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RMM in the City

By Joe Showalter, RMM President
Adapted and updated from an April 24, 2014 open letter

Within a few weeks after Rosedale Mennonite Missions had purchased the facility at 2120 E. 5th Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, that is now called the Rosedale International Center, a few of the RMM staff approached me about the possibility of RMM moving its headquarters from Rosedale to Columbus. At that point, we knew we had just purchased a large facility that would allow us to grow REACH and City Challenge, our summer and fall programs for youth and young adults. We also knew that it was for more than that. When the RMM board took action to purchase the building, they had clearly stated that they saw broader uses for the building. They had a sense that this could be a center that would take RMM to a new level in its mission training and networking and sending.

In the six years since, we’ve discussed the possibility of moving into the RIC at length, and now, it seems that time has come. RMM moved it’s headquarters into the Rosedale International Center in early April and office staff are currently working out of the newly renovated wing. Below, I’d like to respond to some of the questions people have been asking. Hopefully, it will answer some of yours.

Is the move to the RIC driven primarily by finances?

No. While there will clearly be some efficiencies that result from having all of RMM’s offices under one roof, money is not the primary motivation. I would point to two major motivating factors: 1) the global mission context calls for urbanized thinkers and practitioners, and 2) our long- and short-term ministries will be better integrated if we share a common office space.

What will this mean for current RMM staff?

This move will affect staff in a variety of ways. While most staff strongly affirm the move for the sake of the organization, it has the potential to significantly impact some in a negative way (e.g. some currently live within walking distance of the Rosedale office). Some may choose to relocate while others may not continue with RMM long term as a result. We are committed to doing what we can to minimize the negative impact as much as possible. Possible accommodations include flexible work hours, telecommuting when feasible, and assistance with commuting expenses.

Can you give us an update on the Rosedale properties? How does your move away from Rosedale affect your relationship with CMC and RBC?

In December 2014, administrators from RMM and CMC articulated guiding values that helped shape the details of CMC’s purchase of the RMM office and apartment building. We are grateful that ownership transferred to CMC at the end of March in a manner that felt good to all parties involved (RMM, CMC, RBC). The terms felt manageable to CMC and as owners, CMC now has more control and flexibility in how their office space is configured with ample room for expansion. RBC is happy to see the RMM office and apartment building stay within the CMC family. And we feel blessed to have made a clean move to the RIC. Because the RIC is proving to be a wonderful gathering spot for groups from across CMC, it’s our prayer that RMM continues to become better connected to the larger church than it has been in recent years.

A Note from CMC

Nearly five years ago when the CMC Executive Board first learned that RMM was seriously considering moving their offices to the Rosedale International Center in Columbus, a number of questions and concerns surfaced.  At the top of the list was the concern that a move of this nature might weaken the relationship between CMC, RMM and RBC; understandable given the fact that CMC and its mission and education arms have shared the same campus on the “sacred ground” of Rosedale for many years.  RMM was responsive to the questions and concerns of CMC’s leaders, and several measures were taken to ensure that relationships will remain strong and synergistic in spite of the distance between our offices.  Over the years since that initial discussion, as RMM continued to share their vision for moving to the city, CMC’s leaders warmed to and then embraced the idea that it would be a good strategic move.  In a meeting with RMM’s board chairman and president in February 2014, the CMC Executive Board officially expressed their support of the move.  While those of us who work at CMC will miss sharing the office building in Rosedale with RMM, we’re excited to see what opportunities God might have in store for CMC in Columbus (and other cities) as a result of RMM strengthening their presence in the city.

– Brian Hershberger, CMC Executive Director

A Note from RBC

It's going to be different.  We've been neighbors in Rosedale for the past fifty years; long enough that it's hard to imagine it any other way. On a summer day back in 1963 a member of the school board placed the winning bid on the buildings that would become the new home for Berlin Bible School. Who could have guessed then how familiar the name "Rosedale" would become! We came very close to settling in Apple Creek or Middlebury instead, but in the providence of God—for better or for worse—it was Rosedale.  It wasn’t long until both the school and the conference mission agency took the Rosedale name, and since the early 1970s “Rosedale” has served as a common shorthand for both of us.

