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 year in a row, canceling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 lands.

Starting in the late 1950s, Fresno welcomed Jehovah’s Witnesses as they filled hotels and restaurants during their summer conventions, most recently held at the Mechanics Bank Arena (formerly called Rabobank Arena) in Bakersfield. Well over 17,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and invitees would travel from Fresno, Hanford, Visalia, Porterville and other Central Valley cities to attend these three-day conventions. In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition, moving the international religious organization to cancel in-person conventions worldwide 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 convention, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages virtually over six weekends during July and August. 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. Sessions is  currently available for streaming or download.

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The Daugherty family from Visalia are attending the “Powerful by Faith!” convention virtually from the comfort of their own home.

After having attended yearly conventions in Bakersfield for over 20 years, the Daughertys of Visalia, attended last year's “Always Rejoice!” convention virtually for the first time. “We didn't miss a beat," Sarah Daugherty said. Her husband, Michael, said, "I never got so much out of a convention before." Their four daughters also greatly enjoyed the event and eagerly anticipate viewing this year’s convention program online once again.

The continued risk of bringing thousands of people together 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. Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide are inviting the public to this historic occasion.

“Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman 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 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 pid.us@jw.org.

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