OGDEN — About 4,200 participants are expected to participate in a regional convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses this weekend taking place Friday through Sunday at the Dee Events Center.
Jehovah’s Witnesses from Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho will be attending, as well as some people from other areas, said Michael Germano, media host and volunteer at the event.
This is the 40th year the convention will be held at the Dee Events Center, Germano said. The first convention held there was in 1980.
Germano said there are a couple of reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses in surrounding states continue to return to Ogden for their convention.
“(Ogden) is centrally located to the congregations that are invited,” Germano said. “Foremost ... the partnership that we’ve developed over the past 40-plus years — it’s very welcoming. ... It’s hard to go to a city that doesn’t want you there ... but Ogden has welcomed us with open arms, and we’re very appreciative of that.”
The visitors also bring about $2.5 million into the local economy, according to the denomination’s public information desk.
“The purpose of the convention is to improve Bible education, but also it helps us, we feel, to be better organized,” Germano said.
Over 500 conventions are being held at 125 venues around the world, and Ogden hosts two of them. The Spanish convention for the area, which attracted 3,800 participants and was held at the Dee Events Center from June 28–30.
Every convention uses an identical theme and program, which keeps everyone in the faith on the same page, Germano said.
“The theme this year is ‘Love Never Fails,’” Germano said. “We feel that in the world today, there is just a great lack of love, but if we focus on love and how that affects us as individuals, as family members, as members of the community, we’re hoping that the impact, to even the Ogden area, is felt months after we’re gone.”
Friday’s speakers focused on how love can help people “surmount obstacles such as a troubled upbringing, chronic illness or poverty,” according to a press release. On Saturday, the convention considered how the Bible can help family members show love for each another. Sunday’s program will address overcoming prejudice and hatred.
Speakers at regional conventions are local elders in Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations in the region.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the creator is Jehovah and that Jehovah’s son, Jesus Christ, was sent to Earth to die for mankind. They are Christians and believe that Jesus Christ is the “first and foremost Jehovah’s Witness,” Germano said.
“Because of that ransom sacrifice, the death of Christ, we have a hope for the future that’s wonderful,” Germano said. “We do look forward to much of what we see today changing for the better very soon.”
The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, which the faith recognizes as “God’s inspired message to humans,” according to its website.
The faith is headquartered in Warwick, New York. There are more than eight and a half million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, making up almost 120,000 congregations.