Columbus II

SECOND: Planning as a disciplined function.

     We have done a lot of futuring in this denomination.  We need to do a lot more and to coordinate that effort more than we ever have -- so that all our articulated parts are moving in the same direction.

     In the past year, the Board approved the addition of a planning staff person to lead and coordinate an ongoing long-range planning effort.  This is a most important beginning.  It will (1) focus our efforts on those things we believe are of greatest importance, (2) muster our resources in the most effective manner to deal with them, and (3) coordinate the interrelationship of our various programs in our organic plan.

     We need to send a message that we want a plan for our future.  We need to send a message that we want this to have a high priority.  Let’s not just call this a movement.  Let’s figure out where we want it to go and make it a movement!

THIRD: I want to talk about the proposed new field services program.  I’m concerned that it may be an even more potentially dangerous program in which to invest our effort and money because it is a much more appealing idea -- delivery of field services -- how could anyone be against that?  I cannot help but think of Theodore Parker’s comment,”Magnificent promises are always to be suspected.”

     My concern is that there was no broadly representative committee to study this proposal as there was for DR2.  There was no comprehensive survey -- consistently conducted across our denomination -- to evaluate this proposal as there was for DR2.  There is no detailed financial plan -- as there was for DR2 -- that shows how much this will really work in each District and for the Association as a whole.

     I didn’t clock the actual amount of time spent on this at the April board meeting.  It was certainly less than an hour -- but I do remember that the Board members listed on a blackboard some ten or twelve concerns about the proposal, discussed briefly the first of these -- and then the whole question was called.

     Now I know that there is no shortage of critical faculties among my fellow board members -- witness the number of concerns about this program they listed -- and I have great respect for the way they normally tackle an issue and shake it ‘til its ears fall off.  But I have to tell you I don’t know what happened that afternoon.

     I do know I would have felt a lot better about being on the losing side of the issue if the vote had followed profound and extended discussion worthy of the importance of the issue. 

     Now, this may well be the best idea for reorganization of this Association to have come along since merger, and the decision to go forward with it may well be the best decision taken since merger.  But we didn’t study it in an open and democratic manner.  We didn’t consider it with study materials, District and congregational meetings, feedback mechanisms and alternate final models, as we did with our new Purposes and Principles.  We went ahead even though many questions remain with many District leaders.  It was not our finest hour.

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