Couple’s 67-year summertime religious tradition goes virtual

Courtesy of the Public Information Desk of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Winton and JoAnn Zagrabelny have traveled to conventions each summer since the 1950s. This year they will watch the “Powerful by Faith!” convention from their home. They recently moved to Casper after living in and raising their family in Converse County for many decades.

Longtime Glenrock residents Winton and JoAnn Zagrabelny have faithfully attended annual conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses together since 1954, traveling to many different venues throughout the United States, most recently in Colorado. In 2020, those yearly long-distance treks came to a halt when the pandemic unexpectedly interrupted their 67-year tradition. The international religious organization canceled all in-person conventions and quickly moved the event to an online platform, a move they repeated this year.

This was a big change for the Zagrabelnys, who have always planned their summers around the convention. “Wherever the convention was, that’s where we wanted to be first,” said Winton Zagrabelny. “Other things took second place.”

Courtesy of the Public Information Desk of Jehovah’s Witnesses - The Zagrabelnys have traveled to conventions each summer since the 1950s. This year they will watch the “Powerful by Faith!” convention from their home in Casper.

When the Wyoming couple learned that the convention would be moved to a virtual platform, they did not break stride as they transitioned to the new format. They have come to appreciate the new change, along with the effort that has been put forth into producing a program that can be viewed worldwide. Said Winton: “Whether we’re at the stadium, whether we’re in a basement or a ballpark or whether we’re on Zoom, we still are there receiving instruction and help.”

“Powerful by Faith!” is the theme of the 2021 convention program, which will be delivered in more than 500 languages to households throughout the globe over six weekends during July and August, uniting some 15-20 million people in 240 countries.

The planning and translation of a program of this magnitude takes months of effort. With the uncertainty of whether it would be safe to bring thousands of people together in cities around the world, the organization opted for a virtual platform for the second consecutive year. However, the move has not curbed the enthusiasm for the annual event. Congregations around the world are inviting the public to join them for this historic occasion.

“Faith has helped our global brotherhood to continue to thrive even during a pandemic,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Our faith will continue to unite us in worship—even virtually—as millions gather in private homes around the world to enjoy a powerful and inspiring spiritual program.”

All are invited to attend the event by going to on the web or JW Broadcasting on the free JW Library app available for iOS or Android, or on streaming platforms like ROKU TV, Apple TV, and others. The program is free and accessible to all with different sessions available now and others beginning July 24-25, July 26, Aug. 9 and Aug. 16.


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