Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t “go to church;” they attend meetings at a “Kingdom Hall.” Unlike most traditional churches, Kingdom Halls do not have altars or Christian crosses (even though the JWs are “Christian”). You won’t find religious icons, paintings, or statues of Jesus, Mary, or any saints. Nor will you won’t find an orchestra pit or an area for a choir to sit. In fact, most Kingdom Halls won’t have an organ or even a piano.
Kingdom Halls are never named or memorialized after anyone – even if someone donated the land and building.
My very first visit to a Kingdom Hall was in the fall of 1951. My family lived in West Los Angeles in a small rented home on South Bundy Drive. We’d only been studying for about a month when my mother and I went to our first meeting at the Venice Kingdom Hall. At that time it was located in a rented store front just a couple of miles west of our home.
We’d only been there a couple of times before we had to transfer to the “Mar Vista Congregation,” also in a small rented store just a few miles south of our home. Even though the Venice Kingdom Hall was closer to our home, this change was forced upon us because we were told that we “lived on the wrong side of the street that was the dividing line.”
In early 1953, just before we left to go to the International Convention in New York City, we moved back to our family home in Riverside, California. Because we lived near downtown in the “University District,” we were assigned to the Riverside Central Kingdom Hall, then at the corner of 5th and Park Ave. It had been a Pentecostal church at one time and the local congregation purchased it from the owners with a loan from one of the wealthier brothers. They maintained the hall and made payments to the brother by using local donations from the members.
Once a month, near the end of the Thursday night Service Meeting, the Congregation Servant would read the Kingdom Hall’s Financial Report. (This was typical for all congregations during that era.) The report would account for all money taken in for literature, from the donation boxes, from private contributions, and from interest earned on bank accounts. We then heard a complete listing of all expenses: utilities, cleaning supplies, fire insurance, literature purchased from the Watchtower Society, reimbursed expenses, and money set aside for reserves. One of the items reported was the payment on the remaining Note on the Kingdom Hall.