Mechanics Bank Arena to Host First Large Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses Since 2019
After a three-year pandemic pause, one of the largest convention organizations in the world has once again chosen the Central Valley to host its global three-day event, the 2023 “Exercise Patience”! Convention.
Prior to 2020, summers in the Central Valley were marked by Jehovah’s Witnesses filling hotels and restaurants as they attended their annual conventions at the Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield. In 2020, the pandemic interrupted that tradition when the Witnesses canceled their in-person events throughout the world and held their convention programs as virtual events in more than 500 languages. Earlier this month, the Witnesses brought the tradition back to the Central Valley. They will once again host the three-day weekend programs in English on 07/21/23 through 07/23/23, and in Spanish on 07/28/23 through 07/30/23. Times for both will be from 9:20 am through 4:50 pm daily.
“My family and I have been attending Conventions in Bakersfield for over 26 years,” said Jeff Gregory, a long-time resident of Tulare and local spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We are so excited to see our friends and neighbors from Tulare, Visalia, and all of the Central Valley in-person after this pause.”
Some 6,000 conventions will be held worldwide as part of the 2023 “Exercise Patience”! Convention series. In the United States alone, more than 700 conventions will be held in 144 host cities. From Friday through Sunday, six convention sessions will explore the quality of patience, highlighting its modern-day relevance through Scriptural examples. A live baptism will be performed following the Saturday morning session and a prerecorded drama will be featured in two parts during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions.
“With the uncertainty of the world today, we could all use a refresher course in patience,” said Gregory. “We certainly have had to practice this quality as we waited years to go back to our roots of attending in-person. Virtual conventions were an amazing tool, but seeing warm smiles and having a hug from our friends just melts away stress.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been holding public conventions in stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and theaters around the world for more than 100 years. After resuming smaller in-person meetings and their public ministry during 2022, the summer of 2023 marks the first time they will gather at much larger regional events around the world since the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
The convention is open to the public and no collection is taken. For more information on the program or to find other convention locations and dates, please go to jw.org and navigate to the “About Us” tab.