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William Clemens baptizes his daughter Sonora in a private pool following safety guidelines on Aug. 1, 2020.  Typically, these are performed in large venues in front of thousands of onlookers but because of COVID-19, this year’s baptisms took place at private homes.   

For the second year in a row, Jehovah’s Witnesses have moved their signature annual convention to a streaming platform and will perform thousands of baptisms at private homes, lakes and ponds. The “Powerful by Faith!” convention is translated into over 500 languages in 240 countries worldwide.

Baptisms are the highlight of all Jehovah’s Witnesses' conventions. Typically, baptismal candidates stand in line near a pool, patiently waiting their turn. At the same time, thousands of onlookers view in person or on large video screens.

Due to the ongoing concern of COVID-19, this year’s baptisms will be conducted mostly at private homes and, in nearly all cases, performed at the family level. This rare intimate setting allows families to enjoy this special occasion safely and comfortably on the weekend of July 24-25.

“It feels great because my dad got to baptize me, and no one else was put at risk,” 13-year-old Devin Hill said in reference to COVID-19. “I’m excited that I got to get baptized finally.” Devin was safely baptized in his backyard swimming pool by his father on Aug. 2, 2020.

"For those that participated in this momentous event, it was a public expression of their close relationship with God. Baptism is the most important and personal decision in any Christian’s life. It is a lifelong vow to worship God," a release stated.

Fifteen-year-old Sophia Huitron, who was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect at the age of one, did not allow the pandemic last year to prevent her from taking this important step in her life.

“The pandemic didn’t discourage me,” Sophia, who was baptized by her father, said. “One of my spiritual goals was to be baptized. I wanted to show Jehovah that I loved him and didn’t want the pandemic to affect my decision.”

Her father baptized her safely in their backyard swimming pool on Aug. 1, 2020.

Out of love for their communities and respect for secular authorities, the 2021 “Powerful by Faith!” program was divided into a six-part streaming convention series so that Witnesses and their guests can enjoy the program safely at home.

Baptisms will take place during the third session following the encouraging talk, “Exercising Faith Means Everlasting Life.”

“Our worship is centered on our mutual love for our God and for each other,” Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said. “This year’s convention program underscores the unity of our international family and the joy that people can have against a backdrop of stress and despair.”

All are invited to attend the event by going to jw.org, downloading the JW Library app for iOS and Android, or accessing JW Broadcasting from streaming platforms like ROKU TV, Apple TV and others.

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. The final weekend of this virtual event is scheduled for the weekend of August 21-22.

Each year, many who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses attend these annual conventions. There are more than 8.6 million active Witnesses worldwide, yet the peak attendance during the 2020 conventions was over 14 million. With the program available online in over 500 languages, this year’s program may be the most attended convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses to date.

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