Arrange Now to Attend the 1991 “Lovers of Freedom” District Convention
1 In view of world conditions today, it is no surprise that in many lands people long for greater freedom than they have. But where can real freedom be found? Jesus Christ said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) This freedom is not the limited kind that men hope for when they reject one political ruler or form of government in favor of another. Instead, it gets right to the core of human problems. What Jesus was discussing was freedom from slavish bondage to sin. (See John 8:24, 34-36.) Thus, when a person becomes a true disciple of Jesus Christ, it results in a noticeable change in his life, a liberation.
2 A THREE-DAY CONVENTION: The series of 1991 “Lovers of Freedom” District Conventions will begin in the United States on June 7-9. The opening session will start at 10:20 a.m. on Friday, and the convention will conclude about 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. Carefully selected information vital to our spiritual health will be presented at every session. A variety of subjects will highlight how the freedom referred to at Romans 8:21 can be ours. Stirring information will be developed and presented in talks, demonstrations, interviews, and a drama.
3 Make it your resolve not to miss even one session. This may require personal sacrifices and adjustments in your schedule. It may be necessary to make special arrangements with your employer. Many even forgo financial advantages in order to attend all sessions. Jehovah will certainly bless those who make the matter a subject of sincere prayer and put forth heartfelt effort to be there.—Luke 13:24.
4 ARRIVE EARLY: Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their efforts to be dependable and punctual. (Luke 16:10) This is also important when attending the district convention. Arrive early each day, and be seated before the program begins. This will require allowing sufficient time to care for matters that need attention, such as parking your vehicle and finding seats for your family.
5 Attending the district convention gives us a fine opportunity to enjoy pleasant association. But visiting with friends late into the night can hinder our efforts to be on time the next day. Much anxiety and frustration can result from getting a late start and thus having to rush in the morning. To prevent this, it is beneficial to set a reasonable time for retiring. By strictly adhering to a schedule, all are more likely to get a good night’s sleep and be ready for an early start the next day. This avoids the possibility of arriving while the program is in progress, which is distracting and may be an annoyance to those already seated. Arriving early each day will allow you to fellowship with your brothers and sisters. 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.
6 LISTEN INTENTLY: 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) At Isaiah 55:2 Jehovah commanded Israel: “Listen intently to me.” The word “intent” is defined as “directed with strained or eager attention.” If we are attentive during the convention, we will eagerly “listen and take in more instruction.” (Prov. 1:5) To listen and learn at a district convention usually takes more effort and concentration than it does at the Kingdom Hall. Why? We are sitting for longer periods of time, and there are more distractions because of the larger number of people in attendance. If we are not attentive, we will deprive ourselves and miss out on receiving the full benefit of the rich spiritual nourishment being provided. (1 Pet. 2:2) What can be done? It is so pleasing to observe that many convention delegates have been developing the useful habit of taking notes during the program. While some of the talks at the district convention will in time appear in the publications, others will not. All are encouraged to make it a goal to take brief notes during the district convention because that is a good way to keep your attention riveted on what is being said.
7 Notes need not be extensive or elaborate. Usually a phrase or two will suffice for a key point. Even young children will get more from the talks and be helped to concentrate if they are provided with a notepad and pen or pencil so that they can write down the speakers’ key points and key scriptures or new thoughts that may be presented. Elders find it advantageous to have neatly arranged notes for conducting an interesting review of the convention program on the Service Meeting following the district convention. Also, they may wish to incorporate many of the points presented at the convention in their teaching and shepherding work.
8 BE UNITED IN SONG AND PRAYER: Part of our worship involves honoring Jehovah by singing his praises, even as Jesus and his apostles did. (Mark 14:26) Paul’s statement at 1 Corinthians 14:15 concerning singing appears to indicate that it was a regular feature of Christian worship. (See also Our Kingdom Ministry of February 1991, page 7.) District conventions afford us a unique opportunity to be united with thousands of our brothers and sisters in praising Jehovah in both song and prayer. However, some have shown a lack of respect for these important parts of our worship. How? By unnecessarily arriving at the convention during or after the opening song and prayer. At the conclusion of the program, some leave their seats during the song or before the prayer. On rare occasions there may be good reason for doing this. However, is proper respect and appreciation being shown for Jehovah’s table if some give up the opportunity to sing and pray unitedly just so they can get an early start to their cars or to eat?—Matt. 6:33.
9 Care must be exercised that in the pursuit of personal convenience, we do not allow the worldly me-first attitude or ungodly traits such as greed and selfishness to hamper our spiritual progress. In recent years, many of our brothers and sisters in Eastern European countries were able at last to enjoy the freedom of singing and praying. Just as they were thrilled at being able to sing and pray in large numbers, so may we show the same spirit of appreciation for sacred things now and never view lightly our opportunities to sing and pray together.
