Society Kingdom Hall Fund
1 Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere often express sincere appreciation for their local Kingdom Hall. This is because of the important purpose it serves in our worship of Jehovah.
2 At the Kingdom Hall we experience warm Christian fellowship and an interchange of encouragement. (Ps. 133:1; Heb. 10:24, 25) The Kingdom Hall, a center of true worship, stands as a symbol of Jehovah’s Kingdom interests in the community and serves as a place where newly interested people can become acquainted with Jehovah’s organization.
3 Ever since 1935, when the great crowd of other sheep began to be gathered in earnest, the obtaining of Kingdom Halls throughout the land has been a matter of increasing concern. (John 10:16; Rev. 7:9) Especially now, at a time when Jehovah is speeding up the ingathering work, the need for more Kingdom Halls in certain areas has become critical. (Isa. 60:22) This is because building costs and property values have become inflated beyond reason, making it virtually impossible to arrange adequate financing locally. In an endeavor to render needed assistance, the Society Kingdom Hall Fund was established. This arrangement, first announced at the 1983 “Kingdom Unity” District Convention and explained more fully in the September 1983 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry, gives Jehovah’s people everywhere an opportunity to demonstrate in an outstanding way their love for one another and their Kingdom unity.—John 13:35.
4 It is not unusual for Jehovah’s people to demonstrate their love by sharing material things. That is the way it was among the early Christians who rallied to care for the needs of the brothers in Judea. (Acts 11:27-30) The impoverished Macedonians along with the more affluent Corinthians shared with other congregations in Europe and Asia in supplying the needs of the congregations in Jerusalem and other parts of Judea. (2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:1, 2) Today, when emergencies arise due to natural disasters, financial help makes it possible for clothing or other needs to be provided for the brothers in certain areas. Inasmuch as prevailing economic conditions are preventing some of our brothers from having adequate meeting places for the local congregations, the same spirit of giving moves us to support the arrangement to obtain Kingdom Halls.—Prov. 3:27.
5 The present need of the brothers is quite different from previous needs just mentioned that have been cared for by generous contributions from others. The Society Kingdom Hall Fund does not pay outright for Kingdom Halls. That is not what the brothers need. Each congregation pays for its own Kingdom Hall. The Society Kingdom Hall Fund has been set up to provide adequate low-cost financing for new Kingdom Hall construction or for obtaining and remodeling buildings to be used as Kingdom Halls. Monetary loans are made to congregations under terms that allow the local brothers to make repayment without this becoming burdensome for any single congregation. So, the Society Kingdom Hall Fund holds potential benefits for the brothers everywhere.
6 Although we do not view Kingdom Halls in the same way that the tabernacle and the temple of Jehovah were viewed in ancient Israel, it is appropriate to give thought to the historical accounts that highlight the spirit of giving manifested by Jehovah’s worshipers during the time of those building projects long ago. So generous was the giving of materials for building the tabernacle that Moses had an announcement made throughout the camp of Israel telling the people not to “produce any more stuff for the holy contribution.”—Ex. 36:6, 7.
7 The same spirit was manifested by the Israelites in the days of David and Solomon. (1 Chron. 29:3-7) The Bible also makes mention of the fact that the people contributed joyfully and in a whole-souled manner. (1 Chron. 29:9) Many years later, when writing to the Corinthian congregation regarding their contribution for helping the needy Christians in Judea, Paul stated that the one that is generous in his sowing “will also reap bountifully.” He added, “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 Cor. 9:6, 7.
8 The world stands in sharp contrast. It manifests a “me first” attitude. Even among God’s own people, some have shown such a spirit. An example of this can be found in the book of Haggai. The repatriated Jews became so absorbed in their own personal affairs and in making a comfortable life for themselves that they neglected Jehovah’s worship. (Hag. 1:4, 9) Jehovah blessed neither their efforts nor the land. To readjust their thinking, Jehovah sent his prophet Haggai. By again putting their time, resources, and energy to work on Jehovah’s house, the Israelites once more experienced the great joy of generously giving and received rich blessings from Jehovah. The present urgent need for Kingdom Halls in this country gives Jehovah’s people today a marvelous opportunity to experience similar joy and blessings.—Mal. 3:10.
