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Aerial shot of the 1946 “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

AUGUST 2, 2021

Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the First Large-Scale International Convention

Historic “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly Set the Standard for Future Gatherings

Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the First Large-Scale International Convention

August 4, 2021, will mark 75 years since the “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly, the first large-scale international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The convention was held August 4-11, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., at the Municipal Stadium and the adjacent Municipal Auditorium.

In the aftermath of World War II, our brothers organized a convention that would be a stark contrast to the military conflict that afflicted the world. The convention included thousands of brothers and sisters from around the world gathered in peace. People of all races and backgrounds would freely associate with one another during a time when segregation was still a common practice in the United States.

The “Glad Nations” convention marked the first time 80,000 Witnesses gathered in one location. After the period of relative isolation resulting from the war, our brothers and sisters were delighted to associate together. The convention included 302 delegates from 32 countries. Brother Nathan H. Knorr delivered the talk “The Prince of Peace” on the final Sunday of the convention.

Exterior of the Municipal Stadium with sign advertising “The Prince of Peace,” the public talk delivered by Brother Knorr

The convention was a success, but it was not without its challenges. On the first day of the convention, the brothers organizing the event faced a major logistical hurdle. The attendance in the Municipal Auditorium outgrew the seating capacity. The brothers needed to use the adjacent stadium to accommodate the crowd for the evening session, which began at 7:45 p.m. But two baseball games were scheduled to be played in that stadium until 6:30 p.m.

During the second baseball game, a thunderstorm caused the crowd attending the game to leave the stadium early. Afterward, the weather cleared, allowing 50,000 Witnesses to file into the stadium in time for the evening session.

Brother Knorr releasing the book “Let God Be True”

At the “Glad Nations” convention a new magazine, Awake!, was released, along with the Bible study aid “Let God Be True.” Also, Brother Knorr announced plans to expand the printery in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A., and branch offices in six other countries.

A major highlight was the baptism of 2,602 people—903 brothers and 1,699 sisters—in nearby Lake Erie. Other highlights included demonstrations of a Watchtower Study and Theocratic Ministry School, as well as music by a 160-piece orchestra.

Some of our brothers and sisters preparing to be baptized

This convention became a model for future conventions. For example, several convention departments were established, such as Attendants, the Chairman’s Office, First Aid, Installation, and Lost and Found.

Brother Ron Little, now an elder in the McKeesport Congregation in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., was 11 years old when he attended the convention with his father and brother. The three slept in the father’s truck for all eight days of the convention.

Brother Little vividly remembers the release of the Awake! magazine. “When they released the Awake!, we were all running around holding it up,” he recalls. “Everyone was trying to place one with you if you didn’t have one in your hand.”

Brother Little, now 86, also remembers being filled with awe seeing so many Witnesses gathered together. “I remember feeling that I didn’t want it to end,” he says. “It was so nice.”

We are deeply grateful to Jehovah for the blessing of our “holy conventions.”—Leviticus 23:2.


The convention program for the “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., from August 4 to 11, 1946

Two sound cars with roof-mounted loudspeakers and signs stating: “Read The Watchtower and Consolation.” The poster on car door is advertising the public talk “The Prince of Peace”

Two girls and their mother standing in front of a sound car. The girls displaying the first issue of the Awake! magazine released at the 1946 “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly. Their mother displaying an issue of The Messenger, a newspaper produced by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society

A brother posing with his two children. Their vehicle is equipped with signs advertising the public talk “The Prince of Peace”

Convention delegates at the Field Service Counter during the 1946 “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly receiving placards advertising the public talk “The Prince of Peace”

Brothers working in the Food Service Department

Convention attendees eating in the cafeteria at the 1946 “Glad Nations” Theocratic Assembly

A large group of convention attendees holding up their copies of the newly released book “Let God Be True”

Brothers outside the convention venue, many of whom had been imprisoned for their faith. Brother Daniel Sydlik (front row, far right), who later served as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is included among them

Baptismal candidates sitting in the front rows

Aerial view of baptism site at Lake Erie