1999 “God’s Prophetic Word” District Conventions
1 When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses entreated them to appreciate God’s instruction. He told them: “It is no valueless word for you, but it means your life.” (Deut. 32:45-47) Are we not grateful to Jehovah that our lives are so precious to him that he continues to guide us by means of his priceless Word? We therefore eagerly anticipate the three-day “God’s Prophetic Word” District Convention and what Jehovah has in store for us.
2 This year, district conventions are planned conveniently in 70 cities throughout the contiguous United States. Besides English and Spanish, the convention program will be conducted in American Sign Language, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Additionally, for the first time in this country, the complete district convention program will be held in the Armenian and Russian languages, and sessions will be held in Polish.
3 No doubt you have already made arrangements to attend every day of the convention because you believe that Jehovah expects you to be in attendance. Be assured that he sees the individual efforts and sacrifices that his servants make to attend, and he remembers such with appreciation. (Heb. 6:10) By attending each convention day from opening song to concluding prayer, we demonstrate to Jehovah that we value his words to us. (Deut. 4:10) We also show appreciation for the hard work of our many brothers involved in preparing for the convention.
4 Arranging for thousands of God’s people to gather at each convention location requires advance planning and good organization. Knowing that convention arrangements have lovingly been made should move us to cooperate, so that “all things take place decently and by arrangement.” (1 Cor. 14:40) The following information and reminders are provided so that you may arrive at your convention fully prepared to enjoy the spiritual food and Christian fellowship.
Before the Convention
5 Do those with whom you conduct Bible studies and other interested ones need assistance in making personal arrangements to attend the convention? What they see and hear while there may move them to become worshipers of Jehovah. (1 Cor. 14:25) Elders should be aware of anyone requiring assistance with lodging or transportation, particularly older members of the congregation, and lovingly see that their needs are met.—Gal. 6:10.
6 Are your arrangements for accommodations finalized? If staying in a hotel, do you have a confirmation number and have you sent your deposit to the hotel? By now, any Special Needs Room Request forms approved by the Congregation Service Committee should have been mailed to the appropriate convention address by the congregation secretary. If you have been assigned accommodations under the special needs arrangement and you must cancel them, please inform the local Rooming Department immediately so that the accommodations can be reassigned. The address and telephone number can be found at the top of page 1 on the Recommended Lodging List for your convention.
7 If you need information about a convention, the congregation secretary can provide you with the address of a specific location, as found on the back of the Special Needs Room Request form. Please do not phone or write the management of the convention facility.
8 Since the First Aid Department at the convention is set up to handle emergency situations only, we recommend that you bring your own aspirin, bandages, inhalers, digestive aids, and similar items to the convention if you believe such may be needed. If you or a loved one has a serious existing condition, such as a heart problem, diabetes, or risk of seizures, please bring the necessary medication to the convention to care for these needs as though you were at home or on vacation. It would be wise for a family member or close friend who understands the situation to remain in the company of the person, since that one would be in the best position to provide the needed assistance.
9 Opportunities to do informal witnessing will likely arise as you travel to and from the convention. Will you be prepared to share the truth with others? All of us, including young children, can be involved by offering tracts to gas station attendants, toll collectors, and others you meet in your travels. Opportunities will present themselves to place magazines, brochures, or other literature with interested ones. Be prepared to witness informally to people who may otherwise be missed by more conventional preaching methods.
During the Convention
10 Doors will open at the convention site at 8:00 a.m. each day. You may save seats only for those in your immediate family or car group. Convenient seating will be reserved for elderly brothers and sisters, and areas will be set aside for the disabled and those requiring wheelchair access. It is not possible to set aside special rooms at the convention site for those who have environmental illnesses or allergies. Each day as you are leaving your seating area, please check to make sure that you have all your belongings.
11 In order to assemble in large numbers for our district conventions, we are required to comply with local laws, fire regulations, and other safety considerations. Therefore, baby strollers and lawn chairs should not be brought into the building where we are assembling. These are trip hazards in areas of foot traffic or between rows of seats. However, child safety seats that will fit into a seat next to the parents and can be secured there are acceptable.
12 Are you getting baptized at the district convention? For the Saturday morning session, a section of seats will be reserved for baptismal candidates, and the attendants will direct you to this location. If at all possible, please be seated there before the session begins. Bring along your Bible, songbook, towel, and a modest swimsuit. Cutoffs, T-shirts with slogans, and similar attire are inappropriate for such a dignified occasion. Elders reviewing the questions in the Our Ministry book with baptismal candidates should make sure that each one understands these points. Since baptism is a symbol of personal dedication to Jehovah God, it would be inappropriate for candidates to hold hands while being baptized.
13 You may use cameras, camcorders, and audiocassette recorders at the convention. However, their placement or use should not block aisles, obstruct the view of others, or distract attention from the program. They must be self-contained—that is, not connected to the electrical or sound systems.
14 For those with impaired hearing, arrangements will be made for the convention program to be broadcast in the area of the convention site via FM radio. An announcement will be made at the beginning of the first session as to where on the FM broadcast band the program can be found. You will need to bring your own small FM receiver with earphones.
15 As the use of cellular phones and pagers increases, please be careful that these devices do not interfere with either your attention to the program or the concentration of those seated around you. These devices should not be allowed to ring or beep audibly while you are seated in the audience. If it is necessary for you to use a cellular phone while the program is in progress, please do so outside of the auditorium.
