Manifesting Faith by Fine Works
1 Fine works are an evidence of faith that is alive. For example, faith motivates Christians to act compassionately toward those in need. (Jas. 2:14-17, 26) Such faith has become outstandingly manifest in the support being given to the current Kingdom Hall building program and the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. Although faced with increased pressures of daily living, along with escalating construction costs, Jehovah’s Witnesses in all parts of the earth have proved to be “a people . . . zealous for fine works” by volunteering labor and providing funds to meet the need for additional and improved Kingdom Hall facilities. (Titus 2:14) As “the desirable things of all the nations” continue to stream to Jehovah’s organization, we have the privilege of continuing to manifest our faith by our works in their behalf.—Hag. 2:7.
2 Regular contributions to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund have assisted congregations having a pressing need with their Kingdom Hall construction projects. As loans are repaid, these funds are, in turn, used to help other congregations. Funds have now been made available to assist in the construction of 571 new Kingdom Halls, accommodating 849 congregations. But the number of congregations in the United States has increased by 920 during the five years that the Society Kingdom Hall Fund has been operating! Thus, there is still a pressing need for additional Kingdom Halls.
SPEEDING UP THE WORK
3 In recent years a tremendous work has been accomplished in constructing quickly built Kingdom Halls. Regional Building Committees have assisted many congregations with their new Kingdom Hall construction and major remodeling projects. The 63 Regional Building Committees reported that 335 projects involving construction of new Kingdom Halls or renovation of existing buildings were completed last year. Many of the new Kingdom Hall building projects were financed entirely or in part by the Society Kingdom Hall Fund.
4 The guidelines that the Society has provided for the Regional Building Committees have helped to simplify and speed up building procedures, while enhancing safety. The appointed committees now schedule skilled craftsmen to be at the construction site only during the time that their skills are actually needed. This limits the number of workers on the site at any one time and allows them to spend more time with their families and congregations. One Regional Building Committee reported: “By following the Society’s guidelines . . . , we were able to schedule closely each trade as it was needed. We have experienced a very noticeable increase in efficiency, safety, and quality of work. . . . [The workers] came and went as scheduled. This was appreciated by the workers that came from distant places, being there only when needed and then returning home to family and congregation. This has helped to reduce congestion and food costs and has increased safety.” Another commented: “Each department was on the job only as needed . . . 140 to 180 workers was the peak at any one time. Having no young children on the job was an improvement, making it safer and easier to accomplish work.”
5 The fine quality of the work has been observed by others. When one building committee was having difficulty in getting cooperation from local officials, the chief building inspector from a nearby city, who had worked with Kingdom Hall construction in his area, provided a letter of recommendation. In part, he said: “I would be more than happy to discuss the way we have handled the two projects in our area. . . . The entire project was well coordinated, supervised, and the work done by craftsmen, not just workers. . . . When things are coordinated so well, you can just about tell to the hour when inspections will be needed. . . . Quite a feat! Mr. Building Official, don’t worry—‘quick-build’ will do you proud!”
6 Along with experienced elders serving on Regional Building Committees, volunteers representing 66 different trades are used during the year to assist congregations with their Kingdom Hall projects. This too is a fine expression of brotherly love, as this work takes them away from their congregations and families.—Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1.
7 Psalm 110:3 says to the enthroned Jesus: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force,” and this is true not only in the preaching and disciple-making work but also in construction projects. Of course, in all of this, we look to Jehovah to bless the arrangement. As Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.”
CONGREGATIONS CAN ASSIST
8 There is much that each congregation can do to support the Kingdom Hall construction program. For instance, congregations contemplating undertaking new construction projects can select a simple design that will neither be costly nor require intensive labor. (Compare Philippians 1:10.) The Society has available a variety of Kingdom Hall plans that are compatible with the method of construction used for quickly built halls. (Please note the December 1986 Our Kingdom Ministry insert, paragraphs 10-12.) While we look forward to Jehovah’s blessing upon our congregations, we must also be practical in our building design so as to meet the need, without placing an unnecessary burden on either the friends or the resources of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund.
9 Some congregations have included in their Kingdom Hall design a modest apartment that can be used by a traveling overseer while serving in the area. In the future, congregations building Kingdom Halls that will be centrally located in the circuit may want to consider whether it would be practical to include a room where the circuit overseer and his wife can be accommodated.
10 When undertaking a Kingdom Hall building project, the need for local financial support can be discussed frankly with the congregation(s) involved. The more finances the brothers provide locally with both contributions and loans, the less they will need to borrow. This allows more of the resources of the Kingdom Hall Fund to be available for other congregations to use in building their Kingdom Halls.
11 Some congregations, after requesting assistance from the Society Kingdom Hall Fund and being advised that they would have to wait because moneys were not available at the time, have then found sufficient loans and contributions available locally to complete their project. It is good to check thoroughly the availability of such funds before requesting help. (Luke 14:28-30) Surveys indicate there are at present over 470 Kingdom Hall construction projects in need of financial assistance! And when we consider the cost of a new Kingdom Hall, this represents a considerable amount of money that will be needed to complete these projects. Philippians 2:4 reminds us: ‘Keep an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’
12 Many congregations and circuits have assisted regularly by passing resolutions authorizing that funds be contributed to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. This is commendable and appreciated. Even though a congregation follows this procedure, a Society Kingdom Hall Fund contribution box conveniently located in the Kingdom Hall will enable individuals desiring to do so to make voluntary contributions to the fund. Any moneys placed in this contribution box should be forwarded to the Society in addition to those covered by the congregation’s resolution. Individuals may also make direct contributions to the fund, sending their remittances to the Society with an accompanying letter specifying the purpose of the contribution.
