A looming financial crisis in October of 1995 precipitated a meeting in the living room of my father, R. J. Rushdoony, founder and president of Chalcedon. My father, Andrew Sandlin, and I were concerned about our mounting expenses and declining income. Obligations were accumulating with no funds to pay them.
Part of Chalcedon's message and policy had long been an avoidance of long-term debt. Chalcedon also avoided begging for money, even when we had legitimate needs. We wanted people to give because they believed in the message Chalcedon was proclaiming. We wanted to be blessed as our ministry blessed others.
Like most charitable organizations, the majority of our contributions have traditionally arrived at year's end, near Christmas. Little did we know as we sat in my father's living room in October of 1995 that the year-end giving would not materialize. At the time we were really only addressing the slow months of summer and fall when expenses far exceeded income. We decided it was time to ask our readers to systematically support our work throughout the year. We decided to ask our contributors to become "Chalcedon Underwriters" and pledge to give at least $25 a month to sustain our work. We would ask all others who received the Chalcedon Report to contribute as they were able.
Even such a modest plan presented problems. Many of you, no doubt, believe we are a large institution with many fancy offices full of busy secretaries and administrators. Perhaps that is because our message is as big as the kingdom of our Lord. Perhaps it is because our message has had such a huge impact. But our impact has come from the faithful proclamation of the application of God's Word to every area of life and thought. The influence of our message, you see, is not due to our administrative abilities or organizational management. It is because God's Word does not return unto Him void. As long as we are faithful to that Word, we will have an impact.
The reality is, however, that our administration consists of my father working out of his home, Andrew Sandlin working out of his home, and my efforts in the evenings (I teach full-time at our Christian school). In addition, we have one full time secretary, Rebecca Rouse, in a small, crowded office. Our efforts have never been to build an organization, but rather a message. We have created ideas, not an institution.
Thus, even our efforts to send out letters required time to plan and carry out. Our computer had to be upgraded and programmed. Meanwhile, as October, November, and December passed with very meager contributions, we all realized our situation was very bad as we entered 1996. Andrew Sandlin included a brief letter insert with the Report which asked for funds. Your response was to give generously and we were able to get caught up on many past obligations in January of 1996. Still, we had no reserve to carry us through the slow months of 1996, so in March we launched our "Underwriters" program and over 250 readers pledged, as they were able, to send in monthly contributions of at least $25 for one year. Those "Underwriters" have provided us with a much-needed regular income during the slow months of summer and fall. Many gave when asked again in December. But our contributions were still on the decline, a decline that continued in 1996. If it had not been for the efforts of the Chalcedon Underwriters, we would have had to make draconian cuts in our spending.
I wish I could say we were expanding our ministry in many areas because of these letters. That is not the case. But what the Underwriters have done is remarkable. In a year that could have been one of crisis, this small "Gideon's band" of 250 provided almost one fourth of our funds! We asked our readers for help without telling them the gravity of our situation and they responded generously.
I write this account of our grave crisis now to thank you and to let you know that your contributions have been used by God to sustain our ministry for the last year. You may think your five loaves and two fish are of little help, but our Lord can multiply your giving to help thousands. We pray that our Underwriters will continue to be an instrument of that blessing.
As we have said for years on our thank-you letter, "Your giving establishes the limits of our work, humanly speaking."
To find out how you can become a Chalcedon Underwriter and receive a personal quarterly progress report on Reconstruction projects around the world, write:
P.O. Box 158,
Vallecito, CA 95251