'Company's coming' Jehovah's Witnesses scrub stadium for visitors By MAUREEN HAYDEN Courier & Press staff writer 464-7433 or [email protected]
August 1, 2003 More than 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to converge on Roberts Stadium over the next two weekends to reaffirm their faith as a community.
And they'll be doing so in a venue scrubbed clean by their spiritual brothers and sisters. Some 100 volunteers from local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses spent Thursday at the stadium in a spit-and-polish sweep of the arena, already cleaned once by stadium staff.
"It's got to be extra special nice and clean," said Natalie Parrish, a local Witness who volunteered to help scrape gum off stadium seats and scrub down floors before the convention's scheduled opening today. "Company's coming to what will be a house of God."
Leaders of the church decided to hold the district convention - one of 200 held in 60 cities this summer - over two weekends because of an expected overflow crowd. The stadium's capacity is about 12,000, but Witnesses wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for visitors, curious to know more about a denomination whose members are best known for their active door-to-door recruitment efforts. At last year's district convention, almost a third of those in attendance were not Jehovah's Witnesses, said Larry Messina, one of the organizers of the event. "I think people are interested in who we really are," said Messina, a New Albany, Ind., businessman who became a Jehovah's Witness more than 30 years ago, at the age of 15. Messina was raised a Roman Catholic.
Who they are, said Messina, are Bible-believing Christians who feel commanded to spread their faith, despite negative reception and perception by the public.
Their door-to-door ministry, done by members equipped with literature from the church's publishing company - the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York - has made them the brunt of more than just jokes and complaints. Around the world, members have been persecuted for their beliefs. In the United States, during World War II, Jehovah's Witnesses were jailed for their anti-war stance and refusal to serve in the military. Meanwhile, in Nazi Germany, thousands were sent to death camps. Witnesses' strict adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible - which includes a prohibition on blood transfusions, celebrating birthdays and most holidays and serving in the armed forces - has earned them criticism that they are a cult. "I can't control what other people think about us," said Messina. "I can only tell you what I believe as a Christian and what I believe the Bible tells me to do."
The district convention, which begins today and is open to the public, is primarily a forum for church members to reaffirm their faith with fellow believers. But they also see it an opportunity to demystify the church and its 6 million members around the world. "I'd like people to know we're not fanatics," said Ira Parrish, a church elder and an Evansville businessman who owns a janitorial service. "We're not brainwashed and our children aren't brainwashed. ... There are a lot of things people don't understand about us." Both Parrish and his wife, Natalie, are converts to the religion, as are about 70 percent of its members, said Messina.
Parrish remembers his first Bible study with a Jehovah's Witness, which he said he entered into with great reluctance.
"I thought I'd give them a couple of chances and then tell them to hit the road," he said. "A year later, I was baptized."
Parrish said what he found was a church that offered him instruction in almost every facet of his daily life. Church teachings prescribed conservative values that emphasized morality and traditional family roles. Members of the church - called "publishers" - focus on the study of the Bible, which they believe reveals the foundation for the only true religion. They consider themselves witnesses for Jehovah, a personal name for God, and believe the world is in its "end times," soon approaching a thousand-year reign of Jesus, in which evil will be rid from the world.
Jehovah's Witnesses meet in "Kingdom Halls," modest structures that are built by church members themselves, often during a four-day building blitz.
The buildings are simple for a reason, said Ira Parrish. "We'd rather spend our time preaching than building." The door-to-door preaching can be a daunting task, Parrish concedes. He's faced slammed doors, angry homeowners, chilly and sometimes downright hostile reception. "So did Jesus," said Parrish. "Jesus and his disciples were mocked and martyred." Locally, congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses are growing. There are about 500 members in the Evansville area. There are congregations in Evansville, including a Spanish-speaking congregation that meets in the Kingdom Hall on Maxwell Avenue.
There are also congregations and Kingdom Halls in Henderson, Ky., in Princeton, Boonville, Vincennes, Washington, Jasper and Tell City in Indiana and in Bridgeport, Carmi, Mount Carmel and Olney in Southern Illinois.
DC in Kentucky--Company's Coming
A fine puff piece, just like the WT Society loves to see. But I thought the media was Satanic, dangerous and apostate-filled??? So what gives here? Did Jehovah hijack this Kentucky newspaper?
This was an interesting quote from Ira Parrish, the janitor/elder:
Parrish said what he found was a church that offered him instruction in almost every facet of his daily life.
And yet he claims not to be brainwashed! He obviously fits into the mold of the typical JW convert who wants every decision to be spoon-fed to them! Pathetic.
The WT Society is desperate to try to spin the publicity, so that it looks like people are knocking down all barriers to attend one of their precious conventions. Did Mr. Messina REALLY claim that one-third of the attendees are not JW's? From what part of the thin air in the atmosphere did he pull that fraction? He must be counting children of JW's and non-JW spouses. Then they emphasize that there are 2 different weekends to attend, because they want people to know space will be available.
The main space available at conventions is that space created inside the brains of the attenders.
You know, this peice is like so many others I have read from around the country. Funny how they garner so much attention in the press, huh?
Well, I will tell you what I think.
I am from Indiana, and I know Southern Indiana very well. It is a rural area, and the economy sucks really bad...There is no money in farming here for the average family.
So there is a big economy boosting effort going on here. There is a big highway that is going to start being built, to link Indianapolis with Evansville, straight through the heartland.
It has been very controversial, and IMO, the people said no in the majority, but government won out.
In recent years, gambling was given the OK, and Southern Indiana is now a haven for river boat gambling,
Not to mention the Indiana State Lottery.
All these things were passed by legislation, not by memorandom vote.
What I am trying to say is, The press gives these clowns positive press, because they need the boost economically.
The WT knows how to pull strings, and that is why they move their assemblies to depressed areas.
They know they will garner support, and have good press.
In this area at least, they need not hold any seats for converts, however..LOL
Well, the Society is right about one thing - you can't believe anything that the Satanic media says.
So Satan once again serving Jehovah. My goodness for such a dispicable evil character bent on destroying humanity he certainly succombs to the great gods choke hold Seems to me Satan could put up a better front or ---hey wait a minute here --- maybe Satan son of Jehovah and Jehovah are in cahouits (sp?) Maybe --- showing all those sisters cleaning while carrying their infants and the brothers yaking away is a subtle message --- "misogynists are welcome ."