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 41 consecutive years, the summers in Birmingham (AL) featured Jehovah’s Witnesses streaming into the city stay in hotels and fill restaurants as they held their conventions at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC), now the Legacy Arena. 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.
John Hudson, a resident of Hoover, AL was able to work in organizing the Conventions for several years. He explains why the summer program meant so much to him, “I was able to see the guests coming to the convention to enjoy the Christlike love and unity of the many from different races and ethnic backgrounds.”
Murry and Pam Argo, longtime residents of Cahaba Heights, have attended every one of the Birmingham conventions. Murry related that one of his fondest memories was volunteering to be part of the program especially in re-enacting various scenes from the Bible. Murry was able to play the part of a Roman soldier in scene from the life of the Apostle Paul. Those re-enactments “are one of the highlights of the conventions every year,” said Murry. This year, the Argos will enjoy the convention in their home.
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.
For more information, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at (718) 560-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.