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Thy Kingdom Hall come
Jehovah's Witnesses from Yk and Alberta construct a place of worship in Niven

Tim Edwards
Northern News Services
Published Friday, July 22, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Close to 300 Jehovah's Witnesses have joined together to construct a new Kingdom Hall place of worship in Yellowknife. The walls are scheduled to go up today, and the builders hope to be done in time for a religious meeting on Sunday, July 31.

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Serge Benoit and Scott Sorley from Grande Prairie, the project co-ordinators for the Kingdom Hall construction project stand on-site, on Haener Drive, holding a conceptualization of what the project is to look like.

That group includes the 68 members of Yellowknife's own Jehovah's Witness community. Many of the adults have been trained in safety and are assisting experienced, licenced tradespeople to construct the hall on Haener Drive. Younger members are helping out in a massive tent-kitchen site across Highway 3 from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Everyone helps out with every other aspect of the project, including cleaning and odd jobs.

"We're all baptized, dedicated Jehovah's Witnesses," said Scott Sorley, a project co-ordinator from Grande Prairie.

Sorley said all of the crew involved are members of Zone 6, a regional building committee of Jehovah's Witnesses that covers Northern Alberta to Yellowknife, and includes 1,700 volunteers. Everyone involved in the project is a volunteer, and all out-of-town helpers are paying for their trip to Yellowknife out of their own pockets. The $880,000 project was also funded privately, Sorely said, mostly through donations.

On Wednesday, the crew were setting down tiles to finish the flooring before they put up the walls, a job scheduled for today.

Rob Long, a carpenter and tile-setter by trade and a member of the Yellowknife Jehovah's Witness community, was on-site with tools in hand to help out.

"Here, my name is Jack," said Long, joking about all the jack-of-all trade, odd jobs he is doing in the project.

Long said the idea to build a new Kingdom Hall has been in the works since 2006, and that actual work on it began May 18. Almost one year ago the former Kingdom Hall, located on Forrest Drive, was sold and became McKenna Funeral Home. Since then, Long said the local group has been meeting at the site of the former Hollywood Video store in the Roman Empire Building on 51 Street.

"It's been plenty adequate," said Long, though he said everyone's looking forward to the new, 2,736-square-foot facility that they're all having a hand in building.

The Kingdom Hall will be fully wheelchair accessible and will be able to seat 118 people. Besides the main auditorium, it will also include a library and two bathrooms.

Sorley said the first meeting - planned for July 31 at 10 a.m. - is open to the public and that collection will be taken. The meeting will consist of a talk and a "Watch Tower study," which Long said, "basically applies the Bible to modern-day life."

Sunday meetings will follow, and Thursday meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m.

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