Emily Youngblood says there are a lot of opportunities in the world for a 21-year-old — opportunities for success and fame.

But serving God and others is Youngblood’s joy. So the Lexington resident was honored to take part in the construction of the new Orangeburg Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Just seeing something all of us are so passionate about and that we enjoyed doing, to me that is a great opportunity to show that we are doing this as volunteers and as part of our worship of God,” Youngblood said.

Youngblood was among the approximately 5,000 volunteers who worked on the Assembly Hall over the past year and a half.

The 3,000-seat Assembly Hall sits on 58 acres near the intersection of S.C. Highway 33 and Interstate 26. An open house was held Friday.

The center will serve primarily as a location to educate the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Biblical principles for daily life. More than 300 congregations will use the Assembly Hall for their semi-annual assemblies.

Youngblood said she heard about the Orangeburg project about six years ago and knew she wanted to volunteer at that time.

“I worked on anything that I could,” she said. “I enjoy learning everything I can. This has been a really neat avenue for a lot of us young people.”

Shenin and Jonathan Bolton said they moved from California to Charleston just to work on the project. They have lived in a camper for the past nine months while putting in about 200 to 300 hours per month on the project.

Shenin worked in the personnel department, helping schedule volunteers, while Jonathan was in the site department, which helped with land and building preparation.

“It has been fun. We realized that we really don’t need as much as we think we really need. We loved it,” Shenin said.

During construction, more than 250,000 meals were prepared and served to the volunteers at the site.

The 66,000-square-foot, $10 million facility includes a 4,100-gallon water feature in the atrium that is also used as a baptismal pool.

About 80 gallons of water per minute flow over the mini-waterfall. The water is circulated every 90 minutes and is purified by filtration and high-intensity ultraviolet light.

The baptismal pool also includes a special lift system to accommodate disabled delegates.

The 3,000-seat auditorium includes a large mural reflecting the Lowcountry and Midlands of South Carolina. The auditorium’s light and dark brown wood trim aims to create what officials describe as a “modest and attractive” ambiance.

The seats are staggered and different sizes to accommodate viewing and people of various sizes.

The building also contains technology for the hearing impaired, including video walls and video systems. Four cameras within the auditorium provide multiple viewing angles of the stage.

Outside, more than 45,000 pieces of ground cover were used, including 136 trees, 2,434 plants and 1,200 bales of pine straw.

The facility has about 1,000 parking spaces.

Church officials have touted the economic impact of the project, which is expected to host 40 two-day events each year. The estimated total attendance is expected to be 190,000 visitors a year, with each person spending an estimated $66 per day.

The Orangeburg site was chosen from about 300 possible sites in the state. The center’s location near Interstate 26 and Interstate 95 made it most attractive.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551.

(63) comments


It should be an economic boost to rangeburg.

And, from private enterprise and sources as well. The Liberals will NOT like this.


truthorjustice- I sure hope it will be an economic boost to rangeburg. Maybe then they will be able to afford to add the "O" to rangeburg! LOL!!! Don't pay me any mind... I'm just good-naturedly funnin' with ya!


I don't get upset with any sensible posters. I wouldn't be mean to you or any other poster.
I am just posting. Using the 1st amendment.


truthorjustice- I'm sorry that I wasn't sensible I shouldn't have made a joke at your expense.


Waste. The $10M would be better spent helping people (homeless, abused, hungry, etc.) not saving souls when so many don't the first thing about compassion or reality. On another note, it's not really helping the local economy. It doesn't put anything into it. It's not a commodity and religious orders are exempt from certain taxes. It's just vanity at work. Visitors want to look good while feeling good about who they're not. Rational People. Can I get an Amen? Btw, that's an Egyptian saying.


"The $10M would be better spent helping people (homeless, abused, hungry, etc.) not saving souls" ... We do both; lives are not a waste. Athiests are free to do the same. Also, just because some property taxes are exempt,doesn't mean there is no monetary (or other) benefit to the community. They have a state tax on most purchases. 190,000 visitors should generate significant revenues. And what is wrong with saving souls? Perhaps you should visit the Assembly Hall before making assumptions.


I will pray for you.


Jehovah Witness is a cult religion.


Who gives you the authority to tell us what we could have spend the $10M on? Not like you, nor the government, nor any other "concerned citizens" contribute to the 10 million we spend on this project, It all cames from volunatary donations of Jehovah's people. And no we didn't sell chicken and fish to raise money either. lol


"didn't sell chicken and fish" -- a not-so-subtle dig at other religions?

