May 2021: A Brief History of the District Office

You may have heard that the Ohio District has sold its office building to the owners of Sunset Cemetery. The Board of Directors recently authorized a Committee to find a new building to lease and there are presently three possible sites. With this new change in hand, let’s now consider a brief history of our Mission Support Center.

The Ohio District was organized in 1963 when the old Central District of the LCMS was divided into the Ohio District and the Indiana District. The first district offices were at Zion Lutheran Church in Akron, Ohio where the first district president, Rev. Ottomar Krueger, served as pastor. Additional space was rented at the Akron YMCA. At this point, the District needed its own building.

The Olmsted Falls facility was a former funeral home which was in bankruptcy, and purchased for $285,000. Rev. Dr. Paul Streufert, pastor at St. Thomas in Rocky River, was instrumental in securing this site. When first used as a district office, various traces of its earlier use were evident with valances, flower stands, and subdued lighting, just to mention a few.

Minor renovations occurred over the years, including the installation of side windows. Later some large meeting areas were subdivided into offices. In the early days the spacious, but dark and barren lower-level garage was used for conferences and this space was finally refurbished as a warm and hospitable conference room.

Time took its toll on the original building, with major roof leakage and a failing heating and air conditioning system causing serious problems. The original building was in no way handicapped accessible.

The 2000 Ohio District Convention authorized this renovation with a special fundraising effort. The building basically was gutted so that only the exterior walls and foundational structure remained. Totally reconfigured, this new Ohio District Mission Support Center became handicapped accessible and met the established building code.

Refinements included an energy efficient state of the art heating and cooling system, climate-controlled archives, a security system, and fire sprinklers. The facility was totally wired to be compatible for technological needs. The renovation project cost $1.3 million dollars which was donated by individuals, congregations, and church organizations.

Our office was sold because most of the staff has been deployed and even the support staff work often from home. In addition, the building faces some costly building repairs, including installing new air conditioning and other necessary repairs. A Building Committee is selecting a new site to lease with three possibilities. Watch for more details!