I was a member of the WCG since the age of 6 until the age 24. My parents joined in 1980 just shortly after the dust started to settle from the turmoil of the 70’s. I have to say this: my parents left before I did, I think in 1996, and not once did they try to pull me away, leaving me to choose for myself. (I do not hold any grievance against them for either joining or letting me stay!) I went through the years of Y.E.S. doing children’s choir, all the lessons produced by ‘Headquarters’, and everything else in between. Obviously I was very much into the Y.O.U. concept, since we were not allowed to participate at school due to the Sabbath restrictions. I was and still am addicted to sports. Played them all, being the good non-AC kid. After graduation I coached some of the various teams as well.
I told you that to give you a little background about myself. I remember one day one of the ladies, who was mediator of one of the Y.O.U. Bible studies, asked me to join in one of the discussions she was going to do about music, since I was a musician as well as a song leader. (The song leader thing is a whole other story.) From that meeting I was asked by the Y.O.U. coordinator to take the place of one of the others who no longer wanted to mediate the meetings. I said I would be delighted. Here I thought I was doing ‘Gawds’ work with the youth. Being young, just out of high school, and having already been a coach, I felt it was the “Godly thing to do”! The “Leaders” in Pasadena were trying a new approach from the previous style of Bible study. Since this was around the time of the doctrinal changes I figured that was why they tried it. It was more like a school curriculum than anything else. As I was unsure of the doctrinal changes myself I had difficulties teaching this to the kids. But, I thought I would be taken away as a mentor to the kids, so I tried it anyway. I couldn’t do it though; I wasn’t a teacher by trade and the whole school type of format was not my cup of tea. Believe it or not I was for most of the changes that were happening back then despite being unsure of a few of them. I felt that the old way was archaic and the new ideas were refreshing. The chains were being lifted, finally!!!!!!!
During that time many things had happened with the youth. We tried a Christian-esque type of play to perform for the members. I’ll be honest — at the time I thought I was doing wonders for ‘Gawd’. The two local pastors wanted to have the performance before or after services. I thought why not as the service itself? As I talked with my local pastor about this he thought the older members wouldn’t relate to the performance. HUH? I pointed out that the kids had worked hard on this, so why let it go unseen? If it was either before or after church, only the parents and those who came early or stayed late would see the performance. Not that many to make it worthwhile in my opinion.
After I pleaded for several weeks he finally gave in. I was ecstatic (finally a not so boring sermon!) This is the only time I think an air guitar solo was performed. One of the organizers literally bought a blow-up guitar for me to use. As well as the first stage-dive too! I jumped off the stage, ran down one aisle of the auditorium, out the door, and back through the other side; man was that fun!!! I know it should be about the kids and it was. That was mostly a spur of the moment thing.
Another time there was a religious show in town called “ACQUIRE THE FIRE”. It was produced by a man called Ron Luce (I think that is his last name — my memory is a little hazy). The kids were a little taken back by it, being that the style of services were not that upbeat. But they were inspired by it and so was I. I called the local pastor and had him visit with me. I thought it was time for me to start ministering to the rest of the congregation. I was wrong, at least according to the pastor. He said that the congregation wasn’t ready for that type of ministering. I was like O.K. and continued with the kids.
As I said earlier the type of things the “Church” wanted us to teach to the youth I couldn’t do. I took the idea of doing the ‘Small Group’ approach that was going on within the members’ homes. Believe it or not it would work. The one thing I did, since it was at the hall we used for services, but in a different room, I kept the door open so that anyone could enter.
The last meeting I did was not going well at first. One of my good friends just happened to walk by and I invited him in. Told him in private that it wasn’t going well and we decided to make it more of a Q&A session. We first started out by telling of our own thoughts and experiences. Not only in the church along with the changes, but in life itself. The meeting took off from there and at that time I thought The Holy Spirit was working in those kids. During the meeting the person in charge of security came by and told us church had started and that we should wrap up the meeting. I said as soon as the meeting’s done we will. As I didn’t want to ‘deny the Holy Spirit’ the meeting went on.
Finally the pastor came down and interrupted the meeting. He said,” what is going on” to which I replied “the Y.O.U. meeting, sir!” He told kids to hurry up the stairs to the services already in progress. He looks at me and asked why we were still there and I relayed to him my thought about the Holy Spirit working in the kids. He said,” I Don’t care if the Holy Spirit is working or they are speaking in tongues! WE HAVE TIMES TO GO BY!!!!!” Mind you this is all in front of the kids! I told the kids to go on upstairs and join their parents and they did. After all the kids left I looked at this supposed man of ‘Gawd’ and said, “With an attitude like that, I DON”T ever SEE THE HOLY SPIRIT working in a church he leads!!!!!!!!!!!”
This whole time I was thinking how dare he treat the kids this way and say what he said in front of them! I gathered up my things and walked out of the room. My first thought was to go up to the pulpit and tell the congregation what had just transpired. But, alas I didn’t, I walked out to my car along with my friend. After services were over he came out looking for me. He asked if I could go to the room for a talk and reluctantly I went. When I arrived the room was packed with the kids and their parents. He came in and tried to apologize to which I remarked “well you can apologize!” I found out later what had caused him to try the apology. Some of those kids went to the pastor and expressed how they felt about how he handled the situation, and how they felt about how he treated me. When I heard this I cried; that those kids had that much respect for me was just astonishing to me! I will never forget that. When I found this out I had left by then.
With the last episode I have just told you about I had finally made my mind up to leave the still-oppressive WCG. I could no longer time continue living the lie they were still perpetrating. This from a man I thought I knew, whose son was a good friend. At that time I felt the force (Holy Spirit) pulling me somewhere else. It wasn’t the force though — it was …REALITY!!!!!!! I had to say, ” CAN THIS BE THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK!?!?
Blast from the past article By: Jim O