A bright‐orange dais covered second base at Yankee Stadium last night and the pitcher’s mound was transformed into a multicolored floral centerpiece as 60,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses opened their five ‐ day “Divine Victory” assembly.
All day long, members of the sect arrived by bus, plane and train from 10 Eastern Seaboard states and New England and filtered into the ball park to hear their beliefs expounded once again.
Their numbers will swell to 70,000 tomorrow, a spokesman predicted, when L. A. Swingle, a director of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the corporate name for the Witnesses, speaks on “Divine Victory—Its Meaning for Distressed Humanity.”
Witnesses believe that in the soon‐to‐come battle of Armageddon, the forces of good will overcome evil. Then, an elect body of 144,000 people, representing all eras in time, will reign with Christ in heaven, and the earth will be transformed into a paradise where the followers of Jehovah will dwell in everlasting peace.
The Yankee Stadium assembly is one of 11 regional conventions scheduled for this summer and fall in the United States. These include meetings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston and Miami.
Witnesses no longer limit their assemblies to one international gathering such as the 1958 meeting when 250,000 members jammed both the stadium and the Polo Grounds —the largest convention gathering in the history of the city.
Since then, the 1.5 millionmember denomination has held its “international” gatherings on a regional basis with guests from overseas participating.
The assembly highlight today will be a mass baptism in two pools constructed in Macombs Dam Park, adjacent to the stadium. About 1,500 people of all ages are expected to be immersed.
About 5,000 volunteers from 200 New York congregations turned out on Thursday night with brooms, buckets and mops to clean up the ball park in preparation for the assembly.
Meetings similar to the present stadium assembly will be held or are being held in Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the South Pacific.
John O. Groh, a member of the Witnesses’ headquarters staff in Brooklyn, told the opening night audience that Jesus was separate from worldly governments and urged the Witnesses to emulate His neutrality toward political affairs.