After more than two years of virtual worship services, Jehovah’s Witnesses have now been given the green light to resume in-person worship starting Friday.
There are more than 50,000 Witnesses serving in more than 300 congregations in Dallas-Fort Worth, and there are more than 8 million Witnesses worldwide.
At the start of the pandemic, beginning in March 2020, most Kingdom Halls of the Witnesses were closed in favor of bi-weekly meetings conducted via Zoom.
“We feel like while we haven’t moved past the pandemic, we’re at a point where we can make that decision and move forward with choosing to come to in-person meetings at our Hall of Kingdom, and to stay safe by saying yes,” said Robert Hendriks, national spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Truly, spirituality is not about location. It’s not even about worship in person. It’s about connecting with our creator, connecting with each other and sharing our spirituality together, which we’ve been able to do in a beautiful way over the past couple of years,” said Hendricks.
Despite the potential downsides of holding meetings remotely, as opposed to traditional in-person services, attendance has actually increased during the pandemic, according to Hendriks, with an average of 1.5 million people logging on each week. As a reminder, there are less than 1.3 million baptized Witnesses in the United States.
When asked why the number of attendees may have increased during the pandemic, Kasey Cox, a Witness who lives in Keller, provided a quick response.
“It opened up the opportunity for us to talk to people we might never have had the chance to,” Cox said. “Now we have the ability to literally walk into people’s homes, via Zoom or other video conferencing services, talk to them and help share this wonderful message.”
That being said, Cox noted that he was eager to get back to in-person meetings.
“I know that I, myself and my family are ready to come back and see the ones we haven’t seen in person, to hug them, to kiss them, to express ourselves to them, to see their smiling faces. real-time, real-life,” Cox said.
At this time, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no plans to resume their public ministry, which includes the familiar door-to-door preaching work for which the Witnesses are known. Instead, the Witnesses ran letter-writing campaigns and made phone calls to get in touch with people.
Hendriks, the national spokesperson, said he was encouraged by how his fellow Witnesses have managed to move forward during the pandemic.
“I don’t think there will ever be a ‘normal’ on this side of the pandemic. We will never be the same again. Not as individuals, not as an organization. And that’s okay,” Hendriks said. “We went through this very difficult ordeal together. We came out of it more united than ever, loving each other more than ever and recognizing that we need the organization, we need the congregation more than ever.