Nearly 6,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses will spend the weekend getting to know each other at Pinnacle Bank Arena during their annual regional convention.
But some of them started early.
Beginning Thursday morning, church members from Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri showed up to clean the venue from floor to ceiling.
And they weren’t just mopping and sweeping. They scraped gum off the bottom of every chair. They vacuumed rooms that no more than two people will set foot in. They wiped down every railing.
And they'll do it all over again after the convention ends Sunday.
“We like to leave the place cleaner than how we found it,” said Brian Esser, who does media relations for the convention.
Witnesses will stay after on Friday and Saturday to do a quick tidying. And after Sunday, some of them will stick around to do another deep clean.
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All told, Esser said, about 1,200 people will volunteer from three to eight hours each.
"On Monday morning the staff that works here will get here, and they’ll have it all nice and clean,” said Ron Ellis, a member of the Eagle Run congregation in Omaha.
Esser said everybody who volunteers has a good time, and he never hears any whining or complaining.
“We have a certain attitude about it, that we’re getting this ready for the public and for the other Witnesses who are coming,” he said.
And Ellis said the work reflects the denomination's beliefs about self-cleanliness.
“We try to be a clean people in everything we do -- morally, spiritually, physically. We’re encouraged to be a clean people.
“We are a part of a very unique brotherhood,” he said. “Most of these people I’ve never met in my life. But I’ll come over and I introduce myself and they introduce themselves and now we’re friends. It comes that quickly.”
That instant friendship tends to be a theme not only at their conventions, Ellis said, but in the group as a whole.
“We are family. It’s not just friends coming together for a religious service. This is family.”
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