“Always Rejoice”! Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses Moves to Streaming Platform

For more than 100 years, this is what you would typically see at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For the first time in history, these highly anticipated annual gatherings have been canceled and moved to a virtual platform for the safety of all. Many will view the convention from their private homes along with their fellow congregants worldwide.

In a world where achieving a state of sustained joy may seem elusive—even impossible—for many, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their invited guests in some 240 lands will “attend” a global convention this summer with the theme “Always Rejoice”!

For the first time in their history of holding conventions, Jehovah’s Witnesses have moved this highly anticipated annual event to a streaming platform. Congregations, families, and guests will view the program during July and August 2020. Typically, these conventions are held in stadiums, arenas, conference halls, and smaller gathering places around the world.

Locally, four conventions were scheduled to be held during the months of July through September, at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA, where 7,000 were expected to attend each convention. The convention was cancelled in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our worship is centered on our mutual love for our God and for each other, irrespective of where we are physically,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “This year’s convention program underscores the unity of our international family and the joy that people can have against a backdrop of stress and despair.”

The two Christian principles guiding the Witnesses’ historic decision are respect for the sanctity of life and love of neighbor. “As much as we long to meet together, life is far too precious to put at risk,” said Hendriks. “The virtual meetings we have held over the past four months have proved to all of us that it’s not about where we are physically. It’s about where we are spiritually. In many ways we are closer as a spiritual family than ever before.”

The program is to be released in six installments, each corresponding to a morning or afternoon session of what would have been three successive convention days. Many congregations and families will view the first convention session during the weekend of July 11-12. The final weekend of the virtual event is scheduled for August 29-30.

A highlight of the annual convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the live baptism that usually happens during the Saturday program. In 2020, local arrangements will be made to baptize all candidates in a dignified and safe environment, streaming it live to family friends.

The program explores questions like: What contributes to finding and sustaining joy? How can you cultivate joy in the family? How can you remain joyful in difficult times? A key feature will be a Bible-based drama that considers the life of Nehemiah and how he helped the ancient nation of Israel find joy in their worship of God.

Those interested in viewing the convention can contact their local congregation or access the program on jw.org, available under the “Library” tab. There is no charge for viewing the convention.

Each year many who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the annual conventions. There are more than 8.6 million active Witnesses worldwide, yet the 2019 conventions had a peak attendance of more than 14 million. With the program available online in hundreds of languages, this may be the most attended convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses to date.

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