Hundreds helped in worship hall renovation

MIDDLEBURY — Commuters driving Route 116 north of East Middlebury might have noticed the construction taking place at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Center of Worship this past month. Many days saw scores of cars and pickup trucks on the property, which was also dotted with tents for staging various construction tasks.
Congregation members and volunteers, some coming from far away, renovated the building with new carpeting, tiling, paint, a new roof, an improved drainage system, a more efficient heating and lighting system and updated plumbing. The logo JW.org will be displayed outside of the building on the carport, directing people to the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Constructed roughly 20 years ago, the building has also been renovated to be more handicap accessible and to include more wiring to support multimedia. In total, the project cost $126,500, which was raised through donations.
Gary Stearns, member of the local congregation and volunteer in the construction, summarized the outcome of all of these renovations.
“The whole interior was basically, except for the walls, removed,” he said.
This construction took place in just three weeks, between Aug. 9 and 31, with the goal of causing as little disruption to the community and congregational activities as possible. It got help from as many as 150-200 volunteers a day, many of whom are professional tradesmen skilled in building renovations. The volunteers were all part of a network of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Middlebury congregation’s Regional Building Committee, which pulls volunteers from Vermont and New Hampshire. Out-of-town volunteers stayed with local families who were part of the congregation.
Stearns said the renovations will help to keep the center of worship up to compliance with local and government building codes and help to accomplish the center’s goal of worship, creating a more comfortable space to meet.
“We like our place to look beautiful and warm. The goal is really to bring praise to our creator,” he said. “Jehovah’s Witnesses are non-violent, helpful to the community, and law abiding citizens. It’s all about setting a good example.”

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