So Great a Cloud of Witnesses - Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 217th General Assembly; Birmingham, Alabama; June 15-22, 2006 - NEWS PC(USA) Seal

Surprise announcement electrifies Assembly

PC(USA) receives historic $150 million gift for church growth

by Evan Silverstein

Stanley W. Anderson

BIRMINGHAM, June 15 A Colorado businessman and elder has contributed a historic $150 million gift to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) aimed at helping presbyteries start new churches, transform struggling congregations and develop new racial-ethnic congregations.

The money from Stanley W. Anderson of Denver, Colo., for the new Loaves and Fishes Church Growth Fund will be distributed to presbyteries through grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million each.

Presbyteries will be required to apply for the grants and will have to match a portion of it.
Word of the money came through a surprise announcement Thursday that electrified those attending the opening of the PC(USA)’s 217th General Assembly here, prompting commissioners to stand and cheer.

Presbytery mission causes and Presbyterian seminaries will also benefit from the money.

"It is my privilege today to introduce what surely may be a historic event in the life of the Presbyterian Church," said John Detterick, executive director of the General Assembly Council (GAC). "An event which I pray will set the tone for our worship and work this week and in the years to come." 

Stanley W. Anderson and John Detterick
John Detterick thanks Stanley W. Anderson of Denver, Colo. who contributed a historic $150 million gift to the PC(USA) for the new Loaves and Fishes Church Growth Fund. Photo by Danny Bolin.

Detterick estimated during a news conference later that each Presbyterian seminary will likely receive up to $1 million.

Anderson, whose family spent time on welfare when he was young, is a third-generation member of Central Presbyterian Church in Denver.

The Colorado resident said he decided to contribute the money because he was frustrated by the continuing decline of the PC(USA), saying that we are "God’s children" who must "reenergize ourselves, use our talents and what he gives us" to reverse all negative trends and to grow the church.

"I share with you that I am tired of seeing the annual report of our denomination that shows a net loss of membership, the decrease in mission giving and a struggle to balance the books," said Anderson, who is a University of Colorado alumnus.

Anderson is a veteran of more than three decades in the banking and financial services industry. He has been called the "Godfather" of the procurement card after he designed one for the federal government in 1986. 

"My fellow Presbyterians, we can do more," said Anderson, who is married with two children and two grandchildren. "We can stretch. We can push ourselves. We can be that little boy who gave all that he had to Jesus … who multiplied the gift and fed the followers with abundance leftover. We can do no less."

Anderson’s gift will be applied toward the PC(USA)’s Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts and Hands campaign, an effort to raise $40 million for church growth and international mission personnel. The campaign has already raised $25 million.

The Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen of Minneapolis, Minn., a member of the Mission Initiative steering committee, thanked Anderson for the gift.

"It’s a remarkable witness to your faith and to what the church can do when it leans into a challenge," Hart-Andersen said during the news conference. "Of late the church has felt like the wind has gone out of its sails. Suddenly, the winds are back in the sails in some new ways and the ship is beginning to move."

Each presbytery may receive one three-year grant, said Detterick, who plans to retire following the Assembly. He said multiple presbyteries could seek a single grant through a joint application. The grant must incorporate the three stated purposes of the fund: congregational transformation, racial-ethnic congregations, and new church development.

The Fund is expected to be established and ready for operation by the end of November. Disbursements will begin during the first quarter of 2007. All grant applications must be processed and determined by the end of 2009.

"I strongly urge all presbyteries to look seriously at this opportunity, use their creative talents and resources and determine how they can best respond," Anderson said.

The gift is designed to leverage a mission funding capacity across the denomination. Presbyteries who receive a grant must agree to several conditions: 10 percent of the grant must go to approved presbytery mission causes, including support for national and international missions within the PC(USA). The 10 percent must be matched by the presbytery.

In addition, 1 percent of the grant must go to the Theological Education Fund in support of seminaries, which must also be matched by the presbytery.

This means that for a grant of $500,000, the presbytery would have to raise $55,000. Then, the presbytery’s membership growth project would receive $445,000, the presbytery approved mission cause would receive $100,000, and the Theological Education Fund would receive $10,000. 

In 1988, Anderson founded Anderson and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in commercial card products, advanced technologies and electronic commerce. In 1989, he also founded ProCard, Inc., a technology firm designed to support supplemental data capture and reporting for the commercial card marketplace.

Most recently he co-founded Trinity Foundation, Inc., which is focused on providing funding to multiple causes within the United States and globally. A strong emphasis is placed on first funds being used for Christian causes. The Loaves and Fishes Church Growth Fund will receive funding through the Trinity Foundation.

During his years of service to Central Presbyterian Church, Anderson chaired many committees, taught Sunday school, and has been a leader in property development, restoration and expansion. 

He has also served as chair of New Church Development for Denver Presbytery as well as serving for nine years as a director and vice chair of the PC(USA) Board of Pensions (BOP).

While on BOP, Anderson chaired the audit committee, served on the investment committee, and was vice chair of the executive committee.

Related article

June 20, 2006
Detterick says $150 million donor will honor pledge


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