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Jehovah’s Witnesses move Roanoke convention online due to COVID-19 concerns

JW estimated more than 4,000 people would have attended Berglund Center convention

ROANOKE, Va – One of Roanoke’s largest annual events has moved online due to social distancing.

Last year’s Jehovah’s Witness convention drew more than 4,000 people to the Berglund Center. However, spokesperson Robert Hendriks says the faith decided to hold a virtual convention this weekend for its millions of members.

“We have longed to be together, especially now, since we have been holed up in our homes,” Hendriks said. “What transcends our personal preference and our personal longing is our principles.”

Hendriks said it is an adjustment for the religion, since conventions are meant to convey a close experience for its attendees.

“There’s no doubt about it, an element of this is missing that makes it special for us,” Hendriks said.

However, he said the adversity of COVID-19 is a reason to remain faithful and connected, even through a computer screen.

“It’s about how to remain joyful, even while all around you is crumbling,” Hendriks said. “Joy is a quality of the heart.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses have not ruled out returning to the Berglund Center for an in-person convention in 2021.