Jehovah's Witnesses prepare for convention
WILKES-BARRE TWP. - The Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is already well-maintained, which is a blessing for Larry Andrews and the other Jehovah's Witnesses cleaning the arena out this weekend.
Andrews, a witness from Jersey Shore and the organization's media contact for the event, remembers the old days, when his group met at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, a now-demolished building that was well described as "dilapidated" in its twilight years.
Then, the group brought plumbers. Maintenance on Saturday was much lighter, but the arena was still a flurry of activity.
The arena was filled with Jehovah's Witnesses cleaning, scrubbing, mopping and painting Saturday, all in preparation for conventions the religious group will hold there during the next two weekends.
In place of a hockey rink was the staging area for the cleanup. At one end of the arena was a stage speakers will use during the conventions. Volunteers started scrubbing the seating area at the top of the arena around 9 a.m., Andrews said, and shortly after 3 p.m., they were still cleaning up the lowest tier of seats. On the concrete floor, volunteers made their way around a collection of yellow mop buckets and brooms.
At the highest floor of the arena, in the hallway around the suites, Lambert Aie, 22, of Mount Pocono, and Lucian Reddicks, 30, of East Stroudsburg, were painting the hallways and door frames with a crew of about a dozen other painters. The project started Thursday and the group hoped to finish by that night.
"I thought you were just touching up," Andrews said.
"That's what I thought, too!" Reddicks said.
All the work helps change the arena from a hockey rink to a house of worship for the next two weekends, when between 3,500 and 4,000 people will visit for each convention, Andrews estimated.
"This becomes our place of worship, so we want it to be clean," he said. "It's part of our service, and we're here to worship. People are going to be all dressed up. We don't want them to step on chewing gum."
It also helps the organization's finances. Andrews said only the national headquarters, which organizes conventions across the country, knows the terms of the contract that rents out the arena, but he said all the work the volunteers do is "certainly taken into account."
And for a religion perhaps known best for its house calls, the cleanup and conventions give it the chance to present another image to the public.
"It is a big plus for us," Andrews said of the group cleaning the arena and going out together during its conventions. "We'll go to restaurants, and half the place is filled with us laughing. People see us having a good time."
Jehovah's Witnesses hold conventions across the world, and if you're in the area, you're definitely invited this weekend, several church members said. The organization passes out flyers to advertise the events.
In fact, said Corey Eubank, 25, who is originally from Hawaii but is volunteering at a Jehovah's Witnesses farm in Wallkill, N.Y., "Everyone in the world â¦ is invited."
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|Jehovah's Witnesses line up to get mop buckets filled during cleanup efforts at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township on Saturday.|
|Jehovah's Witnesses Dave Malosh and Dale Patnam scrub parts of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township on Saturday.|