ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For the second time in as many years, Jehovah’s Witnesses are congregating virtually rather than in person. Members of the faith have traditionally met for over a century at thousands of in-person conventions worldwide, like the one at the Times Union Center in 2019.
Thomas and Paulette Kubiak of Ballston Lake have been attending annual conventions for decades. Thomas says, “Nothing compares to the feeling of being with thousands of individuals who treat you like family.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have held summer conventions in the Albany area since 2016. This year, faith officials canceled almost 6,000 in-person conventions in 240 countries to transition again to a digital platform. They say that over a million people attended in-person events in the U.S. in 2019.
Now, their 2021 “Powerful by Faith!” convention will be streamed online, according to the public information desk at the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the United States of America. Installments started rolling out on June 28, and they will continue throughout the next six weeks—into August—in over 500 languages.
“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.”
In-person conventions are typically from Friday through Sunday, so organizers are releasing installments that correspond to morning and afternoon schedules across three days. They released “Friday morning” for streaming or download on Wednesday.
Officials say that millions of people across the globe streamed last year’s virtual convention. They estimate 15-20 million Jehova’s Witnesses in the world.