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Pandemic forces Jehovah's Witnesses to move annual convention online

WGRZ-TV Buffalo logo WGRZ-TV Buffalo 7/20/2020 Claudine Ewing

For the first time in its history, Jehovah's Witness will not hold its annual convention at large venues. It will be on a virtual platform.

"To bring people together at this time, even though it may be safe in certain areas perhaps, the risk isn't worth it because spirituality is not about a place, it's not about a building, it's about our connection to our creator and to each other," said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses.

Hendriks added, "Holding eleven live conventions in your area, which we typically would do, drawing about 15,000 people, that really wasn't the right thing to do. It would not follow the principles of love of neighbor, which is the second greatest commandment and love of life.

Over 600 conventions were planned in the United States. The closest convention site to Buffalo was going to be held outside of Rochester. Close to two million people attend the conventions in the U.S.

"We have had conventions nonstop since the turn of the century," Hendriks said. "We have never canceled the convention worldwide, so this is historic and add to that no one has ever translated a convention within weeks to 511 languages to be put on a virtual platform for the entire world to see at the same exact time."

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The three-day conventions which usually provide an economic boost to cities where they are held will now be on their website in six installments released through August. 

Families are watching in their homes. 

a group of people sitting on a bench with a dog: Family watching at home © JW.ORG Family watching at home

Some sessions are already being streamed right now on  jw.org It's also available for free on JW Broadcasting on Apple TV or Roku.  

This year's theme "Always Rejoice" was selected a few years ago. "

It's just the perfect timing, not a coincidence that it's coming at this time," Hendriks said.

You can watch the entire interview with Robert Hendriks in the video player below:

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