Jehovah's Witnesses embrace everyone. In their church, all members are family, all members are equal, and all members, after being baptized, are ordained ministers.
Elders are considered teachers of the congregation. There is no paid clergy.
"Our main focus is, as Jesus Christ commanded, to preach the good news of the kingdom," said Elder Jim Rowe, referring to Matthew 28:19 and 20 and Matthew 24:14.
Jehovah's Witnesses, like many other religions, send members out into their communities to knock on doors and share their beliefs with their neighbors.
Perhaps the most familiar Jehovah's Witness publication, found tucked into gateposts, left in dentist offices and handed to the homeowner is, "The Watchtower."
Rowe said that Jehovah's Witness publications refer to, and accept, many different Bible translations.
"Worldwide, in 235 countries, we all believe the same thing," Rowe said.
Through home Bible studies they teach people what the Bible says. The good news Witnesses want people to hear, is that Christ is invisibly present now and that the heavenly kingdom is at hand.
The practical value of this revelation is illustrated in "Who Are They?," a pamphlet that recounts a conversation between Mahatma K. Ghandi and Lord Irwin, the former British viceroy of India, in which Ghandi picked up a Bible and said, "When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in their Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries, but those of the whole world."
Sunday services are a mixture of lectures and question-and-answer sessions. Jehovah's Witnesses use their own hymnal when they raise their voices in song. Monetary and time donations are voluntary, and support the local and worldwide church.
Jehovah's Witnesses have been meeting in Payson since the early 1950s. In 1995 they outgrew their Kingdom Hall on South McLane Road where only one congregation met. Their newer facility, on North McLane Road, holds three services: two in English and one in Spanish.
When the new Kingdom Hall was being built, the concrete contractor could barely keep up with the fast-working members of the church and several hundred volunteers who came from all over the state of Arizona.
The builders worked in shifts so no person spent too much time away from their families.
According to the Bible that Jehovah's Witnesses honor, family is an important obligation.
Once the concrete was set and the plumbing was complete, the church went up in two consecutive weekends in May of 1996.
In a single day, volunteers had the walls up and the roof on the building.
"It was an amazing thing to see everybody working together, brothers and sisters, with no fighting," said Rowe.
Jehovah's Witnesses, Kingdom Hall 1616 N. McLane Road, Payson, (928) 474-8063. Sunday public discourse times are: north congregation 1 p.m.; south congregation 4 p.m. and in Spanish, 10 a.m.
This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on churches in Payson and the Rim country and how they add beauty and grace to our community.