Thursday, August 03, 2006

CC finally writes that post about Meadville's fundraising breakfast she's been kicking around for a month.

UU Enforcer has an entertaining summary of the collapse of the Starr King/Meadville Lombard merger.

FWIW, Meadville pissed me off mightily at GA. I went to their fundraising breakfast and they showed a documentary with these people who had lost their son in 9-11 and the incredibly smug minister who helped them through it yet seems to talk mostly about himself. (If he's a good guy who got a bad edit, I can believe that.) In addition, there was lengthy bit about how another guy wanted to be there, but his wife had cancer. That part included a brief history of their life together and a cataloging of her surgeries. The cancer speech combined with the 9-11 video set up a tone that was far and away the most blatant attempt I've ever seen to get people's emotions up so they would be primed to give away money. And there were a couple of old people who had suffered some personal tragedy who also talked, but I've forgotten what their issue was.

I NEVER saw one of my Congressional fundraising clients put on an event so inherently cynical, and I saw a lot of cynicism.

Naturally, no where in the event did they really talk about Meadville, where they were going as an institution and what they offered that other schools didn't. The focus was not at all "Let's show them that we're a good investment," it was more "let's get them upset and vulnerable at eight a.m. and then lay a guilt trip."

Lee Barker doesn't come off well in the UU Enforcer's peice, but he was the most tolerable part of the breakfast presentation and the only one who seemed to get that his audience was composed of reasonable people who were thoughful about where they gave their money.

That said, if he and Rebecca Parker literally can't stand to be in the same room, wew need to pick more mature people to run our seminaries.



Anonymous said...

I have been in the same room with Rebecca Parker and Lee Barker, it was a meeting about the merger of the two schools. They were more than cordial, and worked well together.

The Starr King strategic vision is different from Meadville's, and Rebecca Parker as President of Starr King is not about to be bull dozed into becoming the West Coast campus for some bodies vision of a UU school that would have a monopoly on educating future ministries.

Meadville needs the merger more than Starr King, but Meadville's anxiety is no reason to rush the process.

Chalicechick said...

OK, that does make more sense.

I wasn't sure I believed the "won't be in the same room together" bit. After all, we are all adults here.

From my vantage point way outside this, it seems like SK offers the more unique product, not that it's a product I would be especially looking for if I were in seminary.

(I'd probably try to get in to Harvard and if I couldn't get in, slink off, which suggests to me I don't really feel called to the task.)


fausto said...

I had you pegged more for Princeton, cc. You know, hair of the dog for that Presbyterian hangover, Elaine Pagels, yada yada.

Chalicechick said...

If they are willing to accept an LSAT score as a sign of intellectual horsepower, I might have a slim chance of getting into an Ivy League Div program. Logic, critical thinking and problem solving are strong suits of mine and that test plays to my strengths nicely.

But otherwise, I'm just not Ivy League material. I'm just not that appealling a candidate and my college GPA was mediocre. And I would want to do parish ministry, not be a religion professor.

I can go to a good law school and become a lawyer without disrupting theCSO's life by moving, having to rent out our-recently purchased house or otherwise messing with our lives. Not so for ministry.

The seminarians I know have a call strong enough that they work around such things or do ministry anyway. If I felt a call that strong, I'm sure I would do the same.

I don't. I'm interested in such things, but not enough to make the sacrifices required. So law it is.

And law's not a bad place to be. I'm really looking forward to the challeges and the stimulation and the chance to get paid for my analytical skills. And I think I can do some of the same things I would want to do a minister as a lawyer, just approach the problems a different way.

So I'll be a lawyer who reads Buber and Tillich on the side. As long as I'm reading and thinking and solving people's problems, I'm happy.

who still has the "maybe Elijah is here and trying to tell you something" comment cut out and taped to the wall next to her desk, FWIW.

Adam Tierney-Eliot said...

C'mon guys! M/L ain't all that bad, is it? After all, I went there...

I agree with Clyde that what we see are two divergent strategic visions. However, I don't think M/L needs a merger so much as it needs a new vision!

I am not qualified to discuss SKSM as I did not go there. However, it seems to me that M/L has plenty of institutions in Hyde Park to build strong, strengthening relations with. These are relationships, incidentally, that they used to have...

Anyway, long post like this at my blog...

Chalicechick said...

Though my least favorite minister did attend M/L, I don't really have anything against them. I don't know them.

I just don't like their fundraising strategy.


Obijuan said...

Many of ML's current students and recent graduates don't much like our fundraising strategy, either.

Obijuan said...

FWIW, the development director "resigned" not long after the breakfast.

Obijuan said...

I find it very telling that SK folks claim ML is in worse shape and ML folks claim the same about SK.

Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

Chalicechick said...

That post did tempt me to reiterate the "We're all adults here" point.


PeaceBang said...

CC, if I could get into Harvard, you could get into Harvard. Just sayin'. HDS isn't as coldly academic as its detractors claim it is. As I said over at the UU Enforcer earlier today, some of us learn how to be ministers better by studying theology, history and doctrine than by taking Arts of Ministry courses that often smacked to me of pseudo-therapy. The content was minimal, the points eye-rollingly obvious, and I often referred to those requirements as Intro To the Obvious. I had much the same snotty attitude toward the pedagogy courses in my training to be a high school English teacher, but at least I'm consistent.

There are more ways up the mountain, and all that.
More to your point, though, what a bad way to raise money! eek!

Anonymous said...

CC -- If you had a church, I would expect it to be called The Church of the Snark.... :-)

ProtectedPeace said...

I was at the ML breakfast. I made a comment to the now resigned VP of development, that as a vegetarian there really wasn't an option that was satisfying. (the breakfast consisted of croissants [SP?] filled with ham and yogurt parfait with fruit) I was told I could eat the yogurt. Fortunately for me, I am a vegetarian and not a VEGAN to which I suppose the response would be I could drink the orange juice. As to the let's have a cry fest attitude at the event; it seemed to me they were given a formula but had no clue how to embody that formula.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time for UUs to unite and clean our religion of dictators. I pray in the Spirit that the leadership at Meadville is ousted as soon as possible. We are attacked daily as a cult, so what hope have we if we are divided within our own group? I wonder if Barker left the ministry because he could not take the heat or he just had no people skills. Time to go, Barker!