Kingdom Hall Construction in the United States
1 When we look at the worldwide field, it is heartwarming to see the grand increase being experienced by Jehovah’s earthly organization. Last year in the United States alone, 246 new congregations were formed, while a total of 3,288 congregations were added worldwide. With all this growth, it is not surprising that there is a need for more Kingdom Halls.
2 Many brothers and sisters show outstanding zeal and support for Jehovah’s organization by volunteering their time and assets in Kingdom Hall construction. The 75 Regional Building Committees operating in the contiguous United States care for the needs of about 140 congregations each in their assigned region. Every year, approximately 200 new Kingdom Halls are built and another 200 are renovated. The regional committees have been entrusted with the oversight of these projects, and their labors are appreciated. The entire arrangement for Kingdom Hall construction is accomplished through the Christian spirit of giving and self-sacrifice—the opposite of the spirit so commonly displayed in the world.—2 Tim. 3:2, 4.
3 To assist in standardizing Kingdom Halls, the Society has supplied regional committees with a U.S. standard Kingdom Hall design package containing plans on CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting). This has helped to economize both the time and the resources of volunteer workers. It has also assisted in the wise administration of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund. Elders now make their selection from these basic designs. After receiving this new tool, one Regional Building Committee stated: “We were very pleased and indeed quite excited to receive the design package. . . . Brothers experienced in architecture and engineering have estimated a saving in time of 50 to 60 percent by using these new designs. Having this package will also help us achieve more uniform, consistent standards for Kingdom Halls.” As congregations cooperate in supporting the standardization of Kingdom Halls, we anticipate that the load of the many dedicated architects, engineers, and contractors who voluntarily offer their assistance will be considerably lightened.
4 Volunteers Support a Fine Work: The Society is grateful to the many volunteers who help with Kingdom Hall construction. It is truly gratifying to see tens of thousands of volunteers offer themselves in all aspects of Kingdom Hall construction. The success of this program is possible because of such a willing, generous, and cooperative spirit on the part of volunteer workers, who sacrifice time that could otherwise be well spent with their congregations and families. (Ps. 110:3; Col. 3:23) This loving response makes them worthy of our commendation, appreciation, and full support.—Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1.
5 All who are qualified to assist Regional Building Committees on a regular basis have been asked to complete Kingdom Hall Volunteer Worker Questionnaire forms (S-82). The congregation sends these to the regional committee, indicating a worker’s qualifications and availability. When there are adjustments in a volunteer’s status, as when one moves or is appointed as a ministerial servant or an elder, new forms should be filled out promptly and submitted through the congregation secretary. If a volunteer no longer qualifies, the elders should immediately inform the regional committee by letter. When more forms are needed, they may be requested on the monthly Literature Request form. The circuit overseer too is interested in those who have volunteered for this field of sacred service. Therefore, he reviews the file containing the copies of the Kingdom Hall volunteer worker questionnaires each time he visits the congregation.
6 Keeping Construction Costs to a Minimum: Regional Building Committees have been directed to organize a purchasing department under the supervision of a capable elder. Brothers working in this department pursue purchasing leads diligently in order to search out favorable prices through comparison shopping and competitive bidding. In this way, a determination can be made as to which suppliers should be used and which materials should be purchased. Sometimes, during the work on a Kingdom Hall project, qualified brothers in the local congregation are invited to assist in this department.
7 To ensure that funds will be used as economically as possible, the Regional Building Committee must approve all expenditures from the building fund, either by countersigning checks or by initialing vouchers. Whenever a Kingdom Hall project, whether new construction or renovation, involves using volunteer help from congregations other than the one(s) that will meet in the hall, the regional committee has oversight of the project.
8 Anyone who contracts to do some of the work on a Kingdom Hall should be required to provide proof of workmen’s compensation insurance and liability insurance coverage with necessary minimums met, naming the congregation as an additional insured, as well as lien waivers.
9 Assisting With the Need in Other Branches: There are occasions when other branches need assistance from regional committees in the United States. Such help is often necessary to repair the damage after some disaster or to provide training for a local Regional Building Committee. It is a real expression of love when responsible brothers from this country are willing to travel at their own expense to assist in another country. When a request by a branch office is approved, the Society selects a regional committee that may have a slack period in the Kingdom Hall construction schedule within its own region to serve in this way. This makes for an orderly arrangement.
10 Because of the ever-increasing need for Kingdom Halls in other lands, there is a need to use existing funds as wisely as possible. In the June 15, 1995, letter to all congregations in the United States, we were encouraged to economize as much as possible in the construction of new Kingdom Halls and in the remodeling of existing ones. This request has been met with fine cooperation. Thus, as announced in the March 1997 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry, a portion of the Society Kingdom Hall Fund is now being used to provide loans to congregations in lands where a very urgent need exists for more Kingdom Halls but where there are limited resources and severe economic problems.
11 The need for more Kingdom Halls in certain lands is emphasized in the 1997 Yearbook. For example, mention is made of Ukraine, where 47 Kingdom Halls have been built thus far and construction of another 56 is under way. The need in such countries is very evident. The report states: “Many more Kingdom Halls are needed in Russia. The increase in the number of Witnesses there is very rapid, but about 85 percent of the congregations under the Russia branch do not have permanent meeting places. In Zimbabwe, where there are some 800 congregations, it has been necessary for many of these to meet out in the open. This has caused some newly interested ones to hold back from attending.” Similar situations exist in other countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
12 Although the love of the greater number of mankind has cooled off in these last days, God’s people continue to show evidence of their love for one another, a love that reaches beyond racial and territorial boundaries. (Matt. 24:12) In imitation of our heavenly Father, may we continue to show such love through our willing support of Kingdom Hall construction, both in the United States and abroad. Our doing so will bring Jehovah’s rich blessing and approval.—Mal. 3:10; Heb. 6:10.