Jehovah Witnesses build fast so they don't get 'torn down, spiritually'

Friday, November 30, 2007
Volunteers covered all parts of the new Kingdom Hall in south Cape Girardeau Thursday, November 29, 2007, during the second day of construction. Jehovah's Witnesses have two regional building groups in Missouri. (Kit Doyle)

From the hillside, the builders looked like a SWAT team.

They moved briskly, with intent, from one point to the next. No lollygagging.

The men and women who volunteered to build Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall 4,200-square-foot hall in Cape Girardeau must finish their work by Sunday night. Forty years ago, individual congregations built their own halls, according to Jerry Oliver, a licensed builder and regional building committee chairman.

"But one congregation took two years to build a hall," he said. "By the time it was done, they were torn down, spiritually." The church reorganized its construction process, developing two basic styles of halls, each in three sizes, and recruiting specialists from within.

The licensed builders are committed to working on four to six churches each year. They say each four-day project is an active demonstration of unity and fellowship.

Cape Girardeau's building inspectors are more interested in builders' commitment to quality. By Friday morning, church members had wowed inspectors.

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