1987 “Trust in Jehovah” District Convention
1 How superbly the 1987 convention theme describes the feelings of Jehovah’s Witnesses! “Trust in Jehovah” is more than just a theme to us; it reflects our deepest convictions. Many people in the world trust in human wisdom and accomplishments; foolishly they put confidence in themselves and their ability to survive. (Ps. 49:6, 7, 10; Prov. 18:11) In contrast, we trust in Jehovah, the Supreme One of the universe, to fulfill his promises toward obedient mankind. We are convinced that he will provide for all our needs and protect us from lasting harm when Satan’s system comes to its end. Would you not agree that “Trust in Jehovah” is a most fitting theme for our 1987 district convention series? We can show that we appreciate this spiritual provision in our behalf by being in attendance for the entire three-day convention.
2 By now your plans should be nearly complete as to transportation and accommodations. As announced in the February 1, 1987, Watchtower, there are 123 conventions scheduled for the United States. Since the convention for 1987 will be for three days instead of four as in previous years, each day will have a full schedule. The program will include talks, demonstrations, and dramas. There will be no arrangement for field service during the convention this year.
3 With the convention being three full days, it will likely be easier for all to attend. Have you approached your employer, if it is necessary, to request time off so that you can be in attendance all three days? The entire program, from the opening music on Friday at 10:20 a.m. to the closing prayer Sunday at approximately 4:00 p.m., will be filled with a wealth of practical, faith-strengthening spiritual instruction and encouragement that we cannot afford to miss.
4 THE PROGRAM: Each day will have its own Scriptural theme relating to the overall theme of the convention—“Trust in Jehovah.” Information will be presented on pioneering, spreading the good news at every opportunity, children and youths, and loyal submission to Jehovah. On Saturday the importance of diligent study and of exerting ourselves in the field ministry will be highlighted. Also, elders will be assisted with timely counsel.
5 BAPTISM: At most conventions, the talk on baptism will be Saturday at 11:30 a.m. It will be encouraging to hear the baptism talk and observe the candidates making public declaration that they also now fully trust in Jehovah. Even though the discourse is tailored especially for those who are going to be baptized in symbol of their dedication, we can all benefit by listening carefully and reflecting on our own relationship with Jehovah, no matter how long we have been in the truth.
6 Those planning to be baptized at one of the district conventions should be sure to inform the presiding overseer well before the convention so that there will be ample time to review the questions in the Our Ministry book. The June 1, 1985, Watchtower, page 30, gave this counsel about proper attire for those being baptized: “Certainly modesty should prevail in the type of bathing suit used. This is important today when fashion designers seem to want to flaunt sexuality and achieve almost total nudity. Another factor to take into account is that some suits that appear modest when dry are less than that when wet. No one getting baptized would want to be a cause for distraction or stumbling at an event as serious as baptism.” (Phil. 1:10) This would apply to brothers as well as sisters.
7 Baptism candidates should endeavor to be in their seats in the designated section before the program begins Saturday morning. After the baptism talk you will be asked to stand during the singing of the closing song. After the third verse has been sung, the attendants will direct the baptism candidates to the immersion site or to vehicles that will take them there.
8 TAUGHT BY JEHOVAH: It was prophesied: “And all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” (Isa. 54:13) Those words were addressed to Jehovah’s symbolic wife, his heavenly organization. Her “sons” are taught to trust in Jehovah. The district convention is one of the means that Jehovah uses to teach us today. Do you view it as such? You may quickly respond, ‘Of course I do.’ But while at the convention, are you doing everything possible to absorb the entire program? It is evident that with some this has not always been the case. What can we do, individually and as a family, to ensure that we gain the maximum benefit from the convention program?
9 Considerable effort and expense may be required on our part to attend the convention. In addition, the Society and the brothers in the host cities have labored many hours to provide us with the best facilities possible. Add to this the thousands of hours spent by the Society and the speakers in preparing for the program, and it is apparent that we have much for which to be thankful. Will your appreciation move you to get the maximum benefit from the entire convention?
10 It is important to get sufficient rest each night. We want to arrive at the convention alert and eager to enjoy every minute of the program. If you arrive tired, you will not find it easy to keep awake and attentive, and your ability to benefit fully from the program will be greatly reduced. So, coming to the convention well rested each day can contribute much to our enjoying the spiritual feast.
