Historic Gathering Takes Place for Spanish-Speaking Jehovah's Witnesses

First-ever two-day Spanish assembly held in Suffolk County drew about 1,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, including members of the Mt. Sinai congregation.

When 1,000 Spanish-speaking Jehovah's Witnesses – including members of the Mt. Sinai congregation on North Country Road – gathered for a convention in Wainscott this weekend, it was the first time such an assembly had taken place in Suffolk County.

Assemblies are meant to be faith strengthening, according to Tim Purscell, the assembly overseer. The gatherings have biblical precedent with the Israelites traveling to Jerusalem. The program — under the theme of "Safeguard Your Mind" — includes music, prayer, ministry school and various symposiums, and lasted about eight hours on both days.

Much larger assemblies have been held at the old Yankee stadium, where over 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses would gather, and at Nassau Coliseum, where over 12,000 would come together.

The circuit assembly, composed of 12 Spanish-speaking congregations in Suffolk County, was never able to meet before in the county for a two-day convention, but has instead had to travel to Nassau County and Queens for venues large enough to accommodate them, Purscell said.

This particular assembly was scheduled to be held in Queens on Nov. 3 and 4, just after Hurricane Sandy roared through New York. Since many were without electricity, telephones, water and even the gas to travel the distance, the two-day event was postponed. The Sunnyside Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses was booked with other events for the rest of the year, and Purscell said it appeared as if the event was going to have to be put off until the middle of 2013. "Nothing was open for two days," he said.

With God's help, the organizers said, they found East Hampton Studio — a large, mostly empty space near the East Hampton Airport.

Rory Hemby, an elder in the Southampton Spanish congregation, knows Michael Wudyka, who leases the warehouse space that is used to house WVVH-TV and is used for film production and special events. Wudyka offered them a reasonable rental fee and arrangements were quickly made last week to turn the empty space into a Kingdom Hall for worship.

About 100 volunteers all over the county, some of whom are members of the English-speaking congregations, gave their time on Friday to transform the space — from setting up over 1,000 chairs to setting up sound equipment that was brought in from the Jehovah's Witness headquarters in Bethel.

While some Christian denominations are seeing declining numbers, the number of Jehovah's Witnesses continues to grow, Purscell said.

There are about 1,000 active Spanish-speaking members, or publishers as Jehovah's Witnesses are known, in Suffolk County, and another 4,000 or so English-speaking, he said. There are over 8 million around the world.

One aspect of assemblies are baptisms, where members make a public declarations of their faith. There is usually a baptismal pool, but due to logistical constraints, the organizers decided instead to use a jacuzzi at a private home. The Edwards family of East Hampton offered theirs for the 12 baptismal candidates, including a 75-year-old man. They were immersed in water to signify the end of their formal life and the birth of their new life, devoted to God. It is not considered a cleansing, as it is in other religions.

The assembly's focus is on education. Those in attendance take notes and listen for answers to such questions as, "How can husbands, wives, parents and children contribute to family happiness?" and "How can we be ready for Jehovah's day?"

"The beauty of Jehovah's Witnesses is that we teach the scriptures — it's simple. There's no mystery in the scriptures," Purscell said.

Assemblies are open to the public and are free. Participants can make monetary contributions, but it is not mandatory.

Though there are a total of 12 congregations that meet in Spanish, members of only 9 of them travelled to Wainscott. Three others, closer to the Nassau County border, joined their assembly, which made this assembly a little bit smaller than usual.

Two of the Spanish-speaking congregations are located on the East End; in Water Mill and Riverhead. Others are located in Mt. Sinai, Brentwood, Central Islip, and Patchogue.

The congregations draw from all over the county. Purscell, for instance, lives in Wheatley Heights and works as a Spanish translator at the Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead. Hemby, who lives in Bridgehampton, grew up attending Kingdom Hall on the South Fork, and joined the Spanish-speaking congregation after he married.

Participants were from all different types of Latino nationalities — Dominican, Ecuadorian, El Salvadorian, Colombian, Mexican, and Chiliean, just to name a few.

"These are gatherings we look forward to," said George Nunez, an elder from Babylon who works in the accounting department. He said he hopes the circuit can work with East Hampton Studios in the future, because the space worked out so well for them. Volunteers even made some improvements to the space, patching up plaster and painting.

Purscell and Hemby said the community's help was integral in making the event possible. "Bruce from Outpost Porta-Potty, Elias Ramierez from Southampton Floors, Watermill Building Supply, the East Hampton Town Board, the Fire Marshall and the Police helped streamline the permitting process, and many others also helped. Everyone has been wonderful," Hemby said.

Editor's Note: Rory Hemby is the brother of the author's fiancé.

