Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

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Membership Meeting Vision/Budget Statement

Sunday, May 20, 2018 12:00 PM | Deleted user

I now wish to address all members of our Society, whether they are here or not. This address is also appearing on our website as we speak. I have been authorized to deliver this on behalf of the majority of the Board whom I represent today along with the membership who voted us to act as your duly appointed representatives.

Whatever the outcome of this vote which begins when I finish, I would ask you to remember this. All of you support NoVES in one way or the other. Many of you also volunteer your precious hours for NoVES. Your Board too is comprised of unpaid members who are enormously dedicated to seeing our Society grow as well as remain and flourish as a place for young and old to support each other in ethical thought and action. We have spent hours over the last year to come to this point where we offer a budget and vision for the next and coming years.

We know that not everyone here agrees with this budget and the vision which goes along with it. We know that some of you say we need more time to discuss a vision, maybe another year, maybe more. Some even say we do not need a new vision, as we already have one.

To all those of you who hold these contrary views to this budget, we who propose this budget say this; we respect your views; we are glad you voice them. We want you and others to be engaged as deeply as possible in the affairs of our Society. We bear no grudge or ill will to anyone.

We do not take our work lightly. To the contrary, those who submit to you this budget gave up many hours of our precious time over many months, away from our family, professional, and personal lives, to prepare and deliver this budget proposal and vision. We can assure you it was done in good faith. Like everything else, we know it is less than perfect, but we can confidently say that your Board has worked no less hard at this than any Board in the past. Nor do we expect that any future Board can look back and say we presented this budget lightly and with little consideration of the consequences. In fact, we believe this budget will open the path to an even more vigorous and dynamic society. And we are prepared to execute it for results we believe in, if it is approved.

NoVES is and will always be a place with different views and also views which sometimes are in conflict. We have many issues where feelings differ. They include the role and commitments we expect of a leader, the type of membership we wish to attract and retain, whether and how fast we should grow, and where we should invest our precious volunteer time and our limited funds across many different interests. We must periodically check our beliefs as a Board against what all of our members say, each of who comes to NoVES at some point in their lives, stays for whatever time, and at some point departs. We are a society which will always grow in different ways.

I would also urge everyone to try to view the recent difficult conversations we have had both within the Board and within NoVES in a positive light. NoVES like every Ethical Society will always face open-ended questions about our nature as a humanist organization, the roles and expectation we have of any Leader, and the budget priorities we pursue. We need to continue to listen to and tolerate diverse views. Which is why I have also reached out to the AEU to help NoVES in a continuing conversation once an incoming Board is in place. I believe with the mediation of the AEU that NoVES can continue an open, respectful conversation which simply cannot end with this membership meeting because these are issues which will remain with us, whatever the outcome of today’s meeting. I hope the incoming Board and all our members will welcome such an effort to encourage open and respectful thinking about important questions we all wrestle with, and not just at the Board. This mediation can only work if a wide diversity of views are represented. It can only be done if members step forward to do that. And it cannot be led by the Board, by a Leader, or any select group of members all adhering to the same views. That would defeat its purpose.

And so, it is once again time to test the beliefs of your Board against the will of our membership. This is why we are here today. We must allow all members to have duly noticed opportunity to exercise their views through vote, whether or not they actually choose to do so. And we can never limit that future choice to only those who do come here today to vote, even if it seems inconvenient to some to hold a new membership meeting if our budget is not passed. Members must have the opportunity to vote for the budget they want and for the Board they believe will execute it with heart and mind. If we do otherwise, we compromise a sacred principle of due representation which governs not only us, but so many other institutions which are built on the vision that everyone has the right to voice and vote.

Therefore, if you as a membership majority choose not to vote in favor of this proposed budget, we must also give you the opportunity to have a new Board which can propose an alternative which can then be duly noticed to all members. If such is the case, those of us on your current Board who have supported this proposed budget, will yield our place once we have completed any transitional matters.

Our resignation from the Board would not be based on any desire to disrupt or subvert. It is instead a good faith desire to ensure there can be continuity as well as change. The continuity will come from the current majority remaining for a very short while (perhaps 48 to 72 hours) to allow for a smooth transition. The change will come from the newly constituted and/or elected Board to pursue and notice a new budget to the membership and to then execute it, if approved.

Our majority remains committed to executing our proposed budget and vision, should it be agreed by our membership. We have every confidence we have the opportunity to do so and to make NoVES an even more dynamic place. However, we will only do so if a decided majority of the membership also shares this vision by endorsing our budget.

We say all this not to be divisive, but to be inclusive. We want each and every member of our society, whether they are here or not, whether they come to platforms or not, whether they support this Board or not, each and all of them must receive due notice about exactly what their Board proposes to do with their contributions. And they must have the opportunity to vote for their Board whom they believe can not only propose, but also carry the budget through execution. Only by doing all of this can not only the By-Laws of this Society be faithfully executed, but the will of our membership be conducted without fear of a majority vote or favor to simply minority interests. Anything less will subvert what we are as a society; legally, operationally, and also ethically.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak and for serving on your Board. We now commend this vote to you.

Best,

Jeffrey

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