Jehovah’s Witnesses Resume Public Ministry
Two Years After Going Virtual
If you happen to be in Las Vegas this week, you may notice that a pre-pandemic fixture is back on the sidewalks: smiling faces standing next to colorful carts featuring a positive message and free Bible-based literature.
Thousands of these carts will be rolling down the streets of communities like Las Vegas all across the world this week as Jehovah’s Witnesses recommence their global public preaching work some 24 months after putting it on pause due to the pandemic.
“It’s exciting to know that we can go back out and speak to people,” said Karen Agee, a regular volunteer at the carts. “I’ve had experiences where individuals were in tears by sharing a message with them that they never knew was in the Bible. Those are the things that I really miss, the interaction with individuals.”
The Christian organization will return to its public ministry for the first time since March 2020 when all in-person forms of their volunteer work were suspended out of concern for the health and safety of the community.
In response to the global decision, dozens of congregations in the local area are now beginning to reopen their cart locations in public areas throughout the state of Nevada, including by the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
The local congregations will also resume free in-person Bible studies along with personal visits to those who have invited them back to their homes. This comes two months after the organization began gathering at their Kingdom Halls once again for in-person meetings.
“While we understand that the pandemic is not over, we are entering into a phase of learning to live with COVID,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We are sensitive to the risks that still face our communities and our volunteers, which is why we will not resume door-to-door ministry at this time. Each volunteer will make a personal choice as to whether their ministry will remain strictly virtual or whether they are ready to make in-person visits again. We are excited that we all have a choice!”
Mobile displays of Bible-based literature have been part of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ public ministry in the U.S. since 2011. While “cart witnessing” began in large metropolitan areas around the world, the practice quickly spread to the tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors and main streets.
In 2013, Witnesses in Las Vegas began offering a selection of Bible literature in English, Spanish and Armenian at the carts during the morning commute and on weekends to be accessible to community members.
“The carts … really draw people,” said Agee. “That is what I look forward to, having people really being drawn to the message that we’re presenting … (and) having interactive conversations with individuals.”
To learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website jw.org, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.