THE PRESENT NEED
13 There are various reasons why some congregations are eager to build new Kingdom Halls. Although some early Kingdom Halls may have been built initially in fine neighborhoods and at the time were of sufficient size to care for the needs of the congregations, circumstances have changed, and we have experienced wonderful growth. Some congregations have simply outgrown their present hall. The meetings are overcrowded, and at times the attendance may exceed legal limits. Usually these halls also have insufficient parking space.
14 Many congregations still meet in rented buildings, such as community centers. The meeting schedule is subject to change, or use of the facility may be cancelled at the discretion of the management. This may occur because of conflicting schedules, civic events, and so forth. In these instances, all the equipment and seating is makeshift, requiring setting up for each meeting and dismantling afterward. Sometimes these places are decorated inside and outside according to the worldly holiday season. Often rented facilities are in downtown areas where parking is limited. This has caused difficulties and tense situations with neighbors. Also, the community may view the congregation as lacking permanency, and this hinders growth. Some of these facilities are upstairs, making access difficult, and at times dangerous, for older or infirm persons.
15 Some Kingdom Halls are located far from any population center. Attending meetings requires extra travel time and expense for the publishers and interested ones. Such halls may be difficult for new ones to find, and this limits growth in the area. Some have been built in low-lying areas that flood periodically. On the other hand, Kingdom Halls built in metropolitan areas a number of years ago may now be in neighborhoods that have deteriorated. At times in such neighborhoods, vandalism is directed at the Kingdom Hall and at the brothers’ automobiles. Neighbors have threatened the brothers and sisters. All of this does not make for a pleasant atmosphere.
16 Following the construction of a double-auditorium Kingdom Hall, a congregation in New York State reported: “One member of the local community block club group that was extremely opposed to our building the Kingdom Hall came by after the project was up. She apologized for being negative about the Kingdom Hall and said that it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen in her life. She said that the peace and unity displayed on this building project could only come about because of our having the Lord’s backing, adding, ‘Don’t be surprised to see me at your meeting.’ Other members of that same block club came by with movie cameras to take pictures, and they invited us to their meeting as their guests to welcome us to the community and for us to talk about our beliefs. People in the city as a whole are much more willing to talk to us at their doors, and they view us in a much more favorable light. . . . The experiences are unlimited.”
17 A congregation in Kentucky that had previously met in a remodeled older home wrote regarding the construction of their new Kingdom Hall: “Our experience in the community was very favorable, with many comments regarding ‘what can be accomplished with true unity and cooperation.’ We also received a lot of help from local businesses in the loan of various things, such as front-end loaders, telephone service for the building weekend, Saturday service from building supply houses, and very reasonable food prices. The list goes on and on. Our plumbing supplier, located over 50 miles away, was so interested that he gave us his home phone number and offered to bring any needed supplies on Saturday or Sunday at his expense, saying he really wanted an excuse to come and see such a project.”
18 The building project generally encourages the publishers, in addition to making a long-lasting impression on the community. One body of elders in West Virginia reported: “We have experienced great joy in our new hall. The local friends have really taken pride in it and are much more diligent in taking their turn in maintaining it. We have also noticed that our meeting attendance has improved. The community has really responded also. While for most their interest in the truth is still reserved, they have commented very favorably on what was accomplished and still do, even though a year has passed. Jehovah’s name has certainly gained a greater respectability, and our preaching work too has gained more respect. The new hall seems to have given us a better foothold in the territory than we experienced before.”
EXPRESSIONS OF APPRECIATION
19 Congregations have written expressions of appreciation for the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. Representative of these are the sentiments expressed by a congregation in Indiana: “It was a wonderful experience for all of us here. . . . We also want to thank the Society for the material assistance provided by the building fund. Having this assistance allowed us to build a Kingdom Hall large enough to accommodate our growing needs.”
20 One congregation in Alabama had met in a mobile home under cramped conditions for three years. After completing the construction of a new Kingdom Hall with assistance from the Society Kingdom Hall Fund, they wrote: “From the fullness of our hearts, we thank you. People in our territory are absolutely amazed at what Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing. The wonderful thing about it is they are talking about Jehovah. Some are coming to our meetings, others come by just to see the Kingdom Hall. We have started some very fine Bible studies, and one is headed for baptism.”
21 As we look to the future, we pray for Jehovah’s continued blessing on the Kingdom Hall construction program. By our wholehearted support, we can show our appreciation for the Kingdom Hall and its role in helping us to encourage one another and “incite to love and fine works.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) This involves faithfully caring for our own Kingdom Hall and assisting others with contributions, volunteer labor, and other needed support as we are able. In this regard let us all be determined not to “give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—Gal. 6:9.
[Pictures on page 4, 5]
Charleston, South Carolina
Frazier Park, California
Grand Haven, Michigan