OGDEN — More than 4,000 Jehovah's Witnesses gathered in Ogden this weekend during the faith's global convention.
For Alyssa Landeros, who was baptized on Saturday during the convention, the yearly gathering "helps us not only spiritually grow, but it helps encourage us to, if we're having problems at work or school or with family, it helps us through that. And it's something that we look forward to all year."
The event, which has taken place at the Dee Events Center for about 30 years, was estimated to bring about $2.5 million in revenue to the city as Jehovah's Witnesses from around the state and neighboring states converged on Ogden, according to event organizers.
The convention featured several symposium related to the topic "Love Never Fails," focused on studying Jesus Christ's love for others and how those in the faith can follow his example in their service.
Landeros says she was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, left and then later returned as an adult. After preparing for baptism for a few years, she and her husband were baptized along with 35 others.
Getting ready for the day "was difficult. It could be difficult. But it was also really easy with all of our brotherhood that helps us as well. Once we decided, it was a lot easier," Landeros, of Layton, said. "Hopefully a lot of good things come out of it."
In order to qualify for baptism, candidates must go through steps including studying the Bible and making a public declaration of their faith, according to the faith's website. Members are baptized around the world during the global convention and other smaller conventions during the year, said Michael Overholt, a media host at the event.
Those who were to be baptized on Saturday formed a long line behind a portable baptismal font while a projector displayed the baptisms for the crowd in the bleachers. The newest members' family members in turn converged in front of the font, snapping pictures and cheering them on as two men immersed them in the water.
Overholt said that while the faith has about 8.5 million members, 14 million people worldwide turn up for the conventions, which are open to the public.
Speakers during one of Saturday morning's symposium talked about ministering to others with love.
Edwin Shaw, a local leader out of Burley, Idaho, discussed barriers that would prevent people from ministering. He emphasized the importance for those of the faith to combat "lies that are spread about God."
Some of those lies are that "he's distant" and doesn't care about people, or that he's incomprehensible or unfair. Another lie is that sicknesses and deaths are caused by God, according to Shaw.
A powerful motivation for ministering is to "help set the record straight about God," Shaw said. But shyness and the exhaustion felt by many in their daily lives can be barriers to ministering.
"It's not easy to go knock on the doors of strangers," Shaw explained. He encouraged fellow members of the faith to use prayer to help give them the energy to minister, and to practice what they'll say before they go out and try to spread their message.
Joel Ochoa, another local leader, focused on the principle loving others as ourselves and how it can be applied to service.
"If all we had were these warm, fuzzy feelings for people and yet we never acted on them, you see, that would fall short of what true and unfailing love truly is," Ochoa said. However, "We do not give up on people."
He encouraged members to show love and patience, even when they're hated and persecuted for their beliefs, and to remember that "anyone can change."