Mount Paran raises $16.5 million to buy Murray Arts Center
by Lindsay Field
January 07, 2013 11:38 PM | 7660 views | 11 11 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw raised $16.5 million to buy the Murray Arts Center located on the school’s campus. Heading the capital campaign were, from left: Co-chairs Cindy and Dale Hughes, Head of the School Dr. David Tilley and the school’s director of development, Jennifer New.
Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw raised $16.5 million to buy the Murray Arts Center located on the school’s campus. Heading the capital campaign were, from left: Co-chairs Cindy and Dale Hughes, Head of the School Dr. David Tilley and the school’s director of development, Jennifer New.
KENNESAW — It came down to the wire, but Mount Paran Christian School has successfully raised more than the $16.5 million it needed to purchase a performing arts center in Kennesaw.

Head of School Dr. David Tilley said it was a community effort.

“This whole thing has been a blessing from God to us,” Tilley said. “You have to develop a culture of philanthropy, and I think we’re there. Our people understand and, we’ve caught the vision. They have the passion, they know our mission and they believe in what we do. We’re just real excited about this, and I know the community in Marietta and Cobb County will be as well.”

Seven years ago, the Murray Arts Center, an 84,400-square-foot, state-of-the-art performing arts facility located at the corner of Stilesboro and Stanley roads in Kennesaw, was constructed and paid for by Mount Paran parent Don Dozier.

In December 2007, Dozier agreed to sell the $38.5 million building and property to Mount Paran for $16.5 million.

Tilley said then school launched a capital campaign, “imagine tomorrow,” based on the Bible scripture Ephesians 3:20, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

The first major donation of $10 million was a foundation grant given by the family of the late Stuart and Eulene Murray, who lived in Cobb and were patrons of the arts. The Murray Arts Center was renamed shortly after the donation was made.

In 2010, Tilley said the school was approached by an anonymous donor who challenged them to raise $5 million of the remaining $6.5 million by Dec. 31, 2012.

If the school could do that, the donor would give the school the last $1.5 million needed to purchase the center.

Tilley asked school parents Dale and Cindy Hughes to chair the capital campaign committee to raise the funds.

“It wasn’t getting on phones, it was communicating the message as what we saw were our strengths at Mount Paran,” said Dale Hughes who had one son graduate from the school and a second on track to graduate next spring.

The Hughes recruited 15 couples to serve on the committee and were responsible for collecting donations and pledges from staff members, parents, business owners, Cobb residents, Atlanta-area foundations and even students who participated in the campaign by writing essays about what the addition would mean to the school.

On Nov. 30, 2012, when the school was still $1.8 million from the $5 million goal, they hosted a “celebration” rally to try and draw in the remainder of the funds needed.

“That event lit a fire through this community,” Dale Hughes said.

When school dismissed for the Christmas break on Dec. 19, they were still $800,000 short of the goal. But by Dec. 31, the school went from $470,000 short to $70,000 over the goal. They ended up raising $16.63 million in all.

“It was very clear that God wanted this to be completely a community effort,” said Cindy Hughes. “From the very youngest here to our staff, it just went across the board and people were very anxious to tell us what this place means to them, their families and the community.”

Jennifer New, the school’s director of development, said families gave anywhere from $100 to thousands, and what they discovered was that the campaign “created a culture of philanthropy” at the school.

“I’m just proud of the way that our families have sacrificed and the way they’ve stepped out on faith to make the gifts that they have made,” she said. “Lots of people told us that it wasn’t possible. A formal feasibility study told us that it was not possible … we explain it the only way that makes sense to us, and that’s God has been in this every step of the way.”

The fundraising efforts were the first of a three-phase project that will be completed with efforts to raise another $7 million for the school to build a high school addition and athletic stadium.

“As a Christian school, we believe there are three things that we want to simultaneously encourage in addition to development of Christian formation, and that is arts, academics and athletics,” Tilley said.

Campaigning for the next two phases should begin shortly.

Tilley said there is a need for the $5.5 million high school facility because many teachers are floating from classroom to classroom, and others are teaching in the arts center.

With the establishment of so many new sports in recent years, Tilley said a new $1.5 million stadium, which would be built where the current stadium is located, is “warranted.”

“Our students deserve it,” he said. “We have developed to a point now with football, lacrosse, soccer, marching band, track and all the other sports that we have, we need an athletic stadium to match the quality of student performance that we have.”

Mt. Paran Christian was established in 1976 and initially located in Buckhead. It was relocated to east Cobb in 1986 and to its current location in 2003. Upon moving to Kennesaw, the school served 671students and now serves 1,220 in Pre-K through 12th grade.
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Just Sayin'....
January 08, 2013
Ask yourselves why Mt. Paran is the only private school in Cobb County, and possibly the metro area, that won't release their standardized test scores to even prospective parents. Perhaps there is a reason. Christ asked us to be in and of this world, not apart from it. We are to take the message everywhere, not just keep it behind wrought iron and brick. At the end of the day, there will always be those who hide the fact that they strive to be elite...but He, and only He knows your heart.

Concerned Parent
January 08, 2013
yes, some families are well off, but that's not the point. The faculty has stepped up to help my child develop into a person of character. I cringe at the thought of “the real world” and what my child was exposed to in his public school – he is too young to handle that burden and it’s my job to prepare him for the "real" world. And his increasing knowledge of the Bible as part of his schoolwork is an added bonus. I pray God continues to bless the folks at MPCS.
January 08, 2013
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26
January 08, 2013
I am amazed how a school was able to raise such a crazy amount of money in this economy. If only families from our other schools (of ALL income levels) would sacrifice like this, think of what we could do for our kids. I can only think that those families must know something we don't about what's happening there that is worth giving so much. If that building creates an environment for children to learn about God every day, then more power to them.
January 08, 2013
Congratulations to the Mount Paran Organization.
January 08, 2013
so that's what God was working on when those 1st graders got gunned down in CT...God really needs to work on prioritizing and multitasking...
Too funny
January 09, 2013
not funny obviously; but shows the absurdity of these people. On one hand, "Oh praise the Lord he gave us sooooo much money" on the other, "God's purpose for those slaughtered children is mysterious." Give me a break.
January 08, 2013
God is awesome!
January 08, 2013
A culture of philanthropy my eye!!! Sooner or later, those kids are going to have to exist in the real world and not the one that is almost 100% caucasion and mainly upper middle class. In the meantime, keep spending the money to send them there when that money could be spent on real works that would be pleasing to the Lord. I am looking for the verse that says "Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick and dedicate yourself to an even more elitist atmosphere."
Karl Marx
January 09, 2013
Thank you for keeping my philosophy alive. I appreciate your keeping all the good work that Mt. Paran does for the poor in our community and throughout the world quiet.

There is a reason why the churches were targeted during the Communist revolution.
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