New Haven I

     This is my eighth and final report to you as your Financial Advisor.  It’s not that I wouldn’t do it again if I could, but I can’t.  The Bylaws, in their codified wisdom, have given us turnover, and with it new perspectives, fresh insights, renewed critical faculties, and welcome surcease for the incumbent -- and I believe in all those things.

     In this report, I want to touch on the events of the fiscal year now ending, and of the past eight fiscal years, as they fit into an overview of our present financial picture.

     The view from the very top of the mountain is of an Association stronger fiscally today by far than it was eight years ago, an Association doing more than it was doing eight years ago and feeling the stresses of that effort, an Association more aware of its financial strengths and weaknesses -- looking back with no self pity on things it might have done differently, if gifted with the power to see in the future.  We are not less confident, but more realistic;  not less conscious of the lift in our wings, but more aware of the weight of the fuselage;  if anything, we are more sure of our ability to deal with the future, because we are less naive about the financial world we have to  live in and the things which threaten us.
     One can’t help looking in the rear view mirror as the long road is traveled.  A number of relatively monumental things have happened during my two terms in office which I think are worth reviewing, not for nostalgia, but for perspective.
     1.  Probably the most significant financial event of the past eight years was the transfer to the UUA by the North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society of a $20 million trust fund.  Added to our endowment funds, it replaced a series of annual matching grants from North Shore.  This was the keystone of an arch of support which kept us from the abyss into which we might have fallen in the 1960’s and early 1970’s  Add to this the $9 million fund for theological education and a $2 million fund for sustenance of ministers and dependents, and you have an idea of the quantity and quality of support coming from our church in Plandome.  It is impossible to imagine where our Association would be today without the generous concern of this congregation.

     2.  In 1985, the Board of Trustees took a stand and an action on the matter of investment in South Africa.  The issue of apartheid itself was simple.  Adopting the appropriate institutional response was complex and, in itself, posed ethical problems.  We were all impelled to do something, take some stand, symbolic or otherwise, against apartheid.  Counterbalancing this was our concern for the oppressed in the country;  could we afford to take action which would add to their agony?  We knew that the presence of American companies put subtle and direct pressure on the system.  We also were concerned because our investment results could be expected to suffer.  We knew our action, by itself, would accomplish little more than a PR ripple.  The Board weighed all of these factors and adopted a policy calling for full divestiture.  We felt the pressing need, in the context of this issue, to make a religious statement about apartheid that was clear and unambiguous.

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