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Jehovah's Witness convention draws thousands to Belton

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TWC News: Jehovah's Witness convention draws thousands to Belton
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Walking from street to street, Stephan Lugo has taken his message to his friends and neighbors for years.

"As dedicated servants to Jehovah we go door to door," Lugo said.

And for more than a decade, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have met annually at the Bell County Expo Center. This conference is a part of a national convention being held simultaneously in 103 cities across the United States.

"This weekend here, we are learning things that as an individual we can adapt and apply to our lives, that will help us be better servants but that will bring us more peace to our heart and a lot more satisfaction in helping others," Richard Martinez said.

As the country works out of a recession, Richard Martinez says more people have been receptive to at least hear their message.

"One of the things we have seen because of the economy is that is one of the things that does affect us all,” Martinez with the church said. “Rather then look at those things from a negative aspect we are asked to look at those from a positive."

Organizers say the church population grew about three to four percent in the past year.

"Now that the economy is not doing well, people are more focused on why is that, and what can we do about it," Martinez said.

While the denomination's total population and its growth may be modest compared to some of it mainstream counterparts, any growth at all might be seen as an achievement.

A new Gallup poll released this month shows most Americans have lost confidence in organized religion.
Only 44 percent of Americans have a "great deal" or a lot of confidence in the church or organized religion. A decline from the 68 percent recorded in the early 1970s.

"We know it is very treacherous out there and we want to make sure that through the bible we find comfort," Lugo said.

Over 6,000 delegates are expected to attend each of the six three-day conventions. All of the conventions are open to the public and are free.

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