Cristal Saulnier, a member of the Craig congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, cuts fabric to reupholster church seats Friday. About 600 church members from Colorado and Wyoming joined local volunteers to complete a four-day renovation of the church, which volunteers built for the community nearly 30 years ago. Saulnier said the old church "did the job," but now, "it's nice to have something you're proud of."

Photo by Michelle Balleck

Cristal Saulnier, a member of the Craig congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, cuts fabric to reupholster church seats Friday. About 600 church members from Colorado and Wyoming joined local volunteers to complete a four-day renovation of the church, which volunteers built for the community nearly 30 years ago. Saulnier said the old church "did the job," but now, "it's nice to have something you're proud of."

'Extreme Makeover'

Volunteers finish complete church overhaul in four days

— Four days.

In a display of cohesion and efficiency that would make many construction companies envious, it took a virtual army of volunteers and congregation members just that long to overhaul the nearly 30-year-old Craig congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses' Kingdom Hall, 665 Westridge Road, last week.

"It looks like 'Extreme Makeover,'" church elder Bruce Nelson said, "in four days."

He added, "It's nice. It's totally different. It doesn't look like the same building."

About 600 volunteers, some from as far as 400 miles away, worked on the 4,800-square-foot church remodel, the first for the church since 1993.

The group orchestrating the renovation - the Northwest Colorado Regional Building Committee, a branch of the Jehovah's Witness church - is the same organization that constructed the building in 1980.

The committee took roughly the same amount of time in 1980 to build the church as it did for the Thursday-to-Sunday flash fix-up.

"We feel it's important for the hall to be a model of looks in the community," said Tracy Rowland, a Cheyenne, Wyo., resident and one of the project decorators.

The renovation effort not only transformed the church site, but also the immediate surrounding neighborhood into what essentially was a city of its own, complete with on-site restrooms, showers, campgrounds, safety volunteers, kitchen and bakery.

"We're almost our own community," church elder Dave Osborne said.

Osborne said the building committee, which completes similar construction and remodeling projects at churches throughout the year, conducts its projects quickly and efficiently so congregation members can better channel their efforts toward their true calling.

"It's in and out," Osborne said. "So we can get back to preaching work rather than have this drag on and on."

He said the project was made possible through "brotherhood and cooperation."

The Craig congregation, which includes about 70 members, paid for materials and supplies for the project. The labor came free, courtesy of volunteers from the Craig church and surrounding congregations.

Their work consisted of updating the church with new shingles, brick and stucco, sign, heating and cooling system, paint, carpet and bathroom tiles and fixtures, as well as recovering seats.

The 600 workers were divided into 44 labor divisions for the project.

Many of the volunteers brought a precise skill set or expertise, church members said, with people concentrated on building trades they had experience in such as drywall, electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling.

"It's absolutely nice because many of us don't have the skills you see here," Osborne said.

As quickly as the church site filled up Thursday with a caravan of campers, trailers and volunteers, it emptied Sunday almost as fast.

Volunteers were wrapping up detail work Sunday afternoon, and putting the finishing touches on the remodel, all in preparation for hosting a church service this week.

"They're packing up and heading home," Nelson said Sunday, a four-day blur of work behind him. "It's almost like, 'Where did everybody go?'"

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

Tonika 6 years, 9 months ago

I saw "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" last night and thought about the similarities between what happens when this show brings a community together to help one of their own and what happens when the Watchtower's building committee brings a congregation together to build a kingdom hall.

Historically, Americans help others. Extreme Makeover clearly organizes local businesses and individuals in the same tradition as the old church-raisings. Like the pilgrims and the pioneers helped each other build. Natural love of our fellowman is ingrained in us all.

Profit? Sure. Suppliers' and contractors' contributions are great advertising. But profit in the spirit of brotherhood bringing scores of people together to work to help friends or strangers is far greater.

I've helped build kingdom halls. The labor's all voluntary. Financing usually is through the Watchtower Society's building fund process.

JWs started a formal program in 1983 to fund kingdom halls (Kingdom Ministry, September, 1983) Worth noting: the Watchtower holds mortgages to these properties. (See, for example, Cook County, IL, Docket No. 04-PT-0036, Finding of Fact #8, Dept of Revenue, State of Illinois.) It's practical to pool money for community use. Still, the parent organization is in the position of being a gigantic moneylender.

With the building program is publicity with press releases for the local media. They want you to be interested in their "kingdom message."

JWs believe that anyone who has not joined their group is under the power of Satan and slated for destruction at an Armageddon, "just around the corner." They believe the "Christian love" shown in building projects is a product of their association with a tiny group of anointed men who are the "remnant" of the Bride of Christ still on earth in "these last days" and the only way to approach Christ is through them.

They can't see what's right in front of their faces: love of one's fellowman is part of us all. They believe any goodness the rest of us show is a trick of the devil and they believe it themselves. They're so manipulated they can't understand people who'll come together to build a new home for families of widows, foster parents and injured veterans. Their focus, they believe, is practical for the "soon" to come future. While they chase a carrot on a stick, the world passes them by.

Before you're sucked in, realize they're not the safe refuge they want you to believe. You don't need to join the JWs to bring out your own human goodness. I was one of them for decades but quit them when I learned of things going on behind the scenes that negated the truth of their claims to be a channel of communication from God. The media made that information accessible in a way that I could see it, starting with the investigation by the Louisville Courier-Journal in 2001. It cascades from there.

They're no different from anyone else- except in some cases, they're far worse. Go look on the net.

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DannyHaszard 6 years, 9 months ago

Who are Jehovah's Witnesses? No tolerance.

They will extol and preach "God's Kingdom" and this sounds attractive,what they hide from you is their Watchtower cult version that Jesus has already had his second coming in 1914 and is working "invisibly" through them,and all other religions are of satan.

They have won 37 of their 46 U.S. Supreme Court cases, assuring us all of freedom of speech and assembly and equal protection under the law.

The sad irony is that the Watchtower Society daily abuses the human rights of thousands of its members. It denies current members the right of free speech by forbidding them to speak to former members, even close family members.

And it denies former members their right of freedom of worship by refusing to allow them to leave the religion with dignity, should they come to disagree with Watchtower's practices or doctrines. The 'religion' of Jehovah's Witnesses is a dangerous cult that controls every aspect of its members' lives.

Are they knocking on your door?

Danny Haszard life long JW who is now being shunned by his family There are now twice as many former Jehovah's Witnesses as there are active ones with 13,000 leaving every month.

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Dogpatch 6 years, 9 months ago

Witnesses were once fighters for certain good things in our laws, but the organization has evolved full circle into a bunch of hypocritical old men who remain in a severely retarded Victorian world where they hole up and say, "We are the only true religion!" and yet the soup stinks. They are declining the last two years in many parts of the earth due to THIS, the internet, the very thing they are encouraged to avoid because it makes them look so bad. Follow any of the links about Jehovah's Witnesses in the search engines and you will find the record of false prophecies, flip-flops in doctrine, phony dates, and bloodguilt over wrongful deaths, including those from following their ever-changing stance on blood transfusions.

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