1991 “Lovers of Freedom” District Convention
1 During the summer of 1990, Jehovah’s blessing was displayed outstandingly at the 142 “Pure Language” District Conventions held across the United States. There was a peak attendance of 1,373,825, and 17,673 were baptized. And now, just think, already it is time to start making arrangements for attending the three-day 1991 “Lovers of Freedom” District Convention. Will you and your family be there?
2 The program being prepared for the convention will be encouraging and motivating. Its Bible-based counsel and instruction is directed to all who truly value the freedom enjoyed by God’s people now and who look forward to enjoyment of perfect freedom in Jehovah’s promised new world. (Rom. 8:20, 21) Be sure to make your convention arrangements carefully and prayerfully so that you can be there to enjoy all three days of the delightful and spiritually satisfying program from the opening song to the closing prayer. As you make your plans, lovingly include others who may need assistance. Especially show concern for newly interested ones, so they also can attend every session. (Gal. 6:10) The program will start at 10:20 a.m. on Friday, and the final session will end at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The following information is provided to assist you in your preliminary preparations.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR OBTAINING ROOMS
3 Following the Service Meeting for the week of December 31, congregations should post on the information board the Recommended Lodging Locations list for the district convention to which the congregation is assigned. This list gives all the motels presently cooperating with the Society’s rooming arrangement. By cooperating with these arrangements, the congregations will help the convention organization in its efforts to provide sufficient rooming accommodations for everyone.
4 WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: As soon as—but NOT before—your congregation posts the Recommended Lodging Locations list containing the addresses, phone numbers, and agreed-upon rates of the motels, you are free to phone the motel of your choice and make reservations. Identifying yourself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and as a delegate attending the Watchtower convention will qualify you for the rates listed, which in most cases have been greatly reduced.
5 One night’s DEPOSIT WILL BE REQUIRED at all locations in order to hold the room. Your deposit should be sent directly to the motel AS SOON AS you make your reservations. If your deposit is not received by the motel within three weeks, your reservations can be canceled. MOTELS ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO HOLD THE ROOMS OR EXTEND THE SPECIAL RATES WITHOUT A DEPOSIT. If you must cancel your reservation, you should immediately notify the motel. This makes the room available for other delegates.
6 If the motel you call first is filled, call your next selection from the list and so on. Often, everyone calls the motels closest to the convention, so you may find it beneficial to try some motels farther away. The convention Rooming Department will continue to provide the congregations with revised lists as long as necessary, deleting motels that have been filled and including additional motels until everyone has a room. Thus, if all the motels on the list are filled, please wait patiently for the next list, and you will be able to obtain a room.
7 DORMITORIES: A few conventions use school dormitories in order to accommodate all of those attending. Usually, congregations will receive information on these a month or so after the first motel listing. Those needing accommodations of this type should follow the instructions on the list that is sent to the congregations by the convention.
8 SPECIAL NEEDS: This provision is only for publishers, including their children, who are all in good standing in the congregation. Arrangements to care for persons with special needs should be made by the congregation where they attend. Elders and others who are aware of the individual circumstances can lovingly extend help. This often requires that publishers consider the needs of those in full-time service, the elderly, the infirm, the deaf, and perhaps others. Publishers may extend help by taking such ones with them or caring for their needs in other ways.—Jas. 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17, 18.
9 Of course, the Rooming Department will endeavor to provide suitable rooming accommodations for publishers with special needs if they cannot be assisted by those in the congregation. These publishers may discuss their situation with the congregation secretary, asking him for a Special Needs Room Request form at that time. The secretary should first speak with the Congregation Service Committee to see if it is possible for the congregation to assist these persons to care for their own rooming accommodations. If the congregation cannot render the needed assistance, the secretary may give such persons a copy of the Special Needs Room Request form. Those with special needs are the only ones that should fill out this form. It is to be returned to the secretary and checked for completeness, accuracy, and verification of the circumstances that qualify the person or persons for special needs consideration. The circumstances are to be explained in detail in the space provided on the form. All of this should be done well ahead of the convention. The secretary will then forward the form to the Rooming Department. The individual making the request will be notified directly about the accommodations.
10 Those with special needs should NOT go to the convention and request a room when they arrive because the Rooming Department must have the verification of the Congregation Service Committee.
