60,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses together
Dec. 12, 2003
Vanessa Walker, Religious affairs writer
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday December 11, 2003
Let the news ring throughout the land – for the next four days, it’s safe to answer the doorbell.
The nation’s entire population of 60,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses have suspended their door-knocking activities to descend on Sydney’s Telstra Stadium for a five-yearly international convention to celebrate their faith.
Sociologically, it is a destructive cult whose false teachings frequently result in spiritual and psychological abuse, as well as needless deaths.
That leaves only 50,000 Mormons to contend with.
But with the Jehovah’s Witnesses four-day program including topics such as “Spreading the Good News Everywhere” and “Declare the Good News Without Letup”, the group’s media manager, Alex McMillan, concedes this is a rare reprieve.
“It will be the only time there’ll be no-one knocking on doors, so people had better make the most of it,” Mr McMillan said.
“We are really carrying out a bible-based mandate. Jesus and his followers carried out the same work, and Jesus told his followers to go out and make disciples and preach the good news.”
As for proselytising to gain new converts, “it’s really a command, and we believe it’s a requirement of all Christians“.
While home-dwellers are safe from unwanted intrusions for the next three days, chairman John Rhodes opened the convention with a skit about how the 60,000 Witnesses at the convention could put their downtime to best use – converting the waiters and cleaners.
That’s a large captive audience, with 17,000 hotel rooms booked throughout Sydney for the gathering.
Mr Rhodes told those gathered that the lapel badges issued to delegates proclaiming “Give God Glory” will “inspire people to inquire further and give brothers and sisters a chance to introduce Jehovah”.
Over the next three days the clean-cut faithful will hear testimonials from foreign missionaries and see a costumed bible drama. On Saturday, a mass baptism will be held for about 500 converts.
They believe 144,000 people will join Jesus in heaven in an administrative government that rules over an earth saved only for those who listened to Christ’s word.
This hope for future perfection means the Witnesses refuse to vote for worldly governments.
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