NOVEMBER 1, 2020
With hundreds of thousands getting baptized each year, we need an increasing number of theocratic facilities. To support this growth, Local Design/Construction Departments around the world planned to build or renovate more than 2,700 places of worship during the 2020 service year.a
Unfortunately, these plans were hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. To protect our brothers and sisters and to comply with government regulations, the Publishing Committee of the Governing Body paused the majority of construction projects worldwide. Nevertheless, during the 2020 service year, more than 1,700 places of worship were built and renovated prior to the pandemic. Additionally, over 100 major branch projects were completed. Consider how two completed construction projects have benefited our brothers.
Cameroon branch. The former branch, located in Douala, was too small and needed extensive upgrades. The Publishing Committee considered renovating the branch, but the cost of doing so would have exceeded the value of the facilities. They also investigated the possibility of building on a new property or buying and renovating an existing structure, but both options fell through.
Meanwhile, the brothers learned that to the north of Douala, the local government planned to build a road alongside one of our Assembly Halls. The road would provide better access and bring utilities to the property. These improvements perfectly suited the needs of the branch. So the Governing Body approved the construction of a new branch on a subdivided piece of the Assembly Hall property.
Witnesses and hired contractors worked together on the project—a strategy that saved time and money. In fact, the project was completed for more than two million dollars (U.S.) less than expected! The Bethel family was able to move into the new facilities shortly before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Bethelites in Cameroon have benefited from better living and working conditions, and they see the new branch as a gift from Jehovah. One couple says, “We just want to work harder and not take this gift for granted.”
Tojolabal Remote Translation Office (RTO), Mexico. For many years, the Tojolabal translation team worked at the Central America branch, located near Mexico City. However, the Tojolabal language is spoken mainly in Altamirano and Las Margaritas—nearly 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) away! As a result, the translators found it difficult to keep their Tojolabal-language skills current. And the branch struggled to find qualified brothers and sisters nearby to help with Tojolabal translation and audio recordings.
For these reasons, the Writing Committee of the Governing Body wanted to relocate the translation team to a Tojolabal-speaking area. To achieve this, the branch decided to buy and renovate a building. Doing so was more cost-effective than constructing or renting offices.
One translator explains how he has benefited: “In the ten years that I worked as a translator at the branch, I did not meet a single family nearby that spoke my language. Now our office is located in the heart of the area where Tojolabal is spoken. I interact with Tojolabal speakers every day. This has enriched my vocabulary and improved the quality of my work.”
Projects for the 2021 Service Year
For the 2021 service year, there are plans to work on 75 RTOs and Bible school facilities, if circumstances permit. Work will continue on eight major branch projects, including the new world headquarters project at Ramapo, New York, as well as the relocation of the Argentina and Italy branches. Additionally, more than 1,000 new Kingdom Halls are needed, more than 6,000 current meeting places are unsuitable and need to be replaced, and yet another 4,000 Kingdom Halls need to be renovated.
How is all this construction and renovation work funded? Brother Lázaro González, a member of the Central America Branch Committee, answered this question while discussing the Tojolabal Remote Translation Office project. “In our branch territory, we have limited resources. So without the support of the whole association of brothers, it would be impossible to build translation offices for our indigenous fellow believers. The funds provided by brothers all around the world have made it possible to bring translators closer to the communities where their languages are spoken. We give our sincere thanks to our worldwide brotherhood for their generous support.” Yes, these construction projects are possible thanks to your donations to the worldwide work, many of which are made via donate.jw.org.
a Local Design/Construction Departments plan and implement the construction of Kingdom Halls in their branch territory. The Worldwide Design/Construction Department, located at world headquarters, prioritizes and coordinates construction projects worldwide.