September 16 2014 Latest news:
Adam Barnett, Reporter
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The godly descended on Newham as thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses sought God’s Kingdom at the ExCel Centre.
Fifteen thousand Christians attended the three-day convention from Friday to Sunday, which was linked-up by video to 15 sites across the country.
The theme of this year’s event, held at the ExCel for the first time, was Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom, and featured talks and sessions to coincide with an even larger convention in Twickenham.
Families turned out in their Sunday best to hear ministers and speakers on large video screens or live on stage discuss family values, health, hard work, and the Kingdom of God.
Surej Sadanandan, 41, a Witness from Forest Gate Kingdom Hall, who attended with his two sons, said the event was “the highlight” of their year.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe people should live by Bible principles, which they say “give purpose to life, promote strong family ties and develop productive and honest citizens”.
They are often to be found outside train stations in London with literature about their faith and go door-to-door spreading their message. Peter Howell, chairman of the convention, and a minister at a Kingdom Hall in Edmonton, said he was impressed by the turnout of worshippers in east London.
“The mixture of nationalities is astonishing,” he said. “The multi-cultural diversity we see.
“The good news of the Kingdom applies to everybody.”
Mr Howell suggested that people from Africa and eastern Europe tend to bring with them a tradition of faith which could account for their interest in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
He said: “There’s a materialism about the west that can kill off that spiritual aspect of people’s lives. So if people come here and adopt the British spirit, there’s less emphasis on family life and spiritual things.”
Mr Howell said the faith, which does not celebrate Christmas or Easter, as they are not in the Bible, follows the teachings of Jesus.
“We’re really teaching what the Bible says,” he said. “And it reaches every aspect of your life.
- A Christian-based religious movement with 6.9million active Witnesses in 235 countries in the world as of 2007, including 130,000 in the UK.
- Produces a magazine, the Watchtower, which claims to have a worldwide readership of 46million.
- Founded in America in the late 19th century by Charles Taze Russell and have their headquarters in New York.
- Believe the Bible is the divinely inspired and historically accurate word of God.
- Believe traditional Christian churches, (which do not recognise them as Christian), have deviated from the true teachings of the Bible.
- Believe the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is irrational and has no basis in the Bible.
- Do not celebrate Christmas or Easter, which they say are pagan-influenced.
- Believe humanity is in the “last days” and that the final battle between Good and Evil will happen soon.
“There’s a lot of religions about who will profess Christianity, but when it comes to sticking to what the Bible says, they say ‘that’s old-fashioned, we’ve moved past that, God will understand’. But what authority have they got for saying that?”
Jehovah’s Witnesses look forward to the transition from the current world system to the Kingdom of God, and believe “Armageddon”, or the end of the world, as described in the book of Revelations, is on it’s way.
In the meantime, they say they try to live by Biblical principles, being “in this world, but not of it”.
Convention over-seer John Taylor, who was tasked with the practical arrangements for this mammoth event, said: “We try to live our lives as best we can in this system, but what we aspire to is in God’s Kingdom.”
The convention had a fairly serene atmosphere, lacking the miraculous healings and appeals for money of some evangelical Christian meetings.
“We make a point of not pressing people to give money,” said Mr Taylor. “It’s not a good thing, it’s not a Christian teaching.”
However, the convention, which was organised and run by volunteers, did accept voluntary donations from attendees.
The Jehovah’s Witness convention was organised by the International Bible Students Association, based in north London.
For more information visit jw.org.