Volunteers build church in three days
BRUNSWICK – Rain over the weekend delayed work on the new church located on a hill off Cooksboro Road, but hundreds of volunteers were still slated to complete the project by Sunday evening – only three days after starting construction.
The new church, just off of Route 7, will be the new center of worship for the Jehovah’s Witnesses North Congregation of Troy. The Kingdom Hall will give a new home to the congregation, which has spent recent years worshipping in Rensselaer and Averill Park.
“This is a real blessing because we’ve been out of our own Kingdom Hall for more than three years,” said Mark McLaughlin, the congregation’s presiding overseer. “It’s really nice to be in our own Kingdom Hall again.”
McLaughlin’s congregation had considered renovating its Lansingburgh hall but then decided to build one from the ground up and sold the old building.
“We were advised that it would be more cost-effective to build a new one,” he said.
Around 1,000 volunteers throughout the state chipped in to complete construction in one weekend. The New York Regional Building Committee of the Jehovah’s Witnesses usually completes one such project each month, except in the winter, using a similar weekend-long project template. Next month they will also build a church in Rome, Oneida County, with a goal of finishing it in three days.
The Brunswick location was a two-year-long project in actuality. Land was selected, purchased, plans for the building to be worked out, code issues addressed and a foundation constructed. The foundation was poured after excavation began in August, and when the site was ready, the army of volunteers moved in to build the church.
“The bulk of the time we’ve been working on the project was excavating the land,” said McLaughlin. About 8,000 cubic tons of earth had to be removed, he added, and it took a month for the foundation to set.
Most volunteers have experience in a construction trade, whether as a carpenter, plumber or electrician, for instance, said Ken Misterka, a volunteer at the site Sunday.
“I’ve been on the build for more than 15 years,” he said. “So a lot are seasoned veterans to say the least.”
By Sunday afternoon, the group’s efforts began to focus on completing the windows, outdoor pillars, vinyl siding and wallpaper as hundreds of workers circulated the inside and outside of the building.
“Organized chaos, we call this,” said Misterka. That organization has taught the group how best to arrange the construction schedule to ensure everything moves smoothly and all work is completed efficiently.
“For example, there’s no sense in having the roofers here before the walls go up,” said Misterka.
Rain this weekend forced the group to wait two or three weeks before carpet could be installed and furniture brought in, said McLaughlin, but normally a project can be finished – furniture and all – by the end of the weekend.
Since moving out of the 111th Street location in Lansingburgh, the congregation has suffered slightly in membership numbers, said McLaughlin. Once again having their own hall will hopefully boost membership, he said.
Still, the congregation was able to finance the entire project on their own. The congregation was anonymously surveyed to determine their financial ability to contribute to the project, and with the labor provided free of charge by fellow Witnesses, the 77-member congregation could fund the entire project on its own, said McLaughlin.
“It’s all financed by voluntary donations,” he said.