When I first started my blog in the summer of 2011, I had several anonymous comments claiming that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about because I wasn't old enough. The group I grew up in had three elders, then two, then one, and the last one died when I was thirteen. That's when our church services morphed into a bi-weekly gathering to sing ten hymns and a silent prayer.
We had the silent prayer ritual even when we had elders, however one of the elders also prayed aloud for the congregation during each church service. I didn't know that when we knelt as a group for the silent time that we were supposed to be praying until I was a bit older. Even when I sat with the girls (after age seven), I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing and many of my contemporaries didn't either.
I recently spoke to a young woman who was born after Glenford’s death. She remembered singing ten songs and getting down to pray. One of the older girls told her that it was so an angel could come by and choose who was going to heaven. There was a special needs girl who they told to get up and dance (on a few different occasions – because they were bored) and her mom would come and pull her out by her hair. The girls' parents made them include her and the girls would get her to do bad things sometimes.
The mothers of the girls forbid their daughters from inviting over certain friends. This girl's parents did the same thing. Around the time the new addition was added, she says they started a tradition of singing to the widows. Each of the age groups (separated by gender and ages) got up on the pulpit and sang Christmas carols to the widows.
I remember so much more of church than this young woman and I was born after our prophet died. I was terrified of adults and God and Hell. Things clearly have changed and continue to do so in the group. Who is leading? Who is teaching? Who and what are the influences?