Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Bringing a taste of Stony Point Center to the Presbyterian Center

National church staff treated to a homegrown lunch and a quick pitch

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase, co-directors of Stony Point Center, were photographed in September 2019 outside the center’s eye-catching Meditation Space. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — On Monday over the lunch hour, Kitty and Rick Ufford-Chase got into the minds and hearts of members of the church’s national staff by first filling their bellies.

The co-directors of Stony Point Center (SPC) in Stony Point, New York, the preferred conference venue of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, brought with them what was, for the most part, lunch that was grown on two of Stony Point’s 30 acres dedicated to farming. Last year, Stony Point Center’s two farmers produced 12,000 pounds of produce.

After abating about three dozen appetites, the co-directors got to work explaining a conference venue decision-making tool they’re developing. Since Stony Point Center is the only conference center affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that’s operated by the mission agency, booking a PMA-related conference there is like saving twice, they explained: first, what’s often 30-40 percent savings over hotel and resort rates, and second, when the PMA avoids a deficit due to low occupancy rates at SPC.

At least three other advantages go with selecting the Stony Point Center option, the co-directors said:

  • When Stony Point Center is the conference choice, “we are supporting an organization entirely committed to the Matthew 25 vision and values that ground our work.”
  • The choice contributes to support staff employment, since the 50 or so SPC employees are PMA employees “who understand and are committed to the work we do,” they said.
  • SPC “is committed to helping the PMA have the lowest possible environmental impact with every event” that SPC hosts.

At Stony Point Center, single occupancy with a private bath during the low season (November to April) is $160. The cost is $195 during the high season, May through October. But that cost includes three delicious meals which rely heavily on the food that’s grown right on the grounds. The fee also includes use of Stony Point’s facilities, which, Kitty Ufford-Chase said, are there to help guests “explore creativity, do courageous thinking and the collaborative work of healing and repairing the world.” In all, 15 meeting spaces can house groups of between 10 and 250 people.

“The ministry we do is part of the work that happens with the PMA,” she said. A common comment she hears from guests is that “things couldn’t have happened anywhere else besides Stony Point Center.”

The town of Stony Point is an hour’s drive north of New York City, but the best airport choice usually is Newark, New Jersey. Round-trip ground transportation is $100 but can be as little as $70 per person in a full van.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, recalled the warm and relaxed atmosphere the Stony Point Center staff helped to create last fall when the PMA Board met there and approved a proposal calling for a three-step implementation plan for what could be a $10.7 million investment over the next 10 years.

“The environment helped us to get into relationship in a new way,” Moffett said. “It felt very homey. It was a totally different experience. I for one was grateful, and I think the board was, too.”

Kitty Ufford-Chase said Stony Point Center employees have just finished an annual rite: tapping trees for maple syrup. It’s just one of the many draws guests appreciate when they stay there.

“I didn’t realize what a critical piece it is for people to walk around our campus and see what we are growing,” she said. “We have done workshops on multifaith perspectives on caring for the land.”

“Come,” she said, “get your hands in our soil.”

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.