I’m in a unique position to offer insight into the controversy surrounding the plans of Village Presbyterian Church
to expand their charitable enterprise at 99th and Mission in Johnson County.
I’ve been a recipient of the mission’s charity. And because of its size, wealth and influence, Village Presbyterian is to northern Johnson County what the Catholic Church is to Rome.
When my family was in dire need of assistance a year ago, the food, clothing and children’s gear the mission provided were a lifesaver. With each visit, the mission gave us a week’s supply of food, toiletries (I still recall the sharp smell of Irish Spring soap) and $25 packages of diapers. If we needed men’s shoes or a ladies’ handbag, the mission had a remarkable assortment on hand.
As we accepted the mission’s donations I was too overwhelmed with gratitude to give much thought to the facilities’ layout. I now recall that the elderly volunteers moved slowly and had difficulty negotiating the small flight of stairs that allowed access to the mission. I would invariably transport parcels for a number of other recipients during each visit. The quarters were cramped and the mission was unable to adequately display all its offerings.
In spite of my debt to Village Presbyterian, I’ve occasionally succumbed to the temptation of mocking its congregation. Their comfortable conformity makes them an easy target. But it’s their eye-popping wealth that allows them to make substantial contributions to the community. Just because they’re not always selfless doesn’t mean that their generosity means any less to the recipients of their largess. I should know.
I both like and respect the church’s Reverend, Tom Are Jr., even though I’m pretty sure he deliberately avoids me when we’re in the same room. (He understandably tires of hearing about my personal agenda.)
If I lived across the street from the mission, I suppose I'd be concerned about potential aesthetic problems with new construction. The vocal opponents of Village Presbyterian's plans list their grievances here