October 2 2014 Latest news:
Harry Kemble, Reporter
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Jehovah’s Witnesses have denied abandoning their traditional door-to-door approach in favour of engaging commuters outside stations.
For the last year the Christian-based religious movement has been seen “contacting” the community outside Redbridge’s key stations as it spreads the ministry’s literature.
This has led to reports of a new recruitment drive away from the doorstep, where the movement’s work is best known, but a Jehovah’s Witnesses representative said this is incorrect.
Rick Fenton, a publicity officer in the movement, said: “It has been suggested in some media reports public witnesses have replaced the door to door work but it has not.
“It has been going on for the last couple of years on a much larger scale – it was piloted in New York City.”
In central London alone, 1,300 witnesses hand out about 160,000 magazines and 20,000 books in a typical month.
Mr Fenton said although the operation outside stations like Ilford, Redbridge and Wanstead is much smaller – the aim is still the same.
“The literature explains the bible’s message – this is what we are focusing our efforts on,” he said.
“Reading the bible initially is a bit like visiting London for the first time – you need a guide book.
“What the bible says is really practical for life in the 21st century.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses worker Simon Cole, 45, of Manor Park, has been part of the new approach in Redbridge but he also denied a change of approach by the organisation.
He said: “Our number one tactic is still house-to-house but to meet more people it is about visibility – being out and about people can see you.
“People have noticed us around and have stopped and had a chat.”
Mr Cole said Ilford is where his team have had the most success in interacting with the public.
“There seems to be more commuters and people passing by more because it is a shopping area,” he added.