Staff Photo: John Bohn Wendell Dallas, his wife Ruth and children Whitney, Brianna and Oliver attend a District Convention of Jehova's Witnesses at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Over 8,000 people attended the event, with nearly 70 persons being baptised on Saturday.
DULUTH -- First, Tiffany Bryant was cleansed by the water, giggling as she emerged from the baptismal.
Then her husband Michael took a dip, affirming the family's faith as two of more than 50 Jehovah's Witnesses baptised during an annual convention in Duluth Saturday.
"It just felt right," Tiffany Bryant said, shivering after leaving the warm pool of water behind.
She described a childhood in the faith, but said it took studying the Bible with her mother before she passed away for her to make the commitment Saturday.
Knowing the pair's two young children would grow up in the faith, she said, made the family baptism even more satisfying.
"It's very special," Bryant said, holding her husband's wet hand. "It's nice to know we are devoting our hearts, souls and minds together."
About 8,000 witnesses from throughout North Georgia converged on the Arena at Gwinnett Center this weekend, taking part in the first of four weekends devoted to annual conventions for the local congregations.
Designed for the entire family, the weekend is devoted to spiritual teachings and is one of only two opportunities a year for congregants to be baptised.
"This helps us to be effective in the ministry," Wendell Dallas said of the event.
Dallas and his family have devoted themselves to telling people in the community about their faith, even learning the Hindi language, which is spoken in India, to reach a growing population in Gwinnett.
"We can speak to people in their native tongue, to speak to their hearts," said 18-year-old Whitney, who spurred the family's pursuit of the language, along with her sister Brianna, 15.
The Dallases plan to attend a Hindi convention in New York next month but said the local event serves to help them learn in their first language before learning to teach in their second one.
"Being a teenager in this world right now, there's a lot more drinking in school. There's a lot more drugs in school," Whitney said. "(The lessons) show how applying God's values to our lives benefits, instead of falling victim to mainstream values."
Leaders estimate a total of 32,000 witnesses will take part in one of the four weekends. Events are scheduled for July 20-22, Aug. 17-19 and Aug. 24-26.