No knocking for Jehovah's Witnesses in Beaverton due to COVID-19
Throughout the last year, many people stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic have heard more door knocks from their local food or delivery drivers.
However, you might not be hearing much from religious groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses during this time.
Beaverton resident Mary Hall, 78, is a Jehovah's Witness who has changed the way she shares Scripture during the pandemic.
According to the Jehovah's Witnesses' national branch, knocking on doors was a regular part of Hall's ministry for more than 50 years, although she faced health challenges and had difficulty walking.
She has now joined virtual ministry groups and writes letters to connect with others in the community.
"It really is joyful to be able to do it," Hall said about letter-writing. "Every (letter) I put in the mailbox, I feel, 'Ah, this could reach somebody.'"
Hall has sent about 500 letters from her apartment over the last year.
As for the technology side, the 78-year-old told the branch that it was difficult at first but had help from younger people in the congregation. She wouldn't call herself "computer-savvy," but she has learned how to navigate using a computer or tablet now with more ease.
"I wonder what I would do without technology," said Hall.
Despite not being able to communicate with others face-to-face, the Beaverton resident says she still feels included and is able to do more indoors.
"It's speeding me up. I can do this," she said via the national group. "We are accomplishing even more now than we were door-to-door because this way everybody in the house gets a chance to pick up that letter and respond to it. It just feels good."
The risk of door-to-door knocking during COVID-19 is a decision each person must weigh, said Dr. Christina Baumann, Washington County's health officer.
Baumann added that it's important to look at how much the virus is circulating in the community along with the effectiveness and rate of vaccinations.
"Then, on a more individual level, what precautions are being taken to protect yourself and the person that you're interacting with," said Baumann. "So, with respect to those precautions, are these interactions happening outside? Are they distanced? Are the people involved wearing face coverings or are they vaccinated?"
When asked when it would be safe to go door-to-door once more, Baumann said, "If there's still virus circulating, you can't say that it'll ever be completely safe, but things that could make it safer are a high level of vaccine coverage in the community, especially among the people that are doing the door knocking and those that they are reaching out to."
In March 2020, more than a million Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States suspended their door-to-door and face-to-face forms of public ministry and moved congregation meetings to videoconferencing, according to the branch.
"It has been a very deliberate decision based on two principles: our respect for life and love of neighbor," said Robert Hendriks, a national spokesperson for the Jehovah's Witnesses. "But we are still witnesses and, as such, we must testify about our faith. So, it was inevitable that we would find a way to continue our work."
Hendriks added that people are feeling stressed and isolated during this time. He says that continuing their work helps regain a sense of footing and normalcy.
Hall echoed his sentiment.
"I am just so glad I am able to reach people writing letters," she said. "It has increased my joy. I don't feel left out when I communicate to people this way."
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