Pittsburgh Meeting Points Up Urgency of the Times
BEFORE dawn people began gathering around the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the first day of October. The event drawing them was the annual corporation meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania combined with the graduation of the fifty-third class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead.
The program got under way at 8:30 a.m. and, following prayer and a discussion of the daily Bible text, the audience heard encouraging reports and experiences from Society branch representatives from Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Jamaica and Mexico. Then director M. G. Henschel read greetings to the graduating class sent by brothers in many lands—Laos, Hawaii and Micronesia, and many parts of Africa, South America and Europe.
The Society’s vice-president, F. W. Franz, next gave strong exhortation against letting apathy develop among God’s people today. Do any of us incline to feel that God’s time for taking action in judgment is yet far enough off and that we can slip back into the easygoing way of life characterizing this world? Then we need to correct our attitude, bring it into harmony with the inspired counsel at 2 Peter 3:12. According to the King James Version (marginal reading), Christians are there urged to be “looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God.” Can we actually speed up God’s time schedule for the coming of his day for executing judgment? No, but we can be “keeping close in mind” that day, as the New World Translation more accurately renders this text. Peter and other Christians of his day had no way of knowing just when that “day” would come, but they knew it was an absolute certainty, sure to come, and this was enough! Today we have abundant evidence that a generation already grown old is indeed going to experience the foretold “great tribulation” that will open the way for the entering in of God’s new order. We should certainly be living each day with a consciousness of its nearness, not postponing it in mind or heart.
During the annual corporation meeting that began at 10 a.m., the Society’s president, N. H. Knorr, revealed that, although as yet incomplete, the report for the 1972 service year already shows a splendid total of over 162,000 persons baptized during the year. This means that during the past five years more than 680,000 persons have been baptized world wide, and these represent 41 percent of Jehovah’s witnesses today.
The graduating class now heard some final comments from instructor U. V. Glass. Noting that the class’s average age was twenty-nine, he pointed out that Gilead School was also ‘born’ twenty-nine years ago. Basing his counsel on Hebrews 12:1-3, he urged them never to fall into the sin of lack of faith. Runners do not slow down as they near the goal. With the New Order so near the graduates should now put every ounce of strength into the race. Gilead registrar E. A. Dunlap then stressed God’s warm and generous giving, urging the students never to cause God to feel ‘hurt at heart’ by acting unappreciatively toward his gifts.
Now the final talk, given by the Society’s president on the subject “The Name in Which All Nations Are Choosing to Walk,” based on Micah chapters 3 and 4. Though divided over religion and other factors, people are idolizing the ideal of their particular political nation, making it a national god. But their national ‘gods’ are not saving mankind from a disastrous course. In this “final part of the days,” hundreds of thousands in all the earth are awakening to reality and are turning to Jehovah as the one true God in whom to trust. They ‘walk in his name’ by following the “law” and “word” of Jehovah out of heavenly Zion and Jerusalem, the seat of the now reigning kingdom of the Messiah.
Following the distribution of diplomas and a lunch recess, the afternoon saw a lively and colorful musical program presented in eleven languages by the forty-eight graduating students. The entire program was climaxed by a heart-searching Bible drama involving King David’s sin with Bath-sheba. It stressed the fine balance of God’s justice and his mercy. With good reason, the 7,614 present ended the day feeling richly rewarded.