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New PMAB board committees consider Stony Point sustainability


Meetings continue with new structure

By Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) continued its sessions today at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. The new board’s first meeting since the 223rd General Assembly (2018) featured a revised committee structure that better reflects the ecclesiastical nature of the board and places all committees under the “Programs” category or the “Administrative” category. Committees under the Programs umbrella include Mid Councils, Nurture the Body, and Outreach to the World. Committees that fall under the Administrative umbrella include Resource Allocation & Stewardship, Property & Legal, and Personnel & Nominating.

The Rev. Denise Anderson starts Friday PMAB’s session with cultural humility training. Photo provided

The Rev. Denise Anderson, former co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) and current coordinator for racial and intercultural justice, moderated cultural humility training for board members and support staff in the morning before committees moved onto their assigned business.

The Administrative committee featured a joint meeting between the Resource Allocation & Stewardship and Property & Legal committees for action on Stony Point capital improvements and a revised 2019–20 budget and capital plan. The combined committees recommended two key motions regarding the Stony Point conference center:

  • the staff be able to access the balance of unspent funds for 2018, totaling $411,400, to be expended at their discretion
  • the appointment of a roundtable to fully review the operations and ministry of Stony Point and report a listing of recommendations for steps that must be taken to ensure its economic viability and prioritize Stony Point’s ministry in relation to other PMA ministries and mission.

Prior to the recommendation vote, Mike Miller, the newly appointed acting senior director of Shared Services and CFO of the PC(USA) A Corporation, presented a financial report on Stony Point, noting that it incurred year-to-date operating losses totaling more than $170,000 through August 2018. He said that occupancy rates for 2018 were running about 45 percent, with approximately 50 percent occupancy being the break-even point. He also noted that 2018 expenses were running higher than expected, including $75,000 of depreciation. There is also an unresolved property tax bill that’s estimated to go as high as $40,000. The committee, before beginning its afternoon session, went into closed session to discuss the property tax issue.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA, delivered an impassioned message about her experiences at Stony Point, and how the facility lives into — and has the potential to further — the church’s mission work plan for vital congregations, poverty and structural racism/white supremacy.

“I think this is a very important ministry,” said Moffett. “I like to think of Stony Point as a laboratory; a place where action and belief come together, and I’ve seen that firsthand in two recent trips there. You can see the focus of our 2019–2020 mission work emphasis woven into the partnerships, workshops and conferences that are being held there.”

While acknowledging that the financials are a legitimate concern, Moffett also pointed out that Stony Point provides congregations, mid councils and others a unique opportunity to lift up and learn about the emphasis of PMA’s mission. She relayed to the board several examples of groups and individuals who shared their transformative stories with her as a result of their Stony Point experience.

Ray Jones speaks to the committees about a sustainability plan for Stony Point. Photo provided

Ray Jones, acting director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism, spoke to the committees about the newly formed Stony Point Roundtable, which includes himself along with PMA staff members Kathy Francis, senior director of communications; Mike Kirk, senior counsel; Ruth Gardner, director of human resources; and Miller as an A Corporation representative.

Jones said the roundtable will work with Stony Point leadership to work toward a sustainability plan for the conference center.

“We’re committed to making this work,” said Jones. “We’ve already had one meeting and everyone contributed the beginnings of a positive solution for going forward. Our vision is that we will update the Stony Point business plan and have started to look at what form that may take. We believe a business plan, a ministry plan and a PMA integration plan are all important elements.”

Jones noted that their goal is to have a report prepared for the next PMAB meeting in April 2019.

Committee member Jeffrey Joe affirmed Stony Point’s importance to the agency’s mission and wondered what it would take to get it out of the “triage” phase.

“As much as we look at the numbers, the value proposition is there,” said Joe. “PMA staff and coordinators have been talking about this for four years and I can imagine it’s getting frustrating because we continue to do triage. What is it going to take to get out of triage and get into a place where its stable?”

In addition to the two Stony Point-related motions passed, the Resource Allocation & Stewardship Committee voted to recommend to the board a revised 2019–20 budget and capital plan and an expanded role for the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program (PILP). The motion allows PILP to provide loans for nonprofit organizations that fit the mission of the church but are not controlled by the PC(USA). A restricted funds proposal and a cost recovery policy were also recommended by the committee to the full board.

The Programs committees met in afternoon session. Action items included Programmatic Emphases & Liturgical Dates and Communion for Conference for Seminarians of Color by the Nurture the Body committee.

The Outreach to the World committee was scheduled to act on an Endorsement of Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Principles recommendation. The committees will provide final reports Saturday when the PMAB concludes its meeting.

All PMAB members are required to serve on one program and administrative committee each.

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