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Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate completion of significant renovations to Kingdom Hall in Carneys Point
Published: Monday, May 30, 2011, 2:45 AM
Staff photo by Britney LillyaCongregation Elder Keith Myers talks about the ramp that was built next to the stage to make it wheelchair accessible in the newly renovated Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Carneys Point.
CARNEYS POINT TWP. — After months spent making some significant renovations to their Kingdom Hall on South Golfwood Avenue, this weekend local congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrated the new life given to their place of worship.
An open house showing off the renovations — done through a 100-percent volunteer effort — was held at the Kingdom Hall here on Saturday.
According to congregation elder Keith Myers, the renovations were brought on by a few contributing factors.
In recent years, the Carneys Point congregation was joined by a congregation from Salem and a Spanish-speaking congregation from Bridgeton — bringing a total of three congregations into the Golfwood Avenue building to share the structure, said Myers.
The building was built in 1989 and had never really been updated. With more than 20 years of wear and tear, and with increased traffic brought on with having three congregations, Myers said renovations were needed to bring the structure up to date, and to prevent it from falling into disrepair.
According congregation elder Jason Saracco, mold also played a role in the renovations.
“In August 2010, it was discovered that we also had some mold spores in the walls of the building, so in addition to a face-lift, we would need to remediate the mold,” said Saracco. “In September 2010, all three congregations moved out of the building until the remediation and renovation was completed. We continued to hold our Bible educational meetings at other Kingdom Halls in the area.”
The three congregations were able to raise the funds for the materials for the renovations, and all of the labor was done by volunteers.
Fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses from all over the state, from as far as two hours away, came to assist with the construction process, said Myers.
Around 450 volunteers from outside the local congregations came to help, and approximately another 100 to 150 locals also volunteered their time, he said.
“We talk about brotherhood and think of each other as siblings, and we love each other,” said Myers. “If you have a skill, you can find a way to tie it to worship and help the people you love. It’s that mindset, ‘Here I am. Send me.’”
Volunteers successfully remediated the Kingdom Hall for mold. The exterior of the building was completely re-painted, and the roof and two exterior doors were replaced. The land surrounding the hall also received all new landscaping.
Within the structure, the entire interior was remodeled. The stage was enlarged, and a ramp leading up to the stage was added for disabled members. New carpets were installed, new chairs were added, and everything was repainted.
The layout of the hall was restructured to include more storage area, and all bathrooms were completely gutted, re-tiled, and outfitted with all new fixtures.
Heating and AC units were replaced, and airflow was upgraded and improved. New lighting and a new sound system were also installed.
Materials for the renovation were budgeted at $165,000, said Myers. Including labor, the actual value of the construction could easily be twice that amount, he said.
But thanks to a tremendous volunteer effort, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were left with virtually no burden of cost.
“At John 13:35, Jesus said that his disciples would be known by the love they had among themselves. We saw those words fulfilled during this incredible project,” said Saracco. “We are deeply grateful to all of the many volunteers — both from our three local congregations as well as congregations all over New Jersey — who assisted in making our place of worship so beautiful.”
He added, “In a world that is often cold and cruel, how happy we are to find such warmth and love among people of all races and genders. This is evidence of God’s spirit and blessing.”
Staff photo by Britney LillyaThe newly renovated Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Carneys Point.