Special Judicial Committees

by JEMIMAH 36 Replies latest jw friends


    For this example. you will have to understand that I have to change a few details here and there so that I can't be identified.
    As many of you are aware I serve as an elder, and from time to time I have been asked by the service desk to handle matters for them by means of "The special committee arrangement". (a phrase you will not find in any Wt Letter or Elders textbook.) just to explain.

    "A special committee is often set up when, an original committee (ojc)decides to disfellowship an individual, who then appeals against the judgement. An appeal committee (ac) is then set up of "experienced elders!" who meet with the individual and the original committee. In a few rare cases, the 2 committees can be at complete "loggerheads" over the decision. The original committee will not accept anything except a disfellowshipping, and the appeal committee can't in all good conscience disfellowship what they see is a repentant individual. In the case of a complete disagreement with no hope of movement from either side, the service desk may (not every time) decide to appoint a "special committee (sc)to meet with both committees.""

    On with the example........
    About 9 months ago, I received a call from the service desk to set up such a committee, with another brother who serves as a travelling overseer on the district.

    We met at a kingdom hall, 9 bros (4,ojc, 3 ac, 2 sc) and instantly we felt a great deal of hostility from the 4 bros ojc. The problem was that the offender had been their PO for 15 years and the 4 bros (ojc) had tried all sorts of ways to remove him from his position over the years. So when the PO makes 1 serious mistake, he rightaway tries to right the wrong, immediatly confesses ( no one else would have been aware of his error.) the 4 bros where cock a hoop and form an (ojc) and disfellowship him without him even being present. They were secretly taped saying "if it was anyone else, a private (reproof) would have done."

    Thankfully, the appeal committee saw through these 4 malicious bros as did myself and the D.O, his appeal was upheld.
    All 4 ojc elders continued to appeal against the decision. and where eventually removed.

    Up to this point I had fully agreed with the idea of judicial committees and disfellowshipping.
    This example has really turned my stomach that brothers could quite readily spiritually stone a man to death with out a moments hesitation, not because of any biblical reason, simply because they didn't like him.

    That sort of power wielded by elders is fundamentally wrong, however others may argue how can you keep the congregation clean, how can you protect the congregation from child abusers (I make this comment in the understanding that there are major changes for the better to the way the society will deal with the issue of child molesters and other dangerous people).

    Where will the society go from here with the whole issue

    Is keeping the "congregation clean" vitally important, important enough to disfellowship for???
    If disfellowshipping is the right idea, is it right to use elders from a different congregation for impartiality.

    I await your comments


  • ozziepost

    In answer to your question, Jem: No, it isn't.

    I have been through several similar episodes including looking into a branch committee, and it only serves to highlight that we are all sinners. If only those with oversight would have that insight!

    The truth is, the whole judicial apparatus is unscriptural. So it cannot succeed because it's man-made.

    There is no record in the Bible of a judicial committee.
    There is no record in the Bible of an appeal committee.
    There is no record in the Bible of a special committee.
    There is no record in the Bible of restrictions placed on a re-instated person.

    There's just no record!

    About all we can say is the matter of disfellowshiping in 1 Corinthians. Not much of a precedent, is it? Just one reference in the whole of the New Testament.

    No wonder there's so much antipathy toward the judicial committee and DF/DA procedures.

    BTW Jem, don't give too much away!


    "You can know the law by heart, without knowing the heart of it"
    Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace?

  • SixofNine

    Well my friend, this is probably not the kind of comment you are looking for, but, I just have to say it.

    Up to this point I had fully agreed with the idea of judicial committees and disfellowshipping.

    Being in your position, this is NOT the first time you have seen feces fed to a congregation in a "gods will" cereal bowl. That it takes something this base to move you, should give you a hint at just how incredibly far you need to be moved.

    Man to man hint. Let go of everything.

    I'm glad your eyes were opened a bit. You have much yet to see. Being an elder for so long, can only pervert a persons scope of vision in ways that, I guarantee you, you CANNOT yet understand.

  • BoozeRunner

    Hi Jemimah,
    I was on the other side of the issue, that is, I was the subject of the DFing. The ojc was hellbent on their decision. The ac disagreed-so much so that I was asked to leave the room as the 2 committees argued quite LOUDLY.
    Off went a letter from each to the Society, with the WTS upholding the ojc's decision.
    The ac had realized that at that particular time in my life, I was going thru extremely traumatic problems, and that the congregation elders were NO help at all to me. Once I had levied this charge about my elders, my fate was sealed, I am sure.
    To answer your question tho, so-called cleanliness is not as important as treating people with dignity and respect. Its not right to separate people from friends, family, etc.

