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More than 38,000 people from four states and 40 countries are gathering this weekend at Husky Stadium for a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For years, conventions have been held at the Tacoma Dome, but because this is an international convention, a bigger venue was needed.

There are nearly 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, according to

The Seattle convention is one of 16 international convention sites in the U.S. this year and one of nearly 200 regional conventions heldannually for people to learn about the kingdom of God and how to apply the teachings of the Bible to modern issues, said Jim Nelson, regional spokesman for the event.

“It helps all of us become better educated to carry the message of God’s kingdom,” he said. “Everyone follows along in their Bible and takes notes … much like being in a university classroom.”

This year’s convention theme is “Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom!” and includes speakers from the national headquarters in New York, performances that incorporate scripture with real-world scenarios, as well as baptisms.

On Saturday, nearly 300 people were baptized, six at a time, in two portable pools set up in a Husky Stadium end zone.

“We baptized people of all ages, size and shape. Males. Females. And from preteens to the very elderly,” Nelson said. “Everything has worked very smoothly here in Seattle … I know the traffic has not been that nice, but we have worked through it all.”

The three-day event concludes Sunday.

The convention will be back in Tacoma next year but may return to Seattle in a few years when it is time to host another international event, Nelson said.

Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or On Twitter @coralgarnick