Hospitality at Gilead’s 30th Graduation
THE thirtieth class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead graduated Sunday, February 9, 1958. The occasion will long be remembered by those who were present. Never before had the weather outside been so unhospitable, with its gray skies and blustery zero winter weather. And never before had hospitality been so stressed both in word and in action inside Gilead. Not only was there the usual very warm welcome by the students and by members of the Kingdom Farm family, on which farm the school is situated, but the main discourse of more than an hour was on the subject of showing spiritual hospitality. And to top it off, material hospitality was shown to some six hundred impromptu guests that had to stay over until Monday morning because of impassable roads.
But in spite of such weather, graduation Sunday morning saw 1,687 present. Most of these had arrived the evening before, coming from twenty-nine different states and four Canadian provinces, from as far away as Florida in the southeast to British Columbia in the northwest. The program, as usual, began at 9 a.m. with a favorite Kingdom song, which was followed by a prayer by Ulysses Glass, occasional Gilead instructor. Then brief, warm farewell talks filled with pointed Scriptural admonition were given by John Markus, the farm “servant,” and by the four school instructors: Harold Jackson, Karl Adams, Maxwell Friend and A. D. Schroeder. Next, the numerous telegrams and cablegrams received from many parts of the world were read or acknowledged.
The main talk was given by N. H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society as well as of Gilead School. His subject was “Hospitality, a Responsibility.” Most effectively he by logic, Scriptural references and apt illustrations made his points, among which were: Hospitality primarily means showing love to strangers, to those we do not know. Hospitality thinks of others, shares with others; as Christians we must share our spiritual blessings with those conscious of their spiritual need. The Scriptures give many striking examples of hospitality, beginning with Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, faithful men of old, such as Abraham, Lot, Manoah, and the early Christians. The world is built upon selfishness. To show hospitality today takes strength and integrity, because one must run counter to the spirit of the world. Hospitality attracts men of good will and is richly rewarded by God.—Rom. 12:13, 14, 16; 1 Cor. 4:12, 13; Matt. 5:43-48.
At the conclusion of the talk Knorr, assisted by the registrar, Schroeder, handed out the diplomas. There were 109 graduating, whose ages ranged from eighteen to sixty-six years. They had come from England, Canada and the United States and were being sent to twenty-four different countries. A spokesman for the class then read a letter of sincere appreciation for the training they had received at Gilead as well as all the benefits that went with it.
The evening before, 1,358 were on hand for the weekly Watchtower study and the musical program by the students that followed. Sunday afternoon from two to four o’clock the students had opportunity to express themselves. At the conclusion of this program came the surprise announcement that Highway 34, on which Gilead is situated, still was impassable in both directions. Those unable to get quarters close by remained until the next morning when, with clear roads and sunny skies, all were soon on their way back home.