11 Private-home accommodations are usually set aside for those who would experience real hardship if such accommodations were not available. They are not intended for those who can afford motel rooms but who want free or inexpensive rooms just to save money. Similarly, it is not proper for delegates to presume upon the hospitality of our brothers by expecting to be accommodated extra days in order to visit vacation spots or do other things before or after the convention. These rooms are for the convention period only. Those receiving such accommodations should see that they and their children act respectfully toward the home of their host and do not damage anything or rummage through the possessions or enter private areas of the home. If householders experience any difficulties along this line, these should immediately be brought to the attention of the Rooming Department at the convention, and the brothers there will be happy to help.
12 DELEGATES ATTENDING FROM OUTSIDE THE ASSIGNED AREA: In nearly every case, the location assigned for you to attend is the one nearest your congregation. Having adequate seating, literature, food, rooming accommodations, and so forth, is based on the premise that the majority of the publishers will attend the convention to which their congregation is assigned. However, if for some reason you will be attending a convention other than the one assigned and need accommodations, the congregation secretary can give you the address of the convention headquarters where you desire to attend. These addresses are listed on the back of the Special Needs Room Request form. Then you can write to that convention headquarters and request a copy of the motel listing for that location, sending along a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Upon receipt of this list, use it to make your reservation.
13 YOUR COOPERATION NEEDED: The success of this rooming arrangement depends on the cooperation of everyone involved. (Compare Genesis 6:22.) Thus, we are asking everyone to cooperate fully with the Society’s rooming arrangement and use ONLY the motels on the list so that major difficulties we are experiencing in our negotiations with the motels can be prevented. Most of the publishers are taking to heart the clear direction that has been given for the past few years in the January Our Kingdom Ministry convention inserts, and many good results are being experienced. However, it is still necessary to request that everyone PLEASE OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES FOR OBTAINING MOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS:
a) Make reservations AFTER—not before—the congregation posts the Recommended Lodging Locations list from the convention Rooming Department.
b) Do not accept a higher price than what is quoted for a motel on the list.
c) Please do not make reservations at a motel you do not intend to use or at more than one motel with the idea of first checking each one and then selecting the best one, canceling the others. (Matt. 5:37) This is unkind, and it prevents the motels from getting business they could have had. It also deprives other publishers of the use of those rooms, which often are vitally needed.
d) Do not reserve rooms for yourself or others without giving names and sending the deposits for each room immediately.
e) Do not put more people in the room than the law and the management allow, which is normally no more than four or five persons, including children. Remember, you are paying a rate based upon the number of persons you AGREED would be in the room.
f) Do not check in before 1:00 p.m. or whatever is the motel policy. You may check in after the program that day, since your deposit guarantees your room.
g) Do not cook or heat food in the room unless it has a kitchenette for that purpose, and be careful not to soil anything in the room with food.
h) Children should not be allowed in hallways, elevators, or swimming pools without a parent or adult guardian with them. Swimming pools should not be used after the official closing time.
14 Violations in these areas make it difficult to negotiate good rates. They also bring reproach on Jehovah’s name and organization. (Ps. 119:168) Therefore, the Society will be asking the Rooming Department to check with the motels during the convention to determine if any are experiencing such problems and who is involved. Your compliance in these matters is earnestly sought so that the Society may continue assisting delegates to obtain reasonably priced accommodations. On the other hand, IF YOU EXPERIENCE A PROBLEM WITH A MOTEL, PLEASE BRING IT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE ROOMING DEPARTMENT OVERSEER DURING THE CONVENTION so that he can assist you in resolving the matter that day.
15 The convention organization is working hard to save our brothers as much expense as possible, so it is in the best interests of all for everyone to cooperate fully with the Society’s rooming arrangement so that this provision can continue. The listing is comprehensive enough to give a choice of good-quality accommodations and yet give preference to the motels that cooperate. With this arrangement, our aim is to help delegates to be accommodated as comfortably and economically as possible so that they will be refreshed and fully able to enjoy the fine spiritual program at the convention.
16 As you will note in The Watchtower of February 15, 1991, sign-language interpreting will be provided AT ONLY 16 specific convention cities. NO PROVISION for sign language will be made at any other conventions. For a number of years now, this arrangement has proved to be a real blessing for those with this special need by providing good-quality interpreting and larger groups for enjoyable, upbuilding fellowship. Those who are signers should let the deaf in their congregations know of the arrangements and help them to attend where the sign-language provision is made by the Society.
NOTE TO THE BODY OF ELDERS: Please read the Society’s December 15, 1990, convention assignment letter and the first and last paragraphs of the Recommended Lodging Locations list for your congregation during the Service Meeting for the week of December 31. After that meeting, post the letter and the list on the information board. NO ONE, INCLUDING THE ELDERS, SHOULD MAKE ANY MOTEL RESERVATIONS BEFORE THIS SERVICE MEETING. In this way all the congregations will receive the information the same week. At the next congregation meeting, please announce again the dates and convention to which the congregation is assigned. The congregation secretary should handle convention-related correspondence and announcements on future Service Meetings.
