Their campaign, which began March 23, involves all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. Locally that includes members of the English and Spanish congregations in Norwalk, as well as those in Ashland, Bellevue, Birmingham, Sandusky and Wellington.
On Friday, April 19, Witnesses and their guests in 240 countries will gather for the event, which they consider to be the most important of the year. The invitations also welcome the public to attend a special Bible lecture titled “Reach Out for the Real Life,” which will be presented this Sunday in kingdom halls everywhere.
“In 2017, over 20 million people attended the Memorial, some 12 million of whom were not Witnesses,” said David A. Semonian, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “So the Memorial is a significant annual event not only for Jehovah’s Witnesses but also for millions of visitors worldwide. Our goal is that all of our neighbors receive an invitation to attend the event at a location convenient to them.”
Worldwide, the number of Witnesses who practice their faith is slightly more than 8.5 million. Last year, 20,329,317 people attended the Memorial, according to the Witnesses’ official website, jw.org.
While bread and wine are used as emblems representing Jesus’ body and blood, the Witnesses’ observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal differs in some ways than that of other religions.
According to jw.org, here is their explanation for those differences when it comes to the purpose, date and frequency:
• Purpose: “We adhere strictly to the Bible in our observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal, which is also known as ‘the Lord’s supper,’ the Last Supper, and the Memorial of Jesus’ death. (1 Corinthians 11:20; King James Version) In contrast, many beliefs and practices of other denominations in connection with this observance are not based on the Bible.”
“The purpose of the Lord’s Evening Meal is to remember Jesus, showing our gratitude for his sacrifice in our behalf. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:24) The observance is not a sacrament, or a religious practice that imparts merit such as grace or the forgiveness of sins. The Bible teaches that our sins can be forgiven, not by a religious rite, but only through faith in Jesus.—Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:1, 2.”
• Date: “The pattern established by Jesus helps determine not only the frequency but also the date and time of the Memorial. He introduced the observance after sundown on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., according to the Bible’s lunar calendar. (Matthew 26:18-20, 26) We continue to observe the Memorial on this date each year, following the practice of early Christians.
“Although Nisan 14, 33 C.E. was a Friday, the anniversary of that date might fall on a different day of the week each year. We determine the date that Nisan 14 falls each year using the same method as was used in the time of Jesus, rather than applying the method used for the modern Jewish calendar.”
• Frequency: “Jesus commanded his disciples to commemorate the Lord’s Evening Meal, but he did not specifically say how often. (Luke 22:19) Some feel that it should be observed monthly, while others observe it weekly, daily, several times each day, or as often as a person feels is appropriate. However, here are some factors that should be considered.
“Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal on the date of the Jewish Passover, and he died later that same day. (Matthew 26:1, 2) This was no coincidence. The Scriptures compare Jesus’ sacrifice to that of the Passover lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8) The Passover was observed once each year. (Exodus 12:1-6; Leviticus 23:5) Likewise, the Memorial of Jesus’ death was observed once each year by the early Christians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses follow that Bible-based pattern.”