DENVER — The way Americans worship in this country has changed dramatically in the new world of COVID-19. For Jehovah's Witnesses, their whole platform had to change, and the church has moved away from norms to share its message of faith.
"The history of Christianity is that stumbling blocks become stepping stones," said United States spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses Robert Hendriks. "We shut down every aspect of our in-person ministry, and every aspect of our in-person meetings and every aspect of our in-person convention. That was a massive decision for Jehovah's Witnesses because we're such a public organization."
There are about 20,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Colorado alone, according to Hendriks. There are 1.3 million among 13,000 congregations nationwide.
The pandemic shutdowns in 2020 forced the church to stop knocking on doors, the traditional way of spreading the word of the church.
"Knocking on doors is what we're used to," said local Jehovah's Witness Frank Sutton. "I've been used to doing that since I was a little kid."
Frank and his wife are now living through unprecedented changes now.
"We're writing letters and making phone calls to our neighbors," said Lori Sutton. "We're reaching a lot of people this way."
It's those opportunities that seem to be showing more promise than, perhaps, originally expected.
"All of a sudden, now our meeting attendance was swelling, we were bringing in folks who we had not seen for a while," Hendriks said.
The goal now, simply pushing forward.
"We've learned how to do our ministry, we've learned how to do virtual meetings, we've learned how to do conventions, we've learned how to translate on a massive scale," Hendriks said.
What the church hasn't learned, according to Hendriks, is how to come out of a pandemic safely. That's something the Sutton's are confident they'll figure out.
"We'll follow the guidance that we're given, making sure that all lives are kept safe as we kind of go into the new normal," Sutton said.