Jehovah’s Witnesses in Utah and worldwide returning to in-person services

They won’t be back knocking on doors right away, however.

(Jehovah's Witnesses) Rachel Bullard, of St. George, shares Bible promises using handwritten letters to area families. Jehovah's Witnesses suspended in-person ministry in March 2020, yet continued Bible education work by letter, phone calls and videoconference. Now the denomination is returning to in-person services but will hold off on door-to-door contacting.

Two years after Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations suspended in-person services and door-to-door proselytizing efforts because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re about to return to their Kingdom Halls — in Utah and around the globe — but not to your front porch.

Congregations worldwide are being encouraged to resume holding in-person services next month.

Jehovah’s Witnesses typically gather on Sundays and hold midweek meetings as well. Since the onset of the pandemic, they have been meeting virtually twice a week. According to the national organization, average weekly attendance at the online services exceeded 1.5 million — more than the group’s membership.

There are fewer than 1.3 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, in about 13,000 congregations.

In Utah, Kingdom Halls are in Salt Lake City, American Fork, Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Enoch, Heber, Hurricane, Kanab, Kearns, Layton, Logan, Magna, Moab, Mount Pleasant, Ogden, Provo, Richfield, Roosevelt, Roy, Sandy, Santa Clara, Spanish Fork, Tooele, Vernal, Wendover, West Jordan and West Valley City.

“There is a collective shout of joy among Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world right now,” Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said in a news release. “While we have prospered in many ways as individuals and congregations using technology to bring us together, nothing can adequately replace being together in person. We have longed for this moment for the better part of two years.”

West Jordan resident Michael Overholt echoed that sentiment.

“I deeply miss my friends and fellow congregants,” Overholt said. “I’m very excited about being back. … It’s going to be very emotional, exciting and an event I won’t soon forget.”

Some of the congregations will hold hybrid meetings — both in person and virtual — employing technology that has been installed in Kingdom Halls over the past six months.

Jehovah’s Witnesses also suspended their public ministry on March 20, 2020, and have been reaching out through letters and phone calls for the past two years. That will continue for now. No date has been announced to resume knocking on doors.

According to the organization, between March 2020 and November 2021, members spent more than 400 million hours in virtual Bible studies, writing letters and making calls.