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Publishing board begins long term process to vacate Scottdale facility


April 19, 2004
- Joint Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network Release

Scottdale, Pa. and Waterloo, Ont.—The Mennonite Publishing Network Board, in a March 11 meeting, decided to develop a long term strategy to vacate its Scottdale, Pa. facility and begin locating program and administrative positions in centres of Mennonite population. The transition to new locations could take up to five years.

A central factor in considering such a move is the Board’s commitment to the new vision and network model for publishing. Ron Sawatsky, MPN Board chair indicated, “MPN has been called by the church to change from being a ‘house’ to becoming a ‘network,’ responsive to the diverse and changing requirements of its constituency. This includes locating program and administrative divisions in centres of Mennonite population and institutions so that most, if not all of the publishing staff, can be drawn from the Mennonite Church constituency in the USA and Canada.”

MPN is the joint publisher for Mennonite Church Canada and USA and has staff in both countries. The publishing ministry helps to equip the church to experience and share the gospel from an Anabaptist perspective—through a range of books and resources, such as Sunday school curriculum and hymn books.

Less than half of the 70,000 square foot Scottdale facility is currently being used by MPN. With major changes over the past two years—staff downsizing that included the closing of the printing division—the number of Scottdale-based staff has been reduced from 95 to 30. “The on-going space needs for MPN have significantly decreased,” said Phil Bontrager, MPN Board member and treasurer. “The overhead cost associated with maintaining the current facility cannot be justified by MPN requirements alone.”

For the past two years, MPN has posted positive financial results and is on the road to financial recovery.

The question about future facility requirements was further focused by a Facility Task Group appointed by the MPN Board last fall. The broadly representative task group considered various options, ranging from shared commercial or residential use of the Scottdale facility to community or church use. However, in order to know which options to explore in depth, the task group asked the Board to indicate whether or not MPN will continue to utilize any part of its facility in Scottdale.

The Board indicated that in the long term, MPN should limit the amount of property it owns and should not be a property landlord in Scottdale or elsewhere. Hence the Board decision to develop a plan to vacate the building in a way that is both financially and operationally feasible.

Alternate locations for MPN have not yet been determined. However, the Board decided to announce its long term direction to create the broad framework for ongoing planning.

On March 27, the Joint Executive Committee of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada endorsed the decision, underscoring the need for a sound financial plan as part of the long-term strategy.

On March 30, Ron Rempel, executive director, shared the Board strategic direction with the MPN staff.