Opening Words from Sun. June 21 by Jim Rhodes

Good morning everyone!

The theme this month is “Legacy” so I suggested to James that I give opening words on this topic on behalf of the Legacy Committee. For those who may not know what it is, the Legacy Committee was set up to manage the financial gifts that the Ethical Society has received over the years. These gifts have been in the millions of dollars and form a critical part of the financial structure of the Ethical Society.

It would take me a long time to enumerate these gifts, but I would just like to paraphrase from a recent email sent to me from our treasurer Steve Harris:

I think it would be useful to remind our members about the large amount of our annual operating budget (over 20%) that comes from money donated by former and present members over many years.  A short list of specific uses beyond the operating budget would include the Becker donation to revamp the HVAC system, the Rotkowski bequest to improve the audiovisual features in the auditorium, the Fisher bequest to buy the Boston upright piano, and the use of gift annuity money from over 20 people to build the family bathroom, among other things.

Steve Harris

The last time I gave opening words, I dressed as the grim reaper and tried to give a humorous pitch to remind people that we are all eventually going to die and so we ought to be thinking of the Ethical Society when we do our estate planning. I had no idea then of the coming pandemic and that we would all be meeting on Zoom instead of in person. This has been a stressful time for all of us and I personally really miss meeting with all of you in person instead of in this Zoom “room” that we now do.

I also realize that some people may have lost their jobs and hence their income, so this is also a financial disaster for probably at least some of you. But eventually the pandemic will be over with and hopefully things will get back to more or less “normal.” And the Ethical Society will still be here.

So, I wanted to briefly tell you all a little of what the Ethical Society means to me personally. Aside from the simple fact that I feel that the members of this congregation are some of the most intelligent and really the warmest group of people I’ve ever met, I really appreciate what the Ethical Society stands for and represents. For me, that includes a commitment to rational dialogue and concern for our fellow humans regardless of what race they are, their sexual orientation, or their ethnic background.

In short, the Ethical Society is dedicated to not only celebrating this life and enjoying what it has to offer, but it also represents a way of thinking that looks to the future and to what we all might do together to make the world a better place. My hope is that all of you will take a little time to consider what your legacy will be and how you might help to keep this community going in the future.

Thank you

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.