It’s been one year since Jehovah’s Witnesses adjusted their hallmark methods of sharing comfort and hope from the scriptures due to the pandemic.
For many, the change from ringing doorbells and knocking on doors to making phone calls and writing letters expanded and invigorated their ministry.
Socorro "Sy" Sigala and his wife, Linda, of Santa Maria have been attending meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses for almost 50 years. They were quick to adapt to attending meetings using Zoom videoconferencing, regarding the change as a necessity due to the pandemic.
Not only has this adjustment helped all to stay safe, Sy noted that the method of meeting has allowed him to speak with more of his fellow worshippers than ever before.
He observed a greater feeling of unity within the congregation in Santa Maria. Speaking for himself and his wife, Sy said, "We love the meetings, whether they're in person or on Zoom."
The congregation holds regular virtual meetings on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. They also meet through videoconferencing on a daily basis to encourage their neighbors via phone calls and letters.
In March 2020, Witnesses in the United States suspended their door-to-door and face-to-face forms of public ministry and moved congregation meetings to videoconferencing.
“It has been a very deliberate decision based on our respect for life and love of neighbor,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “But we are still witnesses, so we must testify about our faith. It was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work.”
Many have checked in on neighbors as well as distant friends and family — sometimes sharing links to Bible-based articles from the organization’s official website, jw.org, on timely topics such as isolation, depression, and beating pandemic fatigue.
If anything, the pandemic has heightened Witnesses’ concern for others, said Hendriks.
“We are finding that people are perplexed, stressed, and feeling isolated. Our work has helped many regain a sense of footing — even normalcy — at a very unsettled time.”
Witnesses’ virtual meeting attendance is up, but the most significant gains don’t have numbers, said Tony Fowler, who helps organize the ministry in part of Michigan. “We’ve grown in appreciation for other avenues of the ministry, our love for our neighbor, and love for one another. We’re a stronger people because of all of this.”
For more information on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visit their website jw.org, with content available in 1,034 languages.