The Rev. Pete Peery, president of the Montreat Conference Center, has announced his plans to retire at 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 40 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, N.C.
“Pete Peery has been an extraordinary president for Montreat,” said Helen Krone, chair of the Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) board. “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 PC(USA) to which it is related by reaching out directly to congregations for participation and support. “On Pete’s watch, the shape of Montreat has been dramatically improved in ways measurable and immeasurable,” said the Rev. 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,” Wardlaw said. “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.”
The Rev. 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 visit their seven grandchildren.
The MRA board of directors has set in motion a search for the next president of the association. Sockwell Partners of Charlotte will be assisting the Board in this search.