Assembly Approves Westminster Gardens Transfer

Jun 02, 2003 10:26 AM EDT

With virtually its entire slate of business on the consent agenda, the Assembly Committee on Pensions, Foundation and Publishing probably made the quietest report heard by the 215th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The only items that occasioned debate concerned the relationship between the Board of Pensions (BOP) and Westminster Gardens, a retirement facility for retired Presbyterian missionaries and other church workers in Duarte, CA.

Westminster Gardens was purchased by the former Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission in 1948, with a $1 million gift from Frank M.S. Shu. "General supervision" of the facility was transferred to the BOP in 1975.

With the BOP getting out of the retirement-home business in recent years, conversations have gone on between the BOP and the staff and trustees of Westminster Gardens about transferring management to some other entity.

The board has reached agreement with Westminster Gardens and Southern California Presbyterian Homes for the latter to assume supervision of the facility.

The transfer means that Westminster Gardens' residents will have to pay more. Commissioners sought assurances that the BOP will do all it can through its Assistance programs to help the residents cope with the rising rates.

The Assembly also approved a review of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC), praising the PC(USA)'s publishing arm for "faithfully carrying out its mandate through Westminster John Knox Press and Geneva Press imprints to serve the educational and theological needs of the PC(USA) and a wider audience."

PPC was created 10 years ago as an independent corporation in a restructuring of the denomination's agencies. One of its mandates was to attain financial self-sufficiency. "Almost miraculously," said David Perkins, PPC's chief executive officer, "we have shown a positive bottom line eight of the last nine years."

The Assembly asked PPC to work with other resource-producing agencies at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville to seek ways to coordinate publishing efforts, particularly in the areas of product ordering and distribution services.

The Assembly approved the continued promotion of New Covenant Funds, the mutual -funds arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation. New Covenant was founded in 1998 as the first nationally chartered trust company owned by a not-for-profit foundation.

By Jerry L. Van Marter