Mennonite Church USA Elkhart office building opens

Lea este artículo en español: http://mennoniteusa.org/2012/02/13/se-abren-las-oficinas-de-la-iglesia-menonita-de-ee-uu-en-elkhart/

Mennonite Church USA

Mennonite Church USA Elkhart office building opens

By Annette Brill Bergstresser

The front entrance of the new Elkhart office building of Mennonite Church USA. (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

ELKHART, Ind.—The new Elkhart office building of Mennonite Church USA is now open for business. Employees began moving into the building at 3145 Benham Avenue, adjacent to the campus of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), during the week before Christmas.

The new building is one of several Mennonite Church USA centers for creative work, training, global communication, and logistical support for the mission of the church; other denominational offices are located in Newton, Kan., and Harrisonburg, Va.

The building houses 70 staff members of Mennonite Church USA agencies and ministries, including Executive Board, Mennonite Education Agency, MennoMedia, Mennonite Mission Network, and The Mennonite—all who were previously housed in various locations in northern Indiana. There is room for 10-12 additional staff members in the currently finished space, which measures 35,000 square feet.

“We anticipate that this space will serve the church well as a flexible and low-cost resource now and into the future,” says Marty Lehman, director of churchwide operations for Mennonite Church USA.

Foyer and Community Room. This center section of the building is designed to be closed off from the offices for public use. Sliding partitions allow the center space—which includes the lobby, Community Room, lunch area, kitchen, restrooms and two small conference rooms—to be used for other purposes on evenings and weekends while providing security for office equipment. (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

The facility provides space and technology for communication and collaboration in small and large groups, in informal and formal settings, by phone, through videoconferencing, and via electronic messaging.

A building dedication is planned for 4 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, April 14.

Joining Together, Investing in Hope campaign
“Hundreds of people from across the country have given a total of $11 million to this campaign during very challenging economic times—$5.8 million of which went to the ministries of the Executive Board, Mennonite Mission Network and the Global Mission Fellowship of Mennonite World Conference; $60,000 to Racial/Ethnic ministries; and $5.1 million to the building,” says Peter Graber, director for the Joining Together, Investing in Hope campaign, which included the building project. “We are inviting people who have not yet participated to help with the remaining $2.6 million for the building.”

He notes that while Mennonite Church USA will be able to secure a loan that will be paid from the operating expense fund, contributions received in the next months will help lower the loan costs and also benefit Racial/Ethnic ministries across Mennonite Church USA. (During the fund-raising process, Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board decided to give a 10-percent tithe of any new funds donated to the building project to various Racial/Ethnic ministries to highlight these ministries as an important part of “investing in hope” for the future.)

“It’s been wonderful to meet so many people in so many places who care deeply about the future of the church and are willing to make an investment in that future,” Graber says. “I wish everyone could have this experience.”

Partnering with Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
The new office building was first envisioned in a delegate action at the July 2001 Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly in Nashville, Tenn. Several years of research and consultation followed to determine the costs and benefits of new construction, purchase and remodeling, and continuing to lease office space. In 2003, AMBS President Nelson Kraybill and the AMBS board invited the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and agency boards to consider locating adjacent to the campus and made the land available at a discounted price.

In 2006, the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and the Mennonite Mission Network Board approved the concept and fund-raising plan for a new facility on Benham Avenue. When it came time to design the building, the architects from The Troyer Group aimed to harmonize with existing AMBS structures.

Natural light is maximized throughout the building without direct glare, allowing office space to be lighted without heating it up at the same time. Pictured are James Krabill and John Lapp (both Mission Network staff). (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

A ground blessing service was held June 15, 2010, and construction began the next month.

“AMBS’s mission is to serve the church,” says Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president. “Our collaboration with conference and denominational leaders has deepened and matured in recent years. We are hopeful that neighborly proximity will only enliven our many partnerships for the good of the whole church.”

“I’m delighted with the way that our beautiful new facility is generating interaction with the AMBS campus community,” adds Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA. Several systems for sharing services and building community between AMBS and the denominational offices are also in place.

Environmental impact
The Elkhart office building is a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green facility, designed and constructed using the U.S. Green Building Council standards for sustainable building. These standards provide a rating system to evaluate building materials, systems, location and management practices to maximize the positive impact on occupants and remain compatible with the local environment and sustainable into the future.

“Creation care is an important biblical value for Mennonite Church USA, and the building’s small environmental footprint demonstrates our commitment to this value,” says Richard Thomas, moderator of Mennonite Church USA’s Executive Board. “Also, the energy efficiency of the building will result in lower energy operating costs, which will enable us to spend more contributed dollars for ministry.”

