Breaking a century-old tradition in the name of health and safety, the largest convention organization in the world has moved its annual in-person event to a virtual format for the second time in as many years, canceling nearly 6,000 conventions in 240 lands.

For 14 consecutive years, the summers in Wake and surrounding counties have featured Jehovah’s Witnesses streaming into Raleigh to fill hotels and patronize restaurants as they gathered for their annual convention at the PNC Area. In 2020, the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted that tradition moving the international religious organization to cancel in-person conventions throughout the world and launch a global virtual event. This was a first for Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have held public conventions in stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and theaters around the world since 1897.

“Powerful by Faith!” is the theme of the 2021 global event, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages to households throughout the globe over six weekends during July and August 2021, uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries. Since the convention is typically held from Friday through Sunday, the program will be available in six installments corresponding to morning and afternoon sessions. “Friday” morning’s session will be available for streaming or download beginning June 28, 2021.

Ashley Thomas, who has served on the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention committee for central North Carolina, said that while local Witnesses will miss the in-person convention at the PNC Arena, they are looking forward to the program that will be streamed electronically on the internet.

“My family has been attending conventions for more than 60 years,” Thomas said. “It was an annual family event for my parents, my sisters and me. We look forward to the new electronic features associated with live-streaming, such as a full-length movie Bible drama entitled, ‘Daniel (of Daniel and the lions’ den) – A Lifetime of Faith’. The video dramas are great – they make you feel like you were actually there. The message they contain leaves us feeling confident of God’s love for us, and strengthens our faith.”

According to Thomas, the continued risk of bringing thousands of people together in cities around the world has prompted Jehovah’s Witnesses to opt for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual event. He said congregations around the world are inviting the public to join them in this historic occasion.

“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.”

All are invited to attend the event by going to www.jw.org on the web or JW Broadcasting on the free JW Library app available for iOS or Android, or on streaming platforms like ROKU TV, Apple TV, and others. The program is free and accessible to all. The schedule for download and global streaming is listed below.

For more information, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at (718) 560-5600 or pid@jw.org.