National Ghost Ranch Foundation slated to assume day-to-day management
by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – To prepare members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) to vote in plenary on two action items on Friday, Sept. 16, related to the transfer of Ghost Ranch’s operations from the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) to the National Ghost Ranch Foundation (NGRF), Tony De La Rosa, PMA interim executive director, and the Rev. Mark Hostetter, a member of the Ghost Ranch Governing Board, made a comprehensive 30-minute presentation to the full PMAB on Wednesday night, Sept. 14.
De La Rosa’s portion of the presentation, its first half, focused on the background and history of the Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, which he described as “hallowed ground,” where “you walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs, native peoples, spiritual pilgrims, legendary Presbyterians, and even Georgia O’Keeffe, who for many years made Ghost Ranch her summer home and spent the last 50 years of her life living in the area.”
Ghost Ranch comprises over 21,000 acres of spectacular terrain, a gift to the Presbyterian Church from Arthur and Phoebe Pack, who donated it to the then Board of Christian Education (BCE) of the Presbyterian Church in 1955. The BCE became one of the Presbyterian Foundation’s related entities upon the merger of the former United Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church U.S. in 1983. Since then, Ghost Ranch has been operated directly by the PMA or its predecessor agencies.
If the proposed actions are approved by the full PMAB on Sept. 16, the way would be clear to proceed with the proposed covenant agreement to transfer the operations of Ghost Ranch from the PMA to the NGRF by January 1, 2017, pending subsequent approval by the boards of the Presbyterian Foundation and NGRF.
The NGRF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1972 exclusively to support Ghost Ranch as a ministry of the PC(USA), has been providing financial, operational, and volunteer resources for Ghost Ranch.
In turning the presentation over to Hostetter—whom PMAB member the Rev. Marci Glass earlier introduced as “a pastor in New York and a CEO of a money management corporation, whose camping roots run deep”—De La Rosa said that the board has before it “a singular opportunity…to move Ghost Ranch toward ever greater financial and operational self-sustainability and to continue its long and storied tradition of growing disciples for Jesus Christ.”
In his portion of the presentation, Hostetter emphasized that the proposed covenant agreement to transfer Ghost Ranch’s operations to the NGRF would keep its more than 60-year relationship to the PC(USA) and its missional connection to the PMA in effect. “At its core,” he said, “Ghost Ranch has been a central part of the PC(USA). That is a core part of the proposal.”
The proposal, Hostetter said, calls for no change in Ghost Ranch’s legal ownership. The property would remain owned by the BCE of the PC(USA). “Neither would there be any change to the operations from the point of view of who’s doing it,” he said. “The staff will be the same,” he said. “For visitors, this would be completely transparent.”
Hostetter further explained that the proposal is not unprecedented. ”Montreat [Conference Center] shows that a different model of relationship can be successful,” he said. “It’s a separately operated conference center related to the PC(USA). We want to adopt some of those best practices.”
In concluding his half of the presentation, Hostetter said, “As a Presbyterian family of various entities, we all work together—boards and staff—to try to ensure that this proposal would go forward.”
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