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Publishing building sold in Scottdale, Pa.

Steve Shenk of MennoMedia - 08/15/11


The former longtime Mennonite publishing building in Scottdale, Pa., will re-open as a church facility. MennoMedia, the newly merged church agency based in Harrisonburg, Va., sold the landmark building to a local congregation, Wellspring Church, on Aug. 12.

MennoMedia, which came into existence on July 1, represents the integration of Mennonite Publishing Network of Scottdale and Third Way Media of Harrisonburg. MennoMedia occupies the former Third Way Media building at 1521 Virginia Avenue. 

The sign from the former Mennonite Publishing House building in Scottdale, Pa., was later removed and brought to Harrisonburg, Va. Photo by Russ Eanes.

Some 103 years of Mennonite publishing in Scottdale, a small town east of Pittsburgh, came to an end on June 30. At one time 175 people worked in the building, located at 616 Walnut Avenue. 

The four-story, 75,000-square-feet building, taking up half a block at the town’s highest point, includes three sections. The original 1908 building was torn down to make way for a new warehouse in 1980. The other sections are additions built in the late 1920s and late 1940s.  

Wellspring Church, currently located in nearby Dawson, plans to use the building for worship and outreach. The church will also rent space to small businesses and ministries.

MennoMedia closes on the sale of the publishing building in Scottdale, Pa., to Wellspring Church. Signing for the church is assistant pastor Ron Michaux (center). Seated next to him is elder Cheryl Thomas. Not pictured is Pastor Stuart Adams. Signing for MennoMedia is Neal Weaver, a longtime employee (and second-generation worker) who was the last to transfer from Scottdale to the new MennoMedia offices in Harrisonburg, Va. Photo provided.

One business that has been a long-time renter in the building and which plans to stay is the Scottdale branch of what is now Everence Financial, a credit union. It started as a credit union for Mennonite Publishing House employees.

“The building was not easy to sell, especially with only 32 parking spaces.” said Russ Eanes, executive director of MennoMedia. The building was put on the market a year ago, during a bad time in the local commercial real estate market.   

As it downsized during the past decade, MPN tried twice—in 2003 and 2008—to sell the building. The facility was valued at $600,000, but most potential buyers were not interested. The price that MennoMedia settled on with Wellspring Church was $125,000—slightly higher than the goal that the MennoMedia board set in April.

“Since we knew ahead of time that the building would be difficult to sell, we did not include any revenue from the sale in the business plan for the merger,” said Eanes, who served previously as MPN’s director of operations and finance. “So any amount received is a plus.”

Phil Bontrager to continue temporarily as chair of MennoMedia
On July 1, 2011, MennoMedia began as a joint ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, replacing the role of the binational Mennonite Publishing Network.

Because a U.S. citizen serves as executive director of the new agency, the board intends to invite a Canadian to serve as chair of the board. Because of the complexity involved in the transition, the Joint Executive Committee Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA has asked Phil Bontrager to serve in this role until December 31, 2011. Bontrager was the chair of the Mennonite Publishing Network.

The joint executive committee expresses gratefulness for Phil’s very helpful leadership for the past years and his willingness to continue in this role until a new chair from Canada is found.

MPN had served both Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada as does MennoMedia.