Jehovah’s Witnesses practice “shunning,” which is an act of social rejection based on the religion’s understanding of New Testament scriptures 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and Matthew 18:15-17. To remove this restriction, a “disfellowshipped” (or shunned) person must first write a “letter of reinstatement” to a specific congregation’s body of elders.
Format the heading of the letter appropriately, including your name, contact information and the date.
Address the letter of reinstatement to the local body of elders, rather than an individual. For example, “To the Presiding Body of Elders” or “To the Anytown USA Body of Elders.”
State that you would like to be “reinstated” into the local congregation, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do not make demands but humbly request the motion for reinstatement.
State your status, whether disfellowshipped or disassociated, along with the time that has passed since your official removal from the congregation. If you were disfellowshipped from another congregation, specify the name of that congregation in the letter.
Tell your story — what happened, including the “sin” you committed or the act of disassociation. Provide details as to your mindset and the feelings you were coping with at the time you were shunned. Do not make excuses for the act; instead, aim to project sympathy and elicit empathy as you relate the background story.
Demonstrate a repentant attitude in your writing, which shows you realize the severity of the confessed sin.
Show that you have “discontinued your former wrong conduct,” in line with the organization's thinking. Give details as to how you have turned around your life with positive and moral changes.
Provide details that confirm your pattern of good behavior, time investment, study habits, and the sorrow you feel for “Bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s name and the congregation," as stated in the March 1, 1977 "Watchtower" publication.
Request a meeting with the body of elders at their convenience, so that you can discuss this matter in person.
Conclude the letter with a valediction and your name. You may mail the letter to the local Kingdom Hall or give it to one of the elders in person.
- ['A word processor or typewriter', 'Printer paper']
Quote or imply the essence of one familiar scripture to show the body of elders that you have taken biblical counsel. Ideally, the scripture references sin and grief.
Injuring God (“I have hurt Jehovah with my actions…”) always scores you points with the body of elders.
Elders are cautioned, “Deeds must be in evidence,” and so they will look for a pattern of positive behavior before seriously considering your request. To help your case, attend most biweekly meetings, sing the songs, and make any grooming changes necessary to fit in with the crowd.
Treat the situation like a court case hearing, and state only the minimum. Providing too much information and implying any lingering doubts will hurt your case.
Do not make outright excuses or mention anyone else as a culpable party. If you want to return to the organization, you must take full responsibility for what happened.
- "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"; Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society Of Pennsylvania; 1991
- "Watchtower" Magazine; "Right Qualities Needed to Judge"; Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society Of Pennsylvania; March 1, 1977
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