Jehovah's Witness convention

Attendees sing during a previous Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Long Beach.

About 8,000 Jehovah's Witnesses packed the Long Beach Arena last Friday through Sunday, June 21-23, for a regional convention.

It is one of 10 conventions set this summer in Long Beach by the religious organization. The city and the Jehovah's Witnesses have a long-term agreement where the Witnesses did maintenance and refurbishment work on the Convention Center in exchange for a significant rent reduction of the arena and parking lots.

The regional conventions take place three times a year, and typically are the largest of the meetings. They are free to attend. According to spokesman Peter Chavez, the three days last weekend created an estimated $2 million in spending in Long Beach.

 And there will be a Jehovah's Witnesses convention at the arena every weekend in July and August this year. All four of the July conventions will be for Spanish-speaking members.

The first weekend in August will be an English-speaking convention, with a Spanish-speaking convention following. The Aug. 16-18 convention will be a mixed Spanish and Thai language event, then there will be three more English-speaking conventions to follow.

Conventions run from 9:20 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. each day. They include multi-part symposiums, general convocations and inspirational movies. There's never an admission or parking charge, and no collections are made.

For more information about Jehovah's Witnesses and their conventions, go to jw.org

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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