ERMA — They may be the folks you hide from when they ring your doorbell. They are not hard to spot, neatly dressed, carrying literature called “Awake” and “The Watchtower.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a congregation in Lower Township of about 86 members and a very visible Kingdom Hall on the corner of Townbank and Seashore roads. The hall was built by volunteers, with the building being constructed in a few days, a well-known practice of Jehovah’s Witness congregations.
“Going from door to door is following exactly what Jesus said and how he had instructed his followers to reach other people,” said member and spokesman Wayland Lewis, of Wildwood.
Home visits are volunteer work.
“Everyone you have ever seen come to your door, its not something they have to do, but it’s something they choose to do,” said Lewis.
Five meetings are held weekly including Sunday at 10 a.m. for “public discourse,” and a lesson from “The Watchtower.” Jehovah Witnesses congregations do not have a pastor or minister but a group of elders that oversee the group.
They are assisted by ministerial servants. Neither are paid for their work, according to Lewis.
Bible discussion is held Tuesday nights.
Theocratic Ministry School is held Thursday night to teach members to “witness.” Door to door visits take place Saturday.
Lewis’ own path to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness began in childhood when his mother accepted the faith. Originally from Indiana, he relocated to this county four years ago at the request of elders after attending ministerial training school, he said.
Lewis has been a sales associate with Blue Ocean Realty in Wildwood for two years. Jehovah’s Witnesses continue a mission in place since Charles Taze Russell officially began the group in Pennsylvania in the 1870s. A parting point from mainstream Christianity was their doctrine of Jesus as God’s first creation, not as a part of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine concentrates on a coming godly kingdom on earth and what its benefits will be for mankind, rather than going to heaven or hell. They believe only 144,000 people will go to heaven.
“The original purpose for man, starting with Adam and Eve, was for them to live on earth,” said Lewis. “The resurrection hope is you would be resurrected back here on earth.”
He said Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a paradise on earth which is soon to come. The group is in agreement with many faiths that the current world system is in its final days.
Lewis said the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are “not something we make up,” but supported by the Bible.
Each week, the same lesson is taught in each congregation, spanning 230 countries.
“The goal of this congregation is to promote the preaching work and being a place for encouragement and support,” said Lewis.
He said his faith has provided a direction and focus in his life and “a lot of happiness.” “We have so much bad news that we have to deal with today,” Lewis said. “It’s hard for many to find something that is encouraging, something that strengthens them in a practical way.”