217th Assembly of Presbyterians

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Surprise Gift

It is not often than a general assembly starts with an announcement of an unprecedented gift of $150 million. The benefactor, Stanley W. Anderson, is a businessman and an elder who is a member of the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO.

Anderson made his fortune in banking and financial services where he spent more than 30 years. He started Anderson and Associates, a firm which sold commercial card products and engaged in electronic commerce. When he was young, his family was on welfare.

Anderson's gift -- the biggest single gift received by PC(USA) -- will be set aside in the Presbyterian Foundation as the Loaves and Fishes Church Growth Fund. Anderson said in his speech that he was tired of declining membership figures in the church and the financial difficulties churches are having. Presbyteries can apply for grants but they must incorporate the three stated purposes of the fund: congregational transformation, racial-ethnic congregations, and new church development.

This grant will hopefully stop the decline in our membership and kick-start a growth. More importantly, I hope it will fuel a transformation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) into a denomination that reflects more accurately the demographics of our increasingly diverse country.

2 Comments:

  • Amen.

    Our little PC (USA) church in central Kansas had attendance of 52 last year. That was enough to put us in the top half of the Synod!

    70% of membership have been here 20 years or more.

    55% have been here 30 years or more.

    I'm in my first year of being a pastor. Prior to the call to this place, there were 12 who joined the church in the previous 5 years. Only 3 of them are still on the active roll! (Most transferred because they moved, and 1 died.)

    Ours is the only PC(USA) church in the county. We are 25 miles to the nearest Presbyterian church, and probably 50 miles to the next closest.

    I'm hoping we can apply for some money to hire a part-time Christian Ed person who will work with children. If we don't get young families into the church, it probably won't be here in 20 years. As it is, we can barely afford a full-time pastor.

    The gift of Mr. Anderson gives us hope for a future. We have our second adult baptism set for Sunday - second in the last 3 months, and second in the last 10 years. This will make 14 who have joined our little church in my first year here. I hope the Lord will not consider this as bragging - but sharing the joy, and having hope for the future. We had one young family join, and we baptized their two boys. Now if we can repeat this a couple times a year....

    Most are skeptical that this can be turned around, that in a few years we will have less than half our membership being here for more than 20 years.

    Thank you Mr. Anderson for direction and hope!

    By Blogger DennisS, at 8:45 PM  

  • Anderson looks like he is writing checks he cannot cash according the article from the Denver Post. What an embarassment to the denomination! Franky, we'll be lucky to see $150 of it much less $150 mil.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home