In a world where achieving a state of sustained joy may seem elusive — even impossible — for many, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their invited guests in some 240 lands will attend a virtual global convention this summer with the theme “Always Rejoice!”

For the first time in its history of holding conventions, Jehovah’s Witnesses have moved the highly anticipated annual event to a streaming platform. Congregations, families, and guests will view the program during July and August 2020. Typically, these conventions are held in stadiums, arenas, conference halls, and smaller gathering places around the world.

Locally, the convention was scheduled to be held on St. Croix from July 10-12 at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on North Carlton Road, Frederiksted, where more than 700 were expected to attend. Visitors from other islands and the mainland were expected to stay at local hotels and guest houses. Some would be lodged by local Witnesses. The convention was cancelled in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our worship is centered on our mutual love for our God and for each other, irrespective of where we are physically,” 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.”

The two Christian principles guiding the Witnesses’ historic decision are respect for the sanctity of life and love of neighbor.

“As much as we long to meet together, life is far too precious to put at risk,” Hendriks said. “The virtual meetings we have held over the last four months have proved to all of us that it’s not about where we are physically. It’s about where we are spiritually. In many ways we are closer as a spiritual family than ever before.”

The program is to be released in six installments, each corresponding to a morning or afternoon session of what would have been three successive convention days. Many congregations and families will view the first convention with a two-day session this weekend beginning today and ending Sunday. The final weekend of the virtual event is scheduled for Aug. 29-30.

The program explores questions like: What contributes to finding and sustaining joy? How can you cultivate joy in the family? How can you remain joyful in difficult times? A key feature will be a Bible-based drama that considers the life of Nehemiah and how he helped the ancient nation of Israel find joy in their worship of God.

Those interested in viewing the convention can contact their local congregation or access the program on jw.org, available under the “Library” tab. There is no charge for viewing the convention.

Each year, many who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the annual conventions. There are more than 8.6 million active Witnesses worldwide, yet the 2019 conventions had a peak attendance of more than 14 million. With the program available online in hundreds of languages, this may be the most attended convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses to date.

— For more information contact Willmar Acevedo, local public relations officer, at 340-513-9149 or via email willmar58@msn.com and Javier de La Rosa at 787-309-1261.