Among the anticipated 10,000 athletes, fans, and visitors at this weekend’s Chattanooga IRONMAN Triathlon will be 300 of Jehovah’s Witnesses standing beside their signature colorful carts.
The use of mobile displays of Bible-based literature, also known as witnessing carts, has been a part of the religion’s public ministry in the U.S. since 2011.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public "cart witnessing," which began in large metropolitan areas worldwide and quickly spread to tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors, and main streets, was suspended by the Witnesses from March, 2020 to June, 2022.
Local witnesses say the triathlon is a great time to have dozens of carts back on Chattanooga streets.
"Jehovah's Witnesses are back," said Tim Weaver, local spokesperson for Tennessee, with great enthusiasm. "While we never stopped reaching out to our neighbors through phone calls and letters, being back on the streets of our community is a signal that we have turned a page. We are eager to see our neighbors face-to-face once again. It will make a big impact on our work."
On Sept. 1, the Witnesses also returned to their door-to-door ministry around the world.
Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah's Witnesses, said, "We are entering into a phase of learning to live with COVID, which means we need to find more ways to personally interact with our neighbors. Being out in the community and conversing with our neighbors accomplishes that goal."
Mr. Weaver said that while the local Jehovah's Witnesses manning the carts may not be triathletes, they are energized to share their message of good news and hope with the community.
To learn more about Jehovah's Witnesses, their history, beliefs, and activities, visit their official website jw.org, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.