Kingdom Hall reopens after devastating arson attacks - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Kingdom Hall reopens after devastating arson attacks

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It is a brand-new beginning for the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall in University Heights which had been targeted by arsonists three times, beginning in December 2011.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers donating their time, labor and expertise the hall has now been completely re-built.

"It really is a blessing to be back in here," said Kingdom Hall's Local Elder Ted Dorius.

It was a blessed new beginning Saturday for the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall on Adams Avenue in University Heights.

From its landscaping outside to its main auditorium inside -- with seats, carpet and state of the art video system, an updated security system including reinforced doors, as well as its conference room and auxiliary classroom used for bible education.

"More people can participate in our school... We can have two schools going on at the same time," said Dorius.

In late 2011 and early 2012, arsonists targeted Kingdom Hall three times, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

"We weren't able to save one thing out of the Kingdom Hall," he said.

In one incident, firefighters found someone had broken into the hall and doused it with gasoline, although failed to start a fire.

The building was also vandalized, with part of the exterior church sign torn down and the numbers 666 spray painted on a wall.

"It was very disappointing somebody would do that," said Dorius.

While the building was destroyed, the congregants' spirit was not, coming together from across San Diego to help re-build.

"Many of our brothers are professionals in the building industry -- so they volunteered their time," he said.

In all, a crew of 776 volunteers worked for a total of 14 weekends to help complete this modernized Kingdom Hall, bringing everything up to current code.

The old hall was built in 1960, the surrounding community also impacted by the arson attacks, showed its support as well.

"We've gotten a lot of support from our neighbors... Some left flowers, some wanted to contribute money toward the feeding of the volunteers," he said.

During the past year, the five congregations which use this hall, more than 300 members, met in other Kingdom Hall locations throughout San Diego.

"We didn't miss a meeting during all that time," said Dorius.

Anyone who has possible information on any of those arson attacks is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477. Remember, you can remain anonymous, if you choose.

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