Jehovah’s Witnesses Resume Public Ministry Two Years After Going Virtual
If you happen to be in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward this week, you may notice that a pre-pandemic fixture is back on the sidewalks: smiling faces standing next to colorful carts featuring a positive message and free Bible-based literature.
Thousands of these carts will be rolling down the streets of communities like Milwaukee all across the world this week as Jehovah’s Witnesses recommence their global public preaching work some 24 months after putting it on pause due to the pandemic.
“I know our neighbors have needed comfort,” said Kate Grueneberg, who has regularly volunteered along with her husband, Nick. “There’s been so much that has happened between the pandemic, civil unrest and economic problems. I’m excited to be out in the public again, sharing a positive and upbuilding message with the people in our community.”
The Christian organization will return to its public ministry for the first time since March 2020 when all in-person forms of their volunteer work were suspended out of concern for the health and safety of the community.
In response to the global decision, 25 congregations in the local area are organizing volunteers to assist with the reopening of their cart located at Broadway Street and St. Paul Avenue in the Historic Third Ward. They hope to add more locations soon.
The local congregations will also resume free in-person Bible studies along with personal visits to those who have invited them back to their homes. This comes two months after the organization began gathering at their Kingdom Halls once again for in-person meetings.
“While we understand that the pandemic is not over, we are entering into a phase of learning to live with COVID,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We are sensitive to the risks that still face our communities and our volunteers, which is why we will not resume door-to-door ministry at this time. Each volunteer will make a personal choice as to whether their ministry will remain strictly virtual or whether they are ready to make in-person visits again. We are excited that we all have a choice!”
Mobile displays of Bible-based literature have been part of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ public ministry in the U.S. since 2011. While “cart witnessing” began in large metropolitan areas around the world, the practice quickly spread to the tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors and main streets.
In 2014, Witnesses in Milwaukee began offering a selection of Bible literature in nine different languages at the carts during the morning commute and on weekends to be accessible to community members.
“Anyone from any background can approach us and get information,” Nick Grueneberg said. “It’s a real privilege to serve the community and see the effect that the message can have on a person. Maybe there is something bothering them or a concern, and we can provide help.”
To learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website jw.org, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.