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lunes, 2 de julio de 2012

Thousands attend Jehovah's Witness convention at O'Dome

Usually reserved for the orange-and-blue faithful, the O'Connell Center is again being converted into a house of worship for thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses this weekend.

Jehovah's Witnesses Convention

  The Witnesses' convention for North Florida and South Georgia began at the arena Friday and will run through Sunday, marking one of Gainesville's biggest events of the year in terms of its economic impact.
  The roughly 5,400 attendees on Friday were decked out in their Sunday best as they heard messages from the Bible and about the faithful's mission to spread the word of their beliefs.
  Marcus Denson, a church member from Monticello, said the convention in Gainesville is one of 385 that will be held in 103 different cities around the country this summer. The nationwide theme is “Safeguard Your Heart.”
  For the past seven years, there were two regional conventions in Gainesville each summer, but this year there will only be one after church leaders were unsuccessful in getting the cost of renting the O'Connell Center lowered.
  Last month, it was unclear whether the convention would return to Gainesville next year.
  Still, more than 7,000 delegates from congregations across the region are expected to attend the conference this weekend.
  Jesse Myers, from Ocala, said the church has continued to grow, citing it as the “fastest-growing religion in the world,” during a time of economic upheaval for many Americans.
  The church, with its roots in the 1800s, hasn't changed much lately, though, Myers said.
  “The biggest change is we keep growing,” he said, adding that it is expected to grow more, as baptisms will be worked into the program this weekend.
  On Friday, Jeff Wood preached in between recordings of readings from the Bible, relating what first century Christians went through at the time of Jesus' death to what Witnesses are experiencing now.

  Wood encouraged worshipers to keep faith and to not have doubt, as some did about Jesus' resurrection.
  He said there are many “negative” things written and said about the religion in the news media and noted that some of the Witnesses' activists are banned in some countries.
  But, paraphrasing text from the book of Isaiah, he said, “No weapon, no tongue against us would have success.”

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