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  • 1994 “Godly Fear” District Convention
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    Men of faith have demonstrated “godly fear” from the time of Abel and of Noah until the present. (Heb. 11:4, 7) To exercise godly fear means to exhibit “an awe and a profound reverence for the Creator and a wholesome dread of displeasing him.” (it-1 p. 818) During June, July, and August, we will demonstrate this profound reverence by our attendance at the “Godly Fear” District Convention. Will you be there to enjoy the entire program, from the opening song until the final prayer?

    Each year we approach the district convention with eager anticipation. Although considerable personal effort and expense may be involved, the blessings to be received are many. We return home with rejoicing, satisfied and built up spiritually. (Compare 1 Kings 8:66.) The association is stimulating, and the convention provides a change of pace. But remember, we gather to worship Jehovah. He commands us to do so. He is teaching us how to benefit ourselves.​—Deut. 31:12, 13; Ps. 122:1.

    A Three-Day Convention: The program will be presented at over 165 conventions in the United States this year. The February 15, 1994, Watchtower provided a list of the locations. In addition to English, conventions will be held in Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language. A complete program in American Sign Language will be presented at Escondido, California, and Jersey City, New Jersey, but there will be no sign-language interpreting at any other conventions.

    The program will begin on Friday at 10:20 a.m. and will conclude on Sunday at approximately 4:15 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the program will start at 9:30 a.m. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. Only those with specific work assignments will be permitted to enter earlier.

    Profound Reverence for Jehovah Impels Us to Attend: Paul counseled the Hebrew Christians to “render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.” (Heb. 12:28) Our district convention this year has been prepared to help us do just that. Some obstacles may be encountered that test our determination to attend. They may look like mountains, but with Jehovah’s help these can be conquered. (Matt. 17:20) If unable to schedule your vacation to include the entire convention, Friday morning through Sunday afternoon, have you prayerfully approached your employer to ask for the time off? (Jas. 1:6-8) School-age children who will be attending one of the earlier conventions while school is still in session should respectfully inform their teachers that they will be absent from school on Friday for this important part of their religious worship.

    Take Advantage of the InvestmentWhat investment is that? The time and effort spent to attend the convention. It would be unwise to make careful plans to attend this summer’s district convention only to return home Sunday evening having missed a large portion of the program. Would you excuse yourself in the middle of a banquet in order to take care of other matters? It was observed at a number of conventions last year that some left after the morning sessions. However, our spiritual maturity and godly fear should not allow us to miss any of what Jehovah has prepared for us.​—Compare 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.

    Most of us would probably not think of leaving early. Nevertheless, we could still miss a good portion of the program. How could this happen? By our not planning ahead to ensure that we receive the maximum benefit from the parts presented. We want to begin the day early enough to have an adequate breakfast and to take care of other necessary matters so that we can be in our seats before the program begins. Getting a good night’s sleep is also important so that we will be alert and able to concentrate on the full day’s program.

    A proved method of reaping the most benefit from the program is the taking of conservative notes. It is as important for young ones to take notes as it is for adults. A 16-year-old publisher says: “I write down the scriptures mentioned during a talk. Then I can review the talk at home.” Another 16-year-old youth adds: “I jot down main points. It keeps my mind on track.” Usually all that you really need for the program is your Bible, a songbook, a medium-size note pad, and a pen or pencil. Of course, parents with small children must take care of their needs, but it is best not to inconvenience ourselves and others with large coolers and an excessive amount of personal items.

    Some brothers record the program, using an audiocassette recorder or a video camera, for replay later at home. Whether one does this is a personal matter, but the experience of some is that once they return to their normal routine, there is little time to replay what has been recorded. In addition, some key points in a talk may be missed while adjusting the recording equipment.

    10 We should make a sincere effort to be in our seats before the program begins. Although we may be in the middle of exchanging happy experiences with old friends when the chairman announces that the program is about to begin, it shows respect for those on the program, and our brothers generally, if we promptly cease our conversation and take our seats.