We, too, are excited about the new opportunities this move will create. It's hard to predict exactly how it may reshape the missions program, your relationship with RBC and CMC, or even the conference itself. But just as our predecessors trusted God in the steps they took, we trust, along with you, that God will continue to bless this one. It’s going to be different for all of us, and we’ll miss having you just across the lawn. But we wish you God's blessing, direction and fruitfulness as you move, and we look forward to continuing to work together as partner agencies in CMC and in the kingdom of God.

– Jon Showalter, RBC President

How will it help you do missions administration if your offices are in the city?

None of us thinks moving RMM’s offices to Columbus will work magic. Writing emails and making phone calls won’t happen more efficiently just because we’re in an urban environment. But it will allow more of us to live in a cultural context much more like the ones most of our workers are living in. It will make it more possible to prepare new workers for urban living, because more of us mission leaders will understand it better ourselves. And it will allow RMM to help CMC engage in a variety of outreach ventures through the endless opportunities that a city like Columbus has to offer.

What does moving administrative offices from a rural context to an urban context have to do with the global missions context?


Our world is increasingly urban, and it’s my observation that CMC is following suit. Here in North America and around the globe, people are moving to cities by the millions each month. About 82% of Americans currently live in urban or suburban areas. I just read an excellent article called “The Call to the City” by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Keller points to four groups of people in the city that the Church must reach.

First, the younger generation. Obviously, it’s where a large majority go for higher education. But unlike their parents, they prefer to stay there. The Wall Street Journal reported a few years ago that 88% of the Millennial generation (those born in the ‘80’s, ‘90’s, and early 2000’s) prefer to live in cities. Automakers like Toyota and GM are alarmed that the Millennials are choosing to live where walking, biking, and mass transit can take the place of driving.

Second, the cultural elites. More and more, networks of major metropolitan areas are becoming the world’s most important cultural, political, and financial influencers—even more than nations themselves. In North America, committed followers of Jesus are disproportionately absent from the cities. Our percentages are highest in rural areas and lowest in urban areas. If we’re losing the so-called “culture wars,” might it be because we’ve positioned ourselves in places where we can exert little influence?

Third, the unreached peoples. The distinction between “home” and “foreign” missions is disappearing before our eyes. As a result of immigration, in many North American cities, we have access to the hardest-to-reach peoples of the world. By placing ourselves among these immigrants in our cities, we can potentially reach them and their families and friends back in their home cultures.

And fourth, the poor. The majority of the world’s poor live in cities, and I believe in God’s economy those with power and resources are called to serve them. As Christ’s followers make disciples of the cultural elites, they will use their power and resources to improve the plight of the poor. Both groups desperately need each other.

It seems God is calling some of us to be part of all this. With RMM’s move to the city, there will soon be more CMC people living, working, and worshipping in neighborhoods in Columbus, rubbing shoulders with the young, the elite, the unreached, and the poor. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast.”

Conclusion


I believe that this move is one step we can take to stay engaged with the rising generation and to help CMC become more fully engaged in Kingdom transformation both locally and globally. I welcome your comments or questions at joe@rmmoffice.org.

A “New Normal” for the Rosedale International Center

The move of the RMM offices from the rural setting of Rosedale to the location near downtown Columbus brings with it a “new normal” for those already working at the RIC. The RIC has been utilized primarily by SEND staff, who operate our short-term programs, and those who are renting the facility for events. Now we have permanently added nearly all the office staff of RMM.

Consolidating obviously has its benefits when you consider overhead costs and administrative overlap. Our hope and prayer is that these new efficiencies, coupled with a positive connection between the short- and long-term departments coming together, will create a synergy that benefits all of us. Having the REACH and City Challenge programs working out of the same location as staff that are giving support to our long-term program could help connect what we are doing locally with our long-term goal of planting churches in least reached countries.

We also hope that the groups renting our facility for retreats and other events will be blessed by the presence of RMM staff. Some churches and individuals within CMC are already using the center for leadership and elder retreats, worship, and other events. We would love to see this happen more and see our constituents become more connected with our collective mission.

If you or your church would like to host an event at the RIC, please visit our website at www.ric-columbus.org/ to request a date for availability. RMM gives a 25% discount to CMC churches for all food, lodging, and rental costs. In addition, all of the revenue we receive goes to our programs and mission.

– Andrew Miller, RIC director

Our new address:

2120 E 5th Ave, Columbus, OH 43219
Phone number: 614-258-4780