Over the last two months, there has been a dramatic and positive shift in the tenor of conversations about Stony Point Center’s future. We are working cooperatively with our colleagues and supervisors in the Presbyterian Mission Agency to lay out a plan designed to help Stony Point Center integrate our multifaith work more fully into the life of the denomination and to do everything possible to achieve financial stability over the next three to five years.
In September, the Transitional Task Team, with which we had been working for a year, put forward a proposal for Stony Point Center to become an autonomous corporation within the Presbyterian Church (USA). In spite of their unanimous recommendation, it was obvious that there was no clear consensus among the staff and board members of the Mission Agency about what should happen next. Further, relationships and trust among both staff and board members of the Mission Agency and Stony Point Center had seriously deteriorated.
In the book The Art of Possibility, the authors posit that when trust is broken, we default to our “calculating selves,” seeking to assure that our own interests are protected. When relationships are healthy and trust is restored, it becomes possible to return to our “central selves,” and we are able to release our personal interests and work together to seek the good of the whole.
That kind of shift has become evident in our work together since the end of January. During February, we entered into a process of reconciliation with our colleagues and supervisors in Louisville. We began by sharing honestly with one another about the ways in which we had been hurt, and by taking responsibility for the ways we had caused hurt as well. Slowly, through difficult conversations, we have worked to restore trust and to reclaim our “central selves” as we think together about Stony Point Center’s future. God has clearly been at work in and through this process.
The tasks before us are clear, if somewhat daunting:
To operate Stony Point Center in a way that is fiscally responsible and complements other important ministries of the denomination.
To support Presbyterian Churches in the northeast as they seek to respond to the challenging context for ministry in their communities.
And to build relationships and trust among Christians, Muslims and Jews to grow the multifaith movement for peace and justice in our region and around the world.
We are more convinced than ever that Stony Point Center is the ideal spiritual home for this important work. Further, as the Presbyterian Church (USA) develops a new “Interfaith Stance” this year to intentionally foster positive relationships with those of other religious traditions, Stony Point Center will be a key place where the denomination can live into that commitment. Over the coming weeks, we will work with our colleagues in the Mission Agency to agree on the benchmarks against which we will evaluate the sustainability of our work.
What this means for our supporters, our multifaith partners, and our guests is that there is a clear commitment from leaders in the PC(USA) to be partners in helping Stony Point Center to be successful. As we work together over the next few years, we fully expect that “the way will open” (as the Quakers would say) to assure that Stony Point Center will shape another generation of God’s people to work for justice, peace and nonviolence.
All of this depends entirely on all of you who continue to look to Stony Point Center for retreat and conference space. Please keep bringing your groups, and spreading the word about the great hospitality at Stony Point Center!
We are grateful to be in this with all of you.
Kitty and Rick
Co-Directors, Stony Point Center