FROM OUR ARCHIVES
“With More Zeal and Love in Our Hearts Than Ever Before”
THE temperature had already started to climb that Friday morning in September 1922 as 8,000 people crowded into the auditorium. The chairman announced that during this important session, anyone was free to leave, but no one would be allowed to reenter the hall.
Songs were sung during the opening “Praise Service,” after which Joseph F. Rutherford stepped up to the speaker’s stand. Most in the audience sat in suspense. A few restlessly paced about in the heat. The speaker earnestly urged them to sit down and listen. As the talk began, did anyone notice the large cloth roll neatly tied and hung high overhead?
Brother Rutherford spoke on the theme “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For about an hour and a half, his powerful voice reverberated through the hall as he discussed how the prophets of old had fearlessly announced the coming Kingdom. Reaching the climax, he asked, “Do you believe that the King of glory has begun his reign?” The audience responded with a mighty shout: “Yes!”
“Then back to the field, O ye sons of the most high God!” Brother Rutherford thundered. “Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore, advertise, advertise, advertise.”
At that moment, the cloth roll overhead gracefully unfurled, revealing the slogan: “Advertise the King and Kingdom.”
“The audience was electrified,” recalled Ray Bopp. Anna Gardner described how “the rafters shook with the applause.” “The whole audience rose to its feet as one,” stated Fred Twarosh. Evangelos Scouffas said, “It was as if a mighty power pulled us up from our seats, and we stood up and our eyes filled with tears.”
Many at that convention had already been spreading the Kingdom good news. Yet, they now felt infused with a new sense of purpose. Ethel Bennecoff related that the Bible Students went forth “with more zeal and love in [their] hearts than ever before.” Odessa Tuck, who at the time was 18, left the convention determined to answer the call “Who will go?” She said: “I did not know where or how or what. The one thing I did know was that I wanted to be like Isaiah, who said: ‘Here I am! Send me!’” (Isa. 6:8) “That celebrated day,” said Ralph Leffler, “was the real beginning of the Kingdom advertising campaign that today has encircled the earth.”
No wonder that this 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio, convention has gone down in history as a theocratic milestone! George Gangas said, “That convention generated in me the desire never to miss one.” As far as he could recall, he never did. Julia Wilcox wrote: “I simply can’t describe the thrill I get every time Cedar Point 1922 is referred to in our literature. I always want to say, ‘Thank you, Jehovah, for permitting me to be there.’”
Likely, many of us today have similar precious memories of a convention that especially thrilled our hearts and filled us with zeal and with love for our great God and his King. As we reflect on such memories, we too are moved to say, “Thank you, Jehovah, for permitting me to be there.”