CINCINNATI – The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, meeting in Cincinnati April 25-27, will consider a proposed mission budget for the Presbyterian Mission Agency for the next two years that is balanced and does not involve layoffs.
The board also will consider authorizing about $3 million in capital improvements and deferred maintenance for Stony Point Center over the next three years – and a request that the board declare that Stony Point and its ministries are a priority of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Also coming up at this meeting: discussion of the competing recommendations involving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) A Corporation; a presentation from representatives of the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee; and possible news regarding the search for a new executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
The board is expected to vote April 26 on on a series of comments (P.002 Governance Task Force WFC AARC comment) proposed by its Governance Task Force regarding the Way Forward and All Agency Review recommendations to the assembly – comments that suggest that the 2018 General Assembly take the next two years to examine both the details and the vision of the Way Forward and All Agency Review recommendations regarding the A Corporation, so that “a more comprehensive and sustainable recommendation can be brought to the 2020 General Assembly.”
Read here for more details on that.
Here’s some of what the board’s Coordinating Committee (that’s the new name for what used to be the executive committee) discussed during its meeting on the morning of April 25.
Budget: Dave Crittenden, acting executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (a job he’s leaving at the end of this week), is presenting a proposed mission budget (F.104 – 2019-2020 Budget) for the agency for 2019 and 2020 that is balanced and does not call for any staff cuts.
Ken Godshall, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, called it a “good news budget for the church.”
The proposed budget – which the full board will be asked to vote on and send to the 2018 General Assembly for its consideration – totals $71.6 million in 2019 and $70.6 million in 2020. That compares to a revised mission budget for 2018 of $68.2 million.
Denise Hampton, controller for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), explained that the budget is rising in part because of unanticipated gifts received in 2017 and donations for hurricane disaster relief, which have been received but not yet spent.
Conrad Rocha, a board member from New Mexico who serves on the board’s Governance Task Force, asked whether the budget projection takes into account the possible impact of a proposed increase in per capitathe 2018 General Assembly is being asked to consider. The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and Committee on the Office of the General Assembly both voted in February to ask the assembly to increase General Assembly per capita from $7.73 per member in 2018 to $10.71 in 2019 and to $11.45 in 2020.
If General Assembly per capita increases, some presbyteries may send less money in shared giving to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, “which will affect our budget,” Rocha said.
Crittenden said the new mission budget was developed out of a sense of abundance, not scarcity. But “we have to realize that may be a possibility,” Crittenden said – that other giving may decrease if congregations and presbyteries struggle to pay higher per capita.
Chief financial officer: Board member Molly Baskin, chair of the board’s Resource Allocation and Stewardship Committee, introduced the new acting senior director of shared services for the Presbyterian Mission Agency – Michael E. Miller.
Miller, who has already started on the job, has previously worked as chief financial officer of Poe Companies, a commercial real estate firm in Louisville, and for Churchill Downs Inc. (as an executive vice president and chief financial officer).
Stony Point: The Stony Point Sustainability Task Force has been working for the past year considering the financial future of the Stony Point Center, a facility of more than 30 acres about an hour outside New York City.
As a result of that work, the five-person task force, led by Baskin, is recommending (P.004 Stony Point Conference Center) that the board:
- Declare that Stony Point and its ministries are a priority of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
- Agree to fund deferred maintenance at the center, and use capital reserves to finance about $3 million in capital improvements over the next three years.
Baskin told the coordinating committee that “there is a lot of deferred maintenance” needed at Stony Point, as for many years basically only emergency repairs have been done. The task force is suggesting doing some of that work and also paying for some improvements suggested by a hospitality consulting group intended to “improve the property and the experience,” with the hope of drawing in more business.
Those investments would total about $3 million over the next three years ($650,000 this year; $1 million each in 2019 and 2020; and $350,000 in 2021), the recommendation states.
Baskin explained that that money would have to come from the Presbyterian Mission Agency operating reserves, which currently stand at about $12.5 million – and that would slow the process of the board’s efforts to build up those reserves.
The recommendation from the task force states that, once the cash flow from Stony Point increases, that money would be used to replenish the Presbyterian Mission Agency capital reserves. Eventually, the recommendation states, Stony Point’s leaders should work to establish the center’s own operating and capital reserves.
The task force’s report also asks the board to:
- Encourge collegial relationships between Stony Point’s management and the Presbyterian Mission Agency staff, including transparency and shared decision-making on matters affecting Stony Point.
- Try to hold meetings and events at Stony Point, and encourage the Presbyterian Mission Agency to do the same.
This recommendation comes after some years of the board struggling to determine how much it was willing to spend to support the work of Stony Point.
The report states: “Stony Point Center has been the subject of some consternation and controversy for several years” — expected to be revenue-producing, but losing money most years and requiring funding from the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s diminishing unrestricted reserves to keep it running.
The board decided in 2014 not to separately incorporate Stony Point, and to set a series of financial benchmarks Stony Point was expected to make for 2014 through 2017.
In 2014, the Stony Point management team hired the Harrell Hospitality Group as a consultant, which recommended a series of changes in everything from operations to marketing to the software used to manage bookings. The average occupancy rate now is at about 45 percent, up from 22 percent several years ago, and with a goal of reaching an average occupancy rate of 63 percent in the next three years.
The Stony Point property also is home to the Community of Living Traditions – a multi-faith intentional community of 22 Christians, Jews and Muslims, who provide volunteer work to help run the center. The report states that that interfaith community “is sowing the seeds to nurture a broad, multi-faith movement for justice and peace,” and serves as a witness to the General Assembly’s intent to build a strong ecumenical and interfaith ministry in the PC(USA).
Other business: During this meeting, the board also will:
- Engage in cultural competency training, led by Alex McNeill of More Light Presbyterians;
- Consider recommendations from its Governance Task Force;
- Hear reports from a variety of its committees and ministerial teams, including teams discussing General Assembly referrals and Ministry in a Divided Nation.