For roughly 60 years the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been meeting at their Kingdom Hall on Julia Street. In the near future they hope to be worshipping in a brand new building on Biagioni Avenue.
In the spirit of an old fashioned barn raising, the brotherhood is coming together to build the new Kingdom Hall in a matter of eight weeks.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a worldwide, non-profit religious organization, engaged in Bible education work.
An arm of that organization, called JW Congregation Support, provides the construction and management services for properties that need to be built, renovated or maintained. They have their own national data base called Builder Assistant, where hundreds of trades people have registered, offering to volunteer their services.
The volunteer Construction Management Team, for B.C. is made up of 10 individuals, five couples, who travel from site to site working with the local congregations. This team is not only responsible for the legalities involved at each worksite, acquiring permits and purchasing materials, but also for organizing and scheduling the local volunteers and trades people.
Everyone involved, from the design team to the structural and electrical engineers and all of the trades’ workers are volunteers drawn from the Builder Assistant data base.
Having completed other building projects in the province, the building management team has finally arrived in Summerland and the construction of the new Kingdom Hall has begun. While they are here, they will be housed with local Witness families.
Members of the Summerland congregation are preparing and serving lunch to all the volunteers working at the construction site.
The teams’ field representative, Scott Dickson, explained that the new hall will be approximately 344 square metres with seating capacity for about 160 people. It will be an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) building.
“There is two inches of Styrofoam on either side of concrete that fills the center…kind of like a cookie and cream filling sort of thing,” he said. “It’s very efficient energy wise. It will have radiant in-floor heating, so again very efficient because we want to be environmentally conscious.”
Dickson also explained that even though the building will be built by volunteers, the workmanship will be of excellent quality with a careful eye to detail.
The management team’s goal is to hand over the keys to the local congregation in approximately eight weeks.
“Typically what we try to do is to have an eight to nine week construction schedule,” said Dickson. “That is our goal, because we have multiple projects scheduled for the rest of the year.”
Kingdom Halls throughout the world are financed from a pool of money made up of voluntary donations from the members of each congregation.
“We call each other brother and sister. We really do feel like we are part of a worldwide family,” explained Dickson. “It’s not just us here that want to have nice places to meet and to worship in. We want our brothers and sisters in Africa or Asia to have that same ability.”
Dickson reported that there was a need for 14,232 new Kingdom Halls to be built worldwide, due to the growth of the organization. He also explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses view their Kingdom Halls as bible education centres, where families can come together to learn about God, life skills and how to deal lovingly with each other.
“Because we view the buildings in this way, we are thrilled, honored and privileged to have a share in their construction,” he said.
Comparing the building of the Kingdom Hall to that of a Mennonite barn raising, Dickson said,
“The difference is that our barn has heating, air conditioning, carpet, tile, wallpaper, paint, bathroom fixtures, landscaping and fencing.”
Once the construction of the new building is completed there will be an open house held.
“We hope that the community will come and see what willing hands and warm hearted volunteers can do,” said Dickson.
Jehovah’s Witnesses meet weekly on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. Their meetings are open to the public and no collection is taken. To learn more about their activities, go to JW.org.
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