'I was a Jehovah's Witness for 60 years, but gave it up for Christ' - an interview with Jim Fielder

'I was a Jehovah's Witness for 60 years, but gave it up for Christ' - an interview with Jim Fielder
John Tredgett
John Tredgett Elder at Grace Evangelical Church, Carlisle and Production Editor for Evangelical Times.
29 December, 2023 10 min read

JT: Jim, tell us about your background and how you became a JW?

JF: Hull has been my home since my birth 72 years ago. When I was five, my parents embraced Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs, leading me to adopt their strict lifestyle. I dedicated my life to following the principles and practices of this faith – every twist and turn. I became part of a bunch of lovely albeit misled sheep.

My school years were affected by a sense of being different. I couldn’t participate in birthday celebrations; I couldn’t make Father’s or Mother’s Day cards; I couldn’t stand up or sing when the national anthem was played.

I was often exercised thinking up plausible-sounding excuses for not attending any parties, after-school clubs, and so on – especially on meeting nights. JWs view these activities as ‘worldly’ or ‘unnecessary association with the world’.

How else was your life characterised as a JW?

In my mid-teens (during the 1960s), I was baptised as a JW. Back then it was the norm for all JW school-leavers to start ‘pioneering’ – that is, qualifying to become an unpaid preacher, devoting some 1,200 hours per year (23 hours per week) to house-to-house proselytising.

I adhered to a hyper-busy pioneer schedule for the next 30 years, woven around my low-income, part-time, self-employed work. I married a wonderful JW girl, and shortly thereafter in 1974 (aged 23), I was appointed as an elder. I served in this role for the next 42 years.

I held various responsibilities during that time. I supervised local preaching work; organised ship-visiting at the Port of Hull for two decades; led a Chinese group and congregation; spoke at some large conventions; and served on several three-man judicial committees (convened when JWs violate the rules).

Given this busy ‘theocratic routine’, I had limited personal time to thoroughly explore the Scriptures within their proper context.

What led you to leave the religion?

Certain issues nagged at me over the years, not least the draconian policy of extreme shunning. This involves friends and family completely ignoring, as if dead, anyone who has been disfellowshipped (expelled) from a JW congregation.

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