11 We will be helped to concentrate if we remind ourselves of why we are going to the convention—to “listen and take in more instruction.” (Prov. 1:5) As recorded in Isaiah 55:1, Jehovah invited his covenant people to partake of life-giving provisions that he offered without cost. But to take advantage of such, they would need to “listen intently.” He added this exhortation: “Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive.” (Isa. 55:2, 3) Similarly, would we be able to accept Jehovah’s generous offer of life-sustaining spiritual nourishment in the modern-day spiritual paradise if we were too sleepy to absorb what the speakers were saying? Obviously, we want to show our appreciation by doing all we can to be mentally and physically prepared so as not to miss any of the program.
12 One pleasurable aspect of district conventions that we treasure is the association with our brothers. We look forward to renewing old friendships, making new acquaintances, and sharing experiences with one another. Some customarily arrange to visit with family and friends after the conclusion of the day’s session. These reunions can be very enjoyable and spiritually stimulating. But please be sure that such visiting does not continue so late into the evening hours that you are unable to get the needed rest.
13 It is suggested that some thought be given to the items we bring with us to the convention site. Some brothers have brought large coolers and other bulky items that could not be placed under their seat. These have been placed in aisleways or on empty chairs. We need to show consideration in such matters since this has resulted in some being deprived of a seat and at times is done in violation of the fire code.
14 NOTE-TAKING: Besides your Bible and songbook, remember to bring a notepad and pen or pencil. We may not be in the habit of taking notes during weekly congregation meetings because most of the talks and demonstrations are taken from material that is available to all in the congregation. Taking in information at the district convention is an entirely different matter. While some of the talks will in time appear in the publications, others will not. Even if all the talks would eventually appear in print, there are still significant benefits if you take brief, meaningful notes.
15 Taking notes serves as an aid to concentration. With your pen and pad in hand, isolate the speaker’s key points and key scriptures or a new thought that may be presented. Then make brief notes of these. Usually a sentence or two will suffice for a key point. By following this suggestion, your concentration will unquestionably improve. You will be less likely to let your mind drift or be distracted by some activity in the convention area. You will also be equipped to participate in the review of the convention highlights with your congregation the following week.
16 Will you have young children or teenagers with you? Then why not arrange for them also to take notes in accord with their ability and age? Let the family know that you plan to review some of the main points brought out by the speakers when you return to your place of lodging or while you are traveling home. Younger children can be encouraged to write down all the scripture citations that are read or note how many times they hear a speaker refer to key words or the theme of his talk. By doing this, they will get much more from the talks. It is good for children to learn to pay close attention at Christian meetings. You will be helping them to build a solid foundation for the future.—1 Tim. 6:19.
17 CONDUCT ABOVE REPROACH: Each year at the conclusion of our district conventions, we generally receive favorable comments about the orderliness and good conduct that was in evidence. Observers often remark about the neat appearance of adults and children alike, not to mention the peace and unity of the brothers while attending the convention. The year 1986 was no exception. But why do we mention this? Because it is encouraging to know that when we set a fine example, it is observed and appreciated by others. (1 Cor. 4:9) More importantly, though, it brings praise to God. We want to honor Jehovah in word and deed, and since people may judge the organization and even the God we worship by our conduct, we want to be ever conscious of how we act.
18 The manager of one motel wrote: “All of your delegates were very cordial and polite, and we all enjoyed having them with us.” A government official living near a stadium being used by Jehovah’s Witnesses for their convention said: “As a neighbor I can say I believe in your association, in the way in which you clean the stadium. . . . I believe in your discipline.” A police officer said: “You people are really at unity and happy. There is no problem of peace and order when you are here. All are quiet and disciplined. Your parking is orderly and it is easy to talk to you if there is a problem.” A bank manager observed: “Everybody behaved properly. When you are with them [Jehovah’s Witnesses] there is nothing to worry about. They are really divine peace makers. This kind of attitude is absent in other groups of people.”
19 There are a number of areas, however, to which we still need to give attention for us fully to ‘shine as illuminators,’ especially when we are away from the convention grounds, such as at restaurants and motels. (Phil. 2:15) But, first, how are we doing in the matter of unnecessary seat saving?
