Large suburb in California goes from 7 English congregations to 2
I recently caught up with an old friend who lives in Fremont, CA (yes, the same Fremont where Candace Conti is from). It’s a good-sized suburb of San Jose, with around a population of 230,000. I lived there for a few years during the 90’s, and at the time there were 7 English JW congregations with the following names:
North, Central, South, Niles, Warm Springs, Mission Hills, and Irvington
My friend told me what had been going on recently. Apparently, during the past 10 or 15 years, three of those congregations had been dissolved, leaving just the North, South, Niles, and Mission Hills congregations. Then just this past week, the congregations were informed that Niles and Mission Hills were being consolidated into North and South, leaving just two congregations!
There are a few reasons for this that I can see. First, housing in the Bay Area is ridiculously expensive. When most of your members are not highly educated and working low-level jobs, it’s definitely going to have an effect. It seems to me that many of the JWs left in the area are older and more established, having owned their homes for a long time. Once they die off or sell and move away, there are fewer and fewer younger ones taking their place.
In addition, the makeup of area, and Fremont in particular, has changed a lot. Checking on Wikipedia, the city is now over 50% Asian. I don’t know if the JW message has the same appeal to this demographic, or if there is an equivalent growth in foreign language congregations to compensate for the reduction in English ones. Something to consider in any case.
This trend isn’t unique to Fremont. According to my friend, this consolidation process is happening all over the Bay Area, but they didn’t have any specifics. Anyone else have any experiences to share regarding the JW congregation consolidation program?
Happening all over, without the Northern California mitigating factors:
Major congregational quake in Southern California
These people in this area are highly intelligent and working hard. The Asians I don't believe have much reason to want the join a group like the JWs and let's face it it's expected that by 2030 or was it 2050 that another 70 million people in the US will have nothing to do with religion becoming either atheist or agnostic.
"When most of your members are not highly educated and working low-level jobs, it’s definitely going to have an effect."
Here is the key that WT just doesn't seem to get. I don't know about you all but the cost of living has not gone down over the years. The retired working man/womans pension no longer exists. If you have no insurance with your employer or are self employed, the cost of health insurance for a family can out weigh even your mortgage. The cost of food, utilities, housing, education, etc. is NOT going down. WT doesn't get that. How can you understand when you are in your JW bubble with all expenses paid.