The Jehovah’s Witnesses community in Malta will next month host a big convention in Malta, hoping the event would help them shed the stigma associated with them.

About 1,600 delegates from all over the world are expected to come to Malta for a three-day Jehovah’s Witnesses convention, which will be held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.

The local community, which numbers about 600, is hoping the conference would be an ideal occasion to set the record straight and dispel certain misconceptions about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“We want to showcase our social dimension as we do a lot of voluntary work to assist families in need” Andrew Dimech told the Times of Malta.

The event, which will be held between October 16 and 18 will also spill over to Gozo which half of the delegates will be touring to learn more about its culture.

We want to showcase our social dimension as we do a lot of voluntary work to assist families in need

The 2015 Special Convention could raise some eyebrows especially among those of a certain age in view of the fact that there was a time when the Jehovah’s Witnesses were perceived as a threat to the Catholic Church in Malta.

Up to a few years ago, yellow stickers “prohibiting” people belonging to this “sect” from doing house visits could still be seen affixed next to doorbells.

These notices were distributed at the height of an aggressive campaign by the Church in a bid to fend off the spread of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malta.

However, 30 years later and as Church attendances decline, tensions have been defused and the “threat” is not so menacing any longer.

“So far, we only have words of praise for the civil authorities, such as the Malta Tourism Authority and the transport watchdog, because they have been very forthcoming to our requests,” Mr Dimech said.

He made sure to highlight the multiplier effects on the economy which the forthcoming conference would have.

“The timing of the event during the low tourist season is like a blessing for the industry because the majority of delegates will be staying in Malta from October 12 to 23 across nine hotels,” he said.

Asked about the financing of the event, he said the delegates themselves would cover all the expenses while Maltese volunteers would help out from the organisational aspect.

During their stay, the delegates will be touring the island as part of a separate programme on the fringe of the convention which will include open-top bus tours and visits to heritage sites in both Malta and Gozo.

An army of volunteers are working around the clock to produce about 2,000 bookmarks made of traditional Maltese lace.

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