Continued Expansion Increases Need for Kingdom Halls
1 Long ago Jehovah’s prophet foretold that “the desirable things of all the nations must come in.” (Hag. 2:7) Surely we are seeing the evidence of how divine teaching is enabling multitudes to learn the truth and become Jehovah’s worshipers. How thrilling it is to note that 41,581 were baptized during the 1993 service year in the United States alone! In order to keep assisting all these new ones, we need to ‘set our hearts upon our ways’ to be sure that we are supporting God’s work to the fullest extent possible. (Compare Haggai 1:5.) An important part of our supporting God’s work continues to be our helping to provide suitable houses of worship for throngs of new praisers of Jehovah.
2 The Society Kingdom Hall Fund has been in operation for ten years now and has made it possible for 1,863 congregations to obtain new Kingdom Hall facilities. During the 1993 service year, 227 congregations in 38 states received loans for Kingdom Hall construction. Gratifying, indeed, has been the response of the publishers in giving financial support to this revolving fund. Moneys lent to congregations are being returned to the fund along with accrued interest so that all funds donated continue to be used, year after year, to build new Kingdom Halls.
3 Assistance by Regional Building Committees: The 73 Regional Building Committees in the United States aid the elders involved in construction activity in connection with new Kingdom Halls and renovation projects. They help assess the need for a new Kingdom Hall or remodeling an existing hall and provide outside assistance as needed from the time before property is purchased until the Kingdom Hall is completed. Each congregation is assigned to one of these committees.
4 Tens of thousands of willing workers have volunteered to share in the work of renovating Kingdom Halls and building new ones. These volunteers, including many professionals and tradesmen, give freely of their time and effort in such matters as purchasing property, filing legal papers, planning the building, and developing lists of materials to be purchased. They also help with purchasing quality materials at favorable prices, completing the initial site work, and overseeing the actual construction. Such generous giving of their dedicated resources in behalf of Kingdom interests is most commendable and brings rich blessings from Jehovah.—Prov. 11:25.
5 Elders should contact the Regional Building Committee for their area when their congregation first begins considering renovation of an existing Kingdom Hall or construction of a new one. Why? The regional committees have guidelines that can help congregations in their initial considerations. Selecting a site involves many factors in addition to the purchase price of the property. Other things could greatly increase the actual cost of the property, such as extensive site work, removal of hazardous or toxic substances, or legal entanglements. If a congregation needs financial assistance from the Society, the regional committees have copies of the Kingdom Hall Loan Survey form and can help congregation elders complete these.
6 The Society has provided Regional Building Committees with suggested floor plans for Kingdom Halls. Before selecting a design, congregation elders should contact the regional committee and discuss the overall layout of the building, using the Society-provided plans as a guide. Not only will this reduce development costs but it will also help the congregation to choose a building that will be modest yet functional and that will be suited for the quickly built method of construction.
7 Accurate and detailed financial records must be kept. Knowledgeable brothers have volunteered to work with the regional committees to aid congregations in setting up the needed accounting system and maintaining it. Other brothers working with the Regional Building Committees help congregations complete loan surveys and applications. This assists greatly, since local elders do not usually work with such Kingdom Hall financial records on a continuing basis as do these experienced and well-trained brothers. When the work is finished, the regional committee should receive a copy of the complete accounting records for the project.
8 Onlookers Impressed: The evident operation of Jehovah’s holy spirit upon the brothers working on Kingdom Halls has served as a witness to others. The materials for one hall were purchased from a lumber company, and later the manager wrote: “I do not recall ever being more impressed with a group of people than I was with the Jehovah’s Witnesses during the project. It was both fun and exciting for me to witness such an event, and I was glad to be able to participate in a small way. You and your people are to be commended, and I wish you much success in your future projects.”
9 In another instance, a representative of a supplier was assigned to spend parts of three days at the construction site. He said: “My life has been enriched by being with you this weekend. My impression of Jehovah’s Witnesses has changed! You do much more than knock on doors. It was a privilege to have had a part. Don’t be surprised to see me at your public meeting.”
10 When one project was completed, the mayor wrote on behalf of the city, stating: “It was an inspiration to see the hundreds of volunteers work together to build the hall so quickly. It is indeed a beautiful building. Residents were talking about the building’s going up so quickly. The new Kingdom Hall is a true credit to our community, and we are proud to welcome it and your congregation.”