    11 District conventions are always joyous occasions because of Jehovah’s abundant blessing. We receive both spiritual and material benefits. It must be remembered that considerable expense is involved in the rental of the convention facility. Also food costs are on the rise, and the Society purchases good quality food for distribution at each convention. How are these and all other expenses covered? Through our voluntary donations, either in cash or by check made payable to “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” This is in line with the spirit of Psalm 96:8, which encourages us to ‘ascribe glory to Jehovah and carry a gift into his courtyards.’

    12 Will Your Conduct Bring Praise? Each year the May issue of Our Kingdom Ministry kindly reminds us of the importance of good conduct while attending the district convention. Of course, our conduct should always be exemplary, but when we are gathered in large numbers, we usually come under closer scrutiny by those outside the truth. Our conduct, good or bad, may speak louder than our preaching. We want Jehovah to be praised by what we say and do.​—Prov. 27:2; 1 Pet. 2:12.

    13 After last year’s “Divine Teaching” District Convention, a security guard at one of the motels observed: “These are the nicest bunch of kids I’ve had to watch in a long time.” Then, after commenting about the bad manners and destructiveness of other groups of young people, he added about the Witness children: “They are well behaved and a pleasure to be around. I wish other conventions held here were like this one.”

    14 A newspaper columnist writing in a midwestern paper made this observation about the convention: “Women and girls wore fine dresses, and men and boys wore coats and ties. They earnestly took notes as they listened to four days of speakers. And if cleanliness is next to godliness, well, Jehovah’s Witnesses take that concept to a new level.” Not all reports have been that positive though.

    15 In some locations, children have abused the use of swimming pools. They have got involved in unruly play, remaining in the pool after closing time. Usually this has resulted from having very little or no adult supervision.

    16 At another convention it was reported that there was too much milling around during sessions. Over 1,000 (many of whom were children) were counted in the corridors during the Saturday afternoon program, which would indicate that much more training and supervision are needed by parents. Constant milling around in the corridors creates excessive noise that is distracting to those trying to listen. A few have necessary matters to take care of during the program, but should not the rest of us be in our seats, listening intently?

    17 Most parents are firm with their children about attending congregation meetings each week. Should they not be equally firm when it comes to making sure that their children sit near them and do not wander through the corridors during the program? The convention facility is turned into a large Kingdom Hall, but this is Satan’s system, and it would be easy for unscrupulous people to enter the building with improper motives. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING AT ALL TIMES.

    18 Dress and Grooming: We live in an age where the casual, even sloppy, look is viewed as acceptable. Many people attend church and concerts or dine at restaurants in extremely casual attire. The observation quoted in paragraph 14 shows that there are those who still admire dignified dress, particularly in connection with formal worship. Sloppy, casual dress and inappropriate grooming tell a lot about us. Never forget that the convention building is no longer a sports arena. It is an expanded Kingdom Hall. Some dress respectfully for the convention but after the sessions go to local restaurants and elsewhere dressed inappropriately or immodestly.

    19 Candidates for baptism need to be reminded that certain bathing attire is inappropriate for the occasion. The outfit should be modest and in good taste. Who should determine this? The elders are responsible to see that anyone getting baptized from their congregation does not give any cause for stumbling. (2 Cor. 6:3, 4) This would rule out revealing swimwear and T-shirts with worldly slogans or advertising. It would be appropriate for the elders to discuss this matter with the candidate while reviewing the questions in the Our Ministry book.

    20 Hotels and Motels: A measure of patience and empathy are often necessary when checking in at the hotel or motel. If a large number are checking in at the same time, there could be some delays. We need to display the fruitage of the spirit at all times but particularly when dealing with employees at motels and restaurants. We also need to be reminded of the need to tip in an appropriate fashion. Please take a few minutes to review the articles “To Tip​—Or Not” and “Tips on Tipping” on pages 24-7 of the June 22, 1986, issue of Awake!

    21 Recording Devices: As stated earlier, the use of recording equipment, and particularly videocassette recorders, is a personal decision. If you decide to record, please show consideration for those around you. It may be distracting even when the recording is done from one’s seat. No one should block the view of fellow conventioners while taping. Furthermore, no recording devices of any sort are to be connected to the electrical or sound systems, nor should they block aisles or walkways.