Solomon Ruffo November 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Jehovah's Witnesses go door to door with a false Gospel (Gal.1:8) they teach Jesus 'return' or his 'invisible' second coming October 1914.
Beth Soloman November 19, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Jehovah's Witnesses are not just "another religion". They use deception and coercive tactics much like hard core cults.
Margarett November 20, 2012 at 09:20 AM
No false doctrine. 1914 was a megahit. Russell and the Bible Students hit the 'year', the 'season' (autumn, due to calculating from the autumn of 607 BCE) and the events. The first horseman of Revelation (Jesus invisible global return) and the second horseman (global war) Things are unfolding slower than thought, but exactly as thought. Since 1914, Armageddon was no longer the biggest war imaginable. Armageddon will commence before earth succumbs to man.
Adina Hope November 20, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Apostasy is running rampant in the Watchtower org. Many Jehovah's Witnesses are "throwing the towel in". They have had enough! The Organization's rapidly changing doctrines and ambiguous, foolish, and restrictive articles in their publications are creating the "Great disconnect". Judicial committees are working overtime to combat the hemorrhage of Witnesses doubting, questioning, and leaving the Watchtower Org. The evidence is very clear, websites,forums,blogs,etc. are being inundated by active Witnesses now expressing their true feelings all those "touched by the tentacles of the Watchtower". The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses message is now old, stale and now PROVEN wrong. I expect the membership to actually start declining in the US and other industrialized countries real soon. I keep wondering what the WTS is going to do next, new end of the world date? That too is so old and predictable. I guess the whole JW thing has just become tired and boring. Kinda like a never ending soap opera.
K. November 20, 2012 at 04:20 PM
One individual knocked on my door with his message and pamphlets. He was extremely enthusiastic and would not stop badgering me. I don't htink he was just a Jehovah's Witness, I think he was Jehovah's Key Witness!
James November 20, 2012 at 08:35 PM
That group also opposed transplants considering like cannibalism, including cornea transplants, so a Jehovah's Witness with vision problems may go blind if he followed these guidelines. You can call this the truth. Awake! - In its edition of December 8, 1968, on p. 21 and 22: "Although thousands of corneal transplants are performed each year... There are those, such as Jehovah's Christian witnesses, considering all transplants between humans as cannibalism.... https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3680766860945&set=o.116119031816909&type=1&ref=nf
James November 20, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Due to the alcoholic Rutherford, died many JW innocent and deceived
James November 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
James November 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
While rank and file Jehovah's Witnesses were executed by Hitler, Watchtower leaders supported Hitler and the Nazi regime. Jehovah's Witnesses, Anti-semitism and the Third Reich: The Watch Tower Society's Attempted Compromise with Nazism Letter to Hitler Russell, founder of the Watchtower, was a Zionist and sympathetic to Jews as part of modern day fulfilment of Bible prophecy. Rutherford initially continued such support, but changed by the 1930's to an anti-Semitic stance. "Be it known once and for all that those profiteering, conscienceless, selfish men who call themselves Jews, and who control the greater portion of the finances of the world and the business of the world, will never be the rulers in this new earth. God would not risk such selfish men with such an important position" The Golden Age 1927 Feb 23 p.343 "Jews [are] no longer important to God. … the Balfour Declaration, sponsored by the heathen governments of Satan's organization, came forth, recognized the Jews, and bestowed upon them great favors. The Jews have received more attention at their hands than they really deserved."Vindication - Book II (1932) pp.257,258 http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/hitler-nazi.php
James November 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Judge Rutherford and Alcohol Prohibition The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society denounced liquor prohibition in the USA as the "Devil's work." This article from the Watchtower of November 1, 1924, explains why. "The devil stands for all things evil. He is the very personification of wickedness. Then how could prohibition of intoxicating liquor be the devil's scheme? St. Paul answers: "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness." http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/e1920/rutherford1.htm
Rich Amato November 21, 2012 at 03:24 AM
I went to the same "Safeguard Your Mind" Assembly here in the D.R. It was great! I'm going again in January! I can't thank the organizers enough for these events. If you've never gone to a Jehovah's Witness assembly I strongly recommend it. Everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime. At the very least it will be an interesting experience and more than likely you'll be very impressed.
Lared November 28, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Jehovah has been sooo good to me. I will be eternally grateful to him and his son Christ Jesus for revealing 'the truth' to me and putting me in touch with his people, giving me a purpose and a hope amidst this dying world. Thank-you Jehovah!
Anthony G. December 01, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Jehovah, thank you for being patient with me. I really believe there isn't much time left before everyone will know your name.
bob December 02, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Jehovah Witness have been the only organization that stand by what the Bible teaches. All other religion have the same concept. Which the Bibles does not teach. Every person in this planet would follow the example of Jehovah Witness we would not live in a mess the way the world his heading dead end. Jehovah Witness will continue preach and teach what the bible say, rather you like it or. That is why it is important to read your bible daily and apply other than that. enjoy the ride while it last for all you hater of Jehovah Witness. Bob


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