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2005-do-headshot.jpg"It was a harsh summer... For many, it was as if the clocks had rolled back to the thirties and the time of the Great Depression. Company upon company declared bankruptcy. Unemployment soared. The 'sever and prolonged recession,' as it was dubbed by the media, sent ripples of depression across America. Politicians used the depressed state of the country to their advantage."

The excerpt above is from evangelist Robert Schuller's best seller, Tough Times Never Last; Tough People Do. And by the way, the book was written 25 years ago, and he was talking about the recession of 1982!

In the book, he argues that the biggest problem at the time was dealing with negative anticipation, and negative attitudes. I think that is still the challenge today. And some say we are not in as bad economic fundamentally, as we were in 1982.

I know people are nervous about the drop in the stock market, about the drop in our congregation's portfolio. But I also understand that most congregations don't see a significant decrease in giving in tough economic times. This is good news.

At Eliot, we do have a few families that have been particularly hard hit, and folks having been asking for larger amounts from the Ministers Discretionary Fund. And there was such a hit to that account, that we got board permission to do an appeal at a Sunday service in October, and people were very generous. We received $2,530 in cash and checks from one Sunday appeal, and a couple folks who sent checks in later. So, UUs can be very generous.

Yes, some people are out of work, but most are not. Those of us with retirement accounts or mortgages have seen those values go down. But most of us are- I imagine- still going to keep kids in music lessons, buy groceries, gasoline, and all the rest of it.

Even though I may not have much in common theologically with Robert Schuller, I agree with him that attitude is everything. In fact, we can look for strategic opportunities, and we can remember that just as we got through 1982, we'll get through 2008.

And although we will have some surprises- some unpleasant, some wonderful- we will walk together on our journey as religious communities.

At times like these, I find it helpful to keep my head up, my gaze to the horizon, and to keep moving!