The concern is that the tax-free Witnesses build these extravagant multi-million dollar "education centers" while providing no public charitable services.

Compare this to the charitable activities of the Catholic church who the Witnesses routinely deride as being as "false" religion. Something to think about next time you pass a "fish fry".


One problem I have is the property being tax-free! Any church property that has any type of business ( day care, café, etc.) operating from said property should not be tax-free. Because some want to separate church and state, then if a church property holds a political meeting or a voter register, then they should loose their tax-exempt status. The mega churches you see on TV are nothing but big business and should be tax accordingly.


We do not have any of the above mentioned stuff going on at any of our facilities. No political meetings, no voter registrations, no day care center, none of that. We only have meetings for worship and Bible instruction, period. All handled by an all-volunteer staff of elders. No paid clergy, no paid choir, no paid organist, no paid secretaries, no paid groundskeepers.


The Watchtower organization is almost as rich and showy as the Mormom temples and the Catholic Church which they condemn...............with their baptismal pools and hi tech equipment. The Bible says Jesus had no place to lay his head................my, my, how times change.
Real estate galore owned by Jehovah's Witnesses, free labour from members, donations of land from the old and dying, free literature distribution by the younger members and children, all in the name of religion.


Our facilties are modest and yet appropriate for the task they fullfill. the comparison you make is silly. Try letting the Catholic Church build this, and it would have cost in the 100's of millions.


Nice looking facility. Congratulations.


Many misconceptions of Jehovah's Witnesses and the impact they have on their community. They never feel the need to boast on things that they do theirselves and their neighbors.All in the area should take a moment to visit the building or even visit their website(jw.org)to look at details of who they are and what they do.As for financial impact,this building will bring in at least 190,000 people each year. Orangeburg has a population of 14,000 sounds like a good thing for orangeburg.


We have enough wackos in Orangeburg, don't think we need any more.


Sorry,you are so closed minded.I wonder how you can be so sure about a group of people without doing any unbias research. That would a form of prejudice:an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual,a group,a race,or their supposed characteristics.
God is not partial and since Jesus followed the same course during his ministry,we should all endevour to follow Jesus' example.We have to learn to accept appreciate differences instead of attaching them.1Sam 16:7, Acts 10:34,35


Money is not everything. That sure is a lot of cult members coming into this small area. We need God and prayer like never before.


Jehovahs Witnesses have become a religion known better for what they don't do, like not celebrating holidays, not taking blood transfusions, or not saluting the flag.
They also claim to be persecuted by the nations, yet they claim 'charity status' and live tax free in most Western countries.

The origin of all Watchtower teachings that makes them unique over all other religions is their creed of Jesus second coming 'invisibly' in the year 1914.


The parent organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is the New York Watchtower corporation.
The Watchtower in addition to being a mega publishing company,is a real estate developer.
Free labor by mostly volunteer crews and property that is *tax free*.

Read more: http://www.patriotledger.com/topstories/x1671799673/Jehovah-s-Witnesses-seeking-to-replace-Hingham-church#ixzz2JFcbU4DY


Sounds similar to Church of Scientology eh?


As a reminder: Jehovah's Witnesses do not operate one homeless shelter, medical clinic, soup kitchen, or otherwise use their tax-free status to help the poor. They claim that the best way to help people is by their door-to-door literature distribution work. If you are hungry you can't eat a Watchtower magazine. If you are cold, you can't cover yourself with an Awake! magazine. Yet Jesus and his apostles carried a poor box to help the needs of the poor.


we go abroad and peach about the kingdom, help someone learn to fish not give them a fish, also many do donate their moneY (i have and still do) to food kitchens) we concentrate on the kingdom message and help others where we can it is called keeping prioties. many witnesses who help out after disasters not only fix witnesses homes but have fixed non witnesses home to as they have the time and materials. every thing in order.


Whenever there is a hurricane or earthquake or other distaster, we are among the first to be in the area providing whatever is needed. A few years ago, when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, the military actually came to us to get hot meals.They only had K-rations, but if you wanted a real meal, you came to the Kingdom Hall.Immediately after the winds died down from Hurricane Sandy, some 3000 volunteer JW's were there.I personally know some from our area who went to Japan after the quake.


someone from beverly hills california scours the internet and has commented numerous times in little old orangeburg SC paper always on this same subject.
I smell that old perfume: Obsession!