11 More Volunteers Needed: The regional committees seek to use skills that are available within the congregations that will meet in the new or renovated Kingdom Halls. They also work with other local brothers, especially elders and ministerial servants, to train them in performing the tasks at hand. Having developed needed skills that will be useful in Kingdom Hall construction, these spiritually mature brothers can thereafter assist with building other Kingdom Halls within the region. Thus, those associated with the congregations involved in a Kingdom Hall construction project need to display a willing and cooperative spirit, not expecting that the regional committee and those working with it will care for all the work on their Kingdom Hall. (Neh. 4:6b) After receiving training, brothers should be motivated by love to help construct Kingdom Halls for other congregations that also have a pressing need for new or improved facilities.—Neh. 5:19; Phil. 2:3, 4.
12 Baptized publishers who have appropriate skills and who are in good standing in the congregation are encouraged to volunteer to assist with this vast work assignment. Both construction and nonconstruction skills are needed. Volunteers can obtain the needed forms from the presiding overseer or secretary in their congregation and indicate their experience as tradesmen or in some other field, such as food service, safety, materials handling, accounting, and the processing of legal papers. (When more volunteer forms are needed by the congregation, they may now be requested when the monthly literature request is sent to the Society.) Responding in this way is an evidence of our love for our closest neighbors—our Christian brothers.—Matt. 7:12; 22:39; John 13:35.
13 Volunteer Assistance Appreciated: Until becoming involved in a Kingdom Hall construction project, few realize what a huge undertaking it is. After one Kingdom Hall project was finished, the elders wrote: “The patient direction received from the brothers on the Regional Building Committee was a tremendous blessing to us. When we think of the support they gave us through both direction and coordination of skilled workers, we cannot help but call to mind 1 Peter 5:2, 3, where we read of shepherding ‘not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.’ These brothers are truly fine examples of dedicated service to Jehovah. Throughout the duration of the project, there were occasions, too numerous to count, when brothers traveled from distant places, spent long hours, donated the use of their equipment and tools, and even donated materials, all to help us in the construction of our new Kingdom Hall. The generosity of these brothers is a grand demonstration that they do ‘have love for the whole association of brothers,’ and what an encouragement that has been for us!—1 Pet. 2:17.”
14 The willing spirit and zeal of the brothers is evident, as one group wrote: “What a tremendous joy it was to see the Korean-, Spanish-, and English-speaking congregations all working so well together in united worship of Jehovah!” True, indeed, are the words of Psalm 133:1, 3: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” One elder working with a regional committee wrote saying what a privilege it was to serve other brothers. He commented that the “congregations are so encouraged by brothers traveling hundreds of miles to assist them in carrying out their dedication to Jehovah. . . . Truly, we form a loving brotherhood!”
15 In appreciation of the work done on one congregation’s Kingdom Hall, the presiding overseer wrote: “Because there are so many elderly brothers in this congregation, this project could not have been accomplished by just our effort alone. So a big thanks goes to you and brothers like you who feel Jehovah’s love and who want, not just to feel it, but to show it. May we say to our brothers: ‘Keep up the good work.’ Your efforts are being felt by so many of our brothers and without doubt bring joy to our Father, Jehovah.” Another building committee wrote: “We personally know the hard work that many contributed. (Philem. 21) Non-Witnesses in the area have exclaimed that ‘Jehovah is with you people!’”
16 Financial Contributions Continue to Help: Generous contributions to the Society Kingdom Hall Fund have aided congregations in the past and will surely continue to do so in the future. Does not Jehovah God himself take the lead in unselfish giving? (Jas. 1:17) While it is true that our abilities and opportunities to give do vary, we may find that by adjusting our personal spending, we can have a full share in supporting the building work. Such liberality certainly brings joy to Jehovah’s heart, as well as great encouragement to our brothers.
17 Increasingly, “a great crowd” is responding to the message of the Kingdom today. “The desirable things” are streaming into Jehovah’s spiritual temple, and he is ‘filling his house with glory.’ (Rev. 7:9; Hag. 2:7) Like faithful Jews of Haggai’s time, may we set our hearts on God’s work, fully supporting the pressing need for additional Kingdom Halls. Even though many thousands of fine Kingdom Halls have been built in recent years, growth continues at an accelerated pace. Our continued support of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund is an excellent means of sharing in God’s work.