FARGO - About 4,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will be in Fargo this weekend for a massive three-day regional convention at Scheels Arena.
The "Be Courageous!" 2018 convention here beginning Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1, is one of many around the country and globe, including Hungary, Japan and Australia.
Convention spokesperson Stephen Mostad, of Blackduck, Minn., said the convention for the Dakotas and Minnesota has been held at Fargo's Scheels Arena since 2012 with the exception of 2015, when it was held in Milwaukee.
Mostad said Fargo is a central location for the 55 congregations in the tri-state area that flock here.
Each summer, he said a little more than 500 conventions are held throughout the U.S., where Jehovah's Witnesses make up less than 1 percent of the population. Worldwide, there are nearly 8.5 million Jehovah's Witnesses, though they are banned in some countries like Russia.
The Pew Research Center came out with a study in 2016 following the death of Minnesota's superstar musician Prince, who became part of the Christian religion as an adult.
Other famous members of this denomination include Michael and Janet Jackson, athletes Venus and Serena Williams and Larry Graham of Sly and The Family Stone. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, but left the religion as an adult, as did musicians Patti Smith and Donald Glover.
Jehovah's Witnesses are most known for door-knocking and prophesying with pamphlets. They don't serve in the military or celebrate birthdays and holidays. Mostad said these guidelines are from their interpretations of the first-century model of the Bible that regulate personal decisions.
Conventions are a "spiritual highlight" for all ages, Mostad said.
"Its encouragement. We enjoy being together," he said. "We find in the world we live in experiencing challenges and tragedy, it's nice to find a little oasis where you can be spiritually refreshed."
The free, public event will consist of presentations on family life and prophecies with a feature film on Sunday. Programming starts each day around 9:20 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. On Sunday, programming ends at 4 p.m.
More information about the convention is available at www.jw.org.org.