Witnesses Knocking on Doors Again
Jehovah’s Witnesses will resume their trademark door-to-door ministry beginning Sept. 1 when a two-and-half-year suspension of the work is officially lifted, just in time to begin a global campaign featuring a new interactive Bible study program.
The decision to resume their door-to-door ministry marks the complete restoration of all pre-pandemic in-person activities for the 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 13,000 congregations in the United States. Houses of worship (called Kingdom Halls) were reopened April 1, witnessing in public places resumed May 31, and in-person conventions are once again being planned for 2023.
“I have missed talking with people about their concerns in life and really what’s bothering them,” Tonia Howard said. Though she and her husband reached out to the community with phone calls and letters during the pandemic, they are eager to visit their neighbors in person in the coming weeks. “People tend to open up a little bit more when you’re able to really talk to them face-to-face.”
The suspension of the public ministry was a proactive response by the organization to keep communities and congregants safe. The move was also unprecedented. Jehovah’s Witnesses had been preaching from house to house without interruption for more than 100 years through an economic depression, two world wars and global unrest. But COVID-19 demanded a different response.
“We believe that the early decision to shut down all in-person activities for more than two years has saved many lives,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We’re now ready and eager to reconnect with our neighbors once again – person to person, face to face. It’s not the only way that we preach, but it has historically been the most effective way to deliver our message of comfort and hope.”
The move coincides with a global campaign to distribute a new interactive Bible study program available in hundreds of languages at no cost. The program comes in the form of a book, online publication or as an embedded feature within the organization’s free mobile application, JW Library. Released in late 2020, the interactive study platform combines text, video, illustrations and digital worksheets to help learners of all ages.
“This new study program is designed to match the learning needs of the 21st-century student,” Hendriks said. “We’re excited to begin sharing it with our neighbors as we return to making personal visits.”
The pandemic forced Jehovah’s Witnesses to quickly pivot to virtual meetings and conventions, while conducting their ministry exclusively through letters, phone calls and virtual Bible studies. This has led to growth in meeting attendance and the number of congregants, with more than 400,000 newly baptized witnesses joining the ranks of 120,000 congregations globally in just the first two years of the pandemic.
Howard was pleased to receive a positive response to a letter she wrote during the pandemic. The email said that her letter brought encouragement to both a man and his mother and included a photo of her letter posted on their refrigerator. Happy to offer comfort during that difficult time, she looks forward to resuming in-person activities and more opportunities to share the Bible’s message.
“People have experienced so much anxiety during the last couple of years,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of peace that people can gain from reading the Bible.”
For more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website, jw.org, with content available in more than 1,000 languages.