Wilton resident and Jehovah’s Witness Robert Maziarz has been writing letters and calling neighbors several times a week throughout the pandemic to share his beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses photo

The pandemic has affected doorstep-style promotions from political campaigners pushing for a candidate to Girl Scout troops selling cookies to Jehovah’s Witnesses fulfilling their commitment of sharing the Bible’s message.

Instead, the religious group is taking to snail mail and phone calls, using Whitepages’ listings on the internet to reach their neighbors whom they would typically visit once or twice a year by knocking on their doors.

“Our local congregation is only writing letters to individuals and making telephone calls of people that live in the area of which we normally would travel to be able to present our ministry to them,” Steve Seaman, the central Maine media spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses and Farmington Falls resident, said in a phone interview.

The Farmington Kingdom Hall on Fairbanks Road serves an expansive geographical area that includes Livermore and Franklin County up to the Canadian border, Seaman explained. The hall’s 110 congregants are following an organized initiative from the Jehovah’s Witnesses World Headquarters in New York, which releases guidance for its 120,000 international congregations.

For Wilton Jehovah’s Witness Robert Maziarz, this no-contact initiative has actually provided him with an expanded opportunity for ministry because even prior to the pandemic, he was struggling to go door to door. Maziarz has been diagnosed with cancer and was already facing extended confinement at his home.

“I found my energy waning and I was sleeping more, sometimes up to 18 hours a day,” Maziarz said in a news release. “It seemed that I was only able to share my faith with others once or twice a month.”

With letter-writing and phone calls, Maziarz now reaches out to people several times throughout the week.

Seaman said Jehovah’s Witnesses take a “no pressure” approach and don’t want to be a source of irritation. With this new form of ministry, he said they’re careful not to contact people too often or outside of their coverage area.

“We’ve had some very, very nice conversations with folks … they’re going through the pandemic fatigue as well and we’re not exempt to all of that,” Seaman said. “So I think people are just sick and tired of being restricted or what they feel as restricted and especially when you get the warmer weather, people just want to get out and do things. So it does make it challenging, but we are still not at this point willing to put people’s lives at risk or health at risk by being able to knock on their doors as much as that’s been our way of life for a 100 years.”

The goal for Jehovah’s Witnesses’ outreach is not to gain more congregants Seaman said, but rather to teach people the joy and comfort of the Bible’s message and to show that the Bible has answers to modern-day problems. Once the information is provided, it’s up to recipients to do with it as they please.

The same mentality that has kept Jehovah’s Witnesses away from neighbors’ doors during the pandemic has also been applied to services. Kingdom Halls continue to meet virtually instead of in-person despite the state’s indoor gathering restrictions easing to 50% capacity which will increase to 75% on May 24.

“Because we value life so much, we are very concerned about making sure that we’re not jumping the gun as it were on meeting too soon and then exposing unnecessarily others to getting sick with COVID,” Seaman said. “So, we are more hesitant to be able to recommend meeting together as of yet even though I know a lot of the churches are getting the green light to be able to meet together. And we have not made that decision as an organization to do that so for us, worldwide, we are not meeting at any of our Kingdom Halls around the globe.”

Locally, Seaman said there are congregants in their 80s and 90s using iPads and tablets to Zoom into services and meet one-on-one for Bible studies.

People are encouraged to join these services by visiting jw.org to find a local congregation or to learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses. To contact the local Farmington Kingdom Hall call 207-779-4053.


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