(Indianapolis, Ind. – DNS – April 15, 2011) – Disciples Center employees will work from a temporary location in downtown Indianapolis starting next week as clean-up and building restoration efforts continue at the permanent office site, damaged April 5 in a small early-morning fire.
Nearly all of the building’s 180 employees will now work from 135 N. Pennsylvania, about two blocks from the current office. Phone, fax and e-mail numbers will remain the same. The Disciples Center operates from a leased facility at 130 E. Washington St.
The incident resulted in significant smoke damage throughout the Washington Street building, requiring most staff to either work from home or at alternate sites.
“We are grateful that we have been able to identify a site that provides a centrally-located, short-term facility for our employees,” said General Minister and President Sharon Watkins. “Various efforts at remediation have taken place at the Center over the last week, but leaders of the ministries were not satisfied that the building was the proper environment for staff.”
The board of Christian Church Services (CCS) voted April 14 to temporarily suspend operations at the Disciples Center and identify a short-term location for all the ministries. The CCS board represents all General Church ministries located in the building. Disciples have leased space at the site for 16 years.
On most of the upper floors, air quality was determined to be low following the fire. Employees have continued to work through the disruption, Watkins noted. Some staff worked from their offices; others moved to conference room space in the building, and one ministry re-located to a downtown church.
The fire is believed to have started when a welder’s torch ignited material inside an encased interior air shaft, which smoldered and burned for some time. The fire was quickly extinguished, although smoke damage to offices on the 9th, 10th and 11th floors in areas closest to the shaft was in some cases extensive. There was also smoke damage to the 12th floor. The work was part of upgrades to the building’s heating and air conditioning.
Building owners have worked with a remediation service to cleanse the air over the past week, but it has been determined that broader steps are needed, particularly on the 10th floor where the Office of General Minister and President and Disciples Data, Inc. are housed, and parts of the 11th floor where the Christian Church Foundation is located. It is expected that ceiling tiles and carpeting likely will be replaced. Furniture, files, books, shelves and equipment also will be removed from the facility and cleaned.
“Despite the disruptions, it has been very gratifying for all of us as General Ministry leaders to see how staff continues to work through this challenging time,” said Watkins. “Everyone is committed to finding ways to carry out his or her ongoing responsibilities, including answering e-mails and phone calls. We also are grateful for the prayers and support we have received from throughout the Church and from our partners in ministry.”
The Disciples Center houses the Office of General Minister and President (inclusive of National Convocation), as well as each Indianapolis-based General Ministry which includes the Council on Christian Unity, Christian Church Foundation, Church Extension, Disciples Home Missions, the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, and the Pension Fund; plus Disciples Data, Inc., North American/Pacific Asian Disciples and the Central Pastoral Office of Hispanic Ministries.
The Disciples Center supports the work and mission of the 3,700 churches of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. Three other General Ministry offices are located in St. Louis, Mo. and one is based in Nashville, Tenn.
By Wanda Bryant Wills