(RNS) — Like different homes of worship, the Jehovah’s Witnesses shut down their Kingdom Halls in March 2020 initially of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These reopened, in hybrid fashion, in April of this 12 months.
Now, beginning Sept. 1, adherents of the non secular group identified for his or her door-to-door knocking ministry, will return to neighborhoods to share their religion.
Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated the choice, introduced earlier this month, was the “subsequent logical step on this ‘residing with COVID’ section.” The return of door knocking will be a part of different outreach efforts that the group has maintained over the past couple of years.
“Though we now have had a really productive two and a half years — letter writing, digital Bible research, phone witnessing — we acknowledge that the first means that we attain our neighbors is by going to their door,” he instructed Faith Information Service on Monday (Aug. 22). “And once we do this, we now have significant conversations and significant follow-up conversations, which is way more troublesome in different elements of our ministry.”
Door knocking has not solely been a bodily mainstay for Jehovah’s Witnesses however a great they’ve fought for in courtrooms. Most notably, they lately marked the twentieth anniversary of the 8–1 Supreme Court docket resolution Watchtower v. Village of Stratton, by which they — and different teams that stand on strangers’ stoops — had been victorious in defending the proper to proceed door knocking with out governmental permission.
“The court docket stated it violated the First Modification safety of free speech,” noted Hawaii Public Radio in a July report in regards to the anniversary. “It’s a call that straight impacts everybody from non secular organizations to political candidates to trick-or-treaters.”
Although the religion group’s resolution to return to individuals’s doorsteps is a worldwide one, the way in which conversations will happen will depend upon the individuals having the interplay, stated Hendriks, whose U.S. department is predicated within the Hudson River Valley city of Wallkill, New York.
Will individuals be masked? Will they be socially distant? Will they be invited in?
“It’s actually going to be a really particular person resolution based mostly not solely on the sensation of the congregant, but in addition on the sensation of the householder,” he stated.
The return to door knocking comes on the identical time that Jehovah’s Witnesses are launching a worldwide marketing campaign about an interactive Bible research program that was developed throughout the pandemic and includes an teacher and a scholar.
“Usually, our Bible research have all the time been executed in particular person,” Hendriks stated. “They as soon as once more could be executed in particular person as of September 1st.”
Whereas congregants gathered on-line for 2 years previous to April, the religion group stated there have been greater than 400,000 newly baptized Witnesses who joined a number of the 120,000 congregations the world over.
Like different religion teams that needed to resort to new ways of conducting baptisms, Jehovah’s Witnesses discovered options to the rituals that normally occurred at their conventions, the place a whole bunch had been baptized in a facility.
“Our baptisms for the final three years have all been executed at non-public areas, following COVID protocols, at exterior swimming pools” and different websites, stated Hendriks. Generally they had been livestreamed to a neighborhood congregation.
“Some have occurred in lakes. Some have occurred in bathtubs.”
He stated Witnesses hope baptisms will return to the conference setting, as these giant occasions are anticipated to restart in 2023 for the religion group that claims 8.6 million congregants in Kingdom Halls throughout 239 nations.
Hendriks stated there are 1.3 million adherents attending about 12,800 congregations within the U.S., normally twice per week for midweek and weekend gatherings.
Forward of the door-knocking resolution, on Could 31, leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses restarted the “cart witnessing” ministry, the place individuals stand on corners and supply the religion’s magazines or reply questions posed by passersby.
Hendriks referred to as the door-to-door visits essentially the most brave type of ministry in his religion that, “in a really totally different world,” shall be much more so now.
“There’s little doubt that this combination of pleasure and a stage of tension is there for all of us, and we’re trying ahead to getting again in our communities and seeing the response of our neighbors and having the ability to meet them as soon as once more,” he stated.
“As soon as the primary few months occur, I feel the anxiousness will sort of abate a bit and we’ll be again in our regular routine.”