1980 “Divine Love” District Conventions
The quality of divine love tends to draw us closer to Jehovah, his Son and one another and ever strengthens our resistance to separation. We trust that this same attraction will draw us to attend one of the 102 “Divine Love” District Conventions for the United States, hold us in attendance from beginning to end and leave us with reluctance to see it end. Not one of us can afford to miss a single session. The opening talks on Thursday set the stage for what is to follow, helping us to catch the spirit of the whole convention. Much information has already been given to help us with our plans to attend. The February 1 Watchtower listed the 102 convention locations and dates, and the February Our Kingdom Service provided helpful information as to where it is recommended each congregation attend as well as explained a new approach to finding rooming accommodations.
Our exemplar, Jesus Christ, taught that there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. (Acts 20:35) It is good, therefore, that we give attention to what we can give at conventions as well as to what we will receive. To that end we are providing the following information.
PROGRAM: “Who is wise? He will both observe these things and show himself attentive toward Jehovah’s acts of loving-kindness.” So says the psalmist at Psalm 107:43. Such attentiveness means focusing our mind on the things being presented, together with a receptive attitude. The word attentive also carries with it the thought of being conscious of the comfort of others, being courteous. Therefore, we must be attentive not only to the things presented from the platform, but also to the needs of others. In the first century many sought front seats for greater honor. Such seats are now desired by many not for honor, but simply to minimize the distractions from the program sometimes caused by unnecessary noise, some walking about or other acts of thoughtlessness on the part of fellow attenders. Christian love will prompt us to listen carefully to all that is presented from the platform as well as to train ourselves and our families to do nothing that will unnecessarily distract those seated around us. Since habits cultivated at our local meetings will manifest themselves at our conventions this summer, why not begin working now to improve in this matter of attentiveness where we see the need for it?
MUSIC: Special music for listening and for audience singing has again been prepared. Singing is a fine way of giving expression to what is in our heart. We encourage you to participate wholeheartedly in singing Jehovah’s praise at the convention.
CONDUCT: True Christianity is a way of life, not simply something to which we belong. When we as Christian witnesses of Jehovah convene in large numbers, the demonstration of Christlike qualities contributes to a powerful witness. Our conventions are often widely publicized so we have an excellent opportunity to let our fine conduct glorify God. (1 Pet. 2:12) Guard against anything that would cause the way of the truth to be spoken of abusively.—2 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:2.
Much good counsel was given on the matter of maintaining honorable conduct while attending conventions in the April 1978 and May 1979, Our Kingdom Service. It would be good for you to review this information by way of a reminder. One of the objectives of our assembling together is to ‘encourage one another.’ At one time or another, have you not been favorably impressed and encouraged by the conduct of fellow Witnesses in contrast with that of people in general? It may have been their kindness and patience while waiting in line, their consideration of others in traffic, the chasteness and modesty reflected by their dress as befits holy people, the genuine respect shown parents and other older ones, the loving and persistent training of youth, the kind expressions of appreciation for service rendered either by fellow Christians or those of the world, and so forth. On this latter point, for example, although it is a personal matter based on circumstances, recognition of the custom of tipping certain hotel, motel and restaurant personnel can greatly affect our reputation with worldly ones who provide us with various services. The world takes things for granted and is basically self-centered. True Christians are not that way, but, rather, take the lead in “showing honor to one another,” treating others as they would like to be treated themselves.—Heb. 10:25; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16; Rom. 12:10.
One area that continues to need attention is the matter of the excessive saving of seats. Various approaches have been made to deal with this problem, but nothing substitutes for the basic Christian quality of love in this matter. When arranging for conventions, the Society tries not to fill a facility to its absolute capacity so as to allow for some extra room. Of course, circumstances sometimes arise that affect this, but we are pleased to see that the majority of our brothers are able to cooperate very well with the recommendations as to where to attend. So, brothers, it may be good for each one of us to review his attitude toward this matter of seating at conventions. We may ask ourselves: Do I always seek out the preferred sections in which to sit, or if my health and circumstances permit, do I sometimes choose to sit in upper sections or those more difficult to get to so that older or newer ones are not inconvenienced? Do I spread out my belongings on adjoining seats causing others to think that they are occupied? Would it not be considerate to remove my articles from seats not actually being occupied at least 10 or 15 minutes before the session begins, so that others are not inconvenienced by having to unnecessarily search for seats or place attendants in the awkward position of having to remove the articles themselves? Do I keep my family together or know where they will be sitting so that family members are not reserving seats for each other needlessly? Do I yield graciously to the direction of attendants in this matter of seating? Is the same diligence exercised in saving a seat displayed in my effort to occupy that seat from the beginning of the program to its conclusion? Am I ‘inciting to love and fine works’ in this matter of seating?
SPECIAL AFTERNOON FIELD SERVICE: Over 46,000,000 people live in the immediate vicinity of the 102 “Divine Love” District Conventions in the United States. What better way would there be for us to display our loving concern for these millions of individuals than by putting forth a real effort to share the Kingdom message with them as part of our convention activity? To that end, Friday afternoon has been set aside for special field service. Since the program is scheduled to conclude by 1:00 p.m., it should be possible for those in attendance to get something to eat at the convention site, get organized into groups and be in the field by about 2:00 p.m. Various features of field service will be arranged and it would be most fitting for elders and ministerial servants to serve as captains of groups. Each one should bring a witnessing bag and current magazines together with his Bible. Anything additional, along with further details about the afternoon’s service, will be announced at the convention. We feel confident that the content of the morning’s program will make you eager to share in the field activity Friday afternoon.