During construction, decisions were made based on what made the most sense both environmentally and financially. For example, locally donated lumber and processing were used rather than purchasing wood from a LEED-certified mill.

For the exterior of the building, donations included mature trees for the landscaping and all of the seed for the grass and rain gardens. The rain gardens prevent runoff of contaminated water, and catchment areas provide space for the water that runs off the roof and parking areas to be filtered and absorbed into the ground.

Dave Weaver (Mission Network staff) leads a tour of the building at the Jan. 24 reception for the AMBS community and participants in AMBS Pastors Week. (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

Features of the building

  • Natural light is maximized throughout the building without direct glare, allowing office space to be lighted without heating it up at the same time. (Office buildings require more cooling than heat.) Natural light and a view to the outside are documented aids to workers’ health and productivity.
  • Heating and lighting systems are equipped with digital controls to maximize efficiency. Lights are only on when an area is being used and the level of daylight is not sufficient. The lights have several possible levels of brightness.
  • Alcoves along the outside walls allow more natural light to enter the building; the angle of the windows reduces glare to the working areas. The floor space along the perimeter of the office area accommodates collaboration as well as traffic flow.
  • Comfortable and functional workspaces, an acoustic ceiling, open spaces and a variety of furnishings provide opportunities for group work and quiet work.
  • Nine conference rooms are available for scheduled meetings, and eight enclaves are available for private conversations or small meetings.
  • The beautiful local hardwood trim, doors and interior glass throughout the building were provided by a number of constituents who donated the trees, the harvesting, the rough sawing and drying facilities, the milling and manufacture of the doors and trim, the finishing and the hardware. A portion of the cabinet work also was donated.
  • The Walnut Room is one of several conference rooms that have the capacity for videoconferencing. Artwork is by Randy Horst: See God (mixed medium). (Photo by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

    The center section of the building is designed to be closed off from the offices for public use. Sliding partitions allow the center space—which includes the lobby, Community Room, lunch area, kitchen, restrooms and two small conference rooms—to be used for other purposes on evenings and weekends while providing security for office equipment.

  • Artwork was solicited from Mennonite artists, and a committee selected 20 works by 19 artists to be displayed as part of the office environment.
  • Showers and bicycle storage are available for people who are traveling to the building by bicycle.
  • Unfinished space allows the building use to expand in the future without a large expenditure on the structure. This space is only heated or cooled enough to avoid extremes.

DJ Construction Co. of Goshen, Ind., served as the building contractor. Four hundred volunteer hours were recorded in the construction process.

Contributions toward the building project may be made online at http://giving.mennoniteusa.org/project/detail/2537. Checks can be made out to “Mennonite Mission Network,” which is managing finances on behalf of all of the owners, and sent to Box 370, Elkhart, IN 46515.

###

See Mennonite Church USA’s Facebook page for an album of images of the building and the Jan. 24 open house for the AMBS community: www.facebook.com/MennoniteChurchUSA?sk=photos

Images available:
(Photos by Annette Brill Bergstresser)

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/bldg_0003.JPG
View of the northeast side of the new Elkhart office building from the driveway.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/alcove_9987.JPG
Alcoves along the outside walls allow more natural light to enter the building; the angle of the windows reduces glare to the working areas. The floor space along the perimeter of the office area accommodates collaboration as well as traffic flow.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/bldg_9998.JPG
The front entrance of the new Elkhart office building of Mennonite Church USA.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/foyer_9993.JPG
ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/foyer_community_rm_9994.JPG
Foyer and Community Room. This center section of the building is designed to be closed off from the offices for public use. Sliding partitions allow the center space—which includes the lobby, Community Room, lunch area, kitchen, restrooms and two small conference rooms—to be used for other purposes on evenings and weekends while providing security for office equipment.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/street_level_9985.JPG
Natural light is maximized throughout the building without direct glare, allowing office space to be lighted without heating it up at the same time.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/working_0030.JPG
Pictured are James Krabill and John Lapp (both Mission Network staff).

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/reception_0080.JPG
Dave Weaver (Mission Network staff) leads a tour of the building at the Jan. 24 reception for the AMBS community and participants in AMBS Pastors Week.

ftp://ftp.e.mennonites.org/public/NewsPhotos/Elkhart_offices/walnut_rm_9991.JPG
The Walnut Room is one of several conference rooms that have the capacity for videoconferencing. Artwork is by Randy Horst: See God (mixed medium).