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Thousands Of Jehovah's Witnesses To Converge In St. Louis

The event is one of several religious conventions this year at the Dome at America's Center including The United Pentecostal Church International's North American Youth Congress earlier this month.
International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses

More than 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses will gather in downtown St. Louis next weekend as part of a convention at The Dome at America’s Center.

The three-day event called Love Never Fails begins on Friday.

Ken Lenoir, a local Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman, said that beyond the annual gathering of the faith, the group intends to talk about how to move forward without hatred following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. 

The public talk titled “How to Show Love in a Hate-Filled World” is scheduled for Sunday.

“We think that’s something that will certainly resonate and show how we can all show love,” Lenoir said. “It will help us in a really practical way to kind of shun the hatred and prejudice that we see in the world today.”

He said the session was set before the shootings earlier this month in Texas and Ohio, in which a gunman in El Paso killed 22 and another in Dayton killed nine

Boost for City Businesses

Plans for the Aug. 16-18 convention have been in the works for more than two years. 

Travel logistics alone will involve more than 50 buses, running more than 90 routes involving more than 700 volunteers.

The effort is a big deal for the city. 

Although Explore St. Louis, the city’s convention and tourism arm, is not discussing the potential economic impact of the Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering, its annual report indicates the event is expected to book 48,640 room nights.

Based on that metric, it is expected to be one of the largest convention and group events of 2019 in St. Louis.

In a follow-up email, Lenoir stated the gathering will likely generate more than $16 million in direct spending.

Local volunteers have spent the past few weeks preparing for the upcoming gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Louis.
Credit International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses
Local volunteers have spent the past few weeks preparing for the upcoming gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Louis.

In the convention and tourism industry, direct spending is often defined as money visitors spend in several areas including food, lodging, transportation, shopping and entertainment.

The event is also helping raise the city’s international convention profile. It’s part of a series of conventions Jehovah’s Witnesses are holding this year in 22 cities and 18 countries. The gatherings are occuring in places like Johannesburg, Paris, Seoul and Phoenix.

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Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.