Opening Words from Sun. January 28 by Krystal White

Good morning. My name is Krystal White and I have the honor and privilege to serve both as President-Elect and this year’s pledge campaign chair. You love this place and this community, just like I do, and I’m excited for us to turn that collective goodwill, passion, and loyalty into financial support for the Society.

The theme of this year’s campaign is “Evolving Together.” The Ethical Society is growing and changing; over the past five years, the Society has increased in membership, altered its governance structure, hired a second leader, modified job descriptions for staff, expanded its outreach, and added new programming. We have over 80 different groups and ways to be involved here, and the diversity of those offerings is astounding. The Society has pursued large and small changes in its continuous evolution of our community being human together. I’m so proud of the Ethical Society and I look forward to our continued development in the years to come.

At this point each member should have received a pledge packet from me. In my letter, I tried to provide a big picture overview of Ethical Society finances – detailing some of the costs to operate this gorgeous building and all the inspirational and educational programming happening within it. Paying our amazing staff is the largest expense each year and this is money incredibly well spent. Kate, James, Nancy, Kitt, JD, Louise, Rachel, Mary, and Debbie work extremely hard to reach us mentally and emotionally, to educate us and our kids, to spread the ethical humanist message of worth and dignity, to keep the building running, lights on, and bills paid. This is today and the Ethical Society is thriving.

If you remember 10 years ago, we were economically suffering under the Great Recession. Everyone was hit hard. Pledges, investments, rentals – all income for the Ethical Society was down and, as a result, the staff did not receive raises for six years. The economic situation has improved and the staff began receiving raises again, but in total the compensation change has not yet matched the increased cost of living over those ten years. It's our collective responsibility to make certain that the staff is taken care of and it is incumbent upon us, as a membership, to increase our pledges to match the increased cost of living in Saint Louis. This year, I’m asking us to do more than that so that we can make up for the past in terms of raises for our long-term employees. Your letter has a suggested pledge amount; please consider that amount in conjunction with the Giving Guideline and determine what is the best pledge amount for you and your household. The Board of Trustees have all pledged a notable increase this year and I hope and encourage you to do the same. It’s up to us.

Now let’s talk the party! Our pledge luncheon is next Sunday after platform, downstairs in the Becker and Hanke Rooms, and everyone is welcome. I promise you’ll be home before the Super Bowl, so please come! We’re serving vegan and vegetarian pasta primavera, a meaty mostaccioli, buttered noodles, and whatever tasty items you contribute and share; we ask folks with last names Q – Z bring a dessert and everyone else contribute a salad or side dish. The Hanke Room will be a kids’ area, supervised by SEEK staff, and with a special guest who will be sharing fossils and stories with the kids. In the Becker Room, we’ll have community and conversation, a musical guest, some evolution trivia, and opportunities to make your pledge and to share your thoughts about how the Ethical Society might evolve in the coming years. We value your thoughts and input and we are grateful for you and your contributions to the Society.

In the interim, I encourage you to check out the newly completed Evolution Exhibit in the library – it’s absolutely stunning and we owe tremendous thanks to Toni Wirts, Claude Bernard, and the Evolution Exhibit team for spearheading this effort. Thank you! Also, downstairs now is a gorgeous mural which will change over time; the animals will come to life as more people pledge to show us evolving together.

The Luncheon is a wonderful community event. I hope you enjoy spending time with members you’ve not seen in a while and ones you haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet! I look forward to celebrating our community together. If you have any questions about the pledge campaign or Luncheon – or about anything at all, really – you’re welcome to talk with me or another Board member. Thank you, and I’ll see you at the Luncheon next week!

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.