As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges for many, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made the historic move of canceling all in-person conventions this year, instead hosting its first ever virtual global convention which carries the much-needed theme of “Always Rejoice!”

This change includes Ontario Hispanic families who typically travel to Nampa every summer for three days of Bible instruction. They will be “attending” their annual convention from the safety of their living rooms.

Ontario resident Alberto Mesta is grateful for the virtual format.

“There are a lot of benefits to having the assembly virtually,” he states. “For one, we are receiving spiritual food that we would not have if the assembly was canceled. We are also not risking the health and lives of publishers and the public.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting more and more pressure on local families, the convention’s “Always Rejoice” theme is designed to help adults and children cultivate joy even when dealing with life’s challenges.

“The theme of this year’s assembly is of great benefit to our friends in the congregation and to others in the local area,” Mesta continues. “Many are suffering from job loss, the health of a family member or their own, or they have lost a loved one in death. With all of these struggles, many do not know how or whether it is possible to rejoice.”

Mesta works closely with the Oregon Health Authority and monitors the COVID-19 outbreaks in the area.

“People in our community are scared. Many do not know what is happening or what is to come,” he said. “People are looking for answers to what is happening right now.”

Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses said this year’s convention is a “spiritual shot in the arm” amid a backdrop of wide- spread fear and doubt. “The message is basically, joy is a product of the heart, if you will,” he said. “It’s an inside job. It’s something that doesn’t depend on what’s happening externally – it really is a quality of the heart.”

The 2020 “Always Rejoice” regional convention was released online in six installments throughout August. The entire program can be accessed for free at jw.org and is available in 511 languages.

There is no registration or email sign up required to watch the program.

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