10 OUR CHRISTIAN MANNERS: Our Christian manners and appearance at district conventions have continued to earn us a good reputation as Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is because we are serious in our worship of Jehovah and because we do not view attending a convention as a mere social outing. When coming together for such special occasions, we should maintain our Christian dignity and a spiritual frame of mind by conducting ourselves as ministers at all times.—1 Cor. 10:31-33.
11 If we fail to do this, we affect the happiness of others, even stumbling new ones. Do we acknowledge and express appreciation for even small kindnesses shown us? We need to be aware of others around us and show respect and consideration. Everyone should appreciate that when the program is on, it is a time to be listening, not walking around or talking.—Deut. 31:12.
12 Another area where our Christian manners can magnify Jehovah God is in our dealings with those who provide us our places of lodging. We are acquiring good motel rooms at significantly reduced rates. We should show appreciation and be considerate of motel personnel, being courteous and not overly demanding. (Gal. 6:10) Good counsel has been given regarding proper conduct at motels. While most have responded favorably and are earnestly striving to cooperate fully with motel personnel, it is discouraging to note that a negative view toward Jehovah’s Witnesses persists in some places. Why?
13 While we may be concerned with saving money, we should not knowingly neglect those who expect tips for services rendered. The articles “To Tip—Or Not” and “Tips on Tipping” on pages 24-7 of the June 22, 1986, issue of Awake! still deserve our attention. It was pointed out on page 24: “Tipping is more than a thank-you for extra service rendered. It is the principal part of a person’s income.” Awake! also pointed out that when “attending a convention, what you do personally reflects on the whole group. People will judge the group by your behavior.” So regardless of your personal views about tipping, when you visit a city as a delegate to a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, use good judgment and discernment, and be ready to “do all things for the sake of the good news.”—1 Cor. 9:19-23.
14 It is a matter of some concern to motel managers that some Witnesses have checked out of motels and left their rooms in an unsightly condition. Cleanliness and consideration should be manifested not just in our dress and conduct but also in the way we treat the property of others. Is there any reason why a rented room should not be left neat and clean? Do not waste ice provided by the motel or use motel ice machines to fill picnic chests to take to the convention. This deprives other guests of their share. Inconsiderate behavior mars our good name. At the coming district conventions, all of us should make it our resolve to conduct ourselves so as to “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.”—Titus 2:10.
15 FOR PARENTS: Young children and teenagers are welcome and expected to attend the “Lovers of Freedom” District Convention. The freedom that the world offers can lead to their spiritual death, just as Adam lost the freedom given to mankind at the start. Jehovah’s loving organization has provided all of us with the correct reasoning on this matter. We are encouraged to see young ones who have learned to pay close attention at all Christian meetings and who are intently interested in the convention program. (Ps. 148:12, 13) But much depends on the example and supervision of the parents. Many young ones have been well trained to take notes. If you have not as yet taught your children how to take notes, why not use the time remaining before your convention to do so? Even the very young can be encouraged to write down scripture citations and related key words they hear expressed by the speakers. Some parents arrange to review main points from the day’s program after returning to their place of lodging or while traveling home.
16 Of course, most parents understand that the natural inclination of children is to be playful. They lack experience in life, and they are immature. Therefore, they have to be taught when to pay attention and how to conduct themselves at meetings. This calls for good supervision by their parents. Some parents have been lax in this area. At times, although parents may be showing proper reverence to Jehovah during a prayer, their children are playing and distracting others. Parents should know what their children are doing even during prayers. Also, what are they doing when they leave their seats during the program? Are children left unsupervised during or after the convention program?—Prov. 29:15.
17 In some cases children have been left unsupervised in motel swimming pools while the parents are in the room, out to dinner, or involved in some other activity. This is not proper. Some children have acted in an undisciplined and unruly manner and have even been disrespectful to older brothers and sisters who have tried to correct them in a kindly way. Such unruliness and conduct unbefitting Christians is often the result of permissiveness and a lack of discipline in the home. It should certainly be corrected. All Christian parents should give close supervision to their children at all times as they bring “them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4.
18 YOUR FULL COOPERATION IS APPRECIATED: Considerable planning and work have been done to see that sufficient seating, literature, food, and other provisions are available for everyone attending the convention. To ensure the effectiveness of these arrangements, each congregation has been specifically assigned to a particular convention. Your full cooperation is vital in order to prevent overcrowding. Of course, there may be circumstances that make it necessary for a few to attend a convention in another area. However, most should be able to attend the convention at their assigned location.—1 Cor. 13:5; Phil. 2:4.
