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‘Extreme Makeover’

Volunteers finish complete church overhaul in four days

Joshua Roberts

— 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.


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