Gilead’s Nineteenth Class Graduates
GILEAD graduations are happy occasions! The more than 12,000 that attended the graduation exercises will readily testify to that fact. To the student graduation represents a completed course of strenuous study. To many, a well-done. To the many friends and relatives who were privileged to be present at the exercises of the nineteenth class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, and to many more who could not be present in body but were present in “spirit”, Gilead graduations represent additional praise and honor to Jehovah God; because these graduates are willing instruments in the hands of Jehovah to the glorifying of his name and the freeing of many more prisoners from Babylon’s bondage before Armageddon strikes. The presence of so many well testified to the interest in the school and to the purpose for which it has been dedicated. It also demonstrated the bond of love that unites the theocratic family, and especially the affection shown to those who are soon to be sent to some thirty different countries to search for the Lord’s “other sheep”. Just a brief review of this happy occasion is possible.
Early Saturday morning, July 26, cars and buses began to arrive. Friends from forty-five states, also from the District of Columbia, Canada, Cuba and Hawaii, literally swarmed over the 700-acre farm of the Watchtower Society at South Lansing, New York, where the school is located. The farm, which is a home for a few, and a school for a class of approximately a hundred, became a virtual paradise for these thousands. Happiness reigned supreme!
The start of the graduation week-end activities began Saturday evening with a Bible study using the Watchtower magazine. The gentle slope of the lawn down toward the pond in front of Shiloah formed a large, natural amphitheater. The platform, banked with multihued gladioli, was nestled at the edge of the fir trees, which served as a picturesque background for the entire proceedings. The graduating students participated in the discussion of the paragraphs of the Watchtower magazine, while some 8,500 of the visitors listened with keen interest. This was followed by a musical program with a pleasant variety, arranged by the students, in which native folk songs and items were presented representing the thirteen different lands from which students had come. The entertainment was interrupted by a light shower and the program was discontinued for the evening.
These light showers turned to cloudbursts during the night, but the morning brought a new day with a refreshing breeze and clearing skies. Promptly at nine o’clock the graduation exercises began. After a few words of encouragement from the farm servant and instructors, and the reading of telegrams of congratulation from points in all corners of the earth, the Society’s president gave the graduation address. His subject: “There Is More Happiness in Giving.” He reminded the students that happiness had been theirs in receiving, then added: “The instructors have been happy in giving much information to you from God’s Word in the past six months. Think of the happiness that will be yours in going forth to give freely of this knowledge to others.” He concluded by saying that “the only true happiness in life is to give as Jehovah gives, with pleasure and satisfaction. Giving by compulsion is not acceptable to God. It must be done freely and gladly”.
Immediately following the talk diplomas were handed out individually with an announcement as to where the different missionaries were being sent. The envelope presented to each of the 111 graduates also contained a brief message from the Society on this same theme “Happiness in Giving”.
At the conclusion of the morning’s program a representative of the student body read a resolution, which was afterward unanimously adopted by the students, expressing their keen determination to “do all in our might to constantly make our minds over for new world living, and thus show our thankfulness for the added privileges of a Gilead training . . . We are now determined that, ‘having accepted the undeserved kindness of God, we shall not miss its purpose’ but, in Jehovah’s strength, we shall enter our assignments and minister in a spirit of mildness, showing love to all kinds of men”.
Most of the visitors remained Sunday evening, when the musical entertainment held over from Saturday was enthusiastically received. Representatives of the student body made expressions as to their impressions of the days of training at the school and also concerning their future life as foreign missionary workers in the different countries to which the class is being dispersed.
While the crowds were bidding farewell, conversations took on a more serious note. Some of the graduates were heard to say: “School is over, graduation has past, but there is much work ahead. These past five months have been difficult, but despite their difficulties they were happy months. I know we will look back on them whether near or far away and find in these few days much happiness, great comfort and a sure hope. And we will be moved to thank Jehovah over and over again for this most grand and happy privilege.”
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