Calling it “amazing,” Zulma Peñaloza was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness on July 24.
“My boy put a chair in front of the TV,” said the Valley resident, who then listened to a Bible talk for baptism candidates in her home. Afterward she made her way to a private pool.
When she stood up to be baptized, she said “it felt good.”
The switch to virtual conventions has brought positive changes to the baptism, traditionally a main feature of every convention where mass baptisms are performed in front of large crowds.
Family and friends from around the world can share in the moment from their living rooms. “This has helped,” said Peñaloza, who said with Zoom “everybody is on the screen.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are keeping their summer conventions virtual for the second year in a row.
“As much as we long to meet together, life is far too precious to put at risk,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Powerful by Faith!” is the theme of the 2021 global event, which is being delivered in more than 500 languages to households throughout the globe over six weekends, uniting some 15 to 20 million people in 240 countries.
Before the pandemic, millions gathered in stadiums, arenas and theaters around the world for the annual conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Convention organizers say that, while they look forward to future live conventions, the continued risk of bringing thousands of people together in large venues prompted the organization to opt for a virtual platform again this year.
However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual event.
“For my wife and I, our annual convention remains the spiritual highlight of the year,” said Ricardo Barrio, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Arizona.
“We look forward to new information, updates from around the globe and, of course, a feature-length movie focusing on a Bible character. Regardless of the format, it is three days of positive encouragement. That spiritual boost keeps us going strong.”
Hendriks added, “Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic. 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.”
The final session of the convention, including the conclusion of the Bible drama “Daniel: A Lifetime of Faith,” was released Aug. 16. The entire program is free and accessible on jw.org or on the JW Library app for iOS or Android or on streaming platforms like Roku TV and Apple TV.
For more information on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visit jw.org.