It's at this time of year that the ANNUAL THEME is introduced by the incoming President Elect of Rotary International at the International Assembly.
This year Rotary International President Elect Jennifer Jones will announce it virtually on January 20.
Read below for a short history of some of the themes from years past.
Here is a brief history of the annual themes.
In 1955, RI President A.Z. Baker announced a theme, "Develop Our Resources," to serve as Rotary's program of emphasis. Since that time, each president has issued a theme for his Rotary year. The shortest theme was in 1961-62 when Joseph Abey selected "Act." Other one-word themes were chosen in 1958-1959 by Charles Tennent ("Serve") and 1968 - 1969 by Kiyoshi Togasaki ("Participate").
Carl Miller, in 1963 - 1964, had a theme for the times when he proposed "Guidelines for Rotary in the Space Age." Other "timely" themes were in 1980-81 when Rolf Klärich created "Take Time to Serve"
William Carter in 1973 - 1974 used "Time for Action." Two themes have a similarity to commercial advertising: "A Better World Through Rotary" (Richard Evans, 1966 - 67) and "Reach Out" (Clem Renouf, 1978 - 1979). Bridges have been a striking metaphor. Harold Thomas, 1959 - 60, urged Rotarians to "Build Bridges of Friendship"; William Walk, 1970 - 71, created "Bridge the Gap"; and Hiroji Mukasa, 1982 - 1983, declared "Mankind is One-Build Bridges of Friendship Throughout the World."
A worldwide focus was given by Stan McCaffrey in 1981 - 1982 with the message, "World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary," and again in 1984-85 by Carlos Canseco who urged Rotarians to "Discover a New World of Service." In other years, the individual was emphasized, as "You Are Rotary" (Edd McLaughlin, 1960 - 61), "Goodwill Begins With You" (Ernst Breitholtz, 1971 - 1972) and "You Are the Key" (Ed Cadman, 1985 - 1986).
Frequently the theme urges Rotarians to become more involved in their club, such as "Share Rotary-Serve People" (Bill Skelton, 1983 - 84) or "Make Your Rotary Membership Effective" (Luther Hodges, 1967 - 1968). But whether you "Review and Renew," "Take a New Look," "Let Service Light the Way" or "Dignify the Human Being," it is clear that the RI president provides Rotarians with an important annual program of emphasis.
In 1986-87, President M.A.T. Caparas selected the inspiring message that "Rotary Brings Hope."
Charles Keller in 1987 - 1988 saw "Rotarians-United in Service, Dedicated to Peace," while Royce Abbey asked his fellow members in 1988 - 1989 to "Put Life into Rotary-Your Life." Hugh Archer (1989 - 1990) urged us to "Enjoy Rotary!" and Paulo Costa (1990 - 1991) asked that we "Honor Rotary with Faith and Enthusiasm." My predecessor Raja Saboo (1991 - 1992) exhorted every Rotarian to "Look Beyond Yourself." In 1992 - 1993, I reminded Rotarians, "Real Happiness Is Helping Others," and in 1993 - 1994, Bob Barth counseled Rotarians, "Believe In What You Do and Do What You Believe In." In 1994 - 1995, Bill Huntley encouraged Rotarians to "Be A Friend" to their communities.