THE stimulating spiritual feast that a Gilead graduation provides attracts many dedicated Christians from far and near. With 130 students from fifty-three lands, this thirty-second class proved to be both Gilead’s largest and most colorful.
The outstanding feature of the graduation, which took place February 15, 1959, was the powerful discourse by N. H. Knorr, president of the School as well as of the Watch Tower Society, on the subject “Ordained Ministers—Before God or Before the Nations of the World?” He pointed out that regardless of what worldly nations may think or do, what really matters is having God’s recognition and approval as ministers. Forcefully he developed the theme that every dedicated and baptized Christian is a full-time minister, even though secular work may greatly limit his preaching activity. Such secular work is merely engaged in to pay the expenses of the ministry, as it were.
Among the scriptures he elaborated on was that by Jesus about Christians being the light of the world and a city that cannot be hid and those by Paul: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory,” and “whatever it is that you do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Matt. 5:14; 1 Cor. 10:31 Col. 3:17) Christians must be on the watch all the time. Christian living is their vocation, their chief occupation—not a hobby. It was ideal admonition for all 1,924 present.
Preceding Brother Knorr’s remarks, parting words of admonition were given by the Kingdom Farm servant and Gilead’s four instructors First to be heard was John Markus, who emphasized rightly using one’s knowledge and abilities if we would have God’s blessing. Following him Robert Porter stressed that, important as our sacrifices of praise are, obedience is still more important. Next Jack Redford spoke on the need of enthusiasm, joy and love. Maxwell Friend pointed to the need to remember in times of stress the lesson of Ebenezer: ‘Up till now Jehovah has helped with his continued aid this too will pass.’ (1 Sam. 7:12) Brother Schroeder likened the class of missionaries to a great fireworks display that will scatter its light to the four corners of the globe, to the fifty-four countries to which they were assigned. Many telegrams and cablegrams received from all quarters of the earth were read and appreciatively received by all.
After diplomas were distributed, a student read a Resolution on behalf of the class in which its members expressed their “deepest and warmest appreciation” for the training they received while at Gilead and their resolve to perform their dedication vows with “renewed strength and fearless determination.” Then a few closing remarks by Brother Knorr, a song and prayer brought the program to a conclusion.