Jehovah’s Witnesses return to in-person meetings

After being entirely virtual for the past two years, Jehovah’s Witnesses are resuming in-person meetings this Sunday, April 1.

For most of the last two years, buildings for worship, which serves tens of thousands of congregations globally, have remained closed due to the risks associated with meeting in person. Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S. also suspended their public ministry on March 20, 2020, and since then, have carried on their ministry through letters and phone calls while holding twice-weekly meetings in a virtual format.

Average attendance at these meetings exceeded 1.5 million each week in the U.S., even though there are fewer than 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in some 13,000 congregations. 

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 scheduled in most congregations for April 10, is entitled, “Where Can You Find Real Hope?” Additionally, the annual commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ will be held on Good Friday, April 15.

Both gatherings will be held in person at local Kingdom Halls with live speakers. No collections are ever taken. 

In Gulf County, the Kingdom Hall is at 335 Selma St. in Port St. Joe, and in Franklin County, it is at 2501 Bluff Rd. in Apalachicola.

In Washington County, the Kingdom is at 2048 FL-77 in Chipley, and in Holmes County, at 1300 US-90 in Bonifay.

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 technology that allows 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.

As of now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no plans to resume their public ministry, though their “alternative” ministry continues. In the U.S., since the start of the pandemic through Nov. 2021, Jehovah’s Witnesses spent more than 400 million hours in virtual Bible studies, writing letters of comfort to neighbors and making phone calls. They have released 77 new language translations of the Bible and held two global virtual conventions in more than 500 languages. 

“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 timing of resuming in-person meetings could not be better,” he said. “Bringing everyone back together for these special events will have a powerful effect on the worldwide congregation.” 

“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. No time was wasted in the past two years. Our congregants have been busy and productive helping each other and their neighbors through this most challenging time. That’s what love and unity are all about.” 

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