1988 “Divine Justice” District Convention
1 Jehovah God loves justice and righteousness. (Ps. 33:5) His servant Elihu declared: “As for the Almighty, we have not found him out; he is exalted in power, and justice and abundance of righteousness he will not belittle.”—Job 37:23.
2 Truly, Jehovah God has not overlooked the injustices that have been committed in this world. Since he is a God of unchanging moral standards, we can rest assured that he will not indefinitely tolerate the lawlessness of today. (Compare Isaiah 14:3-8.) In fact, Bible prophecy points to our time as the last days for this ungodly world. So we need to show by our works that we love righteousness and divine justice and that we keep ourselves separate from the condemned practices of this world.
3 Jehovah’s Witnesses are looking forward to the “Divine Justice” District Conventions that are scheduled for 1988. A listing of 119 conventions in the United States was provided in the February 15, 1988, issue of The Watchtower. At district conventions we are truly taught by Jehovah. We attend with the mental disposition manifested in the inspired prayer at Psalm 119:33: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, in the way of your regulations, that I may observe it down to the last.” Surely, these words express the feelings of all of Jehovah’s dedicated servants today.
4 PROGRAM FROM KEY CITIES: Just as in 1983, arrangements have been made for conventions to be tied in by telephone line to a key city. In each of the six successive weeks that conventions are scheduled, those attending in Alaska, Bermuda, Canada, Hawaii, and the contiguous United States will benefit from talks given by members of the Governing Body. When you attend your convention, you will learn which is the key city when the program comes through. There is no need to write to the Society about this matter. Arrangements have also been made for missionaries to visit their home country and attend a district convention with their family and friends. A special part on the program will deal with the activities of the missionaries. At a number of conventions, missionaries will be invited to share their experiences with us.
5 ATTEND ALL SESSIONS: The “Divine Justice” District Conventions will last four days. Have you made plans to be in attendance at all the sessions? From the opening session on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. until the concluding prayer at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, important information essential to our spiritual health will be presented. A different aspect of divine justice will be highlighted each day. The program will include talks, demonstrations, and dramas. Therefore, do not miss even one session. It is appreciated that this may require you to make some personal sacrifices and adjustments in your schedule. You may have to make some arrangements with your employer so as to attend the convention. If you make the matter a subject of sincere prayer and put forth heartfelt effort to be there, Jehovah will certainly bless you.—Matt. 5:3.
6 Endeavor to arrive early each day and to be in your seat before the sessions begin. This will give you an opportunity to enjoy Christian fellowship with brothers and sisters from other places. (Rom. 1:12) It will also allow you to join in praising Jehovah with song, which is a very important part of our worship, and to share in the opening prayer. Consider also that those sitting around you will certainly appreciate that you have not distracted their attention from the program by arriving late. Christian love and consideration, along with respect for Jehovah and the spiritual things he is providing, should motivate us to do our best to arrive on time.
7 You have already been given information about the convention your congregation is assigned to attend. Information has also been provided regarding rooming accommodations and other arrangements for your convention. Considerable planning and work have been done to see that sufficient seating, literature, food, and other provisions are available for everyone. It is understandable that circumstances may prevent a few from attending where they are assigned. Some may need to assist relatives in another area. However, wherever possible, your cooperation in attending the convention to which your congregation is assigned will help to prevent overcrowding.
8 PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU HEAR: “The sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings, as silver refined in a smelting furnace of earth, clarified seven times.” (Ps. 12:6) Many of God’s “pure sayings” will be heard at this “Divine Justice” District Convention. The information presented will not be a general message for the curious listener but will be special information for Jehovah’s people, for those who are dedicated to him, who want to please him, who ‘tremble at his word.’ (Isa. 66:5) Of all people on earth, we are highly favored to be taught by Jehovah.—Isa. 54:13.
9 Listening means really paying attention with both our mind and our heart, with our ears and our powers of understanding. We need to listen and hear “the word of Jehovah.” (Jer. 2:4) What we hear will include accurate knowledge to expand our understanding and deepen our appreciation. We will hear information to build our faith and strengthen our hope. We will receive counsel and discipline lovingly provided for our benefit. A great deal of time has been used to research and prepare the program. Therefore, it is essential that we listen and be awake to what Jehovah’s Word is telling us. We can thus benefit personally and so be able to use this information to help others.—Prov. 18:15.
