Breaking a century-old tradition in the name of health and safety, the largest convention organization in the world has moved its annual in-person event to a virtual format for the second year in a row, canceling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 lands.
For 24 consecutive years, the summers in Long Beach featured Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting the city, filling hotels and restaurants as they held their conventions at the Long Beach Arena. In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition, moving the international religious organization to cancel in-person conventions worldwide 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 convention, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages virtually over six weekends during July and August. The program, usually held Friday through Sunday, will be available in six installments corresponding to morning and afternoon sessions — uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries. Sessions are also available for streaming or download.
Linnie and Cathy Brown of Los Angeles used to attend the three-day program at the Long Beach Arena. “It gave us a sense of normalcy despite the devastation of COVID-19,” Linnie said while reflecting on last year’s virtual convention. “Whether virtual or in-person, the conventions offer pragmatic solutions to the problems we face.” This year, the couple is once again looking forward to drawing closer as a family by watching the virtual program together.
The continued risk of bringing thousands of people together prompted the organization to opt for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual event. Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide are inviting the public to 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 jw.org or JW Broadcasting on the free JW Library iOS or Android App, 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, contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at (718) 560-5600 or [email protected]