VOLUNTEER SERVICE: The readiness and willingness of Jehovah’s people to perform necessary tasks, often of a menial nature, has favorably impressed many. The same volunteer service arrangement as outlined on page 5 of Our Kingdom Service insert for May 1979, will be used again this year. This is a system where those caring for departments or other duties invite individuals to assist them, often utilizing the circuit assembly organization, as well as arranging various groups of volunteers through the congregation’s convention coordinator. Real effort is being made to limit work to what is necessary, and so you can be sure that if you are asked to help or are included in a group of volunteer workers, you are doing work that is needed and very much appreciated. A Volunteer Service desk will be in operation at the convention where last-minute volunteers can report and be directed to the department needing help.
FOOD NEEDS: For your convenience, food and drinks will be provided similar to last year at every convention. Most will no doubt appreciate this provision since many will be staying overnight where there are no kitchen facilities. It is good to know that our brothers will be lovingly preparing suitable food at all the conventions to care for our needs during the day. Of course, just as was experienced by Jesus on more than one occasion, the feeding of large numbers of people sometimes results in surplus because we do not want any to have to go hungry. (Matt. 14:14-21) We are grateful for the help of those who understand this and have purchased these food items to take along with them at the conclusion of the convention. Food quantities are figured largely on expected attendance, feeling that most will take advantage of the arrangement.
Once again the $1 convention tickets in 10c segments will be used at the conventions for the purchase of food only. These tickets will be made available to your congregation by the convention organization a number of weeks in advance and you may purchase them through the congregation at that time. It is suggested that you make this advance purchase of enough tickets to supply your own or your family’s needs for two or three days of the convention. Your cooperation in this respect is appreciated, not only because it reduces the amount of money handling required at the convention, but also because it eliminates the congestion and inconvenience of long lines at the cashiers on the first day. These tickets may also be used for the purchase of surplus food, if available.
We look forward to the good things that Jehovah has in store for us in connection with the “Divine Love” District Conventions and trust that the information here provided will assist you in making your plans to attend. Your diligence in this regard will certainly bring a rich reward from our loving God, Jehovah.—Heb. 11:6.
District Convention Reminders
ROOMING: Your cooperation in using the listing of accommodations provided by the convention in selecting your rooms is very much appreciated. If you have not already made a reservation and forwarded a deposit, it is necessary to do so immediately if you are planning to stay overnight in the convention city. Congregation convention coordinators should be sure that Special Needs Room Request Form has been promptly forwarded to the appropriate convention address. If you find it necessary to cancel your accommodations selected from the listing, you should write or phone the hotel/motel directly, doing so as far in advance as possible. If you must cancel an accommodation made through the Special Needs arrangement you should notify both the landlord or hotel/motel and the convention Rooming Department so the room may be reassigned.
The convention Rooming Department will provide, upon request, available information on any commercial trailer and camping facilities in the convention area.
BAPTISM: At most locations, the immersion will be on Saturday. Those who wish to symbolize their dedication by water baptism should have reviewed the 80 questions and also chapter six in the Organization book with the elders prior to the convention. Bathing suit and towel should be brought by each one who plans to be baptized.
PROGRAM TIMES: It is the course of wisdom and shows appreciation to be in our seats when the program begins. That will be at 9:50 a.m., on Thursday and Friday and at 9:30 a.m., on Saturday and Sunday. The same qualities are displayed when we do not plan to leave before the sessions conclude. The closing song and prayer will be at 4:50 p.m., on Thursday. Friday afternoon will be set aside for a special effort in field service and so the sessions will conclude by 1:00 p.m. On Saturday the closing song and prayer are scheduled at 5:00 p.m., and on Sunday at 4:40 p.m.
GILEAD AND BETHEL MEETINGS: A meeting will be held on Thursday at 1:00 p.m., for pioneers between the ages of 20 and 40 who are interested in attending Gilead School to receive training for missionary service. There will be a meeting on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., for any dedicated publishers between 19 and 35 years of age who are U.S. residents and would like to enter Bethel service.
PIONEER IDENTIFICATION: All regular and special pioneers will need to bring their Pioneer Identification and Assignment card to the convention. Those on the list for six months at the time of the district convention are entitled to receive food tickets upon presentation of their Identification and Assignment card at one convention only. Treat the card as carefully as cash. It cannot be replaced at the convention. Literature will be available to pioneers at pioneer rates at the bookroom. All traveling overseers and those in Bethel service will receive a special identification card (CO-57) for obtaining their convention tickets as well as any free releases.
LAPEL CARDS: These cards are provided as a means of advertising the convention as well as to facilitate identifying our brothers and sisters in attendance. To this end, please wear the lapel card at the convention and also while traveling to and from the convention site. You should obtain these through your congregation. You will note that the lapel card has been designed in such a way that it may be used again for circuit assemblies until next summer. The lapel cards are 1c each and the celluloid holders are 5c each.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Regardless of where you park, you should lock your vehicle at all times and never leave anything visible inside. Keep your belongings locked inside the trunk if possible. Also, guard against thieves and pickpockets who are attracted by large gatherings. This includes not leaving anything of value unattended on seats at the conventions.