  • Tina

    I really detest the whole 'overseer,elder' patriarchal concept. Untrained men,gender imbalance.....good formula for abuse.
    The whole stupid arrangement should be done away with.Tina

  • D wiltshire
    D wiltshire

    I at one time was an elder.
    So I ask?

    Can brothers really judge impartially when it come to a disagreement one may have with the Society?

    Can they really look at what the Bible teaches and judge whether one is really an appostate?

    Can really look at the facts objectivly?

    Do committees have hidden agendas?

    Can elders really be objective and carry out justice without worry of flak from the WT Org.?

    If elders make a wrong decision and stumble one of these little ones who put faith in Jesus are they in serious trouble?

  • Mulan

    Man, as I read this post, Jemimah, I really thought you were on the committee that DF'd Venice's father. The situation was nearly identical, but he didn't appeal.

    Marilyn (a.k.a. Mulan)

  • troubled

    Your posting has given me a lot to think about, and it spurred me to post an offshoot question regarding DFing, DAing, etc.

    I am currently an active JW, but like you, have seen some very disturbing things in the organization. (Though, being a sister, I've seen them from "a distance.") Not being able to just turn a blind eye to some of it and have a clean conscience, I am finding myself having to reevaluate and research in an attempt to find scriptural answers to my questions and fortify my faith.
    It sounds like that's what you are trying to do too. Whether the info proves to build up our faith or erode it, the bottom line seems to be to make sure of what we're told, as the Boreans did.

    Thanks for posting your very honest message. It takes courage, I know.

  • silentlambs

    I have personally sat on many of these committees. You well know seldom if ever is a ojc's decision ever overturned. No one wants to rock the boat and it causes much less turmoil to get rid of one person with problems than to have "elders" at odds with one another. That is just the cold hard facts, all elders know this to be true. It is much the same issue with molested children. The interests of one damaged child or family against the interests and image of the organization. Can you guess who loses? 90% of the time it will be the child. The jc process is a travesty in justice and does far more damage than is ever accomplished for the congregation. The jc process in itself would have to be done away with in the interests the molestation issue.

  • Ustabee


    Also having served as an elder and sat in on a few committees, and then having been DF'd myself, I think I have a unique perspective to offer on this issue. Here goes:

    In all the committees I sat on, the only reason the person was there was because they had 'confessed' some serious sin. Usually, these persons were considered 'weak' by the BOE. If they weren't repentant about the sin, why did they 'confess' and face a committee? The ones who didn't care what we did or said, usually didn't meet with us, anyway. Case closed. I always wondered, 'Why are we thinking about DF'ing this person when it is so obvious that they need help and support, not 'the spritual axe.''

    I'm sure you've heard the old saw, "They need to be taught a lesson, and this is the only thing that will wake them up." Hogwash! Cutting someone off from their family and support structure really teaches them a lesson all right. In almost every case of DF'g in my 22 yrs in the JW's, it did more harm than good. The DF'd individual never recovered from the humiliation it caused. And let me tell you, it is the most humiliating thing to have to come into the KH and sit in the back and ignore people you thought were your closest friends, ["Closer even than a brother."] And have them ignore you like you were an invisible ghost. To get reinstated, you have to grovel and whine like a baby to even to get a hearing.

    In one case, a brother had been DF'd by an out of state cong, after 2 or 3 yrs, the guy applied to us for reinstatement. We recommended it to the other cong. Guess what? No go! "Not enough time" Here this poor guy was in our cong, hadn't been anywhere near the other BOE for years and they knew better than we did! So, he writes the WTS in Brooklyn, lo and behold! two months later here comes a letter from the BOE in the other cong, 'We have considered Bro. 'Bad Guy's' letter for reinstatement and have decided to reinstate him.' If the guy hadn't got their 'bags' in a wringer with the CO and DO, he would still be waiting for reinstatement.

    In a nutshell, the Judicial Arrangement is full of @##!. It is impossible for imperfect men to render a perfect decision. It causes more problems than it solves; and, it is heartlessly administered by the untrained and underinformed. In those 22 years, I never saw a case where the cong needed to be 'protected'from an individual who had come to the BOE with the problem. Most of the time, the 'practicer of sin' had quit attending the meetings and didn't want anything more to do with the cong. So why DF them? Gotta keep things 'clean.'

    You are quite right to be questioning the Judicial Arrangement, it is just what some of the other posters have called it. Look at it from the other side of the fence and you will gain a new insight.

    Good Luck!

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