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Jehovah’s Witnesses held global, virtual conference

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 sec-ond time in as many years, canceling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 countries.

For more than a century, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pennsylvania have organized and invited the public to its annual conventions where their presence has been seen, not only at the convention center, but also as they fill local hotels and restaurants.

This tradition has spread across the state and has welcomed thousands each year to Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Philadelphia, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and more. 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 morning’s session will be available for streaming or download beginning June 28, 2021.

The virtual convention held in 2020 had a positive impact on many, despite the alternative format of the event. Justin and Tyrah Miles, from Harrisburg, were among thousands who looked forward to attending the conven-tions at the Santander Arena in Reading every year. Although it’s been an adjustment, they both have learned to enjoy the convention in a far different setting. He said, “I love the comfort of being in my own home and knowing that every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is unitedly enjoying the same exact spiritual program at about the same exact time worldwide! And now, anyone from the public who accepts an invitation can go online and do the same thing … That’s amazing!”

Evan Wilson and his family also enjoyed watching the program together in their home in Pittsburgh. He was especially impressed by the unity of the event. “I appreciate that everyone, no matter where you are, is getting the same exact information,” said Wilson. “So even though we aren’t all together in one place we are more united than ever because we are all getting our spiritual food right from the source.” Yes, despite being physically apart, Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Pennsylvania felt far from alone during their first virtual convention and they greatly anticipate enjoying the same international program this year.

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 pid@jw.org.

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