10 Since our primary purpose for attending the convention is to receive spiritual direction and encouragement, plan to arrive early enough to take care of matters that need attention, such as obtaining convention food tickets, and then be seated before the program begins. Doing this will leave you relaxed, with your mind uncluttered with concern over matters not directly related to the program.
11 Be sure to get a good night’s sleep each night so that you will be refreshed in the morning and can fully concentrate on the program during the day. Although convention time affords a fine opportunity to renew friendships and to enjoy pleasant association, if we stay up late into the night visiting with friends, we may not be alert to benefit fully from the program the next day.
12 It is suggested that good judgment be used as to the items we bring to the convention site. In the past, some have brought large coolers or other bulky items that could not be placed under their seat. These have been placed in aisleways or on seats. We need to show consideration in such matters, since this has resulted in depriving brothers and interested persons of a seat and, in most instances, has violated fire and safety codes.
13 BAPTISM: The talk to baptismal candidates will be given on Saturday morning. Baptism is the outward symbol that one has dedicated himself without reservation to Jehovah God. This part of the program is always one of the highlights of a district convention. All of us benefit by listening carefully and reflecting on our own relationship with Jehovah. Additionally, we share the joy of those being baptized.
14 Those planning to be baptized at one of the district conventions should be sure to inform the presiding overseer well in advance of the convention so that there will be plenty of time to review the questions in the Our Ministry book. A modest bathing suit and a towel should be brought by each one who plans to be baptized.—See Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1987, page 3, paragraph 6.
15 Baptismal candidates should endeavor to be in their seats in the designated section before the program begins on Saturday morning. After the baptism talk and prayer by the speaker, the session chairman will give brief instructions to baptismal candidates and then call for a song. All will stand during the singing of the song. Before the last verse has been sung, the attendants will direct the baptismal candidates to the immersion site or to vehicles that will take them there, while the rest of the audience completes singing the song.
16 TAKE NOTES: 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. However, listening to the information presented 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 were to appear in print, there are still significant benefits to be derived from taking brief, meaningful notes.
17 For one thing, taking notes serves as an aid to concentration. Isolate the speaker’s key points and key scriptures or new thoughts 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. You will also be equipped to benefit from the review of the convention highlights with your congregation the following week.
18 Will you have young children or teenagers with you? Then why not arrange for them also to take notes in accord with their age and ability? 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 or note how many times they hear a speaker refer to key words or the theme of the 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.—Deut. 31:12; Eph. 6:4.
19 FINE CONDUCT: Each year at the conclusion of our district conventions, we 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 1987 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 Pet. 2:12) 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.
20 There are a number of areas to which we will need to give attention in order to ‘shine as illuminators’ fully, especially when we are away from the convention grounds, such as at restaurants and motels.—Phil. 2:15.
21 First, how are we doing in the matter of unnecessary seat saving? Improvement has been noted in this regard, and for this we commend you. However, we still need to pay attention to this matter, since some do abuse the arrangement. 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 with whom we came, 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 saved are not used. We can show appreciation for the convention and consideration for others by following these directions.—Matt. 7:12.
22 As dedicated servants, our conduct should be fine AT ALL TIMES. Exemplary conduct becomes especially noteworthy at large gatherings, and Jehovah’s name is glorified by such conduct. However, poor conduct and thoughtlessness on the part of just a few can bring reproach on Jehovah’s name and on his people. Reports have been received that a few brothers and their families have used poor judgment in their use of motel facilities. Recreation seems to be foremost on the mind of a few, so they leave the convention before the program has concluded in order to be first at the swimming pool. Some Witness children have not had proper supervision and have been very unruly. The spirit of the world becomes manifest among a few when they return to their accommodations. Some not only change into immodest and faddish attire but also change their conduct. At the convention, we see clearly what the Christian personality should be, but some, after leaving the convention site, seem to forget what they saw and heard on the program. (Jas. 1:22-24) Our presence at the convention and elsewhere, as well as our conduct and grooming, bear witness about us and the God we worship.
23 Of course, when the convention program is over, many enjoy getting together for a meal and association. This can be delightful and the time can be well spent in good conversation as we share experiences and review the convention highlights. It brings pleasure to us and glory to our God Jehovah as we “behave in a manner worthy of the good news.”—Phil. 1:27.
24 A final kindly reminder has to do with visiting and talking during the sessions. Obviously, we are glad to see friends at the convention, but respect for Jehovah and consideration for our brothers should be foremost in mind. Hence, we would not want to be disturbing or distracting others during the program. If you have to leave your seat for some important reason, do it as quickly and quietly as possible. Also, while the program is on, no one should be visiting in the corridors. We are there to listen and to learn.—Luke 8:18.
