CHESTER —Breaking a century-old tradition, the largest convention organization in the world has moved its annual in-person event to a virtual format for the second time in as many years, canceling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 lands.
For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses from New Hampshire have attended annual conventions throughout New England, including at the JFK Memorial Coliseum in Manchester for a few years in the 1960s. In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition moving the international religious organization to cancel in-person conventions throughout the world and launch a global virtual event. This was a first for Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have held public conventions in stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and theaters around the world since 1897.
“Powerful by Faith!” is the theme of the 2021 global event, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages to households throughout the globe over six weekends during July and August 2021, uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries. Since the convention is typically held from Friday through Sunday, the program will be available in six installments corresponding to morning and afternoon sessions. “Friday’s” morning and afternoon sessions are currently available for streaming or download.
Bill Tseko was 5 years old when he and his family attended the District Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses held at the JFK Memorial Coliseum in 1962. “My father and I would visit shopkeepers and ask if we could put invitations in the windows,” he said. “The convention was the highlight of our family’s summer. There was an air of excitement whether I was working alongside my father setting up chairs or sitting with my family listening to Bible-based talks and dramas.”
Tseko said he also appreciated the efforts made to present the convention program on a virtual platform. “As I sat in the comfort of my home,” he said, “I was truly amazed and encouraged.”
The planning and translation of a program of this magnitude takes months of effort. With the uncertainty of whether it would be safe to bring thousands of people together in cities around the world, the organization opted for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual event. Congregations around the world are inviting the public to join them in this historic occasion.
“Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Our faith will continue to unite us in worship—even virtually—as millions gather in private homes around the world to enjoy a powerful and inspiring spiritual program.”
All are invited to attend the event by going to www.jw.org on the web or JW Broadcasting on the free JW Library app available for iOS or Android, or on streaming platforms like ROKU TV, Apple TV, and others. The program is free and accessible to all. The schedule for download and global streaming is listed below.
For more information, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at 718- 560-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.