The building teams are known as regional building committees. The Regional Building Committee, Georgia 4, is headed into the final weekend of rebuilding the Bremen Kingdom Hall on Clinton Street in Bremen. The group that assembles each weekend for the work is usually made up of about 150 to 200 skilled, licensed craftsmen.
Many of these Jehovah’s Witnesses projects involve the construction of new Kingdom Halls, but the Bremen project is a renovation of the existing building, according to Region 4 construction overseer Rick Gutierrez.
“We decided we’d tear off the exterior brick siding and roofing and add a 26-foot addition to the building,” Gutierrez said. “We had the full gambit of demolition, gutting out the inside and new framing and rebuilding everything. We added a new bathroom, all new inside rooms, updating and enlarging them.”
Before any of the actual hands-on work began, the project development department, which includes architects and engineers, did the design work, drew up plans and laid out the scope of the work.
“It was scheduled as a three-weekend project,” Gutierrez said. “We started our first demolition day on Thursday, Dec. 13. We worked from Thursday through Sunday. It was the biggest weekend we had and when most of the work was done.”
The largest number of workers, 282, showed up to work that weekend.
Work during those first four days included, in addition to demolition, the building of new tresses, framing in and putting on a new roof.
“About 65 percent of the brick work was also completed that first weekend,” he said.
Gutierrez said the workers are divided up into departments, based on the type of work they do. The construction department is broken down into sub-departments, including construction, construction support, building materials, cleaning and food.
“We have departments to handle dumpsters, portable toilets, site setup and non-construction duties,” he said. “We have a personnel department, safety and first aid.”
He noted the construction workers are cross-trained so they can move from area to area to help fill in where departments are short.
“We have a labor pool onsite we can pull from,” he said. “We may have 15 people on standby to help out wherever they’re needed. If the framing crew is short, they pitch in there. If it’s masonry, they work with them. When one crew finishes up one thing, they look around to see where they can help.”
On the second weekend, from Dec. 21-23, the crew had about 60 people working at the Bremen site. On Monday and Tuesday, he said about 30 workers were there.
“We’re going to be ready to go again this Friday through Sunday,” Gutierrez said. “On Friday, we have the carpeting going in and on Saturday, the electric, HVAC and plumbing. We’ll trim everything out and finish the cabinets and tops.”
He said Monday will be a big paint day and on Tuesday, the decorating department will go in and hang items to improve the appearance.
Gutierrez said inspections will be held on Wednesday. He said ceiling insulation and ceiling tile will be left to last.
“The inspector has to inspect everything before giving the order to ‘cover up,’” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have everything approved and ready to go by Jan. 3-4. We hope they can have their first meeting in the new Kingdom Hall on Sunday, Jan. 6.”
Gutierrez said Georgia Committee 4 doesn’t have a geographically large region, but it includes all of metro Atlanta, which has a large number of congregations.
“Our region goes southwest to Franklin, covers the majority of Atlanta inside the perimeter, goes west to the Alabama border and north to just above I-20,” he said.
Gutierrez said the committee generally stays with a few basic designs for the buildings. He said the Bremen building is a gable construction and is built for a smaller congregation, about 90 members.
“We try to keep most buildings simple,” he said. “We try to keep them functional for what we need. We have several plans, but it tends to be one plan we use more than others in this area.”
Gutierrez said Jehovah’s Witnesses used to do a lot of “quick builds,” where all the work was completed in three or four days, with up to 1,000 people working at a time. However, he said there were often so many people onsite, they were bumping into each other.
“What we find so nice and loving about these projects are that all the people are volunteers,” he said. “They have their own regular jobs to earn money and support their families. They do this for free, paying their own transportation here and sometimes, taking days off from work. It costs them money to come work. Everybody says they’re not doing it for themselves, but for Jehovah, their god.”
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses website, the religion has 109,403 congregations in 236 countries, with 19 million attending meetings. It publishes about 166 million copies of the Bible in 108 languages.