A month after construction work commenced on the new world headquarters at Warwick, Watchtower is making a plea for all “qualified” Witnesses in the US to join the project on a volunteer basis.
Elders throughout the United States branch territory have been sent a letter, dated August 21, 2013, effectively instructing them to canvas for recruits at a forthcoming meeting. The letter includes a two-page talk outline to be delivered at the service meeting on the week of September 2nd. The theme? “Strengthen Your Hands For The Good Work!”
The purpose of the outline is to “motivate those who qualify to make themselves available for the construction project at Warwick.” The introduction to the talk likens the project to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah. “Similar to the call that Nehemiah made to his fellow Israelites, there is a need to call upon the ‘strengthened hands’ of skilled volunteers to complete the Warwick project,” the outline says, quoting Nehemiah 2:17,18.
So anxious is the Governing Body to have this two-page outline read out that they are instructing elders to re-organize their service meeting program for the meeting in question, with the Warwick outline to be delivered as an extended local needs item by a brother who is “known to have a positive spirit toward Bethel service.”
The letter to elders also acknowledges that an earlier letter (involving “safety precautions when attending spiritual programs”) was supposed to have been considered during this local needs item. However, elders are being told to scrap this in favour of recruiting for the Warwick project. “We realize that most congregations were likely planning on considering the August 3, 2013, letter during the week of September 2, 2013,” the letter states. “However, in view of the needs at this time, consideration of the attached outline should take precedence.”
Nowhere does the letter or outline mention the recent $375 million windfall from the sale of the remaining Brooklyn factory buildings, or the fact that Watchtower is looking to pocket over a billion dollars once the entire Brooklyn portfolio has been sold. If the brother delivering the outline were to mention this, congregation members would be excused for thinking: “Why can’t you pay a professional company to build the headquarters with all the money you made, and leave the brothers to pursue the preaching work so deep in this time of the end?”
As it is, most brothers will likely be completely in the dark as to the financial motivations behind the Warwick project, and the apparent desire to exploit volunteer labor to maximize on proceeds. Having worked on Watchtower-sponsored construction projects myself, I can’t help but feel pity for the scores of volunteer brothers who will devote so much time and energy for what is essentially a financially motivated scheme. As the outline acknowledges, “Those who volunteer to assist at Warwick may have to make sacrifices in order to help.” But it promises, “Jehovah will richly reward their efforts.”
In its concluding comments the outline declares: “With the help of the ‘strengthened hands’ of skilled volunteers and with Jehovah’s blessing, we are confident that this project will bring glory and praise to our heavenly Father, Jehovah.” Sadly, the only ones who will be glorified in this endeavour will be the Governing Body once they cut the ribbon on their luxurious new lakeside retreat, built deep in these “last days” using free labor and funds donated for the worldwide preaching work.