Both also rely on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for fiscal support as they seek to weather a time of transition.
Leaders of Ghost Ranch and Stony Point say they are taking creative approaches to programming and services, reconsidering the role church-based conference centers play in an economically challenged and religiously diverse world and hoping they can turn the corner on finances in the next few years.
Stony Point, just outside New York City, lost more than $377,000 in 2010 and Ghost Ranch lost more than $739,000.
Stony Point co-directors Kitty and Rick Ufford-Chase, speaking before General Assembly Mission Council committees March 31, told of their efforts to develop an intentional community of faith drawing from Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious traditions and from a commitment to sustainable food practices. They’re trying to raise money from donors, become more energy-efficient and find groups to use Stony Point for retreats or residential programs.
Ufford-Chase said the next few years will be crucial. If finances don’t improve within that time, he said, it’s appropriate to ask whether it’s viable for the PC(USA) to continue to operate the center.
Ghost Ranch is making a name for itself as a spiritual center, with more than 300 programs a year, said Debra Hepler, its executive director. With a fundraising goal of $700,000 for this year, Hepler hopes Ghost Ranch’s revenues will exceed expenses by the end of 2011.
Ghost Ranch has closed its site in Santa Fe, N.M., and hopes to sell or lease that property. And Ghost Ranch is negotiating with the city of Albuquerque, N.M., regarding water storage in Abiquiu Lake, another lucrative possibility.