I wish they would start to tax religion or cults that call them a religion. You can build this but not afford to help your vicims of Child Abuse. Smells like hypocracy to me


Well thank you, citizens of Orangeburg, for the rousing welcome!


You're welcome.


All sarcasm aside, I respect these comments, even the negative ones. If I wasn't a part of this religion, I would probably be right beside you saying the same things. This group is different, but it's not perfect. Like every organization, we get both praise and criticism. Some of it is deserved, some not. We're just trying to do our best to make the best contribution we can to our communities. We don't believe in throwing money at societal problems as a way to solve them. There are better ways.


Willbevisiting - Can you enlighten critics and state specifically what JWs do to solve societal problems or contribute to the community? Besides waiting for the vast majority of the world (non-believers) to die in Armageddon - lol.

I understand JWs won't even report pedophiles in their congregations to the police?? I don't get that??


freethink, I can assure you that you are misinformed about pedophiles. That is a crime, not something that can be brushed under the rug or handled by a congregation. We don't trump the legal system and we are fully aware of that. As for community contributions, the publications we offer without charge have a wealth of beneficial info that anyone can benefit from: info about being a better parent, honesty, forgiveness, resisting peer pressure, etc. And we still make house calls.


Oct 1/2012 the WTS BOE issued a letter to JW elders advising them to
contact the Watchtower Legal Department Before the Police in ALL cases of child sex abuse. The Society retains its “two witness rule” - which means there must be 2 witnesses to the molestation for it to be taken seriously. Absurd. The Society states the branch office should have the final word in deciding whether a pedophile is dangerous before warning others. You can find a copy of this letter from the WTS easily online. Peace


And the topics you listed from these pubs are fascinating. "How to be a better parent" Does this include tips on how to disown your own children should they stumble or ever question the inconsistencies in the ever changing doctrine? Forgiveness - does that mean NEVER speak to a non-believer again? Resist peer pressure. If a JW follows their own conscience and speaks to a shunned person they'll be shunned too. That's peer pressure. Sorry-but hypocritical. You should evaluate this "Truth" :(


Free, the "two eyewitnesses" thing has no connection whatsoever to the legal issue. A matter could and would be reported to the police regardless of what action the congregation takes. As for the BOE, whatever that is, I guess if it's on the Internet it has to be true, right? There is NO prohibition of any kind against reporting matters to the police. I recently saw a video on jw.org dated 2009 that clearly spelled all of this out. But people will believe what they want to believe...


willbe, so you agree with the WatchTower Society's position that "2 eyewitnesses" are required to est. guilt in child sex abuse cases? Too bad. Most rapes of children happen in private. If you doubt the Internet (where the copy write letter from WTS is posted in many places) just review the recent Conti case in which the WTS lost a lawsuit for more than $25M to a child victim of these very policies. Maybe the truth about your "truth" will set you free but I doubt this is new info. to you. Peace


wow what presumptious statements, first jesus said go abroad and preach and make disciples not set up soup kitchens, was jesus known as the feeder or healer? no he was called great teacher. you must keep prioties, first of all spiritual help second physical , jesus even told some there you came not to learn about jehovah or serve him but because you got free food. if you seek the kingdom first all other things including food will be added but you will have to earn it (unless your unable)


With all due respect, Rosa, you need SpellCheck.


Aren't we "deep in the end times" -- Why does the Watch Tower Society require such a "worldy" facility when they preach Armageddon is any day? This faith destroys families and lives through the practice of shunning. They teach the United Nations is Satan's tool yet cover up their own membership in the UN from 92-2001 - google it. And yes, they make millions from their publishing companies and real estate deals while only giving their version of "spiritual food" to the hungry. Heart breaking.


What a beautiful place of worship. The price is modest...the labor of love likely kept costs down.You can only buy three "average" 30 second commercials at the superbowl this weekend for $10m. Volunteerism at its best! I read an article about how they helped rebuild Haiti after the earthquake and also during hurricanes. More people would know about those things if they boasted - but there must be a reason they choose not. So nice to have you folks in the community. Welcome!


