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Development of Urantia Foundation
and Urantia Brotherhood

by Carolyn Kendall
June 27, 1993

In 1937 plans for a formal organization were under way. At first, the responsibility of protecting the text of the book, and the functions of a religious and social organization, and the dissemination of the book and its teachings were originally combined into one entity. However, it was soon realized that the social and disseminating arm of the organization would eventually have to function as a democratic group in response to the will of the majority of its members. The duty of protecting the text would be retained by a group that could not be influenced by shifting emotions of the readership, nor subject to popular elections. By 1939 it was decided that there would be two separate organizations operating more or less independently of each other. The first drafts of the Declaration of Trust of Urantia Foundation and the Constitution of Urantia Brotherhood were formulated in 1939.

These drafts were not prepared by Trustees of the Foundation, nor by General Councilors of the Brotherhood. They were developed by the five human members of the revelatory partnership known as Contact Commissioners. In consultation with outside authorities on organizations a governing structure similar to the Presbyterian church was adopted for the Brotherhood. Dr. William S. Sadler, one of the Contact Commissioners, addressed the issue of church vs. the Brotherhood: "It was inevitable that some sort of fraternal organization would grow out of the teachings of The Urantia Book. All interested persons could see that the Urantia teachings were opposed to the sectarianism of Christian believers. It was clear that it was not the purpose of the Urantia Revelation to start a new church."

On August 21, 1952, the planetary regent communicated to the Contact Commissioners that "the plan of organization (constitution) as it exists on this date is hereby provisionally approved for the inauguration of the Brotherhood. The plan provides for its own subsequent amendment."

Thus it may be seen that the Foundation Trustees did not create the Brotherhood. The actual launching of the Brotherhood was, according to the regent's instructions, "to be left to the decisions of the Trustees of the Urantia Foundation. They shall act personally --unofficially--and no records of such action shall appear on the transactions of the Urantia Foundation. They shall assume all and full responsibility for the organization and inauguration of the Urantia Brotherhood." Urantia Brotherhood was inaugurated January 2, 1955, at 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois.

There is no record that the revelators participated in the preparation of the Foundation's Declaration of Trust. We assume that since they approved the Brotherhood Constitution, they also maintained a vigil over the trust document. Involvement could range from actually dictating the content, to approval of the final draft of the Declaration of Trust.

The Contact Commissioners had been the custodians of the Urantia manuscript. The preliminary work of obtaining the copyright and arranging for the publication of The Urantia Book was the responsibility of the Contact Commissioners. It was the Contact Commission that received the publication mandate, the introduction of which begins: "We regard The Urantia Book as a feature of the progressive evolution of human society, etc." It was not until the day before the inauguration of the Brotherhood -- January 1, 1955 -- that the authority for the functions of the Foundation was assumed by the Trustees, a full five years after the founding of Urantia Foundation. In an open meeting held immediately after the formalities of organizing the Brotherhood, the Trustees declared their intention to proceed with publication of the book on February 11, 1955.

There is another selection from Dr. Sadler concerning dissemination of The Urantia Book I'd like to share:

"At the time of publication of The Urantia Book, we were given many suggestions respecting the methods we should employ in the work of its distribution. These instructions may be summarized as follows:

  • 1. Study the methods employed by Jesus in introducing his work on earth. Note how quietly he worked at first.
  • 2. We were advised to avoid all efforts to achieve early and spectacular recognition. However, one thing should be made clear, nothing is to be done to interfere with the energetic and enthusiastic efforts of any individual to introduce The Urantia Book to his varied contacts and human associations."

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