Columbus I

     I have to tell you that we accountants and other financial types have not had to wait until 1984 to try “Being Human in an Age of Technology.”

     “We are traveling with tremendous speed toward a star in the Milky Way.  A great repose is  visible on the face of the earth.  My heart’s a little fast.  Otherwise, everything’s fine.”

     Those words from Bertolt Brecht.  To me, he is talking about our rush into the future -- the speed of it --our outward calm and confidence -- our inner nervousness and uncertainty.  Why shouldn’t we be confident?  Why shouldn’t we be nervous?

     We know that to be curious about the future, to dream and to wonder how much that future can be influenced by our efforts are all essential and differentiating characteristics of our humanity.  We cannot help trying to plan.  But the old certainties are gone.  The unitary view of life to which we have lately subscribed is, I suspect, on the way out.  The confirmation and encouragement we once could look for from science is no longer there.

     My reading is from an essay by Flora Lewis, foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times.  She writes:

     “The extraordinary insight of modern physics about the way the world really works is that:  the world is a mass of uncertainties piling up into likelihoods.  Science has discovered that:  prediction of reality must be based only on waves of probability,”

     Ms. Lewis goes on to say, “While science has marched on in this direction, social philosophy has been left far behind.  There is no longer a unified world view.  We non-scientists still think we know what we are doing and look to science for confirmation, even as science -- with quantum mechanics at its pinnacle -- tells us the point is we don’t know and can’t know.”

     So, do we then give up on the future?  Of course not.  We deal with it.  As a matter of fact, it is a UU kind of  future -- just right for our particular mind set.  The givens:  Change and Uncertainty.

     Now you may be asking yourselves what all this has to do with finance -- and the answer is -- a lot.  And it is the future about which I want to speak this morning.

     FIRST -- financial support.  This is the year in which we began a new and major drive for additional funds over and beyond the solid base we have established in the Annual Program Fund.

     Conceived initially as a traditional capital fund drive, with most of the proceeds earmarked for endowment, the Visions for Growth Campaign has been modified as the Development Office and the Administration have talked with and listened to our constitutency.  What they heard was concern about our immediate and near term ability to pursue growth and to carry out our basic mission.

     The set of objectives to be funded by Visions for Growth include $1 million out of the $4 million target for endowment, to add to our ongoing strength.  Roughly $1.7 million will go to programs with long-term impact, from which we have some reasonable expectation of recovering our investment, namely extension, $450,000, new congregational development $450,000, a new hymnal, $300,000, and the Beacon Press, $500,000.

     The remaining $1.3 million will go toward -- field services to congregations and districts, $1,000,000, and peace issues, $300,000.  But of this latter $1.3 million, we cannot fairly expect ever to recover our investment in terms of hard cash or greater future income.  They may, of course, be a return on investment -- but it will not be in dollars.

     I said in my first report to you two years ago, and I believed it important enough to repeat last year, “The membership of this association, directly and through sources it can influence, has the resources to do whatever we want it to do.”   The needs are there for all to see.  But seeing them is not enough.   Membership in this association is not a spectator sport.  We need team spirit and intensive participation in our fund raising efforts -- and we need it from all.  Otherwise this -- and all our concerns -- is a lot of sound and fury.  If we really care -- if we really believe in what we are doing -- we should be proud to give -- and equally important -- we should be proud to ask others to give.

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