I am very proud of Jehovah's Witnesses for building such a beautiful place of worship. The many volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make it possible. It is good to see something that will benefit all the community here in Orangeburg. If you want to know about what Jehovah's Witnesses are about ask a Jehovah's Witness, not people who assume they know or check out their official website at jw.org. I know many witnesses and they are good people, not a cult. They truly love people.


I was a high-ranking member of the JWs for many decades and used to participate in these assemblies often. The tax-free $$ that these Watchtower-owned assembly halls generate is incredible, and the structures are built using free labor by the JWs themselves.

The WT Corp is worth billions of dollars. Their goal is to occupy the entire earth after all other religious groups are destroyed at Armageddon, which they feel is imminent. It is a dangerous group once you probe beneath the surface.


And you don't have to probe very deep to see that they are dangerous! Sad to say for them but they will never occupy the whole earth. I know very little about them as compared to you but I know enough to know that them being here is not a good thing-money or not. I'm not sure but didn't they expect to be one of the 144,000 who would be saved? There must be millions of them by now.


Gatorgirl, with all due respect, you seem to know a little about our beliefs, but not enough to speak with authority.We do not believe that only 144,00 will be saved.Revelation chapters 7 and 14, shows that there will be 144,000 who will go to heaven with a specific job of ruling (Revelation 5:10 and Rev. 20:6) over the earth.The earth will be populated with an unspecified number of saved people living forever in paradise on earth. (Psalms 37:10,11,29; Matthew 5:5;Revelation 7:9)


beenaJW4awhile- Didn't I say I wasn't sure? That's why I asked the question. I once knew a really nice woman who was a Jehovah Witness. I would see her around from time to time & we always talked. One day she went a step further & told me that if I'm not a Jehovah's Witness then I'm lost. Well, I was indeed lost at the time but not because I wasn't a Jehovah's Witness but because I had not yet accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.


JWstruggle, I've been around Witnesses for over 20 years and the fact that you refer to yourself as a "high-ranking member" is completely contrary to JW thinking. You are either being untruthful, or had the wrong attitude in the first place. Anyone from Servents to members of the Governing Body consider themselves as slaves for God and for the congregation as a whole. They would never refer to their, or anyone else's, position as "high-ranking."

JWstruggle, your pride is showing!


Gator: No need to be sorry. as I explained earlier; I take no offense to sensible posters(like yourself).
And, I caught the "O".


Jehovahs witnesses and civil liberties



Thank Jehovah's Witnesses for speech freedoms
May 30, 2000 – If you have a front door, a Jehovah's Witness probably has knocked on it. ... The American Civil Liberties Union reported to the Justice ...
CIVIL LIBERTIES: Jehovah's Witnesses in the War - TIME
Month ago, an Army court-martial at Monterey, Calif, sentenced slight, bespectacled Herbert Weatherbee, one of Jehovah's Witnesses, to prison for life.
Judging Jehovah's Witnesses
Determined to claim their First Amendment rights, Jehovah's Witnesses waged a ... and how their legal resistance transformed the civil liberties of all Americans.
Jehovah's Witnesses Issues - Civil Liberties - Holocaust - Medicine ...
Jehovah's Witnesses have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court 62 times, more than any other group. Their 50 wins set Constitutional precedents ranging from ...
Civil liberties as a result of Jehovah's Witnesses - AllExperts
en.allexperts.com › ... › Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses
Jun 16, 2010 – jehovah s witnesses, jimmy swaggart, california board of equalization: The Watchtower Society is proud of its extensive use of the world s court ...

Loyal JW

Jehovah's Witnesses have been gathering each year for three educational conventions since the beginning 1900. We have rented/gathered in high school auditoriums, civic centers, warehouses, sports stadiums, and anywhere we can gather peacefully. Most places would need a good cleaning before Jehovah's clean people could attend comfortably. Building pleasant assembly halls replaces all of that. We stimulate the economy with lodging, meals and shopping in the area. Come by and see for yourself.

Loyal JW

When we would rent auditoriums, sometimes the staff would take their vacations while we were there knowing that on their return the building would be pristine clean. Big difference from other public gatherings with left over litter & stickly soda on the floor. Been to a concert, sporting event or circus lately. We have rented those building the next day and cleaned them up so many times. Now we have a beautiful place to gather which by the way we clean everyday!


