At the beginning of this year, we at Diaconia-Center of Relief and Development (Diaconia-CRD) signed a partnership agreement with the Presbyterian Foundation USA (PC Foundation). The PC Foundation has chosen to name Diaconia as an official Ministry Partner. This relationship is an important one , as they will advise and assist us in expanding our American base of support. The PC Foundation offers a vast array of services to their Ministry Partners. For us at Diaconia, they have agreed to create an online donation portal that will streamline and simplify the giving giving process; have engaged in consultations; and are currently in the planning stages of developing videos that will highlight some of our projects.
To celebrate and welcome our new partner, we reached out to the PC Foundation’s Director of Communication and Outreach, Rob Bullock, for an interview. He can tell the story of the PC Foundation much better than we can. So, enjoy his wisdom and insight!
Rob, thank you for taking the time to interview with us today. The first question is simple: What is the history of the Presbyterian Foundation?
The Presbyterian Foundation was launched in 1799 by faithful Presbyterians concerned about the stewardship of gifts made for ministry. As the church grew throughout the United States, and as the church’s mission spread throughout the world, so too has the Foundation grown and expanded its work to gather, steward, and disburse funds for mission and ministry. We work hard to strengthen congregations and related mission and ministry efforts by developing gifts and managing funds on their behalf. We work with them to build communities of generosity among their members and constituents. And we provide all Presbyterians an avenue to realize their philanthropic goals through a variety of giving and investment options. In all our work, we remain focused on the Reformed values that have guided our stewardship and investment for more than 200 years.
What is the mission and vision of the Foundation?
A vital part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation is that we cultivate, attract, and manage financial resources of individuals and institutions to serve Christ’s mission. We desire to see vibrant congregations and ministries with the resources they need to accomplish the mission to which Christ calls them.
What kind of partners do you work with?
Our first and largest group of partners are the congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Second are the ministry and mission organizations they and their members care about. Many of these were started by Presbyterian missionaries and church leaders in cities and towns across the nation and around the globe. They include hospitals, seminaries, schools, children’s homes, senior centers, camps and conference centers, and more. They also include sister denominations in more than 100 countries.
What attracted you to Diaconia? What do you expect from a partnership with us?
Diaconia is an attractive partner for the Foundation for several reasons. First and foremost, the longstanding connection between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren is a natural point of connection. The show of support from dozens of PC(USA) congregations and presbyteries told us that Diaconia is a ministry that resonates with Presbyterians and is likely to be attractive to more. Also, Diaconia’s special calling to work with nations and people groups who are emerging from totalitarian rule – drawing on your own post-communist experience – is one for which we see much need in the world (and few if any so well qualified to provide).
We hope that our partnership will help connect more Presbyterians to the great work that Diaconia is doing, and will enable the ministry to grow and expand its work wherever it is needed.
Lastly, Rob, please tell us a little bit about your background. What brought you to your ministry in the Foundation?
I’m a rare thing in the church these days – a “cradle Presbyterian” whose family has served on sessions and other church boards for generations. I worked in a very large Presbyterian church in Florida for a number of years, and then used my experiences there to help launch a marketing agency that served an array of churches and ministries. In 2008, I joined the staff of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, helping to craft their communication efforts and tell the stories of their mission work in the US and around the world. Four years later, I took on similar responsibilities at the Foundation – focusing on the connection between donors and ministries.
There’s tremendous joy in seeing people of faith recognize the ability God has given them to provide for really good and crucial work in Christ’s service. It’s also really exciting to see the breadth and depth of the Church’s work and presence around the world – ministering faithfully and humbly, generation after generation – and to share those stories with people in the pews who may never have known the impact of their church.