ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network/Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership
) — Architects said the design for a planned office building for Mennonite offices in Elkhart, Ind., emphasizes Anabaptist values of stewardship and efficiency while leaving space for worshipful work.
LeRoy Troyer of The Troyer Group
in Mishawaka, Ind., said the building, which will house Elkhart staff of Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership, Mennonite Mission Network and other Mennonite organizations in a space adjacent to the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
, balances care for the earth with effective use of campaign contributions.
“As Mennonites, theologically we don’t believe that God dwells [only] in buildings. A building is pretty much a shelter, a container for people’s activities,” Troyer said. “Faith-based organizations are becoming more conscious and aware of how we use our earth resources and financial resources and the stewardship involved.”
Denominational leaders said the new building with an endowment for operating costs will, when complete, free up $4.5 million over the next 15 years for mission and leadership ministries.
Campaign representatives, led by staff members and committee chairpersons Peter Wiebe, a pastor and church leader from Tucson, Ariz., and Wilbur Bontrager, chairman/CEO of Jayco, Inc.
, in Middlebury, Ind., are receiving pledges and gifts from across the country toward the campaign. About 60 percent of the support raised through the campaign will fund the building project and about 40 percent will fund the annual programs of Mission Network and Executive Board.
The capital portion includes $6 million for design, construction, furnishings and equipment, a $2.8 million endowment, and $500,000 for campaign costs. The annual fund portion includes $6 million for ongoing Mission Network ministries, $300,000 for Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership programs and $150,000 for the Global Mission Fellowship
Incorporating Anabaptist faith into design, Troyer said, means avoiding the sterility found in many office buildings and including space that allows for spirituality and renewal of the soul while keeping costs low.
The design includes an emphasis on natural light, which Troyer said has been shown to increase worker efficiency and health while decreasing energy use. Troyer said the largest energy cost in most office buildings involves the cooling process, since people, equipment and artificial lights generate heat in enclosed spaces. Fewer lights, he said, means fewer cooling costs.
Leaders also plan to use other “green” technologies that are efficient, effective and affordable, including the possibility of geothermal energy for heat from water. Campaign leaders said building materials, whenever possible, will be durable, natural and local to create a low-maintenance, energy-efficient structure that is flexible and low-cost.
Campaign leaders will work to incorporate Mennonite constituents’ talents and resources by finding portions of the project where workers, artists and artisans can volunteer labor or donate materials, equipment, furnishings and artwork.
“While building the building, we are also building the church community,” Troyer said.
The structure’s design aims for simplicity and energy efficiency while including the technological infrastructure needed for local staff to connect with other Mennonite Church USA employees, volunteers and constituents in other parts of the country and other parts of the world.
Executive Leadership and Mission Network staff members moved to temporary quarters in a former credit union building on West Beardsley Avenue in Elkhart at the end of 2006. A formal analysis of the West Beardsley space showed that purchasing the facility, plus minimal expansion and renovation to meet current office space needs, would be two-thirds of the cost of the new building. A full renovation and expansion to create space equivalent to the proposed facility at AMBS has less than a 5 percent cost difference – not enough to offset the advantages of building near AMBS location and future savings from a more efficient building design.
The new building is designed to be one of several Mennonite Church USA work centers owned by the church to support its mission and vision. At the completion of this campaign and building project, Mennonite Church USA will own churchwide offices in several locations – in Newton, Kan.; Harrisonburg, Va.; Goshen, Ind.; Scottdale, Pa.; and Elkhart, Ind.. Building adjacent to AMBS will better connect the church with leaders studying at the seminary while allowing for more collaboration with AMBS students and faculty to strengthen the theological, pastoral and missional foundations of the denomination’s witness to the world.
The Mennonite agencies plan to move into the new offices in early 2010.