French Speaking Baptist Church moves into former Kingdom Hall
The French Speaking Baptist Church of Stratford has moved into the former Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall on Milford Point Road, and has been meeting in its new location for about a month, a church official said.
Church leaders had been looking for a building in the area while renting space at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Stratford.
Sauveur Joseph, a deacon, said the congregation is fairly new and has 60 members. The church meets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays and at various times during the week for Bible study and other events.
“Our job is to spread the gospel in Stratford and Milford,” Joseph said.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses sold the building at 494 Milford Point Road to the French Speaking Baptist Church of Stratford for $400,000 in June.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation that had met on Milford Point Road merged with other congregations in Orange and Stratford, according to spokesman Bryce Hemmelgarn.
Hemmelgarn said the sale and merger is typical of what is taking place on the national level. He said the consolidation is not because of shrinking numbers but rather growing numbers of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The majority of growth has been in foreign language congregations, he said.
A study completed about five years ago indicated there was room in existing Kingdom Halls to house the growth.
Instead of buying new buildings, current halls were being looked at to incorporate other congregations, sometimes by offering different time slots.
“Evidence showed there was enough space to merge and share times,” Hemmelgarn said, adding that “full is ideal.”
Funds garnered by sales like the Milford sale are redirected to Bible and educational work in the United States and other countries, he said.