ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — Tanya and Joe Laufenberg have both attended Jehovah’s Witnesses conventions annually since they can remember.
“To be among thousands of people that are there," said Joe. "The united feeling that we have when we’re singing together and learning together. Seeing friends.“
Jehovah’s Witnesses have held summer conventions every year in Green Bay since 1975. For the first time, it was canceled last year, due to COVID.
“When you’re walking into the arena, there’s just smiles on peoples faces, joy, excitement," said Tanya. "There’s this buzz in the air that you don’t get from being at home.“
The family has really come to appreciate the virtual convention, which will take place again this year, spread out over six weekends throughout the summer.
“You can enjoy it from the comfort of your home," said Joe. "You have the best seat in the house, there’s no distractions, and so we’ve all found that to be very enjoyable.“
“There might be people that can’t afford to travel, to stay at a hotel," said Tanya. "For the older ones, I know it’s especially nice because it’s difficult for them to make that travel. It’s a little bit of a walk to the arena inside the arena.“
The Laufenbergs are just one of thousands of families who typically trek to Green Bay for convention weekends annually, and they make a great economic impact in Green Bay, said Robert Hendriks, spokesperson for Jehovah's Witnesses.
“We kind of take over the city and because of the city and make it our home for four days," he said. "There’s really a dual relationship here it goes both ways. We help the city and the city helps us. It’s a relationship that we cherish.“
Although members won't be staying in local hotels and eating at restaurants for yet another year, Hendriks is optimistic about an in-person convention for 2022.
“That first hug is going to be very very special," he said.
Tanya is just grateful they can still have the convention, she said.
“There’s so many problems in life," she said. "Lots of things I can test your faith, so I think we all need a little boost right now.“
This summer, free programs will be posted incrementally on jw.org available in 500 different languages.