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Kingdom Hall in Nibley houses three growing Jehovah’s Witness congregations

November 5th, 2009 Posted in Arts and Life

By Benjamin Wood

NIBLEY—it’s 3 p.m. and roughly 60 people are in attendance at the services in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They stand for a prayer and hymn and after sitting, Brother Hicks, a visiting elder from the Roy area, begins speaking on the differences between world government and heavenly leadership.

The orator stands alone on the pulpit at a simple wooden podium. His talk is filled with a number of Bible verses, which every member of the congregation attentively accompanies. Any visitors are promptly provided with Bibles and hymnals by smiling regulars.

The building is simple in its design. The meeting room, with its rows of thickly padded green pews, occupies most of the space with small offices, a materials room, and bathrooms making up the remainder. Artwork depicting scenes of nature hangs on the off-white walls; plants and small trees break up the space. Near the front of the meeting hall a verse of scripture is displayed on both sides of the pulpit in English and Spanish: “Testify fully of the good news.” Acts 20:24.

Nibley’s Kingdom Hall is Cache Valley’s only meetinghouse for Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was built in four days in 1996, Robin Kutulas, an elder of the local congregation, said.

A location in Logan served the area before the construction, and even today the nearest halls are north in Preston and in Brigham City to the south. Kutulas said that the speedy construction was due to volunteer efforts by the local congregations, a practice common for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Kingdom Hall houses three congregations, one English that meets on Sundays and two Spanish, Elder Ryan Harper said. kingdom hallEach congregation is roughly the same size, meaning that Spanish-speakers nearly double English-speakers, particularly impressive given the age of the congregations.

“Both of those [Spanish] congregations have been created in the last 12 years,” Harper said.

After 45 minutes Brother Hicks concludes his thoughts to applause from those present. The congregation stands for another hymn and then begins a discussion on keeping Christ’s mental attitude with you, taken from The Watchtower, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official monthly publication. A brother takes the stand to guide the discussion, directing an on-stage reader to certain excerpts and presenting questions to the audience who respond via microphones carried up the aisles by two men. Audience response dominates the discussion, with the leader on stage doing little more than calling on individuals to answer with a polite “Brother“ or “Sister.”

“His goal is to, through questions, direct the discussion.” Harper said. “The audience is doing the bulk of the work.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their study of the Bible. Members, referred to as publishers, participate in monthly door-to-door ministry, Harper said. Each publisher’s hours will vary in relation to their means, and the age at which they begin is individual-specific.

“We’re engaged in a Bible education work,” Kutulas said.

The average publisher spends 10 hours each month going door-to-door, Kutulas said, but some members, known as pioneers, dedicate 70 monthly hours to the work. Aside from evangelizing, members are encouraged to study the Bible; a Watchtower discussion is held every Sunday in conjunction with the public meeting as well as a weekly Bible study session on Wednesdays.

“None of us graduate from being students of God’s word,” Harper said.

During Sunday’s Watchtower session, audience participation is extensive, with most of the predominantly adult congregation contributing at some point to the discussion, including the microphone holder. An array of accents can also be heard, something that Harper said is not uncommon for a Kingdom Hall.

“We’re a little less diversified than most[,” Harper said.

Harper said that while the body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is politically neutral, they are encouraged to participate in the community and be civically aware. They “assiduously” pay their taxes, obey the laws and try to be honest.

“We make every effort to be good citizens,” Harper said.

Kutulas said that there are congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 236 countries and The Watchtower has a readership of 30 million, much greater than the 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world. The meetings are unified, Kutulas said, in that you could enter any Hall in the world and they would be studying the same section of The Watchtower.

At the close of Sunday’s discussion, the congregation stands for a closing prayer. After a considerable amount of mingling and chatting among the brothers and sisters they make their way back out into the sunny fall afternoon.

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