by steve2 35 Replies latest jw friends

  • steve2

    There's a kingdom hall in Shannon, a small rural town in Manawatu, New Zealand, 16 KMS from the nearest town, Foxton, and about 30 KMS from Palmerston North city (population around 80,000). JWs used to go on about how fast they were growing in New Zealand that even a small town like Shannon (population little more than 1,000) has its very own kingdom hall.

    In the late 70s, the local JWs worked hard to build a brand new kingdom hall and I was among the happy throngs when it was dedicated. They built it somewhat larger than needed because they were confident that the influx of newly interested ones would continue. It's located on the main road through Shannon, clearly visible to all who drive past. I drive past it every 2 to 3 weeks when my work takes me through Shannon to Palmerston North. The lawns are mowed, the shrubbery well pruned and the property generally well kept. What a marvellous witness it is to Jehovah and His dedicated witnesses.

    Or is it? An acquaintance of mine who lives in Shannon and who has been studying with the witnesses off and on over the long years met up with me today. By mutual agreement, we try not to let the JWs enter into our conversations. However, today she announced that she has started going back to meetings. So, without thinking I said, "At the kingdom hall in Shannon?" The answer: "No, in Foxton, because they closed the hall in Shannon a while back" (she didn't know exactly when).

    I expressed surprise because back in the 1980s there was a bustling congregation of about 30 baptized witnesses, not counting the many children. She said that in recent years there had only been a few elderly witnesses in Shannon in recent years and the upkeep of the hall plus running the meetings had got too much.

    Solution: Close the kingdom hall and go to the kingdom hall in Foxton. But how come they don't sell the kingdom hall? I asked. "Oh they don't want to do that", she replied, so brothers from Foxton come over to Shannon every week or so and mow the lawns and tidy the property. I asked how the Foxton congregation is keeping. Fine she said, although most of them are older adults.

    This too surprised me because these rural towns had been made up of relatively young witnesses who had lots of children. How things have changed within 20 to 30 years. A sign of the decline and ageing of the active JWs in New Zealand? I cannot say for sure. Yet, here we have a classic case of keeping up appearances in a kingdom hall that is no longer in use. Literally, 'the lights are on but no one's home'.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the seemingly eroding membership elsewhere in apathetic countries like New Zealand is a well kept 'secret'.

  • dm6

    There is a Kingdom hall in New Plymouth with 2 congregations, and just outside of NP, there is a small town literally 8 km away i would guess. Tiny little town, i dont think it even has a church! hardly any shops! but they have a KH there too, looks pretty aged, drove past it about a month ago. Town called hawera i think.

  • dm6

    lol not hawera, its waitara

  • Gayle

    Strange they are keeping the Hall though not using.. someone must be keeping up the maintenance okay.

    I just check Service Reports for New Zealand:

    2007 Congs 170

    2008 174

    2009 174

    2010 182

  • Glander

    I would suspect this increase in number of congs could be attributed to splitting congs and sharing the building. I went through this twice.

  • Bungi Bill
    Bungi Bill

    How many other congregations would have two kingdom halls, I wonder?


  • steve2

    I suspect that in the larger cities (Auckland, Wellington) there is an influx of immigrants who keep the kingdom halls there bustling. But in rural and pronvincial New Zealand, the story's different. I live in a coastal settlement, and on the very few occasions that I see the JWs door-knocking, they are mostly older adults - which is in contrast to a few decades ago when carloads of young people went out into the ministry. So it's probably a mixed picture: The locals aren't interested but the immigrants are - I think this would be true also of the USA, Canada, Australia, UK and the Scandanavian countries.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    Have a look at the real estate for sale in Shannon and you might get an idea of why.

    There is little there to hold any young ones.

    We have a similar situation where I am. There used to be a lot of young ones pounding the streets here, but now all you see are oldies. The majority of those young ones are still Dubs, they have just moved to the cities and other countries.

  • moshe

    Not someplace that needs a lot of JW door knocking- what no KFC?


    Today Shannon sits as a passing through point between Palmerston North and Wellington with two cafes, a dairy, an RD1, two pubs, 2 fish and chips shops, a primary school, a four square, a petrol station, and an art gallery. The township also has a strong rugby team and several netball teams.

    A large percentage of the population is Maori with the local primary school being somewhat Maori-orientated. Shannon School is a full Decile 1 primary school (years 1-8) with roughly 190 students.[1]

    What's a, four square?

  • steve2
    What's a, four square?

    The equivalent in the USA would be a small 'supermarket' or convenience store. yes, Shannon is not a hot-bed of thinkers and scribes; it's more like a microcosm of New Zealanders in general: Crazy about rugby, drink beer like fish, pretty easy-going and look sideways at anyone who has a education beyong age 15. In the old days that would've made them sitting ducks for the JWs, but not nowadays cause there's been a seismic shift towards charsimatic Christianity.

    Someone more technologically savvy than me might be able to google a picture of the kingdom hall and feature it here as vacant and (potentially) for sale?

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