Mrs Anna Joy Napthine (nee Brock) took her life on 25th August 1981. The cause of death was recorded as hanging, and the Coroner concluded that she killed herself.
She was found by her husband Peter when he returned to the family home in London, UK, after he had been out to the park with their two little children, Rebecca and Gary.
Anna was at the time under Exclusive Brethren ʽassembly disciplineʼ.
She had confessed to a sin some years before, for which she was forgiven although not withdrawn from. However in 1981 the EB leader of the day, J.H.Symington, put forward new teaching on 1 Cor 5:11-13, requiring that the assembly be ʽclearedʼ of all such matters. Anna and hundreds like her in the EB worldwide, had to be confronted with their sin all over again, and be withdrawn from for the statutory minimum, seven days. It was expected that Anna would be restored to fellowship after a week, but her case went on for some time longer, until she took her life.
The London Brethren buried her, and attended the Coronerʼs inquest which was held on 9 September 1981.
Anna was known to be vulnerable; she suffered with a nervous condition. According to the Police she was not on any medication at the time of her death.
I was in the EB from birth (1965) to 1984, when I was withdrawn from at the age of 19. When I was 15 a local sister was withdrawn from for something that had already been 'cleared' years before but had to be dealt with under the new JHS (1 Cor 5) 7 day doctrine. She had 2 young kids and a history of mental ill health. After a few weeks we heard the news that she had taken her life.
I have often wondered if I should present myself to the police as someone who played a part in the events that led to her death. It may sound twisted, but I would like to hear your thoughts. I was 15 and knew the family quite well. The peebs have told me that they believe that she would still be alive if they had not treated her so badly.
For an explanation of the context of this story, I refer you to the '7 Day Matters' thread in the General Archive. For those who do not have access to this area of the forums, I submit the following explanation. The basis for this monstrous imposition (and inquisition) was the 'Law of Leprosy" in Leviticus 13:
2.When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
3 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
4 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days
In about 1982, as a result of an edict from the leader, Jim Symington, people were 'withdrawn from' for 7 days despite their age, health, or the fact that they had formerly repented. Some of these elderly brethren had to revisit the sins of their childhood. When we heard that this 'purge' had been set on, people got excited. It was like the roar of the crowd in the Amphitheatre. Some would be thrown to the lions. The telephones ran hot with gossip. This was the most hateful incident I know of and I believe that if Heaven could have wept, the earth would have suffered another deluge.
Offenders were 'confined' for 7 days and the sins of the past were publicly announced. The repented were temporarily removed for past evils. And it left a 'stain' after the 7 days. Old men who were formerly evangelistic were prevented from preaching. Families were exposed to the knowledge of dreadful and shocking incidents such as incestuous incidents that had been better left forgotten. I understand now that some incidences should have been better referred to the police.
The “seven day matter” was a new edict from Symington. Any, and, I mean any, sexual misconduct that a person had been involved in must be publicly confessed and that person had to be shut-up for at least seven days. If the priest didn’t like someone, this gave him the power to leave that person shut-up for a longer period while he, the priest, investigated the matter further. If the person had children or a spouse they were taken away for as long as the person was shut-up.
In my city I observed parents being exposed in front of their children. In one case an older couple who had been married for fifty years were exposed in front of all their grandchildren. Apparently they had slept together just prior to their marriage.
Others who had confessed their sin privately years ago, now had their confidentially exposed. In my city alone over fifty people were shut-up during this purge.