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Governing Body Update 2023 / #4




Governing Body Update 2023 / #4

26 May 2023

Gage Fleegle

Welcome, brothers and sisters. In this program, we’re going to discuss the joy of in-person conventions.

But first, here are a few updates. After nearly 20 years, on April 26, 2023, the government of Spain approved a historic adjustment to the country’s tax exemption law. This decision confirms that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a well-known and respected religion in Spain. In addition, the adjustment exempts our brothers from having to pay property tax on theocratic facilities in the country. It also allows individuals in Spain who support the work to obtain a tax deduction on their contributions. We’re very grateful for this positive development.

Also, as reported on jw.org, we’re very pleased that on May 16, 2023, Brother Shamil Khakimov was released from prison in Tajikistan after fulfilling his prison sentence. You might recall that he was first detained in February 2019. He spent over four years in prison for his faith. He plans to get some much-needed rest and is being helped to receive necessary medical care. We’re very happy for you, Brother Khakimov! Your faithful endurance encourages all of us. Of course, we continue to keep close in mind the over 180 brothers and sisters who are still imprisoned for their faith.

The apostle Paul wrote at Philippians 1:14: “Now most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence because of my prison bonds, and they are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.” Just as first-century Christians were encouraged by Paul’s faithful example, the faith of those imprisoned in our day impels us to share the Kingdom good news with zeal. But can such faithful ones in prison be sure of Jehovah’s blessing and protection? Isaiah’s prophecy highlights what Jehovah promised for his cleansed people. Note Isaiah 4:5, 6. It says: “Jehovah will also create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over the place of her conventions a cloud and smoke by day and a bright flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a shelter. And there will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for refuge and protection from storms and the rain.”

These verses highlight the spiritual protection that Jehovah offered his servants in the past and, by extension, to us today. How so? Verse 5 says that Jehovah will create over his people “a cloud,” “smoke,” and “a bright flaming fire.” These remind us of how Jehovah cared for the Israelites after they left Egypt. He used a “pillar of fire and cloud” to protect and to lead them. No, Jehovah doesn’t promise us miraculous physical protection; nor does he prevent the heat of persecution or storms of opposition from bearing down on us. But as verse 6 explains, he does protect us spiritually, as if building ‘a booth for shade and for protection from the rainstorm.’

What’s the point? Jehovah promises to be with his faithful servants wherever they are — even if they’re boxed in by four prison walls. Jehovah is our Protector. His holy spirit gives us joy and peace. No human can tear down ‘the booth of protection’ that Jehovah builds. As long as we maintain our integrity, our future is secure.

Did you notice another place where Jehovah’s cloud of spiritual protection is? Verse 5 says it would be ‘over the place of his servants’ conventions.’ We’re very excited that it’s convention season once again — this time in person! We’re eager to share in the invitation campaign and thrilled to be together in person for conventions for the first time since 2019.

Just last week, my wife and I received a letter from a sister who will soon be attending the regional convention and the Pioneer Service School. She wrote: “I usually wait to write to you until after the events, but this year, I did not want to delay in letting you know how happy, how excited, how spiritually blessed I know we will be after each of these special occasions. How do I know it will be perfect, just what we need at each event? Because of the track record. Jehovah’s hand is not short. Not once have we been disappointed or thinking, ‘I wish for something else.’ Thank you.” What an expression of faith! This certainly is pleasing to our heavenly Father, Jehovah, and to his Son, the head of the Christian congregation.

Over the years, convention arrangements have been simplified so that we can focus more on the spiritual program. For example, do you recall when meals were served at our conventions? Arrangements varied globally. But no doubt you’ll enjoy this brief report on how things were done over the years in the United States.

In the United States, providing meals for fellow convention attendees extends all the way back to the 1890’s. However, the sheer magnitude of the task took on new dimensions in the 1940’s when the size of conventions grew. Many volunteers were needed to procure, receive, prepare, and serve three hot meals a day to delegates.

