Atlanta I

     This is my fourth and final report of my term as your Financial Advisor.  I have been honored and pleased to serve our Association in this way -- this is a great office, unique in many ways among charitable and religious institutions.  This has been a special year, and I’m going to set the scene with a little reading from James Carroll:

     “I bought a new suit a couple of days ago, and I’d like to tell you about the strange thing that happened.  I had put the suit on and stepped into the store’s three-walled mirror.  I was looking straight ahead at the cut of the cloth and the way it hung in front and whether the trousers fit.  When I turned to look at the side view I was suddenly and for a flash, stunned to see not me, but a stranger standing there in a new olive suit.  He had a funny-shaped head and he needed a haircut and his shoes had worn-down heels.  It was me. But it was a me I hadn’t seen before and there was a second of almost terror at being confronted by someone staring away who was me.  I wanted to touch him, this stranger, but there was glass and more, that held me back. I wanted to speak to him, but there were no words.  The feeling lasted for only a fraction of a second and it was gone.

     Thinking about it since, I have realized that such a moment of fear and of yearning was not unfamiliar to me.  I have bumped into the stranger before.  In some way, I am bumping into him now as I write these words for you:  perhaps you are bumping into a stranger of your own.  We are strangers to each other because we are strangers to ourselves.”

     It has occurred to me from time to time that this Association may be a stranger to itself in many ways -- and that if we looked at ourselves in that three-walled mirror -- glancing to look at the side view -- we might see a stranger we wanted to touch and speak to -- but something holds us back.

     In part, that something is a fear about having to face confusion over our institutional identity; a fear of having to face uncertainty about the depth of our commitment; a fear of having to face the question of the effectiveness with which we are living our institutional life.

     When we as a body look into a mirror --  are we seeing ourselves honestly and truly as we are?   Are we seeing two personalities struggling toward reconciliation: the prophetic and the institutional servant?  Are we seeing a stranger, an institution we do not even know, an institution that has changed, and with which we have not changed?

     Or are we seeing a fantasy, an organization we would like to believe exists, doing things we would like to believe it is doing, having an impact we would like to believe it has?

     I’m only going to look in the mirror as to financial and planning matters.  As you proceed through this week and see our association from many angles, you may reflect on whether you are at one with the Association, or are seeing a stranger in any respect.

     As we look in the mirror at our Association’s financial condition, we can appropriately feel a sense of confidence.  The President taking office on June 22 will head an Association in better financial condition than any former President found.  Our assets are greater, our sources of funds more secure, and with good management....

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