Pete Peery, President of the Mountain Retreat Association (dba) Montreat Conference Center, announced his plans to retire at a meeting today of the Board of Directors of MRA. He will serve until the end of this year.
Peery was called to serve as the Executive of the conference center, the largest center related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in 2008. This year he completes forty years of service as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Many of those years were spent in service to congregations. His last call before coming to Montreat was that of being Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC.
“Pete Peery has been an extraordinary president for MRA,” said Helen Krone, MRA Board Chair. “He has served the conference center with integrity, vision, intelligence, and faithfulness. During his tenure, Pete shepherded MRA through challenging circumstances with forethought and perseverance. I am grateful to God for his leadership, and wish Pete and Margaret many joys in retirement at year end.”
Peery has reshaped the conference offerings of the center to better meet the needs of the changing church in this changing world. He has spent considerable energy shaping the worship offered to God at the conference center in Sunday services during the summer months, particularly with attention paid to participatory music and the inclusions of artistic expressions in the liturgies. He has also reconnected the conference center to the Presbyterian Church to which it is related by reaching out directly to congregations of that communion for participation and support. “On Pete’s watch, the shape of Montreat has been dramatically improved in ways measurable and immeasurable,” said Theodore Wardlaw, President of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. “Through his visionary leadership, his pastoral and personal style, his churchmanship, his deep grasp of Montreat’s past and its promise, and his fiscal responsibility, he leaves us a remarkable legacy. His fingerprints are everywhere, and they enable us to look forward to a bright and exciting future. It goes without saying that he will be greatly missed.”
Dean Thompson, President Emeritus of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, reflected on Peery’s tenure, “Together with remarkable lay leaders and other ministers, President Peery has helped put our beloved conference center on a new playing field in terms of our mission, strategies, finances, and facilities. In manifold ways, his gifts of visionary leadership have helped broaden our horizons for years to come.”
During Peery’s tenure, the Montreat Conference Center has raised $12.5 million in a comprehensive campaign for capital renovations, endowment and annual support. Under his watch, the historic Assembly Inn, the main lodge of the conference center originally built in 1929, has been completely refurbished with installation of energy efficient windows, a solar hot water system, new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning throughout, upgraded kitchen equipment, water sealing of the building’s stone work, installation of Wi-Fi in all spaces, and all new furnishings. Other significant renovations have been made to Anderson Auditorium, Reynolds Lodge, the Left Bank, now the Thomas and Katherine Belk Center at Left Bank, and Freeland Hall.
At the time of his retirement, Peery will be 67 years old. He plans to continue to reside in Black Mountain with his wife, the Rev. Margaret Barnes Peery, and enjoy traveling to engage with their seven grandchildren.
The Board of Directors of the Mountain Retreat Association have set in process a succession plan to secure the next president of the association. Sockwell Partners of Charlotte will be assisting the Board in this search.