LOUISVILLE – It’s not clear how the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board is leaning regarding the finances and future of Stony Point Center – as the board went into closed session for the part of its meeting March 27 when it talked about that.
Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and her leadership team have made a proposal: that the board hire a consultant to help develop a vision for Stony Point, and that Stony Point become a mission arm of the PMA, aligned with the agency’s Matthew 25 focus.
That recommendation carries financial implications. The consultant, Run River Enterprises, would cost about $38,000, plus another $3,200 in travel costs.
The deeper commitment: the recognition that Stony Point has run a deficit in eight of the last 10 years, and that it needs significant capital expenses to fix what’s been put off over time and to provide the kind of amenities that travelers routinely expect. The report to the boardstates that the cost for fulfilling the new vision for Stony Point “will take considerably more than the $3 million allocated by the PMA board for Stony Point’s deferred building maintenance. However, the investment could help the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) develop its work and witness to Jesus Christ now, and in years to come.”
The board also considered reports on Stony Point finances (A.200 Presbyterian Church USA Stony Point Center) and capital costs and past financial performance (A.208 Additional Information on Stony Point).
This is the second closed session the board has held on Stony Point. A conference call discussion March 18 also was closed.
At the end of an evening session March 27, the board’s Resource Allocation and Stewardship Committee voted to recommend that the full board approve the Stony Point proposal. “At some point this board made the decision to invest … we were going to stand by Stony Point,” said Warren Lesane, the board’s vice chair.
“I am very excited about the possibilities for Stony Point moving forward,” said Alice Ridgill, a board member of South Carolina. The full board will vote on the matter March 29.
In her executive director’s report, Moffett laid out with a preacher’s fervor her hopes for the new Matthew 25 initiative that PMA will formally launch April 1.
That program – which includes a website, resources (P.202 Matthew 25 Resources) and an advertising campaign – asks congregations, presbyteries and synods to declare themselves to be a Matthew 25 church. In doing that, they would commit support for the goals in the PMA mission work plan of supporting congregational vitality, dismantling systemic poverty and eradicating structural racism.
“What we do matters to God,” Moffett said. “As you did it to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”
Moffett said she’s already made Matthew 25 presentations to 15 presbyteries and at six churches – and six presbyteries have indicated they intend to sign on.
The results, she hopes, will be tangible and measurable, with Presbyterians sharing their stories about the difference that participating has made.
Congregational vitality is “not based so much on how large a congregation it is or how large a budget it is,” but how faithful the people are, she said. The question she always asks: “If you were to close your door, who else besides those who are already a part of the church would miss you?”
In dismantling racism, Presbyterians can look at structures and policies that perpetuate bigotry and bias against people of color – the systems that undergird racist behavior, Moffett said. If one dead fish rolls up on the bank, she asks: “What’s wrong with the fish?” If a school of fish dies, “you say, ‘What’s wrong with the water?’ ”
When confronted by poverty, “sometimes we want to blame the victim or fix people,” she said. But some economic systems perpetuate poverty – exploiting those who struggle.
As people of faith, “we have been saved to serve God’s people,” Moffett said.