This version of the Executive Committee letter is somewhat larger than usual. In addition to reporting on current developments, it contains brief descriptions of the proceedings of the 1991 Triennial Delegate Assembly, and of the June 1991 General Council meeting. Members wishing a more detailed accounting of these meetings may request copies of the minutes from the Wrightwood office. Also included is a letter to the membership from Steve Dreier, the newly elected Fellowship president.
MIKE PAINTER AND SCOTT FORSYTHE
It is with regret that we must report that Mike Painter and Scott Forsythe will no longer be working for The Fellowship as full time paid employees. Fiscal considerations required the Executive Committee to make one if its most difficult decisions. For many years Mike and Scott were full time employees of the Foundation, and more recently of The Fellowship. Many have benefited from the outstanding service they provided to the community of Urantia Book readers. Their extensive experience and dedication are irreplaceable and will be sorely missed. But the changes consequent to our separation from the Foundation have required a severe reduction of our operating budget, the major part of which has been devoted to employee salaries and benefits. This is one of those extremely unpleasant and painful matters which organizations such as ours must sometimes contend with.
Mike and Scott are both in the process of seeking other employment. They would certainly appreciate any leads or assistance which might be provided. If you can be of any help, please contact Mike and Scott. We all hope that they will be able to quickly find alternate employment and that the disruption to themselves and their families will be minimal and happily resolved.
We all sincerely thank Mike and Scott for their many years of dedicated service to the Urantia community. We express deep regret over their departure, and we assure them that we will gladly help in any way we are able to facilitate a smooth transition to new employment.
CURRENT OFFICE OPERATIONS
The Fellowship office at 529 Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago continues to provide reader services without interruption. John Hales and Matthew Block remain as employees, and they are being assisted by volunteers from the Chicago area and elsewhere. An extensive volunteer program is being developed to support the functions of The Fellowship. This will keep operating costs down to a manageable level, and allow much broader participation of the membership in the day to day operations of The Fellowship. A detailed proposal for shifting to volunteer operations will be presented in the near future. Any members who wish to make proposals or offer suggestions are strongly encouraged to do so.
1993 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
On August 2-4, 1991, a planning meeting for the 1993 International Conference was held at the conference site in St. Hyacinthe, Canada. The town of St. Hyacinthe is located about 30 miles east of Montreal, Canada. The meeting was attended by approximately 40 persons, about equally divided between French and English speaking. Simultaneous translation was provided in both languages.
The 1993 International Conference will realize a new and significant development in that it will be the first major Fellowship conference held outside the USA, and also in a region in which English is not the major language. This conference is certain to be filled with new and supremely valuable experiences in both its planning and execution. With two years to go, the planning committee has already made considerable progress. More information will be provided as plans firm up.
Brent St. Denis is serving as coordinator for the 1993 International Conference. Anyone wishing to make suggestions or volunteer to help is encouraged to contact Brent through the Fellowship office.
1991 TRIENNIAL DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
The June 1991 Triennial Delegate Assembly was held at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. Seventeen of the eighteen Fellowship societies had delegates in attendance. The two major categories of business for the TDA are election of general councilors, and consideration of resolutions.
ELECTIONS TO THE GENERAL COUNCIL
The following members were elected to the General Council:
9-year terms: Claudia Ayers, Beth Bartley, Janet Farrington, Scott Forsythe, Marvin Gawryn, John Hales, Everwyn Hoedemaker, Geri Johnson, Paul Knott, John Lange, Lyn Davis Lear, Lee Smith. 3-year terms: Glenn Bell Jr., Duane Faw, Joseph Liszka.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE 1991 TRIENNIAL DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
The 1991 TDA adopted a number of resolutions. A brief summary of these resolutions are given below. Members wishing a more detailed report of these resolutions should consult their society delegate or alternate, or write to the Wrightwood office and request a copy of the 1991 TDA minutes.
Resolutions were adopted requesting consideration and reporting on the following proposals:
Direct election of general councilors by societies, coupled with the possible abolition of the TDA; reducing the term of a general councilor to six years; providing members-at-large with the ability to elect or be appointed as general councilors; developing mechanisms to allow greater participation of societies in the deliberations of the General Council; providing better biographical material on candidates for the General Council; providing societies with the proposed agenda for any General Council meeting at least 60 days before the meeting; a resolution requesting the current trustees of Urantia Foundation to resign in order to enable the Foundation to properly carry out its trust responsibilities (see below); greetings to Northern Light Society of Alaska which was unable to send representatives to the TDA; review of the Fellowship committee structure to consider the question of the continuing relevancy of each committee; notification to societies before the Executive Committee and/or General Council agree to join any organization; consideration of an annual society conclave in non-TDA years.
