Benefit Fully From the 1993 “Divine Teaching” District Convention
1 “Instruct me, O Jehovah.” (Ps. 86:11) This should be the earnest entreaty of every dedicated servant of God. We are determined never to stop learning and never to stop applying what we learn. At times we need to be readjusted, and as did the psalmist, we need to beg God to unify our heart so that it will not be divided. The program at the “Divine Teaching” District Convention will provide the practical instruction and readjustment that we need in order to serve Jehovah faithfully amid the pressures of this system of things.
2 A Four-Day Convention: The program will be presented at 156 convenient locations throughout the United States. The February 15, 1993, Watchtower provides a complete listing of these locations. In addition to being in English, the entire program will be presented in Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. At 16 locations there will be sign-language interpreting. The program will begin on Thursday at 1:20 p.m. and will conclude Sunday afternoon at approximately 4:15 p.m. Doors will open at each convention at 7:30 each morning. Please note that no one will be permitted to enter before 7:30 a.m. unless he is assigned to work prior to that time.
3 What is in store for us? An abundance of solid spiritual food presented in a variety of ways: talks, demonstrations, interviews, and two dramas. Do not miss any of this vital instruction! In addition, we look forward to renewing old acquaintances and making many new ones. Missionaries serving in foreign assignments may be attending your convention. Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know these faithful brothers and sisters. If you are a parent, include your children in the conversation. The joyful and self-sacrificing spirit of these missionaries may lay the foundation for your young ones to consider a career in full-time service.
4 Will You Bring the Whole Tithe Into the Storehouse? At Malachi 3:10, Jehovah promised the Israelites that if they were willing to put him to the test and bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, he would pour out a blessing until there was no more want.
5 For some, putting Jehovah to the test will mean approaching their employer as soon as possible to ask for vacation or leave time for attending the convention. At times brothers have hesitated to do this, assuming that their employer would never grant them permission to attend a convention. Yet, in matters not involving spiritual things, they may have little or no difficulty in letting their employer know what they want to do.
6 We ought to ask ourselves: If a dear friend was getting married in another area, would we not approach our employer and ask for time off to attend the wedding? And if he appeared to hesitate, would we not respectfully explain how much it would mean to us to be able to go? Surely it is more important to be taught by Jehovah than to attend a wedding! If we are truly convinced that the convention program is vital to our spiritual growth, it will be easier to convince our employer to allow us time off to attend the convention.—James 1:7, 8.
7 In Israel the tithe consisted of material support of Jehovah’s place of worship. In our day the tithe represents the time, energy, and finances that are used directly in Jehovah’s service and in support of the Kingdom work. The tithe includes the time we spend at meetings, assemblies, and conventions, as well as in maintaining and cleaning our meeting places. The “Divine Teaching” District Convention will give us many opportunities to bring the whole tithe into Jehovah’s spiritual storehouse. What are some of these?
8 We can bring in the tithe by attentively listening to the convention program, by sharing enthusiastically in the singing of each Kingdom song, and by listening carefully to each prayer, so that we can add our heartfelt amen.
9 Our progress in the truth is dependent to a considerable extent on how we listen. In a large auditorium or stadium, it is easy to be distracted by what others are doing around us, and for that reason we must keep our thoughts on track. Be sure to come to the convention fully prepared, with your Bible, songbook, pen and notepaper, and the issue of The Watchtower to be studied that week. It is helpful to make notes of points and scriptures used by each speaker. Keep the notes brief; taking too many notes may hinder concentration. Young ones too should be trained to be attentive listeners. Children can bring in the tithe along with their parents by following the program as closely as possible.
10 Some parents arrange for a quiet time at home each day when their young ones are expected to read or to look at the pictures in one of the Society’s publications. This good training makes it much easier for the children to sit quietly during meetings and conventions. Parents who have raised exemplary children say that they never permit their young ones to bring toys or coloring books to meetings. Even very young children can learn that the reason for attending meetings is to worship Jehovah. Parents who teach their young ones what it means for them to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse are truly to be commended!