    22 Seating: The problems associated with saving seats are still in need of attention. Again we would like to remind everyone: SEATS MAY BE SAVED ONLY FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS AND ANY WHO MAY BE TRAVELING WITH YOU IN YOUR CAR. At some conventions when the doors opened at 7:30 each morning, there was a rush as brothers and sisters entered the building. It was observed that “those friends who walked to their seats in the usual manner could find seats only in the very top section of the arena. Many were saving almost whole sections, and then many of the seats they reserved were not filled.” These inconsiderate practices seem to persist despite regular reminders. Should we not search our heart in this matter and meditate on the principles in Philippians 2:3, 4?

    23 Each convention makes provisions for those with special needs, such as the elderly and the physically disabled. Please be sure not to occupy seats in one of these sections if you do not qualify. Also, be alert to assist those with special needs to find a seat if they are not accompanied by someone responsible for their care.

    24 Literature and Food Service: When we gather for the district convention, we enjoy an abundance of physical and spiritual food. Both should be received with thanksgiving, nothing being wasted. (2 Chron. 31:10; Prov. 3:10; John 6:12) In recent years it has been noted that a considerable amount of packaged food and drink is being taken and then discarded unopened. Do we want to show appreciation for all of Jehovah’s provisions? Then we will take only what is needed and not waste any food. Parents, do your children understand the importance of not wasting food? You must set a good example for them. Please do not take food away from the convention site for later use. To cut down on crowding in the corridors, it is best that only one family member pick up food for the entire family and not obtain more than what is needed for that meal.

    25 On June 3, 1994, the first of the “Godly Fear” District Conventions will begin. Have you completed your preparations, and are you now ready to enjoy three days of happy fellowship and spiritual good things? It is our sincere prayer that Jehovah will bless your efforts to convene this summer and be fed at Jehovah’s table of good things at the “Godly Fear” District Convention.

    [Box on page 6]

    District Convention Reminders

    Baptism: Baptismal candidates should be in their seats in the designated section before the program begins on Saturday morning. It has been observed that some wear types of attire that are not dignified and detract from the occasion. 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 candidates and then call for a song. After the last verse, the attendants will direct the candidates to the immersion site. 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.

    Badge Cards: Please wear the 1994 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. This was outstandingly true last year with regard to the conventions held in Moscow and Kiev. Wearing our badge will also facilitate the operation of the simplified food service arrangement. Badge cards and holders should be obtained through your congregation, as they will not be available at the convention. Remember to carry your current Medical Directive card. Bethel family members and pioneers should also have their identification cards with them.

    Rooming: We are again asking for the cooperation of everyone in using only the listing of accommodations provided by the convention. If we bypass the Society’s arrangement and secure a motel not on the approved list, we undermine much of the hard work of our brothers who negotiate with the motels for better rates. IF YOU EXPERIENCE A PROBLEM WITH A MOTEL, please do not hesitate to bring it to the attention of the Rooming Department overseer at the convention so that he can assist you in resolving the matter right away. 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 cannot 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.

    Volunteer Service: Can you set aside some time at the convention to assist in one of the departments? Serving our brothers, if only for a few hours, can be very helpful and bring a good measure of satisfaction. If you can assist, please report to the Volunteer Service Department at the convention. Children under 16 years of age can also make a fine contribution by working under the direction of a parent or other responsible adult.

    Words of Caution: By keeping alert to potential problems, we can save ourselves unnecessary difficulty. Often thieves and other unscrupulous individuals will prey on people who are away from their home environment. Be sure your vehicle is locked at all times, and never leave anything visible to tempt someone to break in. Thieves and pickpockets find their best pickings at large gatherings. It would not be wise to leave any valuables at your seat. You cannot be sure that everyone around you is a Christian. Why offer any temptation? Reports have been received of attempts made by some outsiders to lure children away. KEEP YOUR CHILDREN IN SIGHT AT ALL TIMES.

    Cable television that is available in many motels often features lewd, pornographic movies. Be alert to this snare, and do not permit children to have unsupervised access to the TV in the room.

    Please do not phone the management of the convention auditorium seeking information about any convention matters. If the information is not available from the elders, please write to the convention address found on the back of the Special Needs Room Request forms on file with each congregation secretary.

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