Penticton set to welcome 3,200 worshippers

Jehova's Witnesses back for second three-day convention that's seen as massive economic boost for city

The Jehovah’s Witnesses will be back in town next week for another large convention, the second in a five-year contract signed with South Okanagan Events Centre in 2012.

David Docksteader, spokesperson for the convention organizers, said the 2014 event will be identical to the one they hosted last June, drawing in members of their Jehovah’s Witness congregations from all around the region. The convention, said Docksteader, is open to anyone who wants to attend, not just members of their church.

He explains that each year, the Jehovah’s Witnesses gather in large three-day conventions all over the world for fellowship and learning. This year, however, is a special one to the church members.

“A core belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses, based on Biblical and historical evidence, is that Jesus Christ began to rule as the King of God’s Kingdom in 1914. The convention program marks this year as the centennial of that event,” said Docksteader.

Last year’s convention saw 3,800 people arrive in Penticton to take part, according to Sally Pierce, general manager of Global Spectrum, which manages the SOEC.

“We love working with them. They are very professional, very organized and very efficient,” she said, adding that the SOEC was left very clean after last year’s convention.

“We won’t be making a lot of money off this one,” said Pierce. “This is the type of convention we book because it is very good for the economic activity of the city.”

According to Docksteader, the church is expecting 3,200 people for this year’s convention. Pierce said the economic impact will likely extend beyond the three days of the event, as some visitors will be booking extra holiday time before and after.

The three-day event to be held in Penticton will begin  on June 6, at 9:20 a.m.

There is no admission fee. Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported entirely by voluntary donations.