“Black Thursday” the day the music died
Knorr gathered all the Bethel overseers and Governing Body to the Kingdom Hall in the 119 building. The Three Freds (ex-circuit overseers) and about fifty brothers showed up. That’s right only fifty showed up. The other guys chickened out, they knew it was going to be a blood bath. I was there with 5 others from the Laundry. No turning back now. I was sure god’s organization and his holy spirit would deal with these matters.
They brought the brothers into the auditorium in small groups or one at a time. So we were not present for the testimony of the different brothers but we did heard about some of it later.
It started out with Dan Smoley who wasn’t even 30 years old and partaking. Meaning he thought he was part of the little flock or the anointed ones. As mentioned before these are chosen directly by god. He told all the overseers there about how Max Larson had told him in no uncertain terms, that there was no way was one of the anointed!
Max was the head of the whole factory complex. Max was very close Knorr. They would dress their wives up and go dancing together at the “rainbow room” in Manhattan. Max at the time was just a member of the “great crowd.” Which really pissed him off. I mean how could god pick this kid, over Max? Especially since Max had been at god’s house for over 40 years?
Sometimes I wonder how God picks those anointed guys anyway, God can be strange sometimes.
Guess what? Years later Max started partaking. What a surprise god changes his mind once again.
Back at the meeting, the stories of Bethel's Elders misconduct and abuse of power kept flowing. They were shaking the pillars of the organization! Knorr knew this and got madder and madder. With fire coming out of his eyes, he would have loved to have killed us all on the spot! Everyone knew these men were above the law. How dare we? Where the hell is Jehu, when you need him?
Then it was our turn to share our information about our dear brother Ken. Some of the brothers from the laundry started telling about some of Ken’s escapades. Knorr when off on all of us. Than something crazy happened as he was in the middle of his rant. All of a sudden Fred Franz stood up and said "These men are appointed to their positions of responsibility/power not because of their spiritual qualifications but because of their secular abilities!" The room was silent. What did this mean? No one really knew for sure. This statement did stop Knorr dead in his tracks however.
So Knorr said. "We will look into these matters later." End of meeting.
As Jim Pipkorn and Jack Sutton were walking back from the meeting, Jim looked over at Jack and asked him how he thought the meeting went?
“Well, I think this is the end of our Bethel careers.” Of course he was right.
What happened after Black Thursday? Basically nothing. There was only one committee meeting. Brother Lang presided. It was about my Laundry overseer, Ken Doweling, brother Couch wasn’t exactly a disinterested third party because he was the one who appointed Ken to his position of oversight in the first place. So if he was removed it would be a reflection on him.
They gave Ken a slap on the wrist. By the time I left Bethel two years later, he was promoted to where else? The Bethel office! Back to the most power office in the Bethel Home. Yep, he now had the chance to train new Bethel overseers and be an example to them.
He was "a company man" and "company men" always take care of their own. Just look at the elders in any local kingdom hall today.
Oh something else did happen to about a hundred and fifty brothers and sisters there. They lost heart.
Of course nothing happened to the other Bethel overseers. Funny how this was reminiscent of what happened to my parents back in 1961. Could there be a pattern here? If there was I couldn’t see it at the time. I just didn’t want to see it for sure. After years in the organizations, I have to say this was no coincidence. Just the voice of “Christmas future.”
They didn't kick the three Freds out for their transgressions. Looking back it would have been kinder if they had kicked then out.
Instead they would try to break them, and humiliate them in front of the whole Bethel family. They made their lives living hell.
They even put Fred Barnes, who was well into his fifties at the time on a machine called “The Gather." This was a machine that even 19 year olds had a hard time keeping up with.
Fred had a heart attack. What a surprise. They were kind enough to take him off that wicked machine after that. “By their love you will know them.”
They were really hoping all three brothers and their wives would just quit and leave. Really where could these guys go in their fifties. They had invested their whole life into the program. Leaving Bethel in disgrace wasn't an option so they stayed.
Of course the rest of us "Laundry boys" we were screwed also, as were the others that showed up at that meaning. We were all marked. We had done the unforgivable, by binging up the wrong doings of the bethel overseers. Our Bethel careers were over. Our files were noted.
There was only one thing left to do, serve our time and get out.