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Jehovah's Witnesses spread Bible message

Published: Saturday, July 5 2014 5:00 p.m. MDT

Spreading the word

Last weekend the family witnessed in a neighborhood in Murray, referring to a house-to-house record that showed homes they had visited earlier where no one answered. Bryan and son Nick were in button-up shirts and dress pants, and Carol and daughter Lauren in dresses. They paired up — mother with son and father with daughter.

They handed a purple sheet to those who answered. The paper invited the reader to attend a free event to learn through talks, live dramas and discussions about the need for a world government of God's kingdom, with Jesus at its head. Information for how to obtain a brochure or additional information was listed on the back, with or without an obligation to attend Bible study.

Jehovah's Witnesses draw their beliefs from the Bible and encourage their members to compare scripture with scripture. In 1884 Charles Taze Russell and other Bible students registered what was then called the The Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society.

Its members soon took to handing out Bibles as part of their ministry. After using various translations, Nathan Knorr, then president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, released The New World Translation of the Greek scriptures in 1950, compiled through biblical scholarship. Over the years, additional books of the Bible were added to the translation. An informational video on jw.org details the translations Jehovah's Witnesses have used over the years.

One misconception people often have about Witnesses is that they "think that we are coming to either challenge what they believe or our whole objective is to get them to be affiliated with Jehovah's Witnesses, and that's really not it," Carol Winkel said. "It's as important to us … that someone could make an educated decision about their beliefs, whatever it is."

While Witnesses hope people are ultimately baptized into the faith, they have intermediate goals of teaching people about the Bible, according to Colin Thomas, an elder in the Holladay congregation.

Open to the message

Tuesday Carol Winkel was joined by her daughter Lauren, 16. They parked their car at the head of a street in Holladay and set out on foot in the late afternoon. They were rebuffed by the second man they met who told them he needed to get a "No Soliciting" sign at his home. They weren't soliciting, they explained; they were Jehovah's Witnesses.

"You have a good day," Carol Winkel told the man as they left his porch.

Part of their door-to-door work involves taking note of those who are not interested so other Witnesses know not to call at that address again. After a year they will return, say they are aware they have been asked not to come and ask if that is still the case.

Two poodle puppies romped outside the next home they visited as homeowner Andrea Heidinger asked the Winkels about highlights and location of the upcoming convention.

"Good luck to you," Heidinger said to them as they left.

Because of the push to deliver invitations leading up to the convention, Carol Winkel keeps conversations short and makes note of people like Heidinger who may be open to a return visit in the future.

Their next stop was to one of their regulars, Jerry Williams, owner of Ace Vacuum World in Midvale. Williams requested visits from Carol Winkel about five years ago when he found out she was a Jehovah's Witness. Witnesses hadn't been by his shop for years, he said.

"I know that this is off Carol's beaten path," he said. "Jehovah's Witnesses, they inspire me. They are out and about doing God's work, God's will."

Although Williams said he is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Winkels visit him once a month, "almost like clockwork," he said.

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