Monday, October 20, 2008

Morning Worship At Bethel

In Bethel homes throughout the world, Morning Worship starts at 7 am sharp. In New York, there are closed-circuit televisions with a large digital clock display, including the seconds. Morning Worship takes place in the big dining rooms so you are given breakfast after, everyone has an assigned seat. Exactly at 7:00:00 AM, the Table Head begins morning worship. You are expected to be in your seat, not walking to your seat. If you wake up late, don't bother going downstairs, they don't want anyone interrupting Morning Worship.
You are also expected to be wearing a tie or at least a nice shirt if you are male, there are only a few that don't wear a tie, and many often wear a suit jacket. The sisters all wear dresses, no pants allowed. You are not supposed to rest your hands on your chin, I got counseled for that. I guess it was in a nice way, but I was told to look more awake.
Morning Worship is tied in to several dining rooms with about 300 in each one. The closed-circuit TV's are also tied into Wallkill, Patterson, and Canada I think three times per week now.
Morning Worship is a consideration of the Daily Text, with brothers selected beforehand to give a one-minute comment. Then the conductor gives his comments. It lasts till about 7:15. After a prayer, the food comes. All the tables are set for 10 people, with a Table Head, and a Table Foot, seniority makes the call. It is family style, with everyone taking a portion from the serving dishes. The Table Head decides which way the serving dishes go around the table. Everyone takes a little. If it is all eaten, the Table Head gives the plate back to the waiter, who refills it. No one can speak to the waiter except the Table Head.
The eating lasts about 15 minutes, then everyone quickly stands for the prayer, then rush off to work.
That's the arrangement.
The reality is that you are scared to death at Morning Worship. I have seen grown men who are new to Bethel struggle with napkins, basic table talk, and their food. It is nerve-wracking since there are rules (I mean provisions) about everything. How much you should take onto your plate, how much you should eat, how loud you should talk, how affectionate to your husband or wife you should be, how you should dress, what you should talk about and not talk about. The stress is incredible, although the weird thing is, I viewed it as a great privliege to be there, as only Bethelites and overnight guests can be present at Morning Worship.
Sometimes there are reports from different countries, or from the Publishing Department about the number of magazines or books made. Sometimes there is a disfellowshipping from Bethel, that is shocking.
But usually its pretty hard to listen to. I learned to sleep with my eyes open. (That's an old Bethel joke: "What do you learn at Morning Worship? To sleep with your eyes open.")


greg said...

But the great pay, the christmas bonus and the superb pension scheme you get when working at Bethel surely make up for any minor quibbles one might have.

kimmy jo said...

More controll for apearances sake. It is so gross.
I wonder if God doesen't look down on these people and feel sad that they are so manipulated, unable to use their precious lives as he intended. Although it is their choice to be there, it is often by pressure and being born into it. They are so isolated.

Shawn said...

I've been to morning worship. It is a whirlwind where everyone is keenly aware of the presence of the governing body.

Anonymous said...

This is such common knowledge why is this on the blog?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
This is such common knowledge why is this on the blog?

Common knowledge perhaps to many but not all JWs and exJWs.

Unknown to the rest of the 7 billion people out there.

jade said...

I am pleased you posted this. I found it interesting and it was new to me. However with the greatest respect to you I do wonder how you continue with it. I think I would be driven in sane. I left my congregation for it's petty rules but they seemingly were nothing in comparison to the Bethel style. It must be hard to bite your tongue?

Anonymous said...

You left out in your comments, normally its 4 commentors on the text, 1 is very basic, 2 & 3 are normally wives and everyone winces they wont teach too much,.. and 4 is some heavy-hitter... when i was there it was unthinkable that someone non GB or GC would take the lead..... now Im wondering when the first GC GB member will be appointed

J said...

I didn't find it all that stressful myself. Those at my table were cool and funny. I slept most of the time. I did not attend regularly. The only pain was getting out of bed in the morning. (And that was a big one).

But then I guess I didn't mind the institution thing too much. Breakfast was decent, pastries where good. Coffee was horrid.

I think morning worship like Bethel in general depends on three things. Table head, Overseer, and Roommate.

In my case my table head was a cool guy who never got on my case. I think about calling him now and then.