1986 “Divine Peace” District Convention
1 Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking forward with expectation to the 1986 “Divine Peace” District Conventions that are scheduled for this summer. A listing of 130 conventions in the United States was provided in the February 1, 1986, Watchtower. All will want to make plans to attend.
2 From ancient times, Jehovah’s servants have gathered at assemblies and conventions. For example, while the Israelites were in Egypt, Moses and Aaron assembled the older men so that special instruction could be given to them. (Ex. 4:27-31) Thereafter, as God ordered, the Israelites gathered at the base of Mount Sinai. On that occasion they witnessed the awesome demonstration of Jehovah’s power and received his commandments. (Ex. 19:10-19) Later, when the temple was constructed, Solomon gathered the people together in Jerusalem in connection with the dedication of that building. The convention lasted for many days, and when the people returned home, they were “joyful and feeling good at heart over the goodness that Jehovah had performed toward David and toward Solomon and toward Israel his people.” (2 Chron. 5:1–7:10) The people regularly assembled in observance of the annual festivals, and as a result, they experienced many blessings.
3 Early Christians continued to follow this established pattern. On many occasions, large crowds gathered to listen to Jesus speak. Just imagine the blessings that were received by those who were privileged to be in attendance when Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount! (Matt. 5:1–7:29) After Jesus’ death, his followers continued to meet together, as on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. when holy spirit was poured out. (Acts 2:1-4) The apostle Paul admonished: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”—Heb. 10:24, 25.
4 In recent times as well, conventions have a special place in our theocratic arrangement. They are not mere social occasions but are designed to instruct and unite Jehovah’s servants. All in attendance receive the same instruction at the same time. This promotes peace and unity. Jehovah’s Word is read and considered, with clear direction given. Such gatherings result in many rich spiritual blessings and are occasions of great joy.
ATTEND ALL SESSIONS
5 The conventions scheduled for this summer will highlight the theme “Divine Peace.” Jehovah is the God of peace, and he has blessed his people with peace as well. (Ps. 29:11) A different aspect of this theme will be highlighted each day.
6 Make every effort to attend all four days. The opening session will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. This will allow most of the brothers sufficient time to travel to the convention city on Thursday morning.
7 It is once again strongly recommended that you attend the convention to which your congregation is assigned, following the direction provided in the insert of the January 1986 Our Kingdom Ministry. It is appreciated, however, that there may be extenuating circumstances, such as prearranged vacation plans that cannot be adjusted or the need to assist relatives living in another area. In all cases, please cooperate closely with the direction given locally by your convention coordinator.
8 The baptism is always one of the highlights of a district convention. At most locations, the talk for baptismal candidates will be on Saturday morning. Those who are contemplating baptism should have reviewed the questions with the local elders, in line with the direction outlined in the Our Ministry book, pages 173-5. A modest bathing suit and a towel should be brought by each one who arranges to be baptized.
9 Please note that the Society would like all baptismal candidates to remain standing in the section reserved for them for the singing of the first three verses of the song selected to close the session that includes the baptism talk. The assigned attendants will assist the candidates to file out during the singing of the fourth verse. The audience should remain for the singing of the entire song so as to facilitate the exiting of the baptismal candidates. Your cooperation in following these instructions will be very much appreciated.
BE A GOOD LISTENER
10 We will all want to be good listeners. In ancient Israel, the command was given: “Congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones . . . , in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn.” (Deut. 31:12) We meet together in order to be taught by Jehovah. Proverbs 1:5 states: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction.”
11 Excellent direction was provided in the February 1, 1986, Watchtower, page 30, regarding the need to listen carefully while in attendance at the convention. It stated in part: “Many of us will have come at considerable expense in time and funds. So let us see to it that we are punctual and in good physical condition. That means that we should not overindulge in food or drink nor keep late hours. Rather, let us make certain that we use moderation and get to bed on time so as to be refreshed and fit to take in all the spiritual food that is being provided. While the program is on, let us be in our seats listening, not wandering around or engaging in conversation. . . . The time to talk to our friends is before and after the sessions. Yes, let us come fully determined to get really built up spiritually.” Will we endeavor to apply this fine counsel?
12 We are pleased that, for the most part, convention delegates do put forth a determined effort to listen closely to the program. Family groups are observed sitting together, taking meaningful notes, and following the reading of Scripture texts in their personal copies of the Bible. A newspaper reporter who was in attendance at one of our conventions in Nairobi, Kenya, made this observation: “They all seemed to be giving reverence to Jehovah. Everybody, including children, patiently listened to one speaker after the other. They sat from 1:30 to 5:10 p.m.” Our brothers and sisters in Africa provide a fine example for us to follow. A newspaper in Argentina stated that “order, cleanliness, and marked silence” by those in attendance characterized the district convention held in Buenos Aires recently. Our brothers in that country especially appreciate the privilege of assembling together because our work there had been banned for many years.
13 As stated earlier, we will not want to distract others by talking, moving about, or unnecessarily using the rest rooms while the program is in progress. One elder from the United States who attended a large convention last summer reported that at the beginning of each session he and his wife found it difficult to hear because of the movement, conversation, and looking for seats by latecomers. He stated that even during the remainder of the program there was constant movement and much talking in the stands and passageways.
