If you get an unexpected knock on your door, it may be a Jehovah’s Witness. The Christian denomination announced it would resume door-to-door ministry following its nearly three-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s been a cherished religious practice that the faith sees as a crucial element.
On Thursday, members of the denomination across the country went out to share literature and converse about God for the first time since March 2020, ABC News reported.
Dan and Carrie Sideris spent a morning walking around knocking on doors and ringing bells in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood located on the south side of Boston. Despite Dan Sideris’ hesitation about evangelizing in person in a world that he says has “changed,” his experience erased any traces of doubt.
“It all came back quite naturally because we don’t have a canned speech,” he said. “We try to engage with people about what’s in their heart, and what we say comes from our hearts.”
The couple said they were surprised at how many people opened their doors and were receptive to their messages.
One man took a break from a Zoom call to accept their booklets and set up a time for them to continue their conversation. At another home, a woman told them she had lost some family members over the last two years — something the Siderises relate to, both of them having lost their parents recently.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day,” Carrie Sideris said. “When I rang the first doorbell this morning, a total calm came over me. I was back where I needed to be.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses suspended door-knocking in the early stages of the pandemic.
The organization also suspended all public meetings at its 13,000 congregations across the country and canceled 5,600 annual gatherings worldwide, which was an unprecedented move that was not taken during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, despite the flu killing 50 million people worldwide.
Witnesses continued their ministry work by writing letters and making phone calls, but it lacked a personal touch, said Robert Hendriks, national spokesperson for the denomination.
“To us, going door to door is an expression of our God’s impartiality,” he said. “We go to everyone and let them choose whether they want to hear us or not.”
Even before the coronavirus, door-knocking ministry came with many concerns because Witnesses never knew how they would be received when they went out to people’s homes. Today that remains the case, with l evangelizers being advised to be mindful that lives and attitudes have changed.
“It’s going to take an additional level of courage,” Hendriks said.
The organization is not mandating masks or social distancing.