Jehovah’s Witness resuming door-to-door ministry

Published 3:53 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

For over 25 years, Jehovah’s Witness Antonio Erves of Vicksburg has engaged in the door-to-door ministry in his community.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Erves, along with his family, including an outgoing 11-year-old daughter who loves sharing good news with people, and other members of the Vicksburg Kingdom Hall, were forced to stop their well-known trademark ministry.

That changed Sept. 1, when after a 30-month pause because of the pandemic, Erves and the other Kingdom Hall members resumed their door-to-door ministry; the two-and-a-half-year suspension of the work ends just in time for the launch of a global campaign featuring an interactive program for Bible study.

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Erves said he anticipates returning to visiting his neighbors in-person.

“I miss that little spark that you see in your neighbors as you talk to them in person,” he said. “The phone – it’s ok…but you can tell so much more when you can look in their eyes. You see the expressions on their faces. You get to know what they are dealing with. The hopes and the promises that you share with them, it just fortifies you.”

According to information from Jehovah’s Witness, the decision to resume their door-to-door ministry marks the complete restoration of all pre-pandemic in-person activities for the nearly 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 12,000 congregations in the United States. Houses of worship (called Kingdom Halls) reopened on April 1; witnessing in public places resumed on May 31 and in-person conventions are again being planned for 2023.

The suspension of the public ministry was a proactive response by the organization to keep communities and congregants safe. The move was also unprecedented. Jehovah’s Witnesses had been preaching from house to house without interruption for more than 100 years through an economic depression, two world wars and global unrest, but COVID-19 demanded a different response.

“We believe that the early decision to shut down all in-person activities for more than two years has saved many lives,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We’re now ready and eager to reconnect with our neighbors once again – person-to-person, face-to-face. It’s not the only way that we preach, but it has historically been the most effective way to deliver our message of comfort and hope.”

The return to an in-person ministry coincides with a global campaign to offer an interactive Bible study program, available in hundreds of languages and provided at no cost. The course comes in the form of a printed book, online publication or as an embedded feature within the organization’s free mobile application, JW Library. Released in late 2020, the interactive study platform combines text, video, illustrations and digital worksheets to help learners of all ages.

“This study program is designed to match the learning style of the 21st-century student,” said Hendriks. “We’re excited to begin sharing it with our neighbors as we return to making personal visits.”

The pandemic forced Jehovah’s Witnesses to quickly pivot to virtual meetings and conventions while conducting their ministry exclusively through letters, phone calls and virtual Bible studies. This has led to growth in meeting attendance and the number of congregants, with more than 400,000 newly baptized witnesses joining the ranks of 120,000 congregations globally in just the first two years of the pandemic.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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