Each year the Society receives many letters from motel managers and employees as well as from brothers and sisters. Most of the letters are positive, but some contain well-founded criticism. Here are some excerpts from letters received, showing why it is important to follow carefully the instructions in Our Kingdom Ministry regarding the Society’s convention rooming arrangement:
From a Witness family: “We appreciate so very much the rooming arrangements for us Witnesses to go to the conventions. Because many of us are putting Kingdom interests first, we have little money to spend, and so the fact that these motels are willing to cooperate with you is much appreciated by our family. We used to just send our check for our deposit, but now we send a letter along telling the motel how very much we appreciate their making special concessions for us to have rooms for a cut rate. We also make it clear that we will do our best to cooperate with their motel regulations, keep our rooms clean, take care of the fixtures, etc., while there and be as quiet and orderly as possible. We want them to know we will be good citizens and not a risk group while we are there. This way they too will come to know what kind of people we are, and this can go a long way in contributing to finding rooms in the future if needed.”
From a disabled sister: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I want you to know I appreciate so much your help and consideration in helping us to be able to go away to motels for the assemblies each year. The details you cover . . . we would never be able to do ourselves . . . such as negotiating the prices, which are always much lower than the actual amount, and checking the establishments so that we are not afraid to stay. The accommodations are always very good. Please take note that those who really care and benefit from it like myself, ‘the needy,’ can’t thank you enough and would like to encourage you to continue, please! When I read your message to us that appeared in Our Kingdom Ministry about lack of appreciation, I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the conduct and disrespect some of us have shown for this loving provision. Please do not let the actions of some spoil it for those who do appreciate it and probably would not be able to attend the conventions and benefit from the fine spiritual food that is so lovingly well prepared and seasoned. Please continue this feature, and may Jehovah continue to bless this arrangement.”
From a motel employee: “First you rent a room for two people, then you move from four to six people in. This is cheating the motel, which is the same thing as stealing. . . . You leave the rooms looking worse than a pigpen. You don’t care how much extra work you put on a person. . . . If you want to be accepted by people, then you had better start having some consideration for other people. . . . I will offer some advice: (1) When you rent a room for two, move only two in. (2) If you are going to have more trash than the can will hold, then either bring a trash bag with you or ask the maid for one. Don’t dump wet food in the can, and by all means put dirty diapers in a plastic bag. (3) Don’t leave your towels lying all over the room . . . (4) Don’t leave things lying on the bed; the maid has to take all the things off before she can make it up. If you will follow these rules, it will . . . make people look forward to your coming instead of dreading it.”
From a sister: “I’m writing this note to thank you for the effort you put forth in arranging for rooms that are clean and at a good price so that persons like me and my daughter can attend our convention without a lot of needless worrying. We are not afraid to stay at the motels that appear on the list that we receive at the Kingdom Hall because we know that loving brothers have done all that they can to see that we enjoy the conventions.”
From a brother: “I would like to express my family’s appreciation for your efforts in obtaining reasonable motel arrangements for our district conventions. . . . I would like to relate to you an experience proving the effectiveness of your bargaining efforts. My older brother, who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is the general manager of [a motel]. In 1987 . . . we were anxious to see if he had cooperated with the brothers in the rooming department. We were excited to see that he had and that a rate of $45 a night was agreed upon. (The normal rate is much higher.) I asked him if he felt good about the arrangements, and he said he did. The reason was that the brothers are well-mannered and would not overburden his staff because of their showing respect for their rooming accommodations. However, the next year [his motel] was not on the list. Needless to say, I called to find out why. He said that the brothers had again asked for $45 a night but he wanted $55 a night, which on the surface does not seem like a big deal, but for 100 rooms it meant $1,000 a night difference. Besides, [he said], some brothers had taken rooms the year before at motels that were not on the list. He said, in fact, he had already made reservations with some Witnesses for the 1988 convention. This part bothered my wife and me. My brother and I did not discuss this again until this year, 1989. . . . We were delighted to see once again that [his motel] was on the list at $45 a night. . . . I immediately called [him] to find out why he had a change of heart. His reason: ‘Last year every motel was filled except mine.’ Thanks again for your efforts and . . . the obedience of all our Christian brothers who follow the lead of Jehovah’s visible organization.”