June 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses enrich their spirit at Detroit convention

Detroit — Dwayne Willis, a new convert to the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, said he was happy to join thousands of other faithful for a spirit-filled, three-day conference at Ford Field that ended Sunday.

“I came and got what I needed from it,” said Willis, an 18-year-old Detroiter. “I think everybody enjoyed it.”

Willis and tens of thousands of other Jehovah’s Witnesses took part the international convention of the faith.

Next month, thousands are expected in the city for a second, identical convention.

The second conference is scheduled for July 25-27, and both are expected to attract an estimated 90,000 people total — including 5,000 from 10 countries, said Donald Guinn, convention spokesman.

The free event features theatrical productions, presentations, prayers and singing underscoring this year's theme, drawn from Matthew 6:33 — “Keep seeking first God’s kingdom!”

For Melinda Williams and her 17-year-old daughter, Plachet, the event was religiously enriching.

“I enjoyed the convention, and I got a lot of spiritual food,” Williams said Sunday.

Williams and her daughter said they also enjoyed seeing some of the colorful costumes that church members from other parts of the world wore to some of the meetings.

“It was also a cultural event,” she said.

The Detroit event kicked off 94 similar Jehovah’s Witnesses conventions nationwide this summer and is the first one in Metro Detroit since 2003, when followers filled the Pontiac Silverdome.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses conference is one of at least eight spiritual-themed meetings, conventions and conferences that are scheduled through October, all but one in Detroit. More than 110,000 are expected to attend.

bwilliams@detnews.com
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Above: More than 35,000 Jehovah's Witnesses met to sing, pray and study the Bible at their convention in Detroit. / Photos by Brandy Baker / The Detroit News
Right: LaKeisha Howard of Detroit holds son Sean, 6, as they listen to the ... (Photos by Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)