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Jehovah’s Witness convention returns to Idaho


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 Numbering 8.4 million worldwide, the Jehovah’s Witness faith is derived from a unique and, to some Christians, perhaps radical interpretation of both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. Members are devoutly Christian, yet do not venerate the cross or any other symbols, abstain from many mainstream seasonal celebrations and avoid politics so assiduously that devotees do not vote.

    Late last month, more than 4,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses gathered in Nampa for the first regional convention in Idaho in more than 20 years. About 180 followers of this tradition are active in the Wood River Valley, gathering at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall at 2731 Shenandoah Drive in Hailey.

    “We have been in the Wood River Valley as a congregation since the 1960s,” said Kevin “Keb” Anderson, a “publisher,” or baptized member, of the congregation.  

    “A publisher is a minister of the good news,” Anderson said. “Both men and women, they teach and preach about a real kingdom government described in the Bible that will bring true peace and security to the earth. Our hopes and plans are that others will learn what we are teaching from the Bible.”

    He said that after the Armageddon prophesied in the Bible, only 144,000 people will take places in the heavenly realm, but billions more faithful could enjoy perfect health for eternity on Earth.

    “Just as it was originally intended for Adam,” he said.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses began as a Bible study group in 1870 in Pittsburgh, Pa., headed by Charles Taze Russell. According to Wikipedia, an apocalypse was expected by the faithful in 1914 and at several future dates, including 1975, neither of which transpired.

Royce Porkert, of the media services department operating the Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention, said the group no longer espouses a particular date for Armageddon.

“We don’t live by a date anymore,” Porkert said. “1914 was a significant year. So was 1975. But the Bible says we know neither the day nor the hour, so keep on the watch.”

    Porkert cites numerous biblical references in describing his creed. He said the Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as their savior and as the son of God. He said the Kingdom of God is a real government in heaven, not a condition in the hearts of Christians.

    “It will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth. Jesus is the king of God’s Kingdom in heaven. He began ruling in 1914,” he said.

    According to Porkert, deliverance from sin and death is possible through the “ransom” sacrifice of Jesus that was ordained by Jehovah God to set right the sins that began in the Garden of Eden.

    “In a sense, Jesus stepped into Adam’s place in order to save us,” states the jw.org website, the official website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “By sacrificing, or giving up, his perfect life in flawless obedience to God, Jesus paid the price for Adam’s sin.”

    To benefit from this sacrifice, Jehovah’s Witnesses must not only exercise faith in Jesus but also change their course of life and get baptized. A person’s works prove that his faith is alive, Porkert said.

    “However, salvation cannot be earned—it comes through the undeserved kindness of God,” he said.

    According to the Jehovah’s Witness creed, people who do not reach salvation will die and pass out of existence.

    “They do not suffer in a fiery hell of torment,” Porkert said. “God will bring billions back from death by means of a resurrection. However, those who refuse to learn God’s ways after being raised to life will be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection.”

    Starting in September, the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be offering to the community a program titled “Where Can You Find Comfort?”

    In October, the group will start a special campaign to invite people to meetings on Sundays at 1 p.m.

    “Each Sunday in October, there will be a different talk subject that will appeal to the public,” Anderson said. “All of our meetings are open to the public and collections are never taken.”

    For more information, go to www.jw.org.

http://www.mtexpress.com/news/state_regional/jehovah-s-witness-convention-returns-to-idaho/article_a761c296-6014-11e6-a46b-db5d000dc5f5.html

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