Maybe he is too humble, or maybe he was just hoping one of us would find it, or maybe its being circulated off-the-DB?
In any case, here it is, with my "thanks":
Ex-Witness struck by community outpouring
Published: March 26, 2002
By DAVE MALONE
Special to the News-Register
I drove down from Beaverton, making my way to the lush Yamhill Valley, now famous for the many wineries scattered among its rolling green hills. The countryside is beautiful and the land is shared by both vineyards and small country farms. I have a feeling that is one of the things that attracted Robert Bryant here.
As in most small towns, everything in McMinnville seems just a few blocks away from wherever you are. So it was with Bethel Baptist Church, where the memorial service was to take place.
Being an ex-Jehovah's Witness, and thus having an ingrained uneasiness for churches, I felt a little strange walking into this very large church. I signed the register book and started to enter the main worship area. There, by the double-wide doors, were pictures of the Bryant family.
As I looked at the happy faces of the children in the photos, something snapped and reality instantly clicked in. I realized what I was there for. Those children were all dead, along with their mother and father.
For a few moments, I couldn't feel anything. I just stared at the photos. I thought of my own kids, and how I love to look at photos of them as they grew up, as their appearance slowly changed from cute little babies into young men.
I walked away from the photos, quickly slipping back into my non-emotional appearance, and continued into the main worship area. In the front, there were a dozen or so flower arrangements and three or four wreaths. There were two large pieces of paper with several dozen drawings and notes from many of the kids who attended school with the Bryant children.
One of the notes, drawn in crayon, said a few nice things about one of the Bryant girls and ended with a simple, personal comment: "I'm sorry for making fun of you." A tiny lump shot up in my throat.
One of the flower arrangements caught my eye. It was a wreath of white flowers with a white ribbon carrying this message in gold letters: "Shunned no more."
At that moment that little lump came back. I was not just one ex-Witness attending the memorial of another ex-Witness. I was representing hundreds of ex-Witnesses who were sending their love for the Bryants from all over the world.
One of the Bryant children's entire school class came. There were about 60 to 80 kids scattered around the room, among more than 300 people filling up the main areas - all from different thoughts and philosophies in life, all there because they cared about people who lived in their small town.
The pastor read verses from the Bible about hope and resurrection. He talked a little about each of the Bryant children and some of their achievements. He talked about how the family had moved to Oregon to make a new start. He didn't mention the Jehovah's Witnesses, but he alluded to speculation about why this tragedy may have happened.
Sharon Roe, Robert Bryant's sister-in-law, said a few words about the Bryant family. She wanted it to be very clear that Robert Bryant was a loving and caring father. She said she did not blame Robert and understood a little about why this all happened.
The pastor said he felt bad that he never had a chance to meet the Bryant family. He said the McMinnville community might have reached out to the Bryant family and embraced them more.
He also read a card of thanks written by Sharon Roe to the people of McMinnville. It was very touching. She was very thankful for what they had done for people they did not even know.
I thought to myself, there wasn't one single Jehovah's Witness in the room. But all these people from different churches and different parts of town came to pay their respects to people out of one simple concept: love for their fellow human.
These were the same people whom, we were taught as Jehovah's Witnesses, were wicked, evil and soon to be destroyed by Jehovah. These were the people, we were taught, who did not know the meaning of true love and only were out to satisfy their own selfish desires.
But these people had nothing to gain by coming to this memorial service. They were there simply to show genuine love for people who once lived in their small town.
This little community of McMinnville, Oregon, showed more love for its neighbors than I have seen shown by all the hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses I have met in my life. I did not hear one accusation, or one single comment that sounded condescending or self-righteous. All I heard were words of comfort and questions about why this all happened.
This was an experience that will stay with me the rest of my life.