An example of this was the eight-day New World Society Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in Yankee Stadium in 1953. Some 130,000 attended on average each day! The cafeteria was operated by 4,500 volunteers, with the capacity to provide 30,000 meals per hour.

Although food service volunteers were happy to work in behalf of convention attendees, they often worked many hours and heard very little or none of the program and often had to attend a second convention to listen. So in 1978, food service operations were simplified in many places. Instead of a cafeteria meal, refreshment stands were used and featured a simplified menu. This made it possible for the vast majority of food service volunteers to hear the spiritual program. Further simplifications were made in 1987 when hot food items were no longer provided, thus eliminating the need for natural gas, oven trailers, and the like.

For decades, meal tickets were available for purchase and were exchanged for food items. These tickets were designed so that no change was needed, thus expediting the purchase of food. Here’s a sample menu. The menu showed how many tickets were required to purchase each item.


Finally, in 1995, arrangements for food service at conventions were discontinued. Instead, delegates were encouraged to bring their own food and enjoy association on location during the noon break. As a result, we no longer need to wait in line, we have more time to spend with friends on-site, and this arrangement is easier for our older and infirm ones. We continue to benefit from this simplified arrangement today.

So in order to enjoy association during the noon break, we encourage everyone to bring a light lunch, which will also help us to stay awake during the afternoon session.

As we return to in-person conventions, perhaps we’ll feel like those from Eastern Europe who attended international conventions in Poland in 1989. That was the first convention ever for most of those delegates, although many had been in the truth for 30 years or more.

One delegate from the former Soviet Union said: “For many years we have been waiting for this day, and now we are here at this international convention. We find it difficult to grasp all of this and take it all in. It is like a dream. It is impossible to express in words everything we have seen and heard. When we saw the gigantic, bowl-shaped stadium full of people and heard the music, our eyes filled with tears. And the prayer — while all of us were motionlessly united — sent cold shivers down our backs. It was so solemn and unanimous. This convention in Warsaw is such a splendid and grand event that only the new world will be better. We will always remember these wonderful days. It is something one cannot forget. Special thanks and glory be to our Creator, Jehovah God!” The Awake! of December 22, 1989, reported: “The singing at the conventions was noteworthy, as tens of thousands sang in unison in over 20 different languages, all expressing the same thoughts in a spirit of love and unity.”

As mentioned in the May broadcast, we encourage you to learn the new original song, “It Will Not Be Late!” During the pandemic, we missed singing at large conventions. This year, to quote Psalm 7:17, we’ll again “sing praises to the name of Jehovah the Most High” at our conventions! I still remember attending conventions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when I was a kid. It was thrilling to hear Kingdom melodies echoing in a large stadium that had been converted into a house of worship. Many of you will remember this stirring Kingdom melody from 1981.


Do you have similar memories? If you were baptized during the pandemic, then this year’s convention will likely be your first in person. You too will form memories that will last a lifetime. That’s how many of our brothers and sisters felt when they recently attended the “Exercise Patience”! Convention.

[Interviews with a single brother, a married couple, and a family with two sons]

Single Brother: We’re here at the Newburgh, New York, “Exercise Patience”! Convention. This is my first convention as a baptised Witness. It’s a joy to be with our family today and get the spiritual food that we need.

Wife: It’s clear that Jehovah’s people haven’t forgotten how to laugh and hug each other — love each other.

Older Son: Being in person, being able to really hear everybody sing together, talking with everybody in person is — You just can’t beat it.

Single Brother: The singing is beautiful. When we were doing it on the Zoom, you didn’t hear the voices. So to see all the voices singing together, the harmony, is just — You feel it more. The theme “Exercise Patience!” is a great theme because that’s something that we don’t have today in this world.

Husband: It seems like what’s presented matches exactly what we’re dealing with in our lives and what we see happening in the world.

Single Brother: It’s phenomenal the way that you could follow along and how it makes the Bible so much easier to understand.

Younger Son: All the videos and meeting new friends and seeing even my old friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

Wife: I love that you can sit and have a meal with someone you’ve never met before and you have something in common. You can talk about the program, and by the end of the meal, you’ve become great friends.