14 Parents will want to assume the responsibility of properly supervising their families, seeing to it that their children listen and learn. It is suggested that family heads review with their households the direction provided in this insert before attending a convention. Thereafter, they will all want to apply the information personally. This will provide a good example for others, especially for families who may be newly associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses. At one convention a group of young sisters in their early teens were observed sitting together, apart from their parents. They did not listen to the program or even join in the songs and prayers. Rather, they talked with one another and ate snacks throughout the session, taking little interest in what was being presented from the platform. Their conduct was very distracting to those around them. This illustrates the problems that can develop if parents are permissive and do not sit with or control their children.
SAVING OF SEATS
15 Some adjustments related to the saving of seats were made in the May 1985 Our Kingdom Ministry. The insert stated on page 5: “SEATS MAY BE SAVED ONLY FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS AND ANY WHO MAY BE TRAVELING WITH YOU IN YOUR OWN CAR GROUP.” Please do not place articles in additional seats at any time. This will enable those searching for unoccupied seats to find them easily. It is appreciated that many endeavored to apply this direction. Likewise, this year we will want to be concerned not only with our own personal needs but also with the needs of others.—Gal. 6:10;1 Cor. 13:5.
16 We regret that negative reports have still been received from the field. At one convention site, individuals reportedly dressed in bedroom attire entered an auditorium at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Sunday and placed towels, bed sheets, and electric extension cords on hundreds of seats. This was done despite the fact that there were more than enough seats available for all who would be in attendance. At still another convention site—one that made use of an outdoor stadium—a brother reported that some delegates were establishing territorial rights by placing canopies over blocks of seats. Many of these seats were not used. Some were occupied by lunch baskets and beverage coolers throughout the sessions. At the same time, many older persons were looking for seats and could not find them.
17 Do not such accounts make us feel very sad? How did we and our family members conduct ourselves in this regard? Did we take the lead in demonstrating humility, fellow feeling, and compassion for others?—Luke 14:7-11; Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 3:8.
DRESS AND GROOMING
18 Regardless of the facility used, it becomes our “Kingdom Hall” during the convention, and so we should act and dress accordingly. Our brothers and sisters have done very well in this regard, and as a result, an excellent witness has been given. Note this positive experience from Canada. A sister was waiting to meet a relative en route to the convention. She noticed another woman standing near her, intently observing the conventioners on their way to the stadium. In time this woman turned to the sister and stated: “These people are so outstanding in the way that they dress to go to a convention. They are so nicely dressed, so neat and tidy. What is so amazing is the way that their young people look. Not a pair of jeans among them! It’s just amazing for young people.” An invitation to the convention was readily accepted by this individual. She was impressed by what she saw.
19 Our dress should be not only modest and in good taste but practical for the occasion as well. For example, if the convention facility is air-conditioned, it may be best to bring a coat or a sweater. If a stadium or other outside facility is used, it would be good to wear long-sleeved clothing, hats, and so forth, to offer protection from the sun and weather. Raincoats and umbrellas are helpful in the event of rain. Advance planning is needed.
20 What about our personal appearance while at our places of accommodation or while traveling in the convention city? One traveling overseer noted that when some of the brothers got back to their rooming accommodations, they quickly changed into clothes that made them appear as if they were on a camping trip or picnic. Some even wore immodest and faddish outfits that made them hard to recognize as Jehovah’s Witnesses. We will want to be discreet so as not to give any cause for stumbling.—2 Cor. 6:3.
CONDUCT IN CONVENTION CITY
21 All of us should be alert to maintain a high standard of Christian conduct when staying at motels and hotels while in the convention city. Rather than being in a socially festive mood, we ought to demonstrate a spiritual frame of mind and conduct ourselves as ministers.
22 Some problems have been reported. A number of teenage Witnesses staying at one motel spent much time on the tennis court, on walkways, and in break-dancing to the accompaniment of loud music. A sister who is employed at another motel reported that she was embarrassed because of the questionable conduct of some of Jehovah’s Witnesses who stayed there. There appeared to be an excessive amount of drinking, and some rooms were left in a very unclean condition. A bad impression was left with the management. While these may be isolated incidents, it helps all of us to see the need to be careful about our personal conduct and the impression we give to others.
23 It must also be remembered that as Christians we must conduct ourselves honestly at all times. We should not want to take linen or other “souvenirs” from motels, as this is stealing; nor should we be untruthful in reporting how many persons we plan to have in a room when making reservations. Faithfulness to Jehovah’s righteous standards, even in little things, will result in a good witness.—Luke 16:10.
24 While away from home, we may eat in restaurants or be provided with services by hotel or motel personnel. The inserts of the May 1981 and 1980 Our Kingdom Service provided good direction on the matter of tipping. While fast-food eating establishments do not provide waiter service and so no tipping is expected, it is usually the local custom when eating in restaurants to leave a generous and appropriate tip for waiter services. (Prov. 11:25) Individual tipping may be the major source of income for the person rendering personal services. If you are not sure as to what is expected in this regard, you could inquire. We do not want to take such things for granted or demonstrate thoughtlessness that could reflect unfavorably upon Jehovah’s name people.
