New Haven III

     7.  We are in the third year of a newly established planned giving program.  It is hard to believe we took as long to do this as we did, given that other charitable, nonprofit and eleemosynary institutions have, historically, found this to be a strong source of support.  The function is simply that of providing stimulation and assistance for those who are able to plan to give to the UUA, either during their lifetimes or in their wills, making use of various legal and tax saving methods.  A program such as this takes a lot of lead-in work and a certain amount of time for commitments to mature.  This year, the Board reviewed the accomplishments of the program to date and decided to make the Planned Giving Office a permanent part of our fund raising effort.

     8.  Last year at this time we faced the culmination of a crisis in our health insurance coverage for ministers.  Two years previously, the UUA took over the UUMA plan which had become fiscally unworkable.  A generous benefit structure, an aging covered group, and rising premium costs combined to create a plan which young ministers could not afford to join.  Without going through an enormously detailed review of what happened, let it simply be said, that through the combined efforts of the Council on Church Staff Finances and the Treasurer’s office, a new program was secured which will continue the coverage to those in the original plan who could not obtain coverage elsewhere, keeping the commitment made at the 1988 General Assembly.

     Nothing is more tiresome than the person who goes out of office leaving behind a list of things that his or her successors should accomplish.  In reality, it is a list of things left undone by the departing.

     I do have a thought I want to leave you with however:

     Planning.  This has been my great failure.  I have tried since the first regular board meeting I attended in October of 1981 to bring about an institutionalized planning process for our Association -- and it has not happened.  Sometimes it has been lack of money;  sometimes the departure of key staff at key moments.

     We have during this time created two Board Long Range Planning Committees.  One did its work, completed its report and -- nothing happened.  Another is now at work essentially with no budget and no staff or consulting support.

     We get into trouble when we have no plan because we have nothing against which to measure what happens to us.  Do us all a favor -- worry about this after I am gone from office.

     Baseball, unlike any other team sport with which we are familiar, is a game which is played until it is finished, regardless of how long that takes.  Clearly a game from another era, it has a majesty and a logic unintimidated by the clock.  Holding office in the UUA is no baseball game, and when the Moderators’ gavel falls at the end of this General Assembly, whether I have finished everything or not, I am history.  I certainly know I haven’t done everything I should have, but it’s goodbye, nevertheless.

     I remember my predecessor remarked, eight years ago on this occasion, “It is said the two best days in office are the first and the last.”  There is a bit of truth in that, but I kind of liked the days in between, too.  One of my friends back home in The Unitarian Church in Westport has asked me numerous times over the past eight years, “Bob, are you having any fun?”  Then, the inevitable follow-up, “Are you making a difference?”  My answer to each was always, “Yes,” but I always had to think a bit on the second one.

     I have had fun and I have savored the days in between the first and the last -- and it is all because of the great group of UU friends with whom I have been associated.  I have to pick some out;  the rest will know I love them, too.  Bill Schulz and Gene Pickett, it is said, are somewhat different in style.  Working with each has been an enormously rewarding experience, one I wish all of you could have shared as closely as I did.  Two men, each in his own way, with great dedication to our Association, have given more than those not watching them close up will ever know;  I hold them both in high affection and so should we all.  Sandy Caron and Nat Gulbrandsen have been great to work with;  their friendship, support and good humor have meant much to me.  Finance Committee Chairs Ted MacRae, Mary Hart, Chuck Wyatt and Larry Wheeler each made important contributions to our process and our accomplishments. Bob Chapman and Bob Johnson, Chairs of the Investment Committee, in quieter, less visible ways, have contributed greatly to the improvement in our investment strategies and results.  MacRae, Hart and Chapman have gone to the great committee meetings in the sky;  warm memories of them catch at my throat, blur my vision.

     Good relations with our Treasurer and Vice President for Finance are important for any UUA Financial Advisor;  this has certainly characterized my work with Bob Sallies and David Provost.  Many on the UUA staff headed by Kay Montgomery who has become my good friend -- a lady of wit and style whom I shall miss -- many have helped me in countless ways, even though some of that assistance may not have seemed of major import to them -- it helped me to do my job and I am most appreciative.

     So as you can gather, it has been the association with a particularly talented and dedicated group of UUs which has made the past eight years so rewarding.  Take care of yourselves and of our Association;  give to the Annual Program Fund;  love your officers and trustees, -- they are warm and wonderful people doing their best for the institution we all care about greatly.

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