Vancouver, BC II

     The President has referred to the two landmark gifts from the North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society.  There is so little that I can say about these gifts because they say so much for themselves - for the needs they answer - for the character of the donor.  It is a little early in the week for confession, but I must tell you that my written report suggests incorrectly that this grant came from the Veatch Program of the North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society - in fact it comes not from the Veatch Program, but directly from the Plandome Congregation itself.  All these wonders we have witnessed flow from the initial generosity and concern of the late Caroline Veatch.

     Some of the distribution of that largess channels through the Veatch Program, but the program itself was funded by - and the gifts for theological education and ministerial sustenance come directly from the Church itself - and we do thank them for their informed concerns and their great generosity.  Perhaps the most remarkable about this support is that it has come free of any attempt to impose the will of the donor on the recipient - it has truly been support in the most positive sense.

     I see from my financial perspective two potential weaknesses of this Association.  The first I dealt with at some length last year in this report.  The membership of this Association, has, directly and through sources it can influence, the money to do whatever it wants to do.  It is a tragedy that we have perceived needs and programs to deal with them and we lack the funds for ample implementation.

     I see a second potential weakness.

     - Our numbers are limited
     - Our resources are limited
     - Our potential impact on our two national societies is limited.

     To the extent that we lack the ability to focus our efforts, to the extent to which our institutional programmatic and financial goals are diffuse, so shall we succumb to weakness.

     I respect pluralism.  Our institutional respect for pluralism is one of the strengths of this organization.  We’re all in favor of pluralism.  But pluralism has a flip side.

     We are a small but hardy band.  If we wish to remain small and perhaps not so hardy, we will avoid the effort and the heat of the forge of coalition.  We will allocate insufficient amounts for a whole series of efforts, each mustering the support for a given moment, of some vocal plurality.  We must decide our direction and pour our energies and our resources to that course.

     I have a dim recall of some medieval sea captain who once drew a map for his crew, showing only the open sea for miles around his vessel, no rocks of danger, no landfalls of uncertainty, and they were of peace because they knew the sea and its demands upon them.  But in the words of Robinson Jeffers, “A sailor loves the sea - when the helm is for harbor.  And so we must focus our energies.

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