In late 2012 the Governing Body implemented a special “Kingdom Ministry School” – an instructional event to be attended by elders internationally.
As with almost anything elder-related, these schools are top-secret. Only elders who attend are privy to what is discussed. Normal publishers are not allowed to know how their elders were instructed, just as they are not allowed to read organizational correspondence, or look at copies of the “Shepherd the Flock Of God” elder manual.
But now, thanks to some bold spanish-speaking Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, several videos that were used during the school have been uploaded to YouTube so that the whole world can get a fascinating glimpse at the instructions issued during the course.
One video, which I assume was intended to be shown at the beginning of the school, shows a typically animated and melodramatic Stephen Lett welcoming elders and reminding them of their responsibilities.
A noteworthy feature of Lett’s pantomime-like performance is his insistence that elders show obedience in carrying out their “very demanding” duties. After reading 1 Kings 3:9, Lett uses the word “obedient” three times, urging elders to return to their assigned congregations “with an obedient heart.”
Lett’s video was essentially a “Listen, Obey and Be Blessed” for elders. Watchtower is demanding total loyalty from its line managers, no matter what grizzly tasks they are asked to perform.
Also leaked was a video featuring Tony Morris, who I have discussed at some length in a recent article.
In this video, Tony laments that “to participate in judging a wrongdoer to determine genuine repentance produces anxiety for the elders involved.” Little regard is shown in the brief video for the stress and anxiety caused to the one being judged, with potential shunning and family estrangement the ultimate penalty.
Tony then rises from his spacious Brooklyn desk to pluck a bible from his sparsely populated bookshelf before reading 2 Chronicles 19:6. He uses this scripture to promise elders that Jehovah will be with them “in the matter of judgment.” In other words, God will influence and/or endorse any decision they make, provided they’ve prayed and consulted the bible first.
2 Chronicles 19:7 is then invoked to remind elders to be “decisive” in their decision-making. As an example, Tony alludes to a 42-minute demonstration video portraying a young publisher who commits fornication and tearfully confesses his sins to his elders.
During the course of his confessions, it becomes clear the young man has been withholding information regarding the extent of his actions. He is thus disfellowshipped as being unrepentant. Tony praises the committee, saying that they came to the “right decision.”
The video, embedded below, is entirely dubbed into Spanish so I am unable to provide any subtitles (not to mention the amount of time this task would involve). However, a summary of the video in English can be found by clicking here.
UPDATE:- As you can see, the above video has since been removed following a copyright claim from the Watch Tower Society, who evidently don’t want ALL Witnesses to have access to this particular “spiritual food.”
The Kingdom Ministry School in question was conducted over a year ago, so congregations around the world will have already felt the fallout from this hardline approach the Governing Body seems intent on enforcing.
Elders are to be obedient and fearless in acting “decisively,” confident that whatever decision they reach has the backing of both God and the organization (if the Governing Body would permit me to make a distinction between the two).
If the Governing Body fears some elders are perhaps half-hearted or reticent over the far-reaching judicial verdicts they are delivering, those fears are well-founded. Out of 16 serving elders who have so far taken part in our 2014 Global Survey, 1 in 4 confess to regretting a decision they have reached as part of a judicial committee.
Though some may find the levels of “decisiveness” in the above figures reassuring, only those who have themselves been disfellowshipped and severed from their loved ones can truly appreciate just how devastating a lack of mercy by a judicial committee can prove to be. And as I highlighted in a recent video, disfellowshipping as prescribed by Watchtower is not even mentioned in the Bible.
The practice of excommunication was even denounced as a “weapon” and instrument of “ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny” that is “altogether foreign to Bible teachings” in a 1947 Awake! article, which can be downloaded on these links: Page 1 | Page 2
Aside from the unsettling shift towards a stricter and more draconian approach presented in these videos, unquestionably the most intriguing thing about them is the fact that they have been leaked. For all their pomp and strutting around, the Governing Body cannot claim to have 100% control over their army of line managers while some conscientious elders continue to break ranks and leak out sensitive material for the world to see.
And those who insist this information should be kept confidential regardless of whether it is leaked or not will find no sympathy with me. The bible gives absolutely no precedent for secret information to only be circulated among a privileged few. The myriad judicial decrees and pronouncements in the bible, no matter how petty or pedantic some of them happened to be, were published for the benefit of every worshipper – be they priest or infant, apostle or newly baptized one.
The now rampant culture of secrecy and concealment that has been allowed to flourish in Watchtower’s murky gentlemen-only club over many decades is neither helpful nor laudable. It only serves to represent yet more evidence that Watchtower does not enjoy divine direction, nor can it ever hope to.
Special thanks to Hildebrando y Otras Hierbas for releasing the information reviewed in this article. Thanks also to Nate Bennecoff for assisting with transcription.