19 Your full cooperation is requested in the matter of saving seats. 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. Please do not reserve seats for others. At times, extra seats are reserved for no one in particular. This is unloving and is misleading to the attendants and others looking for available seats. In harmony with the Bible counsel, we should strive to display brotherly affection and cooperate fully with the approved arrangement for saving seats. No one is entitled to more seats than required for his immediate family or car group.—2 Pet. 1:7.
20 No overnight seat saving is allowed. At no time will any convention facility be opened before 7:00 a.m. to anyone other than the volunteer workers on duty prior to that time. None of these workers will be allowed to save seats until after 7:00 a.m., when others are allowed to enter the building. The attendants will be in their assigned locations prior to that time to monitor what is being done, so as to avoid abuses of the Society’s seat-saving guidelines. Please cooperate fully with the attendants as they fulfill their assignment for the benefit of all in attendance.
21 It is suggested that good judgment be used in bringing personal items to the convention site. In the past, some have brought large coolers or other bulky items that could not be placed under their seats. These were placed in the aisle or on seats. This deprived others of a seat, and sometimes it violated fire and safety codes. We need to show consideration in such matters.
22 As was done last year, the Society will make all food items available at no charge to those attending the convention. What fine provisions these are, making the work lighter and much faster for the benefit of everyone! No doubt such generosity on the part of God’s organization will move us with gratitude to express our appreciation in practical ways. (Prov. 11:25) Please be careful not to waste food or other convention provisions. At conventions this past year, whole sandwiches and half-filled soda cans were found in the trash receptacles. This is an abuse of the generosity that has been shown and a violation of Scriptural principles.—John 6:12.
23 Certainly, Jehovah’s people appreciate being able to meet together at fine facilities in order to benefit from the spiritual program prepared. We also appreciate the many services and conveniences provided at such gatherings. With much care and at considerable expense to the Society, arrangements are made for adequate seating, installing expensive sound systems, operating an efficient Food Service Department, and handling a number of other arrangements and services that make attending the convention enjoyable and spiritually refreshing.
24 Expenses for these are covered by your voluntary contributions and support of the Society’s worldwide work. If you choose to write a check, it can be made payable to “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” For your convenience, clearly marked contribution boxes will be located throughout the convention facility. All contributions are very much appreciated, and the Society wishes to thank you in advance for your generous and unified support of Kingdom interests in this way. One individual expressed appreciation that the amount of contribution is not suggested: ‘It seems so appealing to know that it is left up to us—up to the depth of our own appreciation. So it is with gratitude that we feel impelled to offer more than usual.’ We are confident that all will be moved to sense their individual responsibility regarding these expenses and will cooperate fully by sharing to the extent their circumstances allow.—Luke 6:38.
25 BE PRESENT AT THE “LOVERS OF FREEDOM” DISTRICT CONVENTION! By attending the “Lovers of Freedom” District Convention and paying close attention to the program, we will enhance our appreciation for the freedom that comes through Christ and for the proper use of Christian freedom. Make your plans now to be on hand for the opening song and to attend all sessions until the concluding prayer on Sunday afternoon.
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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 are planning to stay overnight in the convention city and have not already confirmed a reservation, please do so immediately. If you find it necessary to cancel your reservation, you should write or phone the motel directly, doing so as far in advance as possible so that the room can be made available to someone else.
Congregation secretaries 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 immediately notify both the landlord or motel and the convention Rooming Department so that the room can be reassigned.
BABY STROLLERS: In many locations, 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, infant or car seats are permissible, since these can be secured in seats next to the parents. Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.
BAPTISM: Baptismal candidates should endeavor to be in their seats in the designated section before the program begins on Saturday morning. A modest bathing suit and a towel should be brought by each one who plans to be baptized. 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. Beginning with the last verse, 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 the singing of the song. Since baptism in symbol of one’s dedication is an intimate and personal matter between the individual and Jehovah, there is no provision for so-called partner baptisms in which two or more baptismal candidates embrace or hold hands while being baptized.
VOLUNTEER SERVICE: Volunteer help is needed for the smooth operation of a district convention. Even if you may be able to work for only a part of the convention, your services will be appreciated. If you can assist, please report to the Volunteer Service Department when you arrive 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 other responsible adult.
BADGE CARDS: Please wear the specially designed badge 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. Being identified as a convention delegate by a clearly inscribed badge card will facilitate the operation of the simplified food service arrangement. Badge cards should be obtained through your congregation, as they will not be available at the conventions.
WORDS 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. Please be careful.
It has been reported that some motels provide easy access to television movies with immoral content or even of pornographic nature. This highlights the need to avoid unsupervised TV watching by children at these places of lodging.