HOW THE SOCIETY KINGDOM HALL FUND OPERATES
9 The Society Kingdom Hall Fund operates as a “revolving fund.” That is, contributions received are put into an account that is used solely for making loans to assist congregations in the United States in financing their Kingdom Hall projects. While the moneys received are viewed as contributions to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund, they do not become a “gift” to complete a single Kingdom Hall project. Rather, the money loaned to congregations must be repaid. As this is done the accumulated repayments, along with continuing contributions from the congregations, are loaned to still other congregations for their building projects.
10 The costs of administering the fund, such as correspondence, legal details, banking, are all cared for by the Society. Therefore, each dollar contributed to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund is used exclusively for the purpose of providing funds for the loan pool to assist congregations.
11 These loans are repaid to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund with interest at the rate of 6 percent. Why charge interest? Basically, the small amount of interest that is being charged serves to protect the contributions from inflation. Each year inflation erodes the purchasing power of every dollar, and the cost of building Kingdom Halls rises. The interest paid thus allows the Society Kingdom Hall Fund to maintain its potential for assisting congregations now and in the future.
WHO RECEIVES ASSISTANCE FROM THE SOCIETY KINGDOM HALL FUND?
12 As stated in earlier issues of Our Kingdom Ministry, only some of the most critical needs can be met at this time because of the present limited financial base of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. In 1983, the circuit overseers, assisted by qualified brothers in each circuit, completed a survey to determine which congregation in each circuit had the greatest need for a new Kingdom Hall.
13 But it should be kept in mind that just because a congregation is listed as the number one priority in the circuit, that congregation may not automatically qualify for assistance at this time. In other areas there may be congregations with an even greater need. Consideration is given to all the factors involved, and on the basis of such information the Society endeavors to apportion available funds.
14 Congregations are cautioned not to “create” an emergency. For example, a congregation may have a facility that is small or overcrowded and so may wish to build or remodel, even though the present building is sound and appropriate in other respects. Unless the congregation is able, on its own, to finance the project, it would be premature to consider selling the present facility and assume that funds would be made available from the Society Kingdom Hall Fund to assist in completing a larger Kingdom Hall. Nor do we encourage borrowing money from brothers or financial institutions on a short-term basis, expecting that the Society will make funds available to cover these debts. No matter what may be planned with regard to Kingdom Hall financing and construction, the principle expressed at Luke 14:28-30 certainly ought to apply.
15 Are we saying that financing independently of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund should not be done? No. If a congregation chooses to use local financing, it may do so. However, this should not be done with the thought of refinancing through the Society Kingdom Hall Fund at a later date. Likewise, loan guarantees from the Society Kingdom Hall Fund are not available.
16 In some areas, congregations have been able to rent adequate facilities that can be used as a Kingdom Hall. While it may be advantageous to own property, there is no objection to renting property that is suitable for a Kingdom Hall. A lease, stating the responsibility of the property owner as well as the congregation, should be signed if at all possible.
THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM
17 No outside, commercial financing is involved in the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. Rather, Jehovah’s organization has placed before each one of us the opportunity to make regular contributions to this fund. Yes, our Christian generosity motivated by God’s spirit can fill much of the need for more Kingdom Halls.—Compare 2 Corinthians 9:8-15.
18 Each congregation in the United States should have a contribution box designated for the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. Make sure that the location is convenient for all. If the congregation decides on a Kingdom Hall project, a building fund contribution box may be set up for that purpose. Such arrangement will allow the publishers to decide how they want their contribution to be used. We can be confident that Jehovah will bless our efforts to care for the needs of the many.—Heb. 6:10.
19 The congregation as a whole may desire to help meet the ever-growing need for more Kingdom Halls. If your own Kingdom Hall has been paid off, the congregation may decide to contribute to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund a certain amount each month. A resolution to this effect can be presented to the congregation. Upon approval, the moneys can be taken from the congregation’s cash account each month and remitted to the Society. Of course, any congregation may pass such a resolution, and the amount designated can be remitted along with the funds received from the contribution box for the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. This can be done monthly or as often as the congregation wishes.
20 One suggestion for helping a local or nearby congregation to obtain an appropriate Kingdom Hall would be for a congregation to agree to assist with monthly mortgage payments. Obviously such an arrangement should never be solicited. However, nearby congregations or those with smaller or no mortgage payments may desire to help reduce the financial load on the congregations that will be using a new Kingdom Hall. If a nearby congregation should volunteer to do this, a written record should be prepared stating the amount of money that the congregation wishes to contribute each month and for how long they intend to make such monthly contributions. A copy of this written agreement should be kept in the files of each congregation involved. In one community, six congregations recognized that the brothers involved in a building project would find it extremely difficult to meet the necessary mortgage payments. They agreed, collectively, to equalize the mortgage payments among all congregations. Thus, all in the community benefited, and the brothers shared the financial burden.
