Jehovah’s Witnesses kick-off global virtual event in 240 lands

Overall, 34 conventions of the Jehovah's Witnesses were held in Yankee Stadium until 1993, including the largest recorded attendance -- in Yankee Stadium history of -- 253,922.
File photo

Starting in 1950, the summers in New York City featured Jehovah’s Witnesses streaming into Yankee Stadium for their
annual conventions. Crowds ranging from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands regularly occupied the
stadium, at times spilling over into the Polo Grounds to accommodate the large numbers.

New York City was chosen for these events because of its ability to receive and handle large international crowds. The
“Theocracy’s Increase” International Assembly in 1950 had a peak attendance of 123,707 people from 67 different lands.
Three years later, peak attendance for the convention rose to 165,829 people from 96 lands. At the “Peace on Earth”
International Assembly in 1969, delegates from more than 100 lands were invited and sessions were held in 16 different
languages.

1958, however, saw the largest ever recorded group at Yankee  Stadium — a peak attendance of 253,922 from some 123 lands, spread between Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds and other overflow areas around the city. Overall, 34 conventions were held in Yankee Stadium until 1993.

Ronald Carritue was 13 years old in the summer of 1958. He remembers boarding the 14th Street/Canarsie subway line each day of the eight-day convention with his family. They were among the tens of thousands descending on Yankee Stadium, all easily identified by their convention badges. “Even growing up in Brooklyn, I had never seen that many people in my life,” Carritue said. “We arrived early each day, and yet it was still hard to find seats. It seemed like every seat in the house was taken. It was so exciting to be among that many people.”

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, 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.

The planning and translation of a program of this magnitude takes months of effort. With the uncertainty of whether it would be safe to bring thousands of people together in cities around the world, the organization opted for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual
event. 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.

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