Jehovah’s Witnesses prepare for end
30,000 people invited to annual convention
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
BY ANDREA FRAMPTON
OF THE JOURNAL STAR
BLOOMINGTON – Even with more than 6,000 people expected to flow into Bloomington for an annual Jehovah’s Witnesses convention that starts Friday, organizers are still inviting more guests.
As part of a new canvassing effort, more than 30,000 central Illinois residents received invitations over the last three weeks to the Friday through Sunday convention, and more invitations are still being handed out by volunteers, convention spokesman Aaron Purvis said.
“We’re trying to invite every person to the convention,” said Purvis, adding this is the first time the convention has actually gone out and given personal invitations. “The convention is free of charge . . . people can come hear some good news.”
The “Deliverance at Hand!” District Convention at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum is just one of 266 Jehovah’s Witnesses conventions that will be held across the country welcoming an estimated 1.5 million people until September. The coliseum can hold up to 8,000 people.
Jehovah’s Witnesses from central Illinois as well as parts of Iowa and Indiana are scheduled to attend the convention.
“We all follow the Bible and are united in this brotherhood. Jehovah’s Witnesses cross all boundaries,” Purvis said. “Every race of mankind is represented, and it’s a good mixture.”
Purvis said the “good news” being announced door to door is that the “day of reckoning” is “fast approaching.”
The day of reckoning for a Jehovah’s Witness is the belief that God or Jehovah will bring an end to all evil and will leave all living Jehovah’s Witnesses to exist forever on a “cleansed earth.”
“It will be as if Adam and Eve never had sinned,” Purvis said. “Just because they sinned doesn’t mean God changed his purpose.”
Sessions at the convention will address current events, dealing with death, resurrection and aging, Purvis said.
The event marks the first large-scale conference for the U.S. Cellular Coliseum, and city officials and coliseum employees have been focusing on being a good host, Mayor Steve Stockton said.
Since Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently schedule conventions, coliseum general manager Mike Nelson said there hasn’t been much to do to prepare for their visit. The event’s organizers will be handling all of the janitorial services and some additional setup, Nelson said.
“They’re great to work with. They have the convention business down to a science,” Nelson said.
Crystal Howard, director of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the event is expected to bring more than $500,000 to the area. Almost all of the Twin Cities’ 2,900 hotel rooms are booked for the weekend.