As I walk back out to my car, there’s still almost an hour before the Jehovah’s Witness meeting begins. The service at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which started at 10:30 AM, lasted about an hour and a half. While satisfied at having just attended my first non-LDS church service in over 20 years, I can’t help wondering if I should be heading home now to spend time with my family. After a quick text home to my wife to see how things are going, the kid report comes back as “grumpy” but manageable, since they probably just need lunch. With that, I decide to stick to the original plan and head over to the Kingdom Hall on the other side of town.
In rather striking contrast to how I felt just before arriving at Covenant Presbyterian, I feel much more at ease, even confident, this time as I drive into another unknown. Could it be because I’ve already attended a Jehovah’s Witness meeting before? This seems unlikely since that was a lifetime ago, as a 20-year-old Mormon missionary. Is it because I managed to survive my experience at Covenant Presbyterian? Perhaps. Surely it must help that my appearance won’t be entirely unexpected, at least for the two Witnesses that invited me here a month or two ago.
But there also seems to be something more visceral. For one thing, I suspect that in contrast to the service I just attended, I’m not going to be the only one in a white shirt and tie this time. That at least eliminates one source of anxiety that was, however silly it seems, a significant theme of my last experience. But, there’s more to it. As much as members of either denomination would probably not like to admit it, I believe that Mormons and Witnesses share a similar religious psychology. They are equally sure of their own rightness and everyone else’s wrongness. For both, it’s not “my” or “our” church, but “The Church”.
While this would seem to make the experience more intimidating and more onerous, I feel like I’m stepping into my own world, just at a different venue. These are not my enemies, but my brothers and sisters. And I’m not here to argue. I’m here to learn, observe and absorb. Will I be seen by some as a project? A prospect? Probably. But, I just don’t care. Why should I expect someone to be willing to come to an LDS meeting when I’m not willing to be subjected to the same? So, I’m here to be prospected. I’m here to give them the floor. I’m here to hear them out. And perhaps I’m even here to make a friend or two, if that’s possible between a Mormon and a Witness. Continue reading