For 18 consecutive years, summertime in Bermuda featured Jehovah’s Witnesses streaming into Devonshire to attend their convention at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium.
In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition moving the international religious organisation 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 centres and theatres around the world since 1897.
Powerful by Faith! is the theme of this year’s event, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages, uniting some 15 to 20 million people in 240 countries over a six-week period.
For Sabine Marshall, who regularly attended the annual conventions, the transition to the online format was more than a physical adjustment.
“In one way I was sad, as the conventions are such a big part of our lives each year, where we get together and see all the friends,” she said. “Then I focused on the positive and started to get excited for how it will be, getting our older daughter home for her sister’s baptism and being part of the audience to witness the epitome of global unity in teaching.”
As such, she is looking forward to logging on to the annual convention and can now better appreciate the benefits that come with a virtual presentation. Last year, the online format connected her with fellow worshippers in Bermuda and beyond. It also provided the unique opportunity for her family to enjoy the entirety of the programme together. “The unity and camaraderie throughout was better than ever,” she said.
The continued risk of bringing thousands of people together in cities around the world prompted the organisation to opt for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. Congregations around the world are inviting the public to join them.
“Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic,” said Robert Hendriks. “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 programme.”