Eager attendees await ‘the drama’

Eager attendees await ‘the drama’
Saturday, August 05, 2006
DENISE FORD-MITCHELL
THE SAGINAW NEWS
Teens Antonia M. Young, Heidi J. Murphy, Amber R. Hansen and Janelle M. Pleune are looking forward to “the drama” this weekend.

In traditional teen-speak, that phrase would imply some type of over-the-top behavior. Yet for these youths — members of Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations from western and mid-Michigan — it signals their anticipation of the skit “To Whose Authority Do You Submit?” at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at TheDow Event Center’s Wendler Arena, 303 Johnson in Saginaw.

The production is one of several sessions the denomination has planned during the second weekend of its free “Deliverance at Hand!” District Convention, which began Friday and continues from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Sunday. Organizers will conduct the third and final convention gathering Friday through Sunday, Aug. 11-13.

The teens were among more than 4,000 Witnesses who took part in Friday morning’s opening ceremony. Organizers expect 5,400 participants this weekend.

Followers are encouraging nonmembers to join them at the convention to dispel long-held stereotypes about the faith. It also gives Witnesses a chance to uplift one another as a group, church officials said.

“The best part of the convention … ” Pleune starts, as Young, Murphy and Hansen chime in “is the drama!”

“It’s a skit about a specific chapter in the Bible,” Pleune says. “Some years the performances are geared more toward young people, but this year it’s an inspirational message for both children and adults.”

The foursome met years ago at another district convention and welcomed the opportunity to rekindle their friendship.

“I’ve been going to the conventions all of my life,” said Pleune, 16, the daughter of James and Jackie Pleune of Sanford. “It’s something I look forward to. It gives me a chance to see friends I haven’t talked to in a while.”

Young, 15, is the daughter of Richard Young of Lansing; Murphy, 16, is the daughter of Diane and Harland Murphy of Hart; and Hansen, 13, is the daughter of Sherry Hansen of Gladwin.

The teens were among a sea of believers 10 to 24 blanketing the arena. It’s a sharp contrast to the first weekend, when the majority of the participants were adults 25 and older.

“We’re all staying in different spots, but I hope we’ll get to spend some time together after (worship) services,” Pleune said.

Bridgeport Township resident Devonte Weems also was searching for pals.

“I love it when all of us come together in a big place like this,” said the 12-year-old grandson of James and Helen Weems, “but the best part is the drama. The message is easy to follow, and sometimes it’s funny.” v

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