A disappointing setback to the Dialogue has been a withdrawal from the process of both Ali and Sarah. Both are quite adamant that nobody tells them what they may do, but only the day after Sarah and I had discussed who would be allowed to post on our forum, the text of the profile etc, she told me that she felt she was neglecting her duties as a mother and would not be able to be a member of the group, let alone run it with me.
Initially I felt like I had been made a fool of, having been encouraged by Sarah to set it up on her behalf, as she is not technically minded, only then to be left looking like she disavowed our joint project. But then it occurred to me that, sadly, this rather illustrates what I have always felt, that while there are good people like her and Ali who really do want to change the fellowship for the better, there are forces within the church which are resistant and will bring pressure to bear to stop members speaking and acting freely.
Naturally I feel very hurt and disappointed, especially by some of the rather defensive and curt correspondence that followed, having felt that we had genuinely made friends, but ultimately, whatever your relationship with a JA member, you have to remember that their first loyalty is to their church and as I am persona non grata, any friendship can only be very tenuous at best.
I know this will sound patronising, but dealing with individual JA members is a little like dealing with my school pupils. They are all up for something, full of passion, keen to get involved and give you lots of assurances....but none of their promises are really worth anything unless you have sent a letter home and got their parents to sign it. A JA is not free to decide anything important without their elder's say-so. Sarah and Ali were absolutely adamant that nobody tells them what to do, but self-evidently this is not so.
I still hope very much that some good can come from the forum, but if John Campbell and the other leaders can bring sufficient pressure to bear to stop members of the JA from taking part (and let's face it, if they can stop independent souls like Sarah and Ali, they will not find it hard to stop others), what dialogue can there be. really?
Another ex-JA has suggested that I am the achilles heel in the plan. Nobody will post on anything with which my name is associated, when I am known to be a critic who has helped people leave, so I am hoping that he may, as he has suggested, take it over.