FIELD SERVICE ARRANGEMENTS
25 People living in convention cities are usually made aware of our conventions by the news media. Their interest is often aroused, and they have many questions. We are thus often able to give a witness not only by our fine conduct but also by speaking with the people directly. Look for opportunities to witness informally while shopping, traveling to and from the convention site, and so forth.
26 In addition, arrangements will once again be made at each convention for field service on Friday, following the conclusion of the afternoon session at 3:00 p.m. This will give all of us the opportunity to participate in the service for an hour or two. Please bring a supply of current magazines with you for this activity. It is also suggested that you obtain territory and make up your car groups in advance, if possible. Doing so will enhance your appreciation of the convention.
27 Much work is required to operate a convention and to care for the needs of those in attendance. Many volunteer workers are needed. Your congregation’s convention coordinator will receive information listing departments in need of volunteers, and he will make this known to the congregation. You can arrange through him to volunteer your services. Children under 16 years of age who work must do so with a parent or another adult at all times. We encourage parents and their children to volunteer and work together if that is possible.
28 There will be need for some last-minute volunteers. If you want to assist, please go to the Volunteer Service desk when you arrive at the convention. Your willing service will be very much appreciated and will help toward the operation of a successful convention.—Ps. 110:3.
29 Once again special arrangements are being made to care for our physical needs. Provisions for food and drink will be similar to what has been available at district conventions in recent years. Do we not appreciate the hard work of the brothers in the Food Service Department as they provide us with adequate food at a reasonable cost?
30 Convention tickets to purchase food and drink will be available at the cost of $1.00 per sheet of ten. It is suggested that you purchase these in advance through your congregation. Purchase enough tickets to supply your family’s food needs for the first two or three days of the convention. You may obtain additional tickets at the convention itself.
31 May we and our families resolve to attend all sessions of the 1986 “Divine Peace” District Convention and concentrate on the program. We will not be disappointed. In addition, be conscious of the needs of our brothers and sisters, doing what we can to demonstrate thoughtfulness and Christian love. (Gal. 6:10) In a world filled with strife and violence, what a grand privilege we have to worship the God of peace and to be able to assemble peacefully with our brothers and sisters. May we continue to “observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”—Eph. 4:3.
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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 confirmed a reservation, it is necessary to do so immediately if you are planning to stay overnight in the convention city. 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 have made duplicate reservations with the idea of selecting preferred rooms upon arrival, please cancel them immediately. Making duplicate reservations and failing to cancel reservations that will not be used damages our reputation and relationship with motel managers who are giving us special rates.
Congregation convention coordinators should be sure that Special Needs Room Request forms have been promptly forwarded to the appropriate convention address. 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 that the room may be reassigned.
The convention Rooming Department will provide, upon your request, available information on any commercial trailer or camping facilities in the convention area. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request.
BABY STROLLERS: In many states, baby strollers may not be used in places of public assembly. Fire regulations prohibit parking them in corridors, aisles, or between rows of seats. Since larger crowds may cause congested conditions, baby strollers are potentially dangerous not only to the baby but also to any who may stumble over them. However, car or infant seats are permissible, since these can be secured in seats next to the parents. Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.
PROGRAM TIMES: It is the course of wisdom and shows appreciation to be in our seats when the program begins. That will be 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, 9:20 a.m. on Friday, and 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at most conventions. The same fine qualities are displayed when we do not plan to leave before the sessions conclude. The closing song and prayer will be at 5:10 p.m. on Thursday. Friday afternoon will be set aside for a special effort in field service, following the closing song and prayer at 3:00 p.m. On Saturday the closing song and prayer will be at 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.
BETHEL AND GILEAD MEETINGS: A meeting will be held on Friday 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 for any dedicated publishers between 19 and 35 years of age who are U.S. residents and who would like to enter Bethel service. Check the program at the convention city for the exact times and locations of these meetings.
PIONEER IDENTIFICATION: All regular and special pioneers as well as traveling overseers will need to bring their Watchtower Identification and Assignment card (S-202) to the convention. Those on the list for six months at the time of the district convention they attend may receive $18 worth of convention tickets upon presentation of their Watchtower ID card at that one convention only. Treat the card as carefully as cash. It cannot be replaced at the convention. Any gift releases or other literature at pioneer rates will be available to pioneers at the bookroom only, upon showing their Watchtower ID card. Those in Bethel service may obtain these same provisions by showing their Bethel ID card.
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 specially designed lapel card at the convention and also while traveling to and from the convention site. Not only is the card a means of identification but it so often results in giving a fine witness while traveling. You should obtain these through your congregation as they will not be available at the conventions. The lapel cards are two cents each. (Lapel cards have already been consigned to each congregation by the Society, but the plastic holders must be ordered by the congregation.)
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. Additionally, it has been reported that there is a greater risk of falls on stairs and ramps when sisters wear high-heeled shoes.