“We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28;Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28. Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven. He began ruling in 1914.—Revelation 11:15.”
May 12, 10 AM Mother’s Day
I have never stepped foot in a Kingdom Hall, until today. Maybe because these churches always appear windowless, I imagined a dark inner sanctum with torches and bizarre symbols, and a wall separating men and women. But what ho, nothing of the sort. However, with all the women wearing skirts and dresses and all the men in suits with ties, I felt a little self-conscious entering in my yoga pants and dri-weave top. I used the restroom first, as usual. And when I came back to the main entrance, I was greeted by two women. One asked if I had a Bible. I said “yes, I have several at home, but do I need one for the service?” She said yes and went to get me one. I expected a pew bible, one of many that are laying around most churches. She returned with a new bible, still wrapped in cellophane. I declined the offer of the new Bible, assuring the woman that I could follow along without one. I thanked her for her help and chose a seat near the back of the congregation.
This same woman, Teresa, came back and asked if I’d like to sit next to her and share her bible. Since it seemed important to her, I agreed. She used her iPad for the bible readings and the Watchtower lesson, which followed the speaker. The speaker talked for roughly thirty minutes, about the attributes of Jehovah–covering a number of scriptures to support his point. This presentation told me several things about Jehovah Witness beliefs: 1) homosexuality is an abomination; 2) only 144,000 will live eternally in heaven or the Kingdom of God on earth; 3) we are living in the end times; things are gonna wrap up here real soon; 4) Jesus is not co-equal with God. Jehovah is the big kahuna and Jesus is his son, but not on equal standing with Jehovah.
When the main speaker wrapped up, two more men stepped up to lead the Watchtower lesson: What prevents me from getting baptized? We followed along as one man read a few paragraphs and then the other leader asked a few questions (everything is printed in the Watchtower pamphlet, so easy to follow along.) The congregation members raised their hands to answer, and when one was called upon, an usher brought that person a microphone so they could share their answers. This went on for close to another hour and a half. One man would read the paragraphs, the other would ask the questions. Ushers would bring the microphones to the chosen congregants who answered the questions. It felt more like a classroom experience, rather than one of worship. But obviously, this is how they teach their faith.
The beauty of this church is in its ethnic diversity and participation from all ages of the congregation. With so many holding either an iPad bible or an actual bible, they seem to take their faith seriously and with conviction. I was impressed with the vitality of this church.
However, later I went to the JW website and here’s a few of their core beliefs (my comments in parentheses): Death. People who die pass out of existence. (Psalm 146:4;Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) They do not suffer in a fiery hell of torment. (I kind of like this one.) God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection. (Acts 24:15) However, those who refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life will be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection.—Revelation 20:14, 15. (Okay, so we get resurrected, only to be destroyed again if we don’t pass muster?)
Heaven. Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the faithful angels reside in the spirit realm. * (Psalm 103:19-21; Acts 7:55) A relatively small number of people—144,000—will be resurrected to life in heaven to rule with Jesus in the Kingdom.—Daniel 7:27; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3. (I’m not sure how the 144K is related to the billions mentioned above? Is this the culling of those who don’t live up to standard, after resurrection? My head is getting woozy.)
Our organization. We are organized into congregations, each of which is overseen by a body of elders. (Only men.) However, the elders do not form a clergy class, and they are unsalaried. (Matthew 10:8;23:8) We do not practice tithing, and no collections are ever taken at our meetings. (2 Corinthians 9:7) All our activities are supported by anonymous donations. (Hmmm. Wow, this is amazing.) The Governing Body, a small group of mature Christians who serve at our world headquarters, provides direction for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.—Matthew 24:45. (okay, so an inner circle?)
I’m glad I experienced the JW worship. It showed me there’s something for everyone. And it was wonderful to see such diversity in one worship time. When church finally ended, almost two hours later, I thanked Teresa for her help. She gave me her phone number in case I had any questions. I then said, “happy mother’s day,” to her. She said “thank you.” As I walked out, I recalled that JWs don’t celebrate any holidays, not birthdays, not anniversaries, and not Mother’s Day. Oops, my bad.
Overall, this is not a church for me. I just cannot go along with the main beliefs. However, because of Teresa’s concern for me to be able to follow along using a bible, they totally PASSED the WELCOME TEST.