11 We can also bring in the tithe by volunteering our time and energy to assist the convention organization. At most locations a preconvention cleanup is scheduled a day or two before the convention will begin. If you live nearby, why not arrange for the entire family to participate? Some brothers have brought their progressive Bible students along so that even before their baptism these new ones can learn what is involved in supporting Jehovah’s worship. There is plenty to do to ensure that the convention will operate smoothly. Why not volunteer as a family?
12 Our financial support of the convention is another way of bringing in the tithe. In outlining how material gifts were to be made to support pure worship, Jehovah commanded the nation of Israel: “None should appear before Jehovah empty-handed. The gift of each one’s hand should be in proportion to the blessing of Jehovah your God that he has given you.” (Deut. 16:16, 17) Whether the people were able to give much or little, their offering, prepared in advance, was pleasing to Jehovah. Similarly, many brothers give prayerful thought to the contribution they will make, whether in cash or by check (made out to “Jehovah’s Witnesses”). Do you ever let your small children put a contribution in the box?
13 Adorn the Teaching of Our Savior, God: By our good manners and our fine conduct, we can “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.” (Titus 2:10) In other words, right at the convention, we can show that divine teaching is being applied in our lives.
14 What of our manners? Consideration for others is rare today in the world. But Jehovah’s people, who are guided by Scriptural principles, think, not of their own advantage, but of the advantage of their fellowman. (Phil. 2:4) We are conscious of others around us. We do not push or shove when lining up for food or publications. We are considerate of the elderly and of small children who may be waiting in line with their parents and who could easily be shoved by adults who may not notice them. In restaurants we are polite and courteous to the staff, not rude or demanding if the service does not measure up to our expectations. And we are happy to comply with the custom of leaving a reasonable tip of 15 percent for services rendered.
15 Our godly conduct has a real impact on those around us. In one convention city last year, a policeman who had been with the force for 21 years had this to say: “I am impressed with the discipline of your people. [They are] outstanding; they pick up trash without anyone asking them, and they are orderly. Your convention is well organized.” He added: “When your people see us, they smile. That’s a good sign. We look for that. That’s a sign of friendliness and nothing to hide. And we also notice how the children are with their parents and are well disciplined. Believe me, I am impressed. It’s enjoyable being assigned here.”
16 Some officials made a special trip to Bethel to extend an invitation to hold a convention in their city. The Society accepted the kind invitation, and the city fathers were not disappointed. The deputy city manager said: “We’re very excited about having as prestigious a group as yours convene in our city. We made a major effort to get you here . . . and we couldn’t be more pleased.” By their fine conduct, each brother and sister contributed to the excellent witness that was given there.
17 Will you personally adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, by your exemplary conduct? Here are a number of ways that this can be done:
Dress and grooming: During the time we are attending a convention, we should not consider ourselves to be on vacation. Rather, we are presenting ourselves to Jehovah to be taught by him. Since that is the case, should we not dress as we would when attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall? (1 Tim. 2:9, 10) In addition, we should give careful thought to what we will wear after the sessions are over. Upon returning to our accommodations, would it be consistent for us, whatever our age, to exchange our modest, dignified convention attire for clothing that would give us the appearance of slovenly dressed and unkempt worldlings? Would this not give the impression that our meeting clothes are nothing more than a costume rather than a reflection of our way of life? Remember, we are bearing the name of Jehovah, and each of us must see to it that legitimate accusation is not brought against the way of the truth.
Baptismal candidates should be reminded that it is inappropriate on such a sacred occasion to wear T-shirts with worldly slogans, logos, or commercial advertising. The elders should ensure that the baptism questions are reviewed well in advance and that each candidate is told in good time whether he is approved for baptism or not. (When going over the questions, it may be an appropriate time to offer suggestions regarding proper, modest attire for baptism.) It will not be necessary for baptismal candidates who have been approved by the elders to register at the convention.
