For anyone driving on N.C. 24, west of Clinton over the past few weeks, the sight of a a new building rising from the ground might draw interest. The dozens of workers, busy as a hive of bees, will make them do a double-take.
Those seen on the job site are a group of volunteers building a new church.
Kit Cowger, activities leader for the Clinton Kingdom Hall, explained that the Jehovah Witness congregation has been planning and working to build their new building for about six years. But the way these belivers build is different from how most congregations construct new churches.
“We are so excited to be able to accomplish this goal so we can be a reunited church once again. This weekend we hope to complete the roofing and get most of the brickwork done. We have over 500 volunteers here this weekend doing all the different things that need to be done to build our building. All the labor is completely done by volunteers,” explained Cowger during an interview Saturday, Sept. 22.
Nolan Wiggins, a volunteer from Mount Olive, was on site this past weekend and shared that Jehovah Witnesses have developed regional teams around the world who come together to share their expertise in various fields to either remodel or build new buildings.
“In North Carolina,, we have four different regions, one in the west, two in the central part of the state and the other in the eastern section. The eastern section, which we are in, is basically from the South Carolina line up to Virginia and east of I-95,” stated Wiggins. “Craftsmen and women, carpenters, heating and air conditioning professionals, painters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, brick layers, any job that is involved in construction come together and volunteer their time and experience in service to God. When determining who will go where, we generally try to send people close to the area where they live and work,” added Wiggins.
There is on-site training offered by the experts for the volunteers that need extra knowledge to perform needed tasks. But no one is paid to provide labor for the construction project.
Ground was broken in July and the foundation was poured around Sept. 14. Kit shared that they expect to get the certificate of occupancy on Monday, Oct. 8.
“We have become so well oiled in the process of construction, with all the expertise we have that we could build a new church in one weekend. But due to safety concerns, we now do it over several weekends,” cited Wiggins.
The Clinton congregation sold their old building, which is up N.C. 24 only a little ways from the new site, a little over a year ago. Cowger stated that since the sell of the old Kingdom Hall, the two congregations have been meeting in two separate locations. The English speaking group has been meeting at the Vander Kingdom Hall and the Spanish speaking group is meeting at the Mount Olive Kingdom Hall. There are around 85 English speaking members and 40 to 50 Spanish speaking members.
“We are ready to come back and be one again,” expressed Cowger. “Although all Jehovah Witness groups study the same lesson each Sunday and mid-week, we want to be back together for our fellowship,” added the activities leader.
For Jehovah Witnesses world-wide, everyone is on the same page each time they gather together. “If we visit another group, I know that I will know what they are studying because it is the same thing I would be studying at my home church,” explained Sylvia Carter, a volunteer from Kill Devil Hills. “It is so exciting to be a part of something that is so marvelous as building the new building so these members can meet together again and study God’s word and be better prepared to go out and witness to others,” added Carter. “We are an international brotherhood.”
This past Saturday, Sept. 22, the group fed 300 volunteers for breakfast and prepared 500 meals for lunch. The campsite is complete with a full kitchen and Porta-Johns, with some of the volunteers actually bringing campers to camp on the work site. Many leave them in place during the week so they will already be set up when they return to volunteers the next weekend. Volunteers working this weekend were from Raleigh, Kill Devil Hills, Sanford, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Mount Olive, Goldsboro and many other places from the region.
“This construction of our new Kingdom Hall is truly a work of faith,” remarked Kit. “We were able to use the funds received from the sale of the old property to purchase many of the supplies needed. We do not take up offerings nor tithe in our services. It is all on a volunteer basis. We have faith that God will provide. When we complete the building we should only have about a 10 year mortgage,” cited Cowger.
Once complete, Kit shared that there would be two services on Sunday, one in English and one in Spanish, which includes public talk and Watch Tower discussion. Mid-week services would involve Bible study, theocratic ministry school and service meeting.
This same building procedure is used by the Jehovah Witnesses around the world, but the building is adapted to the location where it is situated.
“The building here in Clinton is adapted to the possible winds that can occur from weather conditions seen here. The construction is such to resist damage from hurricanes and tornadoes,” said Wiggins. “The members did experience roof damage from the severe weather that came through just over a year ago,” added the volunteer from Mount Olive.
Clinton’s new Kingdom Hall will seat between 150 and 200 people. According to Cowger, the meeting hall is designed such to hold everyone as children and adults study together.
“The work being done here is truly a work of faith and volunteers as we have united from all over to get this new building built. We look forward to worshiping together once again,” remarked Cowger.
The regional group is preparing now to build a new Kingdom Hall for Magnolia new Rose Hill.
For more information regarding Jehovah Witnesses visit www.jw.org.