21 In one metropolitan area an additional Kingdom Hall was badly needed. However, property costs involved hundreds of thousands of dollars. The three congregations were just unable to make the extremely high mortgage payment. Seven nearby congregations, although still paying for their own Kingdom Halls, arranged to assist on a monthly basis so that the needed Kingdom Hall could be provided.—See 2 Corinthians 8:14.
22 In many instances several congregations use the same Kingdom Hall. What can be done when one or more of such congregations find it necessary to obtain a Kingdom Hall in their own territory? The congregations that remain with the existing Kingdom Hall may wish to make a substantial contribution toward the new project. They may do this by borrowing money and donating the sum to the new Kingdom Hall project. (It should be kept in mind that such loans must be arranged for locally as the Society Kingdom Hall Fund has not been designed for this purpose.)
23 In such instances, the congregation that decides to obtain its own Kingdom Hall should not assume that the remaining congregations are obligated to “buy their share” of the present facility from them. No congregation “owns” a share of the building that can be “sold” to congregations that continue to use the existing facility.
24 Since the Society Kingdom Hall Fund has been functioning, loans have been made to help finance Kingdom Hall projects in 17 states. More loans are being approved as the funds become available. There is still much to be done by congregations either on their own or with available assistance from the Society Kingdom Hall Fund.
25 On the average, a new congregation is being established in this country every two and a half days. Each year the total number of new congregations formed taxes even further our present Kingdom Hall facilities. So, the challenge before all of us today includes not only meeting the need for adequate Kingdom Halls for existing congregations but doing what we can to keep pace with the accelerated growth in the number of new congregations.
26 This matter of serious concern should be kept before Jehovah in earnest prayer. Individually and as congregations, we are called upon to assess our material resources and decide to what extent we will be able to support the Society Kingdom Hall Fund to help acquire needed Kingdom Hall facilities. The stepped-up pace of ingathering is in keeping with Jehovah’s timetable. He will certainly bless us in taking proper care of those hastening into his Kingdom organization during the final part of these last days.—Isa. 60:8, 10, 11, 22.
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What Is the Need?
In the United States, the last ten years has seen a 35-percent increase in the number of publishers and the formation of over 1,400 congregations. This growth now continues at an accelerated rate.
We are happy that thousands of fine Kingdom Halls have been built over the years. Jehovah’s people have been diligent in making this possible. However, with the increase that is on, we face a challenge.
Over 300 circuits in this country have a need for at least one new Kingdom Hall. Many circuits have reported an immediate need for several new Kingdom Halls. In one large metropolitan area, 26 Kingdom Halls serve four or more congregations each. In such circumstances, one can readily appreciate the difficulties that arise during the visit of the circuit overseer, at Memorial time, and when the Kingdom Ministry School is being conducted.
It has been found that in addition to the funds that have been raised locally, anywhere from 80 to 100 thousand dollars is often needed to complete a Kingdom Hall project. In some areas, a Kingdom Hall can be completed for 40 to 50 thousand dollars, but in other areas it may cost 100 thousand dollars or more just to buy the property on which to build a Kingdom Hall.
Based on those figures, you have some idea of what is needed in order to keep the Society Kingdom Hall Fund and the expansion program moving forward.
Some of our brothers meet in damp basements or partially converted warehouses, and some are still meeting in the homes of the brothers. In other locations the only recourse the brothers have is to rent storefront locations. There are areas where the brothers can find no suitable place at all. They use community buildings or other facilities that are also used by worldly groups. Thus, for each meeting, they must bring in and remove all the equipment and literature necessary for the congregation’s operation.
In still other areas the neighborhood has changed to such an extent that it is no longer a suitable area for a Kingdom Hall, and the congregation has to move. Some Kingdom Hall facilities have insufficient parking. Elsewhere brothers endeavor to deal with constant overcrowding, with some having to stand during the course of each meeting. Such undesirable conditions usually do not reflect favorably on the truth.
While recognizing the magnitude of the task at hand, we must fully trust in Jehovah to help us meet the present need for Kingdom Halls.—Prov. 3:5, 6.
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Louisiana: Quick-build Kingdom Hall
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New York: Building purchased and renovated into Kingdom Hall
Kentucky: Quick-build Kingdom Hall