Jehovah’s Witnesses return to in-person meetings
Published 6:49 pm Friday, April 8, 2022
Suffolk’s Daisy Scott was thrilled when congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses returned to in-person meetings this month.
“I’m overjoyed! I can’t wait to see everyone again in person,” said Daisy Scott, of Suffolk, who’s been attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 20 years.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S. suspended public ministry on March 20, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next two years, they carried on their ministry through letters and phone calls while holding twice-weekly meetings in a virtual format. Average attendance at those meetings exceeded 1.5 million each week in the U.S., church officials said in a news release, even though there are fewer than 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in some 13,000 congregations.
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“There is a collective shout of joy among Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world right now,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “While we have prospered in many ways as individuals and congregations using technology to bring us together, nothing can adequately replace being together in person. We have longed for this moment for the better part of two years.”
The move back to in-person meetings coincides with two global events being held in all 120,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The first is a special lecture on April 10 entitled “Where Can You Find Real Hope?” Additionally, the annual commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ will be held on April 15, “the very day he sacrificed his life 1,989 years ago.” Both of these gatherings will be held in person at local Kingdom Halls with live speakers. No collections are ever taken.
“The timing of resuming in-person meetings could not be better,” said Hendriks. “Bringing everyone back together for these special events will have a powerful effect on the worldwide congregation.”
Guidelines for holding “hybrid” meetings have been sent to all congregations in the United States. Over the past six months, many Kingdom Halls have been equipped with the required technology to hold a meeting for in-person and remote attendees, all of whom can participate in the discussions. A pilot program was held in October and November in countries around the world to assess how this could be done most effectively. The lessons learned in these pilot meetings have helped form the plan for moving forward with reopening all Kingdom Halls, where the law permits.
“It has been heartwarming to see the peace and unity among Jehovah’s Witnesses during this very divisive time,” said Hendriks. “We know resuming in-person meetings will bring us even closer together. We’re anxious to see one another again.”
“I look forward to seeing and upbuilding my friends face to face,” said Scott. “I know I’m going to be in tears.”