More than 3,400 Jehovah's Witnesses are in Fort Smith for a three day convention that kicked off Friday (July 5).
The delegates come from western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma for the family-oriented program which features talks from religious leaders and experts at the Fort Smith Convention Center downtown.
All sessions of the “God’s Word Is Truth” District Convention are open to the public.
“This focuses on some of the wonderful direction we can receive from God used to deal with an cope with the problems and difficulties that we all have to deal with in these difficult times in which we live,” said Kenneth Rader, news service director for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The out-of-town visitors each year brings a big boost to the local economy.
“They’re renting this space here and there also eating at the local restaurants and gassing up their cars locally and all that helps impact the economy," said Convention Center Director Tim Seeburg.
Business at the convention center is slower during summer months so having 3,439 Jehovah's Witnesses in town pack the center is welcomed.
"When we have these fine folks here that we have now, it keeps us busy when we like to be busy and when we need the business most and when this community needs it most," Seeburg said.
Herbert Wright says the group hopes everyone can benefit from this weekend's convention.
“Times are kind of crazy right now and people are looking for some sort of standard to adhere to and we have found that the Bible is a book of standards it has explicit council for men, how we can be better husbands, wives how they can be better wives, and parents how they can be better,” Wright said.
Next weekend the same program for Spanish speaking Jehovah’s Witnesses will make it way back to town with close to 4,500 attending.
"Same impact, if not more than this week as far as how many folks are staying at hotels and how many are eating at restaurants just a larger group and more activity for us,” Seeburg said.