16 In the interests of time and simplicity, the Society has asked us to bring our own lunches to the convention each day. Most brothers have followed this direction and have found that after being dismissed for the noon break, they can sit down with their families and eat what they have brought along for the day. Many have said that the opportunity to relax during the noon break and spend additional time with their brothers and sisters has been enjoyable. This requires purchasing foodstuffs and beverages ahead of time and packing them in a small container or cooler that can fit under the seat. We request that all in attendance follow this instruction. Lately, building managers and food vendors in the facilities where our conventions are held have observed some brothers leaving the auditorium to purchase food from street vendors and fast-food establishments nearby. Some of the food vendors in the convention facilities being used are now demanding that they be allowed to open their food stands and serve the delegates attending our conventions. If this were permitted, many worldly people would be mixing in company with us during the day. Also, congestion and long lines around the concession stands would return, disturbing the relaxed atmosphere of our conventions. Therefore, we ask that each one endeavor to bring his own food and beverage to the convention each day. Interested ones accompanying you to the convention should also bring their own food. Glass containers and alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the convention facilities.
17 Can you volunteer to help clean the facility after the sessions each day? Or can you work in one of the other convention departments? If you can assist, please come to the Volunteer Service Department at the convention. Children under 16 years of age are welcome to work along with a parent or another responsible adult. Of course, everyone can help clean the facility by seeing that any trash is picked up and disposed of properly.
18 We have received fine guidelines as to what constitutes appropriate dress and grooming at our conventions. For example: We have direction on this matter in Our Kingdom Ministry inserts, we have illustrations and pictures in our literature, and most important of all, we have what Jehovah says in the Bible. (Rom. 12:2; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10) People know who we are and why we have gathered in their city. Thus, our dress and grooming is a powerful witness in itself. The majority of Jehovah’s people set a good example in this area. Occasionally, though, we see the spirit of the world reflected in the dress and grooming of some who attend our conventions. Revealing clothing of any sort brings into question the individual’s claim to be a spiritual person. A modest, clean, neat appearance is what is most appealing. Family heads should, therefore, take note of what their family members are planning to wear. This would also apply when we are away from the convention site. Wearing our lapel badges before and after the day’s sessions further identifies us with Jehovah and his clean people.—Compare Mark 8:38.
19 Wise King Solomon was inspired to observe that “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy” and “a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” (Prov. 22:15; 29:15) During the sessions, unsupervised younger Witnesses have caused disturbance to brothers and sisters trying to benefit from the program. During last year’s conventions, some young ones were found sitting in upper seating sections, sweeping laser pointers around the audience. The light from these pointers is intense and can cause eye damage, even at long range. It is obvious that these youths were not benefiting from the spiritual program that had been prepared with them in mind. Since parents are accountable to Jehovah for the conduct of their children, a mother or father can be confident that children are behaving and listening to Jehovah’s instruction only if the children are seated with them. Attendants will approach any who are causing a distraction and request that they desist from doing so, kindly reminding them to pay attention to the program.
20 Because we welcome the public to our conventions, it is wise to take precautions regarding children and personal belongings. Our children are a precious gift from Jehovah. But we know that the world reflects Satan’s predatory nature. Hence, please know where your children are at all times. Also, cameras, purses, and other valuables should be with you at all times and not be left at your seat. Make sure that your vehicle is locked, and place personal belongings in the trunk or take them with you. This reduces the temptation for someone to break into your vehicle.
21 The local Rooming Department is eager to assist you if a problem arises with your hotel reservation. Please inform the Rooming Department of any problems while you are still at the convention. The brothers will be happy to help you resolve the matter so that you can continue to enjoy the convention. Also, in connection with rooming, please note the following:
▪ Since many of Jehovah’s people are staying at hotels, it may not be possible for everyone to obtain a nonsmoking room, even if you requested this when you made your reservation.
▪ Please observe check-in and checkout times at the hotel where you are staying. If requested in advance, hotels may honor an early check-in or late checkout.
▪ It is becoming less and less safe to carry cash. It may be to your advantage to put restaurant or other charges on your room bill and pay for them when you check out of the hotel.
▪ Television and video services available in hotels often provide access to channels that feature pornographic programs. If requested, most hotels will block out certain channels or features from your room for the duration of your stay. As at home, please supervise your children’s use of the television.
22 It is encouraging to see brothers and sisters taking notes during the convention sessions. Brief notes will help you concentrate and bring main points back to mind. Reviewing your notes later with family or friends allows you to meditate on convention highlights so that they are not forgotten.
23 Jehovah’s people have always been generous in contributing toward theocratic interests. (Ex. 36:5-7; 2 Chron. 31:10; Rom. 15:26, 27) Your voluntary contributions toward the worldwide work are used to cover the expenses associated with renting the large facilities in which the conventions are held. If your contribution is made by check, please make it payable to “Watchtower.”
24 As recorded at Amos 3:7, Jehovah said he “will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” As the “Revealer of secrets,” Jehovah has had recorded in the Bible hundreds of prophecies that have been accurately and completely fulfilled. (Dan. 2:28, 47) Grand promises are yet to be realized. The 1999 “God’s Prophetic Word” District Conventions will strengthen your faith in God’s promises. Listen closely to Jehovah’s word for you. Apply what you will see and hear—in the ministry, in the congregation, and in your personal life. We pray Jehovah’s rich blessing on all your arrangements to attend every day of this rich, spiritual feast!
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Plan to attend all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!