All congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world were again holding in-person meetings starting April 1.
“Just being back in this building – it feels like this is where I’m supposed to be,” said Kristina Williams, who has been attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall on Park Avenue since 1998.
For most of the last two years, buildings for worship were closed globally due to the risks associated with meeting in person. Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S. also suspended their public ministry on March 20, 2020.
Since that time, they have continued their ministry through letters and phone calls while holding twice-weekly meetings in a virtual format. Average attendance at these meetings exceeded 1.5 million each week in the U.S., even though there are fewer than 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in some 13,000 congregations.
“There is a collective shout of joy among Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world right now,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“While we have prospered in many ways as individuals and congregations using technology to bring us together, nothing can adequately replace being together in person. We have longed for this moment for the better part of two years.”
The move back to in-person meetings coincides with two global events being held in all 120,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the month of April. The annual commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ was held on April 15, 2022.
“The timing of resuming in-person meetings could not be better,” Hendriks said.
“Bringing everyone back together for these special events will have a powerful effect on the worldwide congregation.”
Over the past six months, many Kingdom Halls have been equipped with the required technology to hold a productive meeting that allows for in-person and remote attendees, all of whom can participate in the discussions.
One of Williams’ favorite aspects of returning to in-person meetings is being able to hug fellow congregants again.
“Just to be able to see people and feel them, to know they’re beside you, looking for the same exchange, is beautiful,” Williams said.
“I told somebody that I was going to bring my sleeping bag because I didn’t want to have to leave again.”
As of now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no plans to resume their public ministry, though their “alternative” ministry continues. Since the start of the pandemic through November 2021 in the U.S. alone, Jehovah’s Witnesses spent more than 400 million hours in virtual Bible studies, writing letters of comfort to their neighbors and making phone calls. “No time was wasted in the past two years,” Hendriks said.