Janesville Asembly Hall Hosts conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout July and August
JANESVILLE, Wis. – After a three-year pandemic pause, one of the largest convention organizations in the world chose Janesville, Wisconsin, as the site for one of its global three-day events on Aug. 4-6: the 2023 “Exercise Patience”! Convention.
While this year was the first time the Janesville Assembly Hall hosted three-day conventions, it has had a rich history of welcoming thousands of visitors for shorter assemblies since 1976.
In 1975, Jehovah’s Witnesses broke ground on the assembly hall property, and the first program was held on Jan. 10, 1976.
Before the pandemic, driving to the Janesville conventions was a family tradition for thousands every year. Whereas one favorite aspect of the conventions was to spend time with friends and family, the main attraction was always the spiritual education families received.
The drive to Janesville this year was worth the effort for longtime attendees like Barry Weatherall, who first made the trip from Milwaukee as a small child.
“What I have loved about attending assemblies in Janesville throughout the years is the excitement of meeting new families and people from all over and, in many cases, becoming lifelong friends,” he said. “It’s amazing to remember the initial design of the assembly hall, of volunteering for cooking and cleaning assignments, and being trained by older friends.”
Weatherall now travels from Milwaukee to the Janesville Assembly Hall with his family. “I feel that taking my family to assemblies is part of their inheritance–part of their heritage and history,” he said.”
The Janesville area has also benefited from returning visitors. According to the Janesville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jehovah’s Witnesses bring more than $2.6 million into the area each year. Despite the closure of the property during the pandemic, Janesville has again welcomed conventiongoers for three-day convention sessions since July 7. The programs will continue to be offered through Aug. 27, 2023.
“We truly loved our virtual convention programs during the pandemic, but nothing can replace the warm embrace of friends and learning together in a large group,” said Paul Smith, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We’ve had to exercise patience while waiting for the opportunity to meet in person for conventions like these. Although the virtual conventions kept us safe over the last three years, being back, especially in a familiar place like Janesville, brings such joy.”
Some 6,000 conventions are being held worldwide as part of the 2023 “Exercise Patience”! Convention series. In the United States alone, more than 700 conventions are going on in 144 host cities. From Friday through Sunday, six convention sessions explore the quality of patience, highlighting its modern-day relevance through Scriptural examples. A live baptism is performed following each Saturday morning session, and a prerecorded drama is featured in two parts during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions.
The “Exercise Patience”! conventions will continue at the Janesville Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses through Aug. 27, 2023. They are open to the public, and no collections are taken. For more information on the program or to find other convention locations and dates, please visit jw.org and select the “About Us” tab.