To all the opposers on this site:
For your information, we agree that child abuse is done in secret, so obviously, the "two witnesses" you are referring to does not mean someone has to see the abuse! Ask the WT Society, and they will tell you that the "two witnesses" can be anyone who has come forth who has been abused by the same abuser. If you don't like us, that is your problem. But I can tell you that there is no organization on earth doing the will of Jesus and Jehovah like us. Period.


Most JWs were not born into this religion; we came from the churches of Christendom, and we wouldn't return for all the money in the world. No one is forced to become a Jehovah's Witness, and no one is forced to stay. For those ex-JWs who love to post hate on these boards, tell me: Who do you now pray to? A three-headed god? Do you now believe in Santa Claus and the easter bunny? Do you now take blood transfusions, despite the face that the bible says to 'abstain from blood'? Do you now commit fornication? Do you now smell bad from the filthy habit of cigarette smoking? Do you now go to bars and get drunk? Do you now kill your fellow man in war? Do you now salute the American flag and sing "God Bless America"? Do you now have no friends?
So tell me: What's it like to be FREE?


Jehovah's Witnesses like to think you can just leave. I have had a terrible time leaving the organization. Let me give you an example. I was always taught if someone says 'Merry Christmas' to reply 'Thank you'. Now as a 36 year old who thought I had deprogrammed myself, living a responsible hardworking life. Just last Xmas someone said 'Merry Christmas' and I replied 'Thank you'. The person looked at me aghast. I walked away in disbelief. You cannot just leave. It is a despicable cult.


believers- You have done a great service to the public in exposing J.W. for what it is: a cult. A brain-washing money-loving cult! Since you have been there; what you say carries a lot of weight. Cults suck people in who are vulnerable, who are 'searching for themselves'. You are in my thoughts & prayers that one day very soon you will be fully deprogrammed.


The end is nigh!
We need your contributions!
Kingdom proclaimers!
The end is nigh!
Jehovah Bear visited me the other day; he said ‘’let’s buy some more real estate’’.
We lead by example.
We are led by the faithful and ''discreet'' slave.


Eliza 'Most JWs were not born into this religion; we came from the churches of Christendom, and we wouldn't return for all the money in the world.'

Exactly! This cult remains because people out there are always searching for something better. Born in's usually wake up eventually to the hypocrisy. Oh Lordy, the mess you make. What goes around will defiantly come around to haunt you. That's the truth.

Brother Anderson

"Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) Jws are taught “if we were to draw away from Jehovah’s organization, there would be no place else to go for salvation and true joy.” (Watchtower, 9/15/1993, p.22) If God was using an earthly organization, and if we must be identified with the name of that organization in order to receive salvation, does that not contradict Acts?


Sorry Sir...it wouldn't. Scholarly research would reveal to you that the name of the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus, in Hebrew means "YHWH (or latinized JHVH or Jehovah) is Salvation." So the blessed name of God's Son, whom the Father himself named as Jesus, in and of itself embeds and praises the Holy name of God and recognizes God the Father as the source and Jesus as his means of Salvation. If you confess Jesus and deny his Father--who has revealed himself as Jehovah, you ultimately miss!


Jesus, who Acts 4:12 refers to, means in Hebrew (YHWH or latinized, JHVH or Jehovah is Salvation). So, God, the Father, embeds his name into his only-begotten Son's name to emphasize that he is the source of Salvation through the means He chose--his Son, Jesus Christ. Confessing Jesus and yet NOT recognizing and praising the Holy Name, Jehovah, that God reveals as his, denies the Son AND the Father. So to Jesus, most important was to 'hallow' and proclaim God's name.-- Matt 6:9 & John 17:26


Interesting article and congratulations to Emily and the other volunteers who no doubt involved themselves in a labour of love for something they believe in. The last project I donated funds to was the Casa Grand Assembly call here in Arizona. I have since left the faith and am now an atheist. I believe the Casa Grand project was about $7M so it looks like costs have gone up.


What a beautiful structure this is! The spiritual education that will take place there within those walls, in the coming years and beyond will give many honest-hearted ones, many humble ones, a great hope for the future. When I see what the united efforts of God's people can do coupled with His holy spirit; it makes me happy and proud to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. This JW Center will fulfill what Daniel says at": Daniel 12:4


The old saying: You give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. You teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. The same principle applies to honest-hearted ones who are taught accurate knowledge from God's Word. Their lives have changed for the better, because they no longer lead immoral lives and they are making application of God's Word work in their daily living. We truly benefit the community, becuz their is one less bad person, to fill the jails.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.