Almost 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses are meeting at Flanders Expo in Ghent for a 3-day international congress under the banner “Let’s emulate Jesus”, starting on Friday. Almost 160 new adepts will be baptised in one of 3 pools provided for that purpose. The 8 halls in the congress complex can welcome 37,000 people. The programme consists of readings, conferences, interviews, and films. 13 languages will be spoken including 2 sign languages. “Some parts of the programme will take place simultaneously, and will thus need to be translated or subtitled in one of these languages,” explains the spokesperson for the gathering, Wim Van Hende. Special zones are provided to welcome the over 65s, the less mobile, and babies.
In view of the heat wave, the organisers have planned to use air conditioning to regularly cool the paths. “Several thousand bottles are being provided by the congress organisation, with priority given to the more vulnerable,” adds Wim Van Hende. Ghent hotels are fully booked on this occasion and many congressmen and women have found accommodation in private homes. There are 25,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgium. They number approximately 8.2 million worldwide.