Thousands gather for Jehovah’s Witness convention in Rochester

Providing spiritual guidance to youth is the theme, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ district convention at the Blue Cross Arena this weekend is for all ages.

An estimated 14,000 people associated with 125 central and western New York congregations are expected to attend one of three, three-day weekend conventions this month at the Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial. Thousands were downtown Friday for the beginning of the first: “Guided by God’s Spirit.”

The conventions include keynote lectures, song, prayer, biblically themed symposiums and live theatrical performances.

All conventions events this weekend, July 11 to 13 and July 18 to 20 are open to the public. You do not need to be a Jehovah’s Witness to attend.

This weekend’s programs will focus on why reliable guidance is needed today and where people can turn for trustworthy advice in all aspects of life.

“We have found that practical bible counsel works,” said convention spokesman Jeffrey Case. “We want to try to prevent problems by encouraging them to make right choices from the start.”

Stacy Files, 44, traveled from Liverpool, Onondaga County, to attend.

“I think we’re faced with a lot of problems in our everyday life. What the convention does is it focuses on the scriptures and how God feels about things. … There is a lot of benefits of hearing the things presented here,” said Files, who said people should ask questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses because members will be open to sharing.

The convention starting on the Fourth of July might surprise those who aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the church directs its members not to celebrate birthdays and holidays, including the Fourth of July.

The convention opened Friday morning by dealing with the subject: “Why Be Guided by God’s Spirit?”

Today’s program will talk about temptation, discouragement and peer pressure. A full-costume drama set in the days of early Christianity will be the feature of the Sunday afternoon program.

Throughout the United States, there will be 305 conventions in 76 cities this year.

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