Vancouver, BC III

     Probably the first recorded long-range planner in history was Diogenes who said, “Bury me on my face,” and when he was asked why, replied, “Because in a little while everything will be turned upside down.”

     We are working on a long range plan - - or what might be more appropriately called a strategic plan.  We have a good committee at work: people who know our denomination, who have different perceptions as to where we are, where we should go, and how we should plan to get there, but who are going to forge a coalition because it is too important to our future not to.

     One doesn’t often have the opportunity to attribute a quote to two sources, especially when one of them is not only still living, but in the room at the moment.  In the April Religious Education Clearing House mailing - - the REACH packet - - my fellow trustee, Will Saunders of Brunswick, Maine, representing the Northeast District, contributed nineteen, count them - - one liners.

     One of them - - the original attributed to Confucius - - “Unless we change direction, we will wind up where we are headed.”  It is a complicated job, however, and our short-range plan is to have it largely completed by the end of calendar 1983.  In one sense, the job will never be completed, for a working, long-range plan, to be of ongoing utility, must constantly be updated and the forward range of vision extended.  To paraphrase the Eastern Airlines commercial, an organization without a plan for the future, may not have a future.

     There was also much hope last year for the major effort invested by the DR2 Committee.  It had the promise of solving many of the problems of the relationship between the continental organization and the individual societies.  In the financial area, there was hope for a sharing of resources still held by certain districts and related organizations, and for greater cost effectiveness in the delivery of services to churches and fellowships.  We tripped over a number of conflicting concerns, not the least of which was that we did not have the funds to pay for the new system, the design for which was drawn by the DR2 committee.  Other than tinkering with the Districts Grants mechanism, we have not been able to do much to carry out our hopes in this area.  The problems, however, will not go away and the negative responses that we cannot afford to solve them will not do.

     In our planning process we need to identify where we are, and where our trend lines are heading us.  Then we need to assess our strengths, where we want to take our organization and what kind of plan we need to employ our strengths to get us there.  We have to have a program for bending those trend lines or we will wind up where we are headed.  it sounds simple and of course, it isn’t.  But we are going to do it - - and we are going to share the options and the difficult choices and the needs we find along our way - - and you’re going to help us because we, after all - - are in this together.

     Our future effectiveness, our position in the ethical, religious and societal spectrums, our choice for positive leadership on this continent and in our world may be at stake.

     i tried to start a mini-tradition last year of closing with a few words of non-financial prose or poetry to help us each with a little perspective for the week ahead.  This year, these words from Robinson Jeffers, the great poet of the west coast.

     Sad sons of the stormy fall
     No escape, you have to inflict and endure, surely
          it is time for you
     To learn to touch the diamond within to the diamond outside.
     Thinning your humanity a little between the immeasurable diamonds,
     Knowing that your angry choices and hopes and terrors are in vain,
     But life and death not in vain, and the world is like a flight of swans.

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