Witnesses return to knocking doors

Hartselle Jehovah’s Witnesses return to door-to-door ministry after pandemic pause

Special to the Enquirer

Over the past few months, Jehovah’s Witnesses have resumed their trademark door-to-door ministry after a two-and-a-half-year suspension of the work.

The decision to return to the Christian organization’s trademark 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.

“At first I was nervous,” said Annie Gailes of knocking on her first door after the long pause, “but after the first door it was like riding a bike.” The Hartselle resident isn’t a native, and she enjoys the Southern hospitality and kindness she’s experienced since moving to the town. “People offer you a drink on a hot day or invite you to step in when it’s hot out.” She said she finds it immensely rewarding to share a comforting Bible message with her friendly neighbors.

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,” said Hendriks. “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.

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.

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