Everett Jehovah’s Witnesses prepare for convention in Tacoma

EVERETT — Sabrina Slimak usually says a prayer asking for courage before she knocks on a stranger’s door.

As a homeowner in the Pinehurst neighborhood cracked open his door on a recent weekday morning, Slimak explained her purpose. She was inviting the man to an upcoming Jehovah’s Witnesses

convention.

The annual convention taking place at the Tacoma Dome this weekend is expected to draw thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses and people interested in learning about their faith.

Slimak, 33, attends the west Everett Kingdom Hall off Madison Street. Ministering to people in surrounding neighborhoods is part of being a Jehovah’s Witness. Slimak works part-time and ministers about 70 hours a month.

“I see it as life-saving work,” she said. “There is a lot of untruths about God, and it’s nice to have a share in educating people.”

One of the books she carries with her is a brochure explaining in 96 languages her faith’s goals, and offering to provide literature in the person’s native language.

Slimak’s Kingdom Hall recently ordered Bibles in Lao, Danish and Slovak, said John Morley, one of the congregation’s seven elders.

Several congregations meet in the west Everett Kingdom Hall. About 1,000 active Jehovah’s Witnesses live in the Everett area.

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t vote, or otherwise participate in government. They don’t bear arms or salute the flag. They don’t accept blood transfusions.

Slimak’s father, Henry Schwerdtfeger, grew up Protestant but became a Jehovah’s Witness in college. A man he was working for at the time “planted the seed.”

One of the things that appealed to him was that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t take collections: Donations are voluntary and congregation leaders are not paid. Henry and his wife, Helen, live in Issaquah. He is an elder at a local congregation and handles public relations for the convention.

The Schwerdtfegers have traveled to conventions around the world. They remember the time they visited Russia not long after the fall of the Soviet Union. Jehovah’s Witnesses often were harassed in Russia or other post-Soviet countries.

The couple watched with joy as thousands of people in St. Petersburg were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“We had such camaraderie,” Helen Schwerdtfeger said. “Even though we couldn’t speak the same language, we bonded over the truth,”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; kyefimova@heraldnet.com

District convention

The public is invited to the district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The convention runs from 9:40 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. today and from 9:40 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. Sunday at the Tacoma Dome, 2727 East D St., Tacoma. The theme is “Let God’s Kingdom Come.” Admission is free, no collections taken. For more information, go to www.watchtower.org.

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