60th Anniversary – I was baptized 9-1-56
My parents weren’t witnesses at the time, but my witness uncle studied with my brother and I. I think the only reason my parents let him was because my brother was having mental issues and were hoping it would help him. My father surprised me a few years later, started studying and was baptized in 1961, later appointed an elder. He told me it was because of my good example. My mother dragged her feet for quite awhile but was finally baptized in 1967. However, she never was fully engaged as she only went in service by tagging along with my father, and she refused to give talks in the ministry school .
I was fairly popular and remember being invited to teenage parties all over the circuit, there seemed to be plenty of witness brothers available), and that’s how I met Clyde. I wanted someone who was very theocratic, and at age 22 he had just been appointed to “Assistant Congregation Servant” (a title they gave the person second in command in the congregation), so I felt he met that requirement. However, he was a little different than a lot of guys, he had a tendency to think “outside the box”…maybe that’s why I found him so attractive….plus he was good looking.
During all this time I pioneered like a good little witness girl, but had to stop when I got pregnant with my first child. Back then, pioneers had to report directly to the Society, so I wrote a letter explaining why I wasn’t able to get my 100 hours per month in for 3 months in a row…not only my pregnancy, but we only had one car and Clyde needed it for his work, and I couldn’t always get rides from the other publishers.
I still remember the shock when I went to the meeting, and a letter was read from the Society that I had been removed from the pioneer ranks. Nobody notified me ahead of time, and I never got any thanks from the Society or anybody for the 2-1/2 years I gave to Jehovah (actually the Organization). I remember a special pioneer sister visiting our congregation that night came up to me afterwards to tell about a young couple in their congregation who had a new baby and both were still pioneering…talk about guilt!
Even then it took a few years to realize how much I had wasted my life. I had chosen to pioneer instead of going to college. My parents had funds set aside for college. I had an application, but one of the heavies in the congregation heard about it and stopped in to counsel me. I wish my parents had insisted but they didn’t, they weren’t witnesses yet, but maybe I would have rebelled if they had...don't know what I would have done.
Life with my husband would have been much easier if I had more education and could have relieved some of the financial burden of his providing for our family. Years later Clyde began to feel the pressures of congregation and family responsibilities. So when they started the elder arrangement in the early 70’s, he declined which shocked everybody…but he continued as ministerial servant. However, over the years he began to gradually slow down even missing quite a few meetings. I stayed strong, however, because I felt the congregation was a protection for our children. This put a strain on our marriage, but we survived.
Even though I was disturbed about the 1975 fiasco, I still believed in the generation doctrine. But I couldn’t understand why people were now denying that the Society had ever said anything about 1975. I read the article in Time magazine (1982?) about Franz and felt that he was a good man for sticking to his convictions. Also read an article in our local newspaper about a witness couple who were disfellowshipped for reading Ray’s book, “Crisis of Conscience”, and their witness children would not longer have anything to do with them. I knew one of the children.
Later, I remember the shock when Clyde talked to me about his feelings about the Faithful and Discreet Slave. He said they were giving more glory to themselves than to Jehovah. He pointed out that Matthew 24:45 didn’t say they for sure they were faithful and discreet. He said I had to read verse 46, “Happy is that slave if his mater on arriving finds him doing so. That was a big “IF”. He also said, if they were God’s appointed servants, then why were they always changing doctrine? He read James 1:17, “With Him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” He said Jehovah never changes, why is the organization always changing? He also said there had to be dissension at Bethel. I asked what made him think that. He pointed out that one article would point us in one direction, then another article would say just the opposite. I couldn't disagree.
I remember my dismay when I read an article in 1998 about “Feelings of Having Suffered Needlessly.” It mentioned brothers who had been imprisoned because they wouldn’t accept alternative service, and then the Society had changed their stance. They compared it with the change from the old law of Moses to the new law, and it was commendable that they suffered even though shouldn’t have had to. That didn’t make any sense at all.
That was the year that I finally went on the Internet. I didn’t know where to start but I typed in the words, “Franz, 1975, Jehovah). I was mostly interested in what happened at Bethel that made Raymond Franz leave. Found out much much more than I bargained for, as I never thought about leaving the “truth.” Even when I did, it was a slow fade. I kept thinking I’ve been a witness for 42 years, I can’t stop now. Then I thought…if I don’t stop now, when???
My parents were aging, my mother started developing Alzheimers. My father was still alive and very committed to taking care of her at home. I was the only other relative available to help out, but I was working full-time, it took a lot out of me. I spent most evenings at their house, often spending the night, and most of the weekend. That prompted an elders’ visit as to why I stopped reporting field service time. They said I could at least report 15 minutes! I explained my circumstances, and one of them said that I had to remember that there are people out in the territory that had no “hope.” I didn’t say it, but I should have said, “My parents sit in their house hoping that somebody from the congregation would just stop by to visit.” It’s amazing how friends can disappear when you get too old to be of use to the congregation. I thought, if my father is an elder in the congregation, lives only one mile from the Kingdom Hall, and my parents rarely get a visitor, then what chance do my husband and I have, living 10 miles from the KH.
I don’t have time to tell you all the agony I went through when it was discovered that we weren’t going to attend meetings any more. My mother had already passed, but my father, brother, daughter, nieces, and all my witness cousins turned against me.
The bright spot in this story is that our two sons, their wives, and my husband are all out, and we are very close knit. The hardest loss was our daughter. She has had almost no contact with us in over 9 years…doesn’t respond to letters or emails…refused to attend her brother’s wedding. BTW, none of us are disfellowshipped. Still I have to say, that the last 10 years have been the best ones of my life. We are free and we can enjoy our sons and their families (they live close by) without interference from the WT.
Don't know if anybody is interested, but my baptism in 1956 was in a lake. Do they ever baptize in lakes any more?