JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Eleven thousand Jehovah's witnesses will be at a district convention this weekend at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, invited from as far north as Savannah and as far south as Palm Coast. Seventy congregations are represented and more than half of the people attending are from out of town.
Kevin Korbach and his family traveled to Jacksonville from Flagler Beach, joining his brother-in-laws from North Carolina and Tampa at this convention. Joining thousands of the same faith provides a big boost.
"Mostly encouragement to continue our door-to-door ministry, helping us to know how to talk to people. We all want to talk about the Bible, because we all love Jehovah God, but knowing how is a little bit harder. Just gives us some ideas, some thoughts, on how we can reach out to people and have that encouragement and strength," he said.
Hundreds of delegates arrived early in Jacksonville and spent their July 4th holiday making the Arena sparkling clean for their convention and for area residents using the facility later on.
"We had about 1,013 volunteers that showed up, did various tasks from painting the rails to cleaning the windows throughout the facility, mopping the floors, seat repairs, pressure washing the sidewalk and the list could go on and on," said convention spokesperson Frank Woodcock Jr.
Not only did Jacksonville get a free cleanup job on the arena, the thousands of visitors are packing hotels around the downtown area, bringing several million dollars in economic impact to the city.
The delegates will attend all day sessions on Saturday and Sunday and the public is invited. The event is free of charge.
This is the second straight year the district convention was held in Jacksonville and First Coast News is told the attendees enjoy the city so much, they hope to return again next year.