20 Improvement has been noted in this regard, and for this we commend you. However, please keep in mind that SEATS MAY BE SAVED ONLY FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS AND ANY WHO MAY BE TRAVELING WITH YOU IN YOUR OWN CAR. It is only natural to want to sit near the ones we came with, and it is expected that immediate family members would sit together. But please do not reserve seats for others. Oftentimes friends locate seats on their own, and the extra ones you saved are not used. Trust in Jehovah, and appreciation for the convention will be evident by our following these directions.
21 We should conduct ourselves in an exemplary manner AT ALL TIMES. A number of letters have been received reporting that some brothers left the convention grounds before the program was concluded and rushed to their motel so they could be first in the swimming pool. Unsupervised children and teenagers were among them. Some Witness children remained in the pool for hours, keeping other guests from using the facilities. It was also noticed that some who attended the convention, on returning to their motels, were caught up in the spirit that is so typical of this pleasure-seeking world. This was even reflected in their changing into immodest and faddish attire. In some cases it became difficult to identify them as fellow Witnesses. This emphasizes the need to maintain conduct and grooming that is above reproach at all times.—1 Pet. 2:12.
22 After the convention program has concluded, many enjoy getting together for a meal and association. If the time is used wisely, this can prove to be spiritually stimulating as we share experiences and review the convention highlights. Doing this will give no cause for complaint, since we behave “in a manner worthy of the good news.”—Phil. 1:27.
23 A final kindly reminder has to do with visiting and talking during the sessions. If the program has begun and you are in your seat but then notice a brother whom you have not seen for a long time passing by, what will you do? Will you stand up, wave, and call out to the brother, or will you quietly remain seated and try to locate him later? What would you think of a brother or a sister who would call out to someone entering the Kingdom Hall after the meeting has started or who would visit in the back of the hall during a meeting? If you have to leave your seat to use the rest room or to take your children there, the loving thing would be to return to your seat as quickly as possible without visiting in the corridors. We have been reminded that being at a convention should really be no different from being at our local Kingdom Hall.
24 FOOD NEEDS: As already announced in the January 1987 Our Kingdom Ministry insert, a few adjustments have been made in the food service arrangement. This will enable more of our brothers and sisters who previously worked in food preparation to benefit from the spiritual food presented. However, the willing service of those who are needed as volunteers is very much appreciated.
25 All attending the convention will find the food available to be satisfactory and nourishing, giving good variety for three days. Great care has been taken to buy food of the highest quality. Your giving full support to the food service arrangement will help to defray some of the expenses of the convention.
26 VOLUNTEER SERVICE: The emphasis on simplification is particularly noted in connection with the man-hours needed to organize and operate a district convention. Those who have been in the truth many years recall that before and during large conventions, tens of thousands of volunteers were needed, devoting many hours of their time in various convention departments. That labor of love was deeply appreciated, but it often resulted in many of the volunteers missing a great deal of the program.
27 While fewer volunteers and fewer hours are now required to do the work, volunteer help is still needed for the smooth operation of a district convention. Can you have a share? No one should feel that volunteering will mean missing most of the program as some have experienced in the past.
28 When you arrive at the convention site, check with the Volunteer Service Department. Even if you may be able to work for only part of the convention, your services will be appreciated. Children under 16 years of age are required to work with a parent or a guardian.
29 CONCLUSION: Convention time is near. We hope to see all of you there. The Bethel family eagerly anticipates being with you at the various conventions throughout the United States. Jehovah has organized his name people theocratically, and he knows what we need in these final days. Just as Jehovah gathered his people in ancient Israel for spiritual instruction, so he does with his faithful Witnesses today. By this means, Jehovah strengthens and fortifies us to endure faithfully to the end. Then we will be blessed with life in his new system. (Isa. 40:29; 41:10; 1 John 5:14) Of this we are assured as long as we continue to “trust in Jehovah.”
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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 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 the duplicates 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 the 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 10:20 a.m. on Friday and at 9:30 a.m. on the other days at most conventions. Make plans to stay until the sessions conclude. The closing song and prayer will be at 5:35 p.m. on Friday, 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
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. Announcements will be made at the convention city regarding 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 $15 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 and to facilitate identifying our brothers and sisters in attendance. To this end, please wear the specially designed lapel card at the convention and 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. Please be careful.