Stony Point Center

This profile was last updated in 2016

The Stony Point Center is a “caring” conference center and farm with roots in the Christian tradition that seeks to practice “radical hospitality.”[1] Nestled in the Hudson Valley about 45 minutes outside New York City, Stony Point Center’s history begins in 1852 when New Yorker Benjamin F. Goodspeed purchased five acres of land in the town of Stony Point and built a two-story cottage on the property. Vacated by 1885, Stony Point Presbyterian Church rented the unoccupied home to their new pastor, the Reverend John Scott Gilmor, his wife Catherine Sloane Gilmor, and their four daughters. In 1893, following his wife’s death, Rev. Gilmor sold the renovated mansion and surrounding property to his four daughters who were active Presbyterian Church members that frequently offered hospitality and lodging to returning Presbyterian missionaries.

In the 1950s, shortly following the death of the last Gilmor sister, the Gilmor-Sloane mansion and land was left to the Presbyterian Church Board of Foreign Missions. In the 1960s, the Stony Point Center, as it was renamed, became an ecumenical training center for Christian missionaries going into service around the world, By the 1970s, under the direction of Jim and Louise Palm, the center began focusing on peace and the protection of human rights around the world, providing refuge to human rights activists fleeing violence and persecution. In the late 1990s and early 2000s as it expanded its scope of justice and activism, moving away from traditional missionary training, Stony Point Center began to re-imagine its purpose as a space of multifaith hospitality. The Center began inviting a wide variety of religious and community organizations from around the New York Metro area to utilize the Center for retreats and conferences.

For Kitty and Rick Ufford-Chase, co-directors of Stony Point Center since 2008, offering this kind of hospitality is both spiritually satisfying and an opportunity to generate income for financial sustainability. This sustainability allows Stony Point Center to host a permanent, intentional multifaith community and maintain the Center’s many resources.[2] Today, those resources include the Center and Library for Bible and Social Justice, the Barn Playhouse (which is rented to the Penguin Rep Theatre), a meditation space, farm, and an art space (which opened in January 2015).

The permanent multifaith community, the Community of Living Traditions (CLT), is primarily housed on the Stony Point Center campus. Residents of CLT share faith teachings and celebrations across religious traditions, and engage in such regional social justice issues as indigenous rights, prison reform, and climate change. CLT is structured around three faith initiatives on campus within the Abrahamic faith traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, which also engage in their own programing and independent religious activities. In the future, both CLT and Stony Point Center hope to find the best balance of supporting both a thriving multifaith community and providing radical hospitality at a conference center orientated toward social justice.

[1] This profile was written with assistance from the historical record maintained on the Stony Point Center website. Additional insight was provided by Co-Director Kitty Ufford-Chase during an interview in November 2015.↩︎

[2] Co-Director Kitty Ufford-Chase articulated that the decision to identity the initiative as “multifaith,” as opposed to “interfaith,” was an important distinction for the four founders because they wanted to maintain the unique identity and commitment of each religious tradition involved, instead of collapsing their faith-based collaboration into general commonalities (Interview with author, November 2015).↩︎