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 time in as many years, cancelling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 lands.
For more than two decades, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to West Palm Beach in the summer to attend their annual conventions at the West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center. They also brought in revenue for the local economy at hotels and restaurants. In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition, moving the international religious organization 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 centers, and theaters around the world since 1897.
“Powerful by Faith!” is the theme of the 2021 global event, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages to households throughout the globe over six weekends during July and August 2021, uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries. Since the convention is typically held from Friday through Sunday, the program will be available in six installments corresponding to morning and afternoon sessions. “Friday” morning’s session will be available for streaming or download beginning June 28, 2021.
Moriah Herrera, a resident of Plantation, Fa., has attended conventions in West Palm Beach with her family since childhood, even before the auditorium was purchased by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1990’s. What does she miss the most about attending in person? Moriah says: “For me conventions are like big family reunions since many congregations in the South Florida area come together for these events. The excitement is palpable when you see so many in attendance, and the joy and happiness are contagious.”
Because of the pandemic, however, Moriah discovered the benefits of having them remotely. “The virtual convention came at just the right time for my family. In May 2020, my father was diagnosed with late-stage terminal cancer. Due to his rapidly failing health, he would not have been able to attend the convention if it were held in person and would have missed out on the beautiful program.”
Since her mother was his primary caretaker, she too would have missed out. Sadly, her father died, but both Moriah and her family were very grateful for this new arrangement. “We were able to enjoy it with him, pray with him, and sing with him. The program was exactly what we needed. The theme ‘Always Rejoice!’ lifted us up during the darkest period of our lives.”
The continued risk of bringing thousands of people together in cities around the world 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. Congregations around the world are inviting the public to join them in this historic occasion “Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic,” said Robert Hendriks 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 on the web 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, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at 718-560-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also locally contact Vladimyr Beaubrun at 954-913-5654 or email email@example.com