25 FOOD NEEDS: As mentioned in the January 1988 Our Kingdom Ministry insert, the Society has simplified the food service arrangement at the district conventions by eliminating hot foods and serving only cold food items along with hot and cold beverages. This enables more of our brothers and sisters who work in food preparation to join us in the audience and benefit from all the spiritual food presented. We appreciate very much the willingness of those who volunteer to serve us at district conventions.
26 All attending the convention will find the food available to be satisfactory and nourishing, giving good variety for four days. Great care has been taken to buy food of the highest quality. Your fully utilizing the provisions available through the Food Service Department will support the convention operation.
27 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 will recall that previously, 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 caused many of the volunteers to miss a great deal of the program.
28 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.
29 When you arrive at the convention site, check with the Volunteer Service Department. Even if you may be able to work for only a part of the convention, your services will be appreciated. You will find it spiritually rewarding to work at the convention. Children under 16 years of age can also contribute to the success of the convention, but they are required to work with a parent or a guardian.
30 RECORDINGS: It seems timely to clarify the Society’s position on the use of video cameras as well as audio equipment. A consistent policy is desirable for all meetings—district conventions, circuit assemblies, special assembly days, and in Kingdom Halls. While there is no prohibition on the use of such equipment, it seems there must be controls and limitations. Attendants should be alert that those who use video cameras and audio recorders do not disturb others or distract attention from the program in progress. Brothers using such equipment should cooperate with the attendants and elders having oversight and not be pleasing themselves. Such equipment should not be set up in aisles or exits. No such equipment should be connected to the public address system or electrical outlets, nor will floodlights be permitted. In some cases, such equipment can be set up where it will not disturb the audience, such as in the back of halls.
31 CONCLUSION: There are good reasons why we want to be at the “Divine Justice” District Convention where we can worship Jehovah with thousands of our brothers. Also, conventions are spiritual feasts that strengthen our faith and deepen our appreciation for the truth. The prophet Isaiah declared that Jehovah’s servants “will not go hungry, neither will they go thirsty, nor will parching heat or sun strike them. For the One who is having pity upon them will lead them, and by the springs of water he will conduct them.” (Isa. 49:10) Truly, Jehovah’s people do not hunger spiritually or thirst for truth. Neither does the scorching heat of God’s fiery judgments fall upon us. We know how good the spiritual provisions taste and how nourishing they are. That is why we rejoice at the opportunity to assemble together this summer for the “Divine Justice” District Conventions.
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District Convention Reminders
ROOMING: Your cooperation in using the listing of accommodations provided by the convention is very much appreciated. If you have not already confirmed a reservation, please do so immediately if you are planning to stay overnight in the convention city. If you find it necessary to cancel your reservation for accommodations, 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 accommodations upon arrival, please cancel immediately what you do not actually intend to use. (Matt. 5:37) We should work what is good toward all and not engage in worldly practices that could damage our reputation and relationship with motel managers who are giving us special rates.—Gal. 6:10.
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 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, so please do not bring them to the convention site. 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 respectful appreciation if we are in our seats when the program begins. In all convention cities, the program on Thursday will begin at 1:30 p.m. with music, then song and prayer, and sessions will conclude by 5:10 p.m. In the Central and Mountain time zones, the program on Friday will begin at 9:20 a.m. and conclude at 4:40 p.m. On Saturday it will begin at 9:20 a.m. and conclude at 4:55 p.m. In the Eastern time zone, the program on Friday and Saturday will begin at 10:20 a.m. and conclude at 5:40 p.m. on Friday and 5:55 p.m. on Saturday. In the Pacific time zone, the program on Friday and Saturday will begin at 9:20 a.m. It will conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 4:35 p.m. on Saturday. In all time zones, on Sunday the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at approximately 4:00 p.m. The public address on Sunday will begin with song and prayer at 2:00 p.m.
GILEAD AND BETHEL 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 and pioneers 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 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. Pioneers on the list for at least six months at the time of the district convention they attend may receive $20 worth of convention tickets upon presentation of their Watchtower ID card at that one convention only. Therefore, 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 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. This often makes it possible for us to give a fine witness while traveling. Lapel cards can be obtained through your congregation; they will not be available at the conventions. The lapel cards cost 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.