Atlanta III

     We look with pride at our denominational publishing enterprise, The Beacon Press.   And we should.  Seven years ago on this occasion, we had an intensive debate about the future of Beacon Press.  Whether we could afford to continue it -- whether we could afford not to.

     We did continue it, albeit on a somewhat reduced scale, but we should be honest with ourselves as to the Press’s position.  Do we believe we have taken this step simply, directly and that nothing but good will come of it?  We know that nothing worth doing is that easy.

     Two developments having long-term significance for the Beacon Press have taken place in the past two years.  As most will remember, the Press, though it has a distinguished history in publishing, has had a financial history of great concern to the Association.  We have tended to have expectations of it as if it were a business, and not a program of the Association.  Beacon has, in fact, required annual subsidization to keep going.  This subsidy over the past seven years since the Press was reorganized in 1978, has averaged $52,000.  If we were to analogize Beacon to a university press, however, this level of subsidy support would not be out of line.

     The two developments are:

     1.  A consultant with major experience in the economics of publishing companies and long exposure to the industry was retained to do a study of the operations of the Press, and to prepare recommendations for a program to put it on a sound fiscal basis.  That report has been completed;  it makes sense;  it is doable.  All it requires is additional capital to enable the press to increase its operations to a level at which it can hope more effectively to compete with other small presses.

     2.  Visions for Growth has earmarked $500,000 of its total objective for additional capital for Beacon.

     As funds become available from payments of pledges to Visions for Growth, and we can implement the program, we may be able to nourish hope for not only a more successful, but a more solvent Beacon Press.

     On to investment issues:   There was a rumble in South Africa which was echoing at 25:  the rumble was apartheid -- actually a world wide concern with racism.  This concern found focus in the United States with attempts to put pressure on American corporations to modify personnel policies to eliminate discriminatory practices in the workplace.

     Those individuals and organizations in the not-for-profit sector maintained a level of pressure on shareholder relations officials and their seniors.  Their objective was adoption of new policies and practices which would lead to equal treatment for all races, particularly the black majority in South Africa.

What we have here in another example of the conflict often faced by those in leadership positions in religious organizations -- and all of us in this room qualify on that ground.  We are always engaged in a struggle to reconcile our image of ourselves as prophetic and our image of ourselves as institutional servants.

     But let me walk you through our process.

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