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We are pleased to share encouraging highlights from the 2017 service year report. The peak number of publishers was 8,457,107. Jehovah’s people spent a total of 2,046,000,202 hours in the ministry, a 3.1 percent increase from last year. We are especially encouraged to see a 7.4 percent increase in the number baptized, with a total of 284,212! This is evidence that we take seriously our commission to “make disciples.” (Matt. 28:19) We were delighted to see that the average number of regular pioneers was 1,225,279. This was an 8.6 percent increase! The worldwide Memorial attendance figure was 20,175,477. Significant features of the service year report will soon be available on jw.org and in JW Library, Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY, and Watchtower Library. These figures provide compelling evidence of Jehovah’s blessing on our work.—Isa. 60:22.
Throughout our branch territory, it is evident that Jehovah is searching for those “rightly disposed for everlasting life” in the language of their heart. (Acts 13:48) For instance, we are happy to report the formation of the first ever Cherokee-language congregation during the past service year. The first Swahili-language circuit in our branch territory was formed effective September 1, 2017. In addition to those reached in the door-to-door ministry, public witnessing initiatives are reaching more people than ever with the Bible’s message. There are over 17,000 publishers participating in the special metropolitan public witnessing program in 17 locations. Harbor witnessing is now organized in 45 ports, with 4,400 trained publishers boarding cargo and cruise ships in an effort to witness to crew members. Public witnessing campaigns organized at large state fairs and sporting events are exposing millions of individuals to the good news, as well as adding great impetus to this aspect of the preaching work.
Much has also been accomplished in regard to Kingdom Hall usage in the United States branch territory. Twenty branch planning meetings were held with bodies of elders in metropolitan areas affecting over 2,200 congregations. Implementing non-construction solutions such as merging or relocating congregations has reduced the need for new auditoriums in these areas from 41 to 19, with a potential savings of millions of dollars!
Be assured that Jehovah values your faithful service and that he will continue to give you the necessary strength to “fully accomplish your ministry” in the coming year!—2 Tim. 4:5; Isa. 40:31.
PS to coordinators of the bodies of elders:
Please arrange for this letter to be read to the congregation by the elder handling the part “Annual Service Report” in the Life and Ministry Meeting the week of January 1, 2018. Thereafter, the letter should be posted on the information board. This postscript should neither be read to the congregation nor be posted on the information board.