Hotels and motels: Display the fruitage of the spirit when checking in at your hotel or motel. Hotel personnel may not be equipped to handle a large group in a short time. Be patient, have empathy, and tip appropriately.
Children can do their part by showing respect for hotel property and by obeying rules governing the use of the swimming pool and other facilities. It would be helpful for parents to spend some time prior to the convention reviewing with their children the kind of behavior that will be expected of them, reminding them of their personal responsibility to conform to Christian standards of conduct.
Recording devices: While video cameras are permitted, we know you will be considerate of others. It would not be loving to block the view of fellow conventioners while filming the program. If you can record discreetly from your seat, there will be no objection to your doing so. Please remember, however, that no cameras or recording devices are to be connected to the electrical or sound systems at the convention, nor should equipment be placed in aisles or in traffic areas.
Seating: 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 CAR. Special sections for elderly and disabled ones will be available at all conventions. Please be considerate of the elderly. In times past, some older brothers have had to look for seats in inconvenient areas because younger ones filled the seats in the section for the elderly. We are sorry that it will not be possible for us to accommodate requests for separate areas or rooms for those with problems such as allergies.
Personal items: It is suggested that you keep to a minimum any personal items you bring to the convention. If an item does not fit under your seat, it may be better to leave it at home or in the trunk of the car. Large coolers are not permitted in the aisles for safety reasons, and if they are put on the seat next to you, someone may be deprived of a seat.
Literature and food service: All of us want to show appreciation for God’s good gifts, seeing to it that nothing is wasted. (John 6:12) As in the past, we suggest that one family member obtain the food for the family. To ensure that no more is taken than you need, why not make a list of what each one requires, and then stick to the list when ordering? Keep in mind that food is not to be taken away from the convention site for later use elsewhere. Parents should speak to their children about not wasting food. Please show loving concern for others when literature is distributed.
18 In loving consideration for others, plan an early arrival each day, especially on Thursday when it will likely take longer than usual to find parking and seating.
19 How privileged we are to be taught by Jehovah! Our use of our time, energy, and material resources to support the “Divine Teaching” District Convention this summer will result in lasting spiritual benefits both to ourselves and to our families.
District Convention Reminders
Proper Decorum: It is important that all attending the convention observe proper decorum, reverentially viewing the place of assembly as “the house of God.” (Ps. 55:14) During the talks, dramas, songs, and particularly the prayers, please avoid doing anything that would divert the attention of others listening to the program. Moving about unnecessarily, carrying on conversations, or using flash cameras or video recorders in a way that distracts those trying to concentrate on what is being said would not be showing respect. Our thoughtfulness and fine conduct will demonstrate that we sincerely appreciate divine teaching and have come to the convention to be instructed by Jehovah.
Rooming: Your cooperation in using only 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 available for someone else.
Congregation secretaries should be sure that Special Needs Room Request forms are 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 and aisles or between rows of seats. Since large 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 is appreciated.
Baptism: Baptismal candidates should 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 the baptismal candidates and then call for a song. After the last verse, the attendants will direct the baptismal candidates to the immersion site or to vehicles that will take them there. 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 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.
Personal Identification: In addition to the “Divine Teaching” Convention lapel card, each one is encouraged to have on his person his Advance Medical Directive. Bethel family members and pioneers should also have their identification cards with them.
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 convention. There have even been a few reports of unscrupulous individuals attempting to lure children away from the convention area. Please be careful.
It has been reported that some motels provide easy access to television movies with immoral content or even of a pornographic nature. This highlights the need to prevent unsupervised TV watching by children at these places of lodging.
Some brothers and interested persons have called the management of the convention facility seeking information about starting times for the sessions and other matters. Please do not do this. If the information you need cannot be found in The Watchtower or Our Kingdom Ministry, you should write to the convention address found on the back of the Special Needs Room Request forms on file with each congregation secretary.