COLUMBIA — The annual district convention of Jehovah's Witnesses from Central Missouri began at the Mizzou Arena on Friday.
The convention begins each day at 9:20 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public and no collections will be taken. For more information, call Kevin Lancaster at 219-0355 or visit jw.org.
The convention, titled "Guided by God's Spirit," is a three-day program being held for the 51 Jehovah's Witness congregations throughout central Missouri.
Approximately 5,000 people are expected to attend the convention, said Kevin Lancaster, news service overseer for the Boonville congregation. Lancaster said Columbia was chosen because it is a central location for the mid-Missouri congregations.
"College towns are good places to hold conventions because they tend to be open-minded," said Robert Burdge, convention chairman.
Friday's keynote address explained the role of the holy spirit and the Jehovah's Witnesses' idea of purpose. Presentations focused on giving tips to young people to live their lives in accordance with the "guidance of God's holy spirit," according to a news release from the Jehovah's Witness Office of Public Information. Burdge said the skits and interviews featured in Friday's program are designed to give young people the tools to handle peer pressure without being embarrassed. A program titled "Young People - Safeguard your Relationship with Jehovah!" concluded Friday's activities.
"The convention has gone very smoothly so far," Burdge said.
Saturday's session will highlight how individuals, whether young or old, can use their faith to resist temptation, cope with discouragement, withstand peer pressure and endure adversity. At 11:40 a.m., a baptism ceremony and a discussion on what it means to be baptized will be held. "The baptism ceremony is a highlight of our convention," Lancaster said.
The keynote speech for Saturday, "Bible Writers - Borne Along by Holy Spirit," will discuss the benefits of the Bible's message.
Sunday is the final day of the convention. "Reap Blessings Through Jehovah's Spirit-Guided King!" will be the keynote speech, which will focus on Jesus Christ. A full-costume drama, "Do Not Leave The Love You Had At First," will begin at 1:45 p.m. The drama is set in the days of early Christianity and shows how "God's spirit can direct our lives," Lancaster said.