Putting it simply, Kingdom Halls are no longer the property of a local group of the folks that paid for and constructed it. The lender, the Watchtower Society, now says that once a mortgage is satisfied, that congregation must then declare a resolution which says it will continue to make payments, usually equal to the amount they were paying on the mortgage. And they must do so indefinitely.
Imagine if you bought a home and the bank announced that you must continue to make your payment even after the home is paid for? Then one day, the bank informs you that your home isn’t generating enough profit, that they’re going to sell your home and they recommend that you move in with one of your neighbors – perhaps in a neighborhood across town. Oh, and give your home (oops, we mean our home) that coat of paint and new set roof shingles you’d already been planning to do before you go.
Effectively, this may make Watchtower one of the largest landlords on this planet. Landlord, you say? Since2014, the answer is yes.
Unlike other landlords, however, they do not dictate the amount of rent. The renters, the local members of the congregation, announce each year how much rent they can afford. Compassionate and empathetic you say? Well, that depends.
Watchtower recently admonished the flock, “We can show faith by following direction if we're asked to move to another kingdom hall for better use of dedicated Christian funds".
A congregation’s occupancy, therefore, is conditional. The flock must come to the realization that Watchtower is now poised in evaluating the keeping or disposing of properties such as Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls.
And when it comes to disposing of a Kingdom Hall, if it’s a modern one in a desirable location then it can turn a good profit. How’s that? Well, it’s no secret that Kingdom and Assembly Halls are built with quality materials and free labor. When you couple the Hall’s material cost (much of it donated or highly discounted) with labor cost (free) the value of that project becomes virtually double in comparison with Watchtower’s out of pocket expense. Profit is relatively easy with this kind of equation.
It’s not like trying to dispose of, say, some church cathedral with its spires and steeples and stained glass. By design, Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls are, in essence, commodities. A modern Kingdom Hall can readily be turned into a set of offices for health or legal professionals while an Assembly Hall can be turned into – you guessed it -- a convention center.
As long as Watchtower has followers that are willing to don their hard hats, foot their own costs of trekking to and from distant cities while paying for their own meals, lodging, and filling their ride’s fuel tanks – WT is plenty willing to dig into their deep pockets to foot the materials bill.
So, yes, it depends. If any Kingdom or Assembly Hall can’t hack a suitable monthly payment to Watchtower, that Hall goes up for sale at a good profit (ROI). Simply spread those cheapskate families around to another nearby Hall, one that shows more financial appreciation. That’ll teach the tightwads a lesson.