Gilead’s 108th Class Urged to Render Sacred Service
IN THE Bible, worship of God is often referred to by the expression “sacred service.” It comes from a Greek term that refers to rendering service to God. (Romans 9:4) The 5,562 who listened to the graduation program of the 108th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead heard speakers provide practical counsel that would help the graduates render sacred service acceptable to Jehovah God. *
Theodore Jaracz, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, served as chairman. The program opened with song number 52, “Our Father’s Name.” The second stanza of that song declares: “We seek ways that we may also sanctify your matchless name.” That truly expressed the heartfelt desire of the students of the graduating class (who were from 10 countries) to use their training in their missionary assignments, which would be in 17 different lands.
In his opening remarks, Brother Jaracz called attention to the students’ five months of intensive Bible study that prepared them for service in foreign fields. This helped them to “make sure of all things,” that is, to scrutinize in the light of God’s Word what they previously learned, and to “hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) He encouraged them to stick faithfully to Jehovah, his Word, and the assignments for which they were trained. What will help them as they do all of this?
Practical Advice for Rendering Sacred Service
Lon Schilling, a member of the Bethel Operations Committee, spoke on the subject “Will You Pass the Test of Reasonableness?” He highlighted the value of being reasonable, which reflects godly wisdom. (James 3:17) Reasonableness involves being yielding, fair, moderate, considerate, and forbearing. “Reasonable people are balanced in dealing with others. They do not resort to extremes,” Brother Schilling said. What can aid a missionary in being reasonable? Having a modest view of oneself, taking advantage of opportunities to listen and learn from others, and being willing to consider the views of others while not compromising godly principles.—1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
“Do Not Forget to Eat!” was the intriguing title of the next part on the program, presented by Samuel Herd, another member of the Governing Body. He highlighted the value of having a good spiritual diet in order to remain fit to render sacred service. “Your spiritual activity,” Brother Herd said, “will soon be increased as you plunge into your assignment of preaching and teaching. Therefore, there is going to be a need for you to increase your intake of spiritual food in order to balance and level your strengths.” A steady diet of spiritual food can help a missionary avoid spiritual depression and homesickness. It contributes to contentment and the resolve to stick to one’s assignment of sacred service.—Philippians 4:13.
One Gilead instructor, Lawrence Bowen, encouraged the graduating students to “Go Back to the Beginning.” What did he mean? He had all in the audience turn to Proverbs 1:7, which states: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.” The speaker explained: “Anything that disregards the primal fact of Jehovah’s existence can never really qualify as genuine knowledge nor result in proper understanding.” Brother Bowen compared details of God’s Word, the Bible, to pieces of a puzzle. When the pieces are put together, a picture is formed. The more pieces, the bigger and clearer the picture becomes and the more appreciation a person develops. This can help all to render sacred service to God.
Wallace Liverance, Gilead School registrar, concluded the series of talks. His theme was “Offer Thanksgiving as Your Sacrifice to God.” He called attention to the account of Jesus’ healing ten lepers. (Luke 17:11-19) Only one turned back to praise God and express thanks to Jesus. “Undoubtedly, the others were thrilled to be clean. They felt good about themselves, but it seems that all they wanted was to be labeled clean by the priest,” Brother Liverance commented. The spiritual cleansing that results from learning the truth, combined with thankfulness, should motivate one to express thanks to God for his goodness. The students of the 108th class of Gilead were encouraged to meditate on all of God’s activities and goodness in order to make their service and sacrifices a reflection of thankfulness to God.—Psalm 50:14, 23; 116:12, 17.
Experiences and Interviews on How to Do It
Mark Noumair, another Gilead instructor, conducted the next portion of the program. It dealt with the field service experiences of the class during their training period. The students had spent, on an average, about 12 years in the full-time ministry before coming to Gilead. While at school, they started a good number of Bible studies with people of different backgrounds, showing that the students knew how to “become all things to people of all sorts.”—1 Corinthians 9:22.
Following the student experiences, Charles Molohan and William Samuelson interviewed some Bethel family members and traveling overseers who had attended Gilead. One of the brothers interviewed, Robert Pevy, served in the Philippines after graduation from the 51st class of Gilead. He reminded the class: “Whenever there is a problem, everybody gives his suggestions on how to solve the problem. There is always somebody smarter than you are, someone who is going to come up with a better idea. But if you look into the Bible and try to find God’s view on things, no one is going to beat it. That’s always going to be the right answer.”
To round out the fine spiritual program, John Barr, a member of the Governing Body, spoke on the theme “Render Acceptable Sacred Service to Jehovah.” He showed how sacred service can be reflected in the field ministry to help righthearted individuals worship God in an acceptable way. After turning to Jesus’ words at Matthew 4:10, Brother Barr said, “If we are to worship Jehovah alone, we must shun all subtle forms of idolatry, such as covetousness, a desire for riches, and self-promotion. How happy it makes us to think that our missionaries down through the years since the early 1940’s have established an excellent record in this regard! And we feel certain that you graduates of the 108th class of Gilead will follow their good example. You are going to render sacred service to Jehovah, who alone is worthy to receive it.”
That was a positive climax to an upbuilding program. It was then time for hearing greetings from well-wishers around the world, for the presentation of the diplomas, and for the reading of a letter from the class, expressing appreciation for the training received. The graduating class was exhorted to manifest the quality of stick-to-itiveness in their assignments and in serving Jehovah. All in attendance, including guests from 25 countries, joined in ending the program with song and prayer.
^ par. 2 The program on March 11, 2000, originated from the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York.
[Box on page 23]
Number of countries represented: 10
Number of countries assigned to: 17
Number of students: 46
Average age: 34
Average years in truth: 16
Average years in full-time ministry: 12
[Picture on page 24]
108th Graduating Class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
In the list below, rows are numbered from front to back, and names are listed from left to right in each row.
(1) Amadori, E.; Cook, O.; Byrne, M.; Lee, A. (2) Newsome, D.; Pederzolli, A.; Bigras, H.; Kato, T.; Gatewood, D. (3) Eade, D.; Eade, J.; Wells, S.; Jamison, J.; Gonzales, M.; Gonzales, J. (4) Kato, T.; Lohn, D.; Niklaus, Y.; Preiss, S.; Foster, P.; Ibarra, J. (5) Amadori, M.; Manning, M.; James, M.; Boström, A.; Gatewood, B.; Newsome, D. (6) Foster, B.; Jamison, R.; Hifinger, A.; Koffel, C.; Koffel, T.; Byrne, G. (7) Hifinger, K.; Manning, C.; Cook, J.; Boström, J.; Lohn, E.; Pederzolli, A. (8) James, A.; Wells, L.; Preiss, D.; Niklaus, E.; Lee, M.; Ibarra, P.; Bigras, Y.