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

First-ever two-day Spanish assembly held in Suffolk County drew about 1,000 Jehovah's Witnesses.

When 1,000 Spanish-speaking Jehovah's Witnesses 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 05:33 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.
Blah November 20, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I would say read the bible, but based on what you comment.....plesae STUDY they bible. Bye now
LoveJoy November 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Thank you to everyone in the town of East Hampton for allowing us to gather to promote "Love, Joy, Peace, Kindess, Goodness, Faithfulness", and provide in essence a FREE two day self improving bible based semminars to anyone in the community who wanted to attend.
Solomon Ruffo November 21, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Jehovah's Witnesses go to these rallies to "learn how to strengthen family values" and then they go home and don't speak, eat or recognize (shunning) their own flesh and blood,if they leave the sect. It is their way or the highway. Very sad indeed. They should look at both their heart and their mind. Jehovahs Witnesses group has not had one prediction come true in its 130 years of existence.
Mr.Kindness November 22, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Thank to everyone who helped organized this event that encouraged us to be good neightboors, good citizens by helping our communities effected by hurricane Sandy and if possible volunteer in the long and difficult rebuilding process, the Witneesses Regional Building community service program helps us do that.
Emily Moon November 22, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Dear Mr. Solomon Ruffo, If you ask Jehovah's Witnesses to not return to your home again; they will respectfully not return. I'm just giving you a suggestion. Families now a days disown each other or kill each other too. Did you read the article today about the Brother who stabbed his own Brother and some woman put attacked her [so-called Finance'] with her high heel of her shoe? @LoveJoy Is that the fruitage of what God's spirit produces at Galatians 5:22.23 I think it is because Jehovah's Witnesses are such nice, respectable people. It says 22. On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering [which is patience], kindness, goodness, faith, 23. mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. I love that scripture. It's a favorite of mine; but you missed a few! ha ha... enjoy yourself at your seminar.
Emily Moon November 22, 2012 at 09:57 PM
These Brothers' should disown each other and they are flesh and blood; right? Happy gobble gobble Thanksgiving to you Mr. Ruffo. It's just something to think about. I hope the victim lives; since he is so young. Update Nov. 21, 5 p.m. - A Southampton man is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after being stabbed multiple times on Saturday, and his brother is charged with assault and jailed in lieu of $1 million bail, according to police. Southampton Town police said the victim suffered severe bleeding and a collapsed lung after his brother, who resides with him at a Wiltshire Street home, broke into his bedroom and attacked him with a kitchen knife. Police said 22-year-old Maxwell Irwin used a ladder to enter the bedroom through a window around 6:44 a.m., then stabbed the victim numerous times in the chest and torso. The victim was initially taken to Southampton Hospital, then transfered to Stony Brook University Hospital. Southampton Village and New York State police assisted in a search for Irwin, who fled the scene before officers arrived, town police said. Then around 1 p.m., detectives located Irwin on North Sea Road in Southampton. Irwin is charged with first-degree assault and aggravated contempt, both felonies, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. Police did not say what preceded the alleged attacked.
Adina Hope November 23, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Apostasy is reaching critical mass in the Watchtower Society. 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.
Emily Moon November 23, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Adina Hope--- That simply put; is not the truth! The teachings are the truth. They come from examining the scriptures. What most can't see because the road to salvation is cramped and narrow; is seen clearly. Living by God's principles found in the scriptures is the only way to live. The world is rapidly decaying. Everyday we are one day closer to the real life; however you are certainly entitled to your opinions and your lifestyle. Life is a precious gift from God and is to be cherished. :-)
Stinker November 23, 2012 at 11:02 AM
These dopes don't need Jehova, they all just voted for Obama. Wherever you gather hispanics en masse, you will be setting records. Its called open border policies.

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