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    • By The Librarian
      What is the theme of your baptism year??
      Mine was... Kingdom Truth~1982

      (Although mine was at a Circuit Assembly in Natick, Massachusetts not a district convention)

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      By Guest Nicole
      FARGO — About 4,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will be in Fargo this weekend for a massive three-day regional convention at Scheels Arena.
      The "Be Courageous!" 2018 convention here beginning Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1, is one of many around the country and globe, including Hungary, Japan and Australia.
      Convention spokesperson Stephen Mostad, of Blackduck, Minn., said the convention for the Dakotas and Minnesota has been held at Fargo's Scheels Arena since 2012 with the exception of 2015, when it was held in Milwaukee.
      Mostad said Fargo is a central location for the 55 congregations in the tri-state area that flock here.
      Each summer, he said a little more than 500 conventions are held throughout the U.S., where Jehovah's Witnesses make up less than 1 percent of the population. Worldwide, there are nearly 8.5 million Jehovah's Witnesses, though they are banned in some countries like Russia.
      The Pew Research Center came out with a study in 2016 following the death of Minnesota's superstar musician Prince, who became part of the Christian religion as an adult.
      Other famous members of this denomination include Michael and Janet Jackson, athletes Venus and Serena Williams and Larry Graham of Sly and The Family Stone. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, but left the religion as an adult, as did musicians Patti Smith and Donald Glover.
      Jehovah's Witnesses are most known for door-knocking and prophesying with pamphlets. They don't serve in the military or celebrate birthdays and holidays. Mostad said these guidelines are from their interpretations of the first-century model of the Bible that regulate personal decisions.
      Conventions are a "spiritual highlight" for all ages, Mostad said.
      "Its encouragement. We enjoy being together," he said. "We find in the world we live in experiencing challenges and tragedy, it's nice to find a little oasis where you can be spiritually refreshed."
      The free, public event will consist of presentations on family life and prophecies with a feature film on Sunday. Programming starts each day around 9:20 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. On Sunday, programming ends at 4 p.m.
      More information about the convention is available at www.jw.org.org.

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      By Guest Nicole
      Russia’s top court has ruled that police can confiscate anyone’s electronics for social media posts they deem “extremist” without criminal prosecution.
      Police can impound “any property” of an individual deemed to be an extremist or connected to a terrorist organization, according to the ruling from the Russian Supreme Court. “This property may include cellphones, personal computers, other electronic means of communication,” the resolution reads on the Russian Supreme Court’s website, according to a report from The Moscow Times Thursday.
      For perspective, Russia considers a wide range of political and religious dissent as “extremist” views. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination with its world headquarters in New York, was classified last year as “extremist organization”, putting the religious group into the same category as the likes of the Islamic State (ISIS).
      Yury Kostanov, a member of Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, told Russian media that “there are too many vague formulations in the Supreme Court’s explanations.” He said that the ruling leaves the door open for “the arrest and confiscation of property from an innocent person.”
      On Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement calling on Russia to release more than 150 prisoners being held for religious or political reasons. Washington urged Moscow to “cease its use of the legal system to suppress dissent and peaceful religious practice.”
      In response, the Russian Embassy in the U.S. said: “Members of the American establishment have no moral right to blame Russia and demand that someone be released.” The embassy added that Russia “rejects any attempts of meddling” within internal affairs.

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      By Guest Nicole
      Three-day convention expected to draw around 3,500 people from around the region
      Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be in Barrie for their annual summer convention this weekend.
      Dozens of volunteers were busy on Thursday preparing the Barrie Molson Centre for this weekendÂ’s three-day gathering. From those building the stage and assembling video screens to crews cleaning the arena top to bottom to make it spick and span, it was a hive of activity.
      The convention will draw people from several towns in the area, from Collingwood to Shelburne, Barrie to Aurora and north up to Bracebridge.
      A similar gathering was held in Barrie in 2016 and had 3,700 people in attendance.
      However, Steve Brown, who is handling media for the event, which runs from Friday to Sunday at the BMC, said he expects around 3,500 people this weekend because fewer congregations have been invited.
      “When the announcement was made that we would be going back to Barrie, there was loud applause,” Brown said. “We love coming to Barrie for our convention.”
      Brown called the city “an ideal location.”
      “The city is relatively easy to get around (and) we feel welcome by our hosts at the BMC, hotels and restaurants,” he said.
      Brown said the waterfront is also “perfect” for attending families to stretch and play after a day at the BMC.
      “Barrie is an ideal location for a variety of reasons,” Brown said. “Of course, its central location makes it very convenient for the majority of delegates from this area.
      “However, it is also ideal because the convention venue is the perfect size for our needs,” he said. “Additionally, Barrie has the great hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities that are required to care for the needs of several thousand visiting delegates.”
      Brown said the convention is a great way to connect.
      “Our conventions are three wonderful days in a spiritual paradise,” he said. “Family groups, young people, couples and our dear older ones all eagerly attend.
      “The Bible-based program is the primary reason for the delegates to be there,” Brown added. “Nonetheless, the opportunity to associate with our brothers and sisters before and after the sessions is an unmistakable highlight.”
      The convention includes talks, interviews and the sharing of experiences as well as music, videos and a feature film.  
      “We are always delighted by the quality of the teaching and how interesting the program is,” Brown said.
      This year’s theme is ‘Be Courageous’ and all presentations will focus on courage.
      “We all need courage in our daily routines,” Brown said. “At school and in the workplace, people may be exposed to bullying, harassment, ridicule and other unwelcome pressures.
      “Living by Bible standards, as we strive to do, requires extra courage because it sometimes puts us out of step with what’s going on around us,” he said.
      World conditions can also cause fear and concern, Brown added.
      “This convention program will provide much in the way of reminders, suggestions and encouragement to forge ahead, doing what is right , even when it is difficult to do so,” he said.

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      By Guest Nicole
      About 3,500 Jehovah's Witnesses will meet in Billings Friday through Sunday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark for their annual regional convention.
      Members come from the eastern half of Montana, western North and South Dakota and northern Wyoming, said media spokesman Joe Kurkowski. The public is also invited to attend any of the sessions, he said.
      "There are no collections taken and it's a completely free event," Kurkowski said.
      The morning session begins at 9:20 a.m. each day. The afternoon sessions start at 1:25 p.m. on Friday and at 1:35 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
      Similar conventions are held throughout the United States and around the world between May and September, Kurkowski said. The theme this year at all the conventions is "Be Courageous."
      For more information, go online to www.jw.org

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