Bible studies

Where have all the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on the door gone?

Kyle kaminski

SUNDAY May 16 – It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused Jehovah’s Witnesses to stop knocking on doors for their ministerial mission both in Greater Lansing and across the country. For some, it’s a welcome relief from unsolicited guests.

Others asked: where did they all go? And what did they do instead?

“Lots of phone calls and letters,” said Keenan Stutz, spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Stutz said about 1.3 million Witnesses across the country suspended their door-to-door and face-to-face forms of public ministry in March 2020 – moving congregation meetings to video conferencing and instead calling thousands of residents rather than making house calls.

This included approximately 960 active Witnesses from nine congregations in the Greater Lansing area.

“In that setting, we actually found that we were able to connect even more with people,” Stutz said. “Our goal has always been to reach everyone in the community. We’re still going door-to-door, but instead of being in person, it’s just a matter of making address-to-address calls.

Before the 2019 pandemic, officials of Jehovah’s Witnesses had totaled more than 2 billion hours spent raising awareness on the streets among its some 8.7 million adherents worldwide. And while the members might lose face-to-face contact, their faith has only grown, Stutz said.

Lansing residents Dave and Susan Price joined a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the late 1960s and have since lost count of the exact number of doors they have knocked in the past 50 years. They estimate it to be in the thousands, mainly in southwest Lansing and Dimondale.

“We used to meet people at their homes. Now we call them on their phones, write letters and try to share a message of hope with them, ”said Susan Price. “Some people have been really impacted by the pandemic, are hopeless and really appreciate it. “

Dave Price said it took him a week or two to stop feeling like a telemarketer. Before the pandemic, he wasn’t much of a talker on the phone – even with his family and friends.

“Neither of us felt comfortable doing it at first, but we both started to really feel the value and have fun doing it,” added Dave Price. “On a door-to-door day, we could visit 50 houses. Maybe 10 would answer the door. Many more people are answering the phone.

Unlike home visits, Witnesses can now leave voicemail messages for those who are not available, further enhancing local outreach efforts, added Sue Price. The change also saved them money on gasoline.

“I appreciated how cordial most people were when we spoke to them,” said Dave Price. “We appreciate their kindness and hope they appreciate our desire to contact them.”

Sue Price added, “It is a real privilege to share the message of the Bible with our community.

Outside of Michigan, Witnesses reported a 30% increase in awareness in northern Virginia and parts of West Virginia, attributed in part to the ability of adherents to reach more people.

Minnesota’s extremely cold winters normally prompt parishioner Terri Whitmore to bundle up in a long down coat and snow boots for her door-to-door ministry. Today, she sits at a dining table, sips hot tea, makes phone calls, and can share the exact same message.

In December, for example, she was able to conduct twice as many Bible studies as usual.

“After a good phone call it energizes you,” she said. “You can’t wait to make the next call. “

Officials said nearly 51,000 people nationwide asked a Witness to contact them last year, either through a local congregation or through, the organization’s official website. Each of them received a letter or a phone call rather than the usual in-person visit to their home.

“This is a very deliberate decision based on two principles: our respect for life and love of neighbor,” said national spokesperson Robert Hendriks. “But we are always witnesses and, as such, we must bear witness to our faith. It was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work.

As the number of cases declines, local residents are still safe from unsolicited knocking on doors – for now. The witnesses did not make any specific plans to take over the prosecution in Lansing or elsewhere.

“We’re still waiting to see how things develop,” Stutz told City Pulse this week. “When love of neighbor and the sanctity of life are central to your decision-making process, we make sure that we have gathered enough information to make the best decision. “

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