Jehovah’s Witnesses are proudly predicting that “millions” will be attending their annual Memorial service on April 3, 2015. “Millions” can describe an impressive number of people in a small region – but not so many when you are describing worldwide populations.
Who are the “millions” expected to attend this year’s event?
Jehovah’s Witnesses would like to believe that everyone attending is there because they have pulled out all the stops to “encourage” people to be present.
Some will be non-Witnesses who might be studying with JWs, neighbors or coworkers. There will be a few others who are curious about what goes on inside Kingdom Halls and will agree to go “just this once” to be friendly.
“First timers” will be welcomed by a coordinated “love-bombing” that – for a while – will make them feel special, significant and important.
Among the attendees will be those who believe every word the Watchtower publishes, even if those words contradict what they wrote fifty years ago, twenty years ago, or within the past decade. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have buried their heads so deep into whatever the Watchtower publishes they are unable to use critical thinking skills.
There will be many inactive and non-believing spouses and children. Some consider themselves to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, while others do not. They get talked or shamed into attending by their JW mates because it is a “family thing” and “only once a year.”
At the back of the meeting place or off by themselves in glassed-in conference rooms, will be the local shunned, disfellowshipped and probationary JWs who hope to return to “good standing” sometime in the future. Some will look away, not to catch your eye. They know what they have to do to avoid another black mark from the elders and attending the Memorial is another step in that direction.
Among the attendees will be a fair number of ex-JWs who know that they will never return. They might be informed and aware of the Watchtower’s ever-changing beliefs – or simply can not stomach the boredom and regimentation. But they will use this opportunity to sneak back into a Kingdom Hall to see if anything has changed since they left.
Nothing about the Memorial event itself will have changed. Those who have not attended in a few years will notice that the Kingdom Hall now has JW.org logos hanging everywhere (but nary a Watch Tower to be seen). Most halls now have a wide-screen TV monitor behind the podium (and maybe a few installed in the conference rooms.) There may be a few other subtle changes that they cannot quite identify.
Some former JWs may attend just to see relatives that have not spoken to them for the last 12 months. A few will attend to catch a glimpse or briefly speak to their children and grandchildren who are kept away from them by “shunning” rules defined by the Governing Body.
Ex-JWs will also be very interested to see if anyone actually partakes of the emblems and won’t be a bit surprised to see some fellow in his 30s or 40s partaking. (Once unthinkable, this practice has recently become the new thing for brothers trying to become elders.)
If you are thinking about attending the Memorial this year, you will certainly not be alone in experiencing a range of confusing emotions. When you walk into a Kingdom Hall you will be surrounded by people who will tell you with certainty that they “completely understand your situation” and they know exactly what you need to do. They will have ready-made answers based upon years of tested theocratic “sales talk.” Don’t be surprised at what you see or hear when visiting a Kingdom Hall.
The Memorial talk and ceremony is basically the same every year. Watch the following video from 2013. This may satisfy your curiosity.
Remember that Jehovah’s Witnesses have long practiced and used techniques that include repetition, flattery, and emotional manipulation. They know that everyone will have some mental and emotional needs that are not always met by family or friends – or even by trained professionals.”A perfect life” – as presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses – may at first sound enticing, but it is all part of a greater deception.
Besides being curious about how many attendees actually partook of the “emblems” – after the meeting is over, some will ask “who’s actually going to eat the matzo and drink all those extra bottles of wine?”
If you are looking for support and help, be aware that there are now many professionals and former Jehovah’s Witnesses available and willing to help you. All you have to do is ask… You can find many groups on Facebook or contact us for assistance in finding help.