Jehovah’s Witnesses set to make history again with thousands getting baptized – safely & privately – despite ongoing pandemic
For the second year in a row, Jehovah’s Witnesses have moved their signature annual convention to a streaming platform, with this years’ theme being “Powerful by Faith!” The convention began in July and is continuing through August, and is being presented in more than 500 languages in 240 countries worldwide.
One of the highlights of all Jehovah’s Witnesses’ conventions are the baptisms, with baptismal candidates typically standing in line near a pool, patiently waiting their turn. At the same time, thousands of onlookers view in person or on large video screens.
However, due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, this year’s baptisms will be conducted mostly at private homes and, in nearly all cases, performed at the family level. This rare intimate setting allows families to enjoy this special occasion safely and comfortably on the weekend of July 24-25, the half-way point for this years’ convention.
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“It feels great because my dad got to baptize me, and no one else was put at risk,” 13-year-old Devin Hill said in reference to COVID-19. “I’m excited that I got to get baptized finally.” Devin was safely baptized in his backyard swimming pool by his father on August 2, 2020.
For those that participated in this momentous event, it was a public expression of their close relationship with God. Baptism is the most important and personal decision in any Christian’s life. It is a lifelong vow to worship God.
William Clemens baptizes his daughter Sonora in a private pool following all COVID-19 safety guidelines on Aug 1, 2020, while Warren Hill of Glendora baptized his son Devin in a safe and dignified environment the following day. Typically, these baptisms are performed in large venues in front of thousands of onlookers, but because of ongoing pandemic concerns, this year’s baptisms will also take place at private homes. Jehovah’s Witnesses photos
Fifteen-year-old Sophia Huitron, who was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect at the age of one, did not allow the pandemic last year to prevent her from taking this important step in her life.
“The pandemic didn’t discourage me,” Sophia, who was baptized by her father, said. “One of my spiritual goals was to be baptized. I wanted to show Jehovah that I loved him and didn’t want the pandemic to affect my decision.” Her father baptized her safely in their backyard swimming pool on August 1, 2020.
Out of love for their communities and respect for secular authorities, the 2021 “Powerful by Faith!” program was divided into a six-part streaming convention series so that Witnesses and their guests can enjoy the program safely at home.
Baptisms will take place during the third session following the encouraging talk, “Exercising Faith Means Everlasting Life.”
“Our worship is centered on our mutual love for our God and for each other,” Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said. “This year’s convention program underscores the unity of our international family and the joy that people can have against a backdrop of stress and despair.”
All are invited to attend the event by going to jw.org, downloading the JW Library app for iOS and Android, or accessing JW Broadcasting from streaming platforms like ROKU TV, Apple TV and others.
The program, usually held Friday through Sunday, will be available in six installments corresponding to morning and afternoon sessions — uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries. Sessions will be available for streaming or download beginning June 28, 2021. The final weekend of this virtual event is scheduled for the weekend of August 21-22.
Each year, many who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses attend these annual conventions. There are more than 8.6 million active Witnesses worldwide, yet the peak attendance during the 2020 conventions was over 14 million. With the program available online in over 500 languages, this year’s program may be the most attended convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses to date.
Submitted by Jehovah’s Witnesses – Public Information Desk
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Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.