Praying for Prosperity

2 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

Nick Stryker, Harrisburg city councillor, is disturbed by the mayor's suggestion that the city government should convene a three-day “praying and fasting” meeting, which a contingent of religious leaders would attend. Harrisburg is in dire financial shape and on the edge of bankruptcy. While Stryker does attend an Episcopal church and thinks religion has its place in one's life, he is uncomfortable with the mayor's suggested course of action and is not sure what action to take.

Excerpt

UVA-E-0366

Rev. Sept. 26, 2013

Praying for Prosperity

Nick Stryker did not like the sense of discomfort he felt as he was leaving the Harrisburg city council meeting. A council member for the last three years, Stryker had always been impressed by the other council members' hard work and by Mayor Linda Thompson's obvious commitment to the city's well-being. But tonight Thompson had turned the meeting on its head and upset Stryker by announcing her solution to the city's dire financial situation: a proposal that the city government convene a three-day “praying and fasting” meeting, which a contingent of religious leaders would attend. “I'm a spiritual person,” Thompson had told the council, “and I often turn to my higher power in times of crisis.” Harrisburg's state capital was in crisis, she went on, “and perhaps we should all turn to our higher powers for help.” Her words left most of the council—and the small group of attending community members—stunned, although several had applauded and cheered her words.

No doubt, Stryker realized, the city was in peril. A bad financial decision that had been made 10 years ago—an enormous incinerator project that was supposed to create revenue but instead caused the city of 49,000 to incur monumental financial losses—had drained the city's reserves. The state's community and economic development office had projected a $ 3.5 million deficit in the city's $ 58 million budget by the end of the year, and it estimated that the 2015 deficit would be in the neighborhood of $ 10.4 million, almost 20% of the city's general fund budget. The state of Pennsylvania had put Harrisburg into a receivership program that barely kept the city out of bankruptcy.

While he didn't consider himself to be fervently religious, Stryker did attend an Episcopal church most Sundays with his wife and two sons. Religion certainly had a place in one's life, Stryker believed; however, he was uncomfortable with its appearance in the city's government. On the other hand, the city's peril was so real, so drastic, that perhaps any possible solution—even getting down on one's hands and knees—should be considered. Who was he to object? What if, by some fortuitous circumstance, the prayer-and-fast meeting coincided with some financial miracle?

. . .

Keywords: ethics, business ethics, religion, spirituality, stakeholder management, Harrisburg, government, leadership, municipal policy, ethical situations

Suggested Citation

Wicks, Andrew and Mead, Jenny, Praying for Prosperity. Darden Case No. UVA-E-0366. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974170

Andrew Wicks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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