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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

29,000 Jehovah's Witnesses arriving

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

About 29,000 Jehovah's Witnesses are expected for an international convention scheduled on two November weekends at the Hawai'i Convention Center, making it among the largest religious meetings ever at the center.

The Christian Congregation of the Jehovah's Witnesses of Hawai'i's meetings are expected to generate more than $100 million in statewide spending. The group is expected to also generate almost $9.8 million in tax revenue with more than 161,000 room-nights booked throughout the state.

Hawai'i congregation spokesman David Fitzgerald said delegates are still signing up for the trip but estimates have grown from the convention center's early tally of 21,000 to 29,000 people who will attend one of the four-day conventions, on Nov. 19 to 22 or Nov. 26 to 29.

The Jehovah's Witnesses number more than 7.1 million members worldwide. They are probably best known for knocking on doors throughout neighborhoods and handing out copies of "The Watchtower" magazine.

Fitzgerald said there are 7,000 to 8,000 congregation members in Hawai'i.

Fitzgerald said the convention is expected to include delegates from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Taiwan.

He said sessions at the convention center in Wai- kiki are free and open to the public. Parts of the program, he said, will be presented in a host of languages and will include Bible study and a dramatic presentation.

"There'll be thousands of people walking around with these little lapel badges," he said.

Fitzgerald said the last time the Hawai'i congregation hosted an international convention here was in 2003, when the meetings were split between the Neal Blaisdell Center and the convention center. Convention center officials said 12,933 people attended those meetings.