Mother: To get our family ready for a convention is a lot of work as a mum. But conventions draw us closer as families because we’re all worshipping Jehovah together.

Father: For someone who’s never been to a convention before, I’d tell them that the experience is going to change their life. They’re going to see and feel a different type of love that they probably never felt before.

Single Brother: Now being here together and seeing them in person, it’s a different feel. It’s so beautiful. You get together with so many people — so loving. It’s almost like a taste of the Paradise right here, right now.

You are going to love this year’s convention! Did any of the photos in our update make you think about special conventions? When are the next ones planned? We’re pleased to inform you that 15 special conventions in countries around the world are being planned for 2024! The locations and dates will be announced in the coming months.

So, what have we discussed in this update? We’re reminded that Jehovah is our Protector. But this doesn’t mean we’ll have a problem-free life in this system of things. However, when we face challenges, we know that Jehovah is with us. He protects us spiritually and provides “the power beyond what is normal” so we can endure trials faithfully. And we’re very excited for our “Exercise Patience”! Regional Conventions! May Jehovah bless the invitation campaign and your efforts to attend all three days in person!

As Paul wrote to Timothy in his first letter, chapter 1, verse 2: “May you have undeserved kindness and mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” We love you all very much! From the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this is JW Broadcasting.


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45 minutes ago, Dustparticle said:

The videos serving food at the conventions made me hungry.


The irony of promoting in-person conventions while harking back to the halycon days of volunteering with the food-service?






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In the pictures from the 1989 Poland Convention, did you recognize two governing body members (9:55 elapsed time) Brother W. Lloyd Barry in the forefront with his wife, Melba, and I'm pretty certain just beyond them, Brother Albert Schroeder.  I loved the trip down memory lane in this update, remember getting up at 4:30 AM to get to the convention kitchen to prepare food for the day, both as a kid with our family and later with my own children. . .fond memories. 🥰

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On 5/26/2023 at 12:05 PM, Dustparticle said:

And what pudding I buy? Ccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhooooooocccccccoooooolllllllaaaaatttttteeeeeee.

For me it was the cheese Danish. I still get nostalgic when I see cheese danish

Edited by JayV
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21 hours ago, JayV said:

Which Kingdom Melody was played?

Melody based on 3 songs, 114, 116 and 118.

Kingdom Melody (from 1981)

One of my favorite 🙂


But I'm not sure if this melody was included in "Kingdom Melodies", volumes 1 -8, produced later. Maybe this melody was special arrangement for the conventions/assemblies only.

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On 5/28/2023 at 6:36 PM, JayV said:

For me it was the cheese Danish. I still get nostalgic when I see cheese danish

Me too! My sister later found the company/danishes we used to get at the conventions. We thought we died and went to paradise lol. I can’t remember the name of the company but I think they’re out of business.

Edited by *Jack*
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Does anyone remember the year we went only to bringing your own lunch?


It really is a great system considering all the food intolerances or eating styles different ones have. 


I also have fond memories of being newly baptized and helping preparing sub sandwiches at the convention, or serving snacks at the assemblies. As a teenager it was a great way to make friends in other congregations, especially having no family in the Truth. 



Edited by Amygdala
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3 hours ago, Amygdala said:

Does anyone remember the year we went only to bringing your own lunch?





OKM, December 1994: Announcements

Beginning with the 1995 district conventions and the September 1995 circuit assemblies and special assembly days, there will be no food served. Each one is to bring his own food and drink. Complete details will be provided in a later issue of Our Kingdom Ministry.




OKM, February 1995: 1995 District Convention Simplification - Four Page Insert

Further Steps to Be Taken

Previous Adjustments to Simplify

Anticipated Changes

Supporting the Arrangements

Caring for Your Food Needs

Additional Benefits

Benefits of No Food Service Arrangements

Suggested Items to Bring for Noon Break

Do NOT Bring Into Convention Facility








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