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martes, 1 de octubre de 2013

Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering to build Kingdom Hall in Greenfield

GREENFIELD –Hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses volunteers from throughout the region were in Greenfield the weekend of Sept. 21 to build a new Kingdom Hall, a place of worship for the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls congregations.

"It's a privilege to be here," said Charlie C. Kenyon of Montgomery. "It's part of our worship to our God for his kindness to us and (a way) to provide for the needs of our brothers and sisters."

During the weekend exterior walls were raised and much of the exterior plywood sheathing was installed. Work also included the roof truss system installation and framing of interior walls and exterior insulation and finish. Volunteers also closed in the building, affixed the roof deck, waterproofed and shingled.

Work is scheduled for the next several weekends with the entire project completed, carpeted, decorated, landscaped and ready for an occupancy inspection by Sunday evening, Oct 13.
More than 1,200 volunteers—many of them skilled in the building trades—had registered to work on the project. They served in about 50 departments from food preparation to first aid to plumbing.

The Shelburne Falls and Greenfield congregations will share the 4,058 square-foot Kingdom Hall, situated on a 2 ½-acre site at 290 Shelburne Road. The facility will include a main auditorium, a library, a meeting room, a kitchen, bathrooms and a coatroom.
According to Robert P. Nicoll of Worthington, news service coordinator for the project, the project is valued at about $1 million but about half that is volunteer labor, thus keeping the cost down.

Kingdom Halls are education centers, he explained, with no stained glass or religious imagery. "They are well-light, comfortable places where we can come to learn about the Bible and how to apply it as individuals and families and deal with a very complex world," he said.

The local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses provides volunteer support from its members providing general labor, cleaning, well-prepared hot meals, shuttle-bus service to and from prearranged off-site parking lots, and when needed, housing, he said. "The surprise is that all of these qualified tradesmen and other workers volunteer their time and equipment. They pay for their own travel and expenses just to come and work together in a spirit of cooperation and friendliness. This allows the local congregation to afford a beautiful structure without placing an expensive burden on its members."

Many of these volunteer workers are licensed professionals in their respective fields. Others have labored in the building trades for years. The remainder of the volunteers—men and women of all ages--have undergone extensive training and work under the careful oversight of these experienced tradesmen.

Ever since the first quickly built Kingdom Hall was erected in New England in 1982, Jehovah's Witnesses across the region, the country and now the world, construct their places of worship in the same highly efficient manner. They accomplish in a few weekends what would take most commercial construction companies many months to complete.

The new Greenfield Kingdom Hall will be "extremely energy efficient," said Nicoll, who has worked on 15-20 of these "quick build" projects in Massachusetts since 1989. "This Kingdom Hall project is the first here in Massachusetts where we are installing a geothermal heating/cooling system under what is now the parking lot. We will also be installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the Kingdom Hall, another first for us."

The geothermal portion of the project was completed in August so the parking lot could be installed over it.

Alec J. Demos, of Lee, project development overseer, said volunteers often learn new skills on the building projects. They are trained, and "that's how you continually build your crews even stronger."

Michael Shiel, of Leominster, construction support overseer, commented on the "wonderful spirit" at the building site. "They are doing this for God," he said of the volunteers. "They want to have a place of worship here in Greenfield to come and worship Jehovah."

According to the Jehovah's Witnesses website, Jehovah is a rendering of God's name in English that has been used for centuries. While many scholars prefer the spelling "Yahweh," Jehovah is the form of the name that is most widely recognized.

Emily M. Russo, 18, of Brimfield, volunteered to help fabricate ductwork for the Kingdom Hall. A member of a Worcester congregation, she said she learned about HVAC work on this build. But it was serving God that was most important to her.

"Because of my beliefs, it's important to put God first," she said.

"Jehovah's Witnesses are a very tight-knit, family-oriented community that bases its beliefs and the way we live our lives on the Bible to help live in a very difficult world," Nicoll said, noting that love of God, gained in an accurate understanding of what the Bible teaches, draws people together.

There are 63 active members in the Shelburne Falls congregation and 99 in Greenfield. The new Kingdom Hall will have seating capacity for 120 with a maximum occupancy of 150.

The project is being overseen by the Witnesses' Massachusetts Regional Building Committee #2, one of three such groups in the commonwealth that coordinate the construction and renovation of Kingdom Halls throughout Massachusetts. Currently there are more than 135 such regional work committees nationwide with an average of 1,300 volunteers each.

Stanley W. Rose of Spencer has participated in more than 100 Kingdom Hall quick-build and remodeling projects since 1983. A professional carpenter who served as construction overseer in Greenfield, he said he is involved because: "It's the right thing to do. I love it because of who we're doing it for—Jehovah and our brothers and sisters."

Robert P. Nicoll of Worthington stands in front of the construction site of the new Kingdom Hall for the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Greenfield. Work was done by volunteers to construct the 4,058 square-foot Kingdom Hall.

Charlie C. Kenyon of Montgomery wears a hard hat on the construction site of the new Kingdom Hall for the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Greenfield.

Work continues on the interior of the 4,058 square foot Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Greenfield.
Photo by Cori Urban
Construction gets underway on a new Kingdom Hall in Greenfield.
Photo by David Ryan

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