Jehovah's Witnesseses and their invited guests are “gathering” together.
Typically held in stadiums, arenas, conference halls and smaller venues around the world, the Witnesses announced in April the convention would be moved to a streaming platform in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Locally the convention was scheduled to be held in July and August at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield where a total attendance of 30,000 was expected. The convention, which was expected to bring in an estimated $5 million to Bakersfield, was canceled in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Respect for life and love of neighbor were two reasons in the Witnesses' decision to shift to a streaming platform. “We love our brothers and sisters and long to see them; however, the value of life is far too precious to put anyone at risk,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. Spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses. “We instituted virtual weekly meetings at the onset of the pandemic and have seen first hand how we can utilize technology to remain united and spiritually strong.”
The Always Rejoice convention has been divided into six installments. The final session is scheduled for August 29-30. Participants will explore how they experience joy despite the injustices and anxieties facing individuals today. The program will feature the conclusion of the two-part film “Nehemiah: The Joy of Jehovah Is Your Stronghold.”
“Moving the convention platform online has many benefits,” Hendriks said. “Knowing our brothers and sisters from around the world are viewing the same information at a consistent time in their country is strengthening to our faith. It brings our families together in an intimate setting where they can allow the information to fully reach their hearts. Additionally, it gives us the wonderful opportunity to review the sessions as many times as we like, guaranteeing we don't miss this vital information.”
Each year many who are not Jehovah's Witnesses attend the annual conventions. There are more than 8.6 million active Witnesses worldwide. The 2019 convention had a total attendance of more than 14 million. With the program available in 511 languages, this year's convention is expected to be the most attended ever.
All members of the public are invited to view the convention and can contact their local congregation or access the program at jw.org and click on the Library tab. There's no charge for viewing the program and no personal information is gathered upon download or streaming.