After a lot of encouragement and organization from friends like Sandy Caron, Mary Hart, Jerry and Denny Davidoff, the Rev. Dwight Brown, and the Rev. Jack Mendelsohn, a weight of some substantial proportion fell on me at the 1981 GA in Philadelphia when I was elected Financial Advisor. Like many experiences in our lives, this one cannot adequately be anticipated on reputation or warning, but must be grappled with directly to be understood. And so it began…
I found the position of Financial Advisor itself in good health. Rumor had it that my predecessor, Bob Adelman, was occasionally thought to be controversial in his more public moments. Let there be no confusion however, about the fact that this association was fiscally more healthy for his having served as Financial Advisor. There was on the Board of Trustees, an attitude of responsibility in dealing with financial matters – not a lack of differing opinions about priorities in the allocation of available funds – but a willingness to make difficult decisions, an atmosphere in which no one questions that the budget will be honestly balanced, an acceptance of conservative methods of crediting income from our endowment funds for current budgetary purposes, a recognition that the needs of an uncertain future have a place in our thinking as well as those of a seemingly finite present.
In a sense, Bob Adelman had created this important denominational responsibility in a form in which it didn’t quite exist before. I knew I would not discharge it in quite the same way as he, but it was a responsibility in which I was at once proud and humble to serve.
When I was a wee lad, my knowledge of finance was largely limited to that small territory to the right of the decimal point. Money, in my early life, was almost entirely a matter of the present. Later I learned that it can have a past as well as a future – as it does for us in the Denomination.
I readily understood that our treasure was ourselves and what we stood for. It was not our endowment or our annual cash giving, although they nourished and gave strength to our religious body, and without that nourishment we should surely approach ineffectiveness or die.