The following resolution, number 11, was passed by the TDA:
WHEREAS the current trustees of Urantia Foundation have denied the religious nature of the sacred symbol of the Paradise Trinity using that symbol instead to control the Urantia movement;
WHEREAS the trustees have caused their attorneys in many court statements to cast doubt on the authenticity of The Urantia Book as a divine revelation of religious truth, and thereby brought discredit on The Urantia Book, the Urantia Foundation as a trust entity, and on the current trustees, themselves;
WHEREAS the current trustees of Urantia Foundation have prompted a litigious atmosphere rather than one of ongoing dialogue and the attempt to foster understanding within the Urantia movement;
WHEREAS the current trustees of Urantia Foundation have squandered the assets of Urantia Foundation on the promotion of such litigation rather than using such assets for the study and dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book;
WHEREAS the current trustees of Urantia Foundation have been unwilling to responsibly consider the advice of six out of seven past trustees of Urantia Foundation who are now living, who have formally cautioned the current trustees with regard to their actions;
WHEREAS the current trustees of Urantia Foundation have taken action to limit the distribution of The Urantia Book through the normal channels of distribution within the marketplace for books and have thereby limited access to The Urantia Book and disheartened the vast majority of individuals within the Urantia movement;
WHEREAS the broader community of readers of The Urantia Book supports the principles for which the Urantia Foundation was founded, and the legitimate and proper implementation of those principles;
WHEREAS we sincerely believe, for the reasons stated, that the current trustees as Urantia Foundation have violated their solemn trust and responsibility as trustees;
THEREFORE we, a representative community of Urantia Book readers, hereby call for the resignation of all current trustees of Urantia Foundation to enable the restoration of Urantia Foundation, whose principles as a trust entity we support, to properly administer its primary trust purpose to establish The Urantia Book as an epochal revelation of religious truth to our beleaguered planet.
The resolution carried 15 for, 2 against, and 0 abstentions.
These resolutions were forwarded to the General Council for consideration.
JUNE 1991 GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING
The information given is a brief description of the proceedings of the June 1991 General Council. Members wishing more a more detailed report may request a copy of the preliminary and unapproved meeting minutes from the Wrightwood office.
The General Council meeting was open to observers, except for those portions which involved elections. It is highly likely that the practice will continue at future meetings.
Newly elected general councilors were introduced and welcomed. Expressions of appreciation were adopted thanking retiring councilors for their service.
Reports of officers and committee chairs were discussed. (Printed copies of these reports are available upon request from the Wrightwood office.)
Retiring Fellowship President David Elders delivered his annual report to the General Council. He reviewed some of the more memorable events of the past decade, and emphasized the need to insure the broad availability of The Urantia Book.
The General Council expressed appreciation for David's outstanding leadership over the last six years and presented him with a small gift in token of the Council's appreciation.
Finance Committee Chair Harry McMullan discussed current revenue problems. A budget shortfall of at least $40,000 is anticipated for 1991. In each year since 1989 the Fellowship's treasury has shrunk. Considerable budget tightening will be required.
Charter Committee Chair Avi Dogim discussed proposals to modify the duties and functions of the Charter Committee making it responsible for all membership functions, as well as assuming an active liaison function with respect to existing societies.
Domestic Extension Committee Chair Mo Siegel discussed the "Adopt-A-Bookstore" program which has been developed in Colorado. This program is designed to keep local bookstores supplied with copies of The Urantia Book. As many of you know, recent changes in the Foundation's book sales policy have resulted in the virtual disappearance of The Urantia Book from local and chain bookstores. A detailed description of the program is available from the Wrightwood office. Members wishing to participate in this program of restocking bookstores are encouraged to request the "Adopt-A-Bookstore" information packet.
Officers, committee chairs and committee members were elected. (See the attached list of councilors, officers, committee chairs and committee members.)
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS:
Article I was amended to change the name of the organization to THE FELLOWSHIP.
Article II was amended, replacing "teachings of Jesus Christ" with "life and teachings of Jesus".
Article III was amended to adopt the phrase "Local Society".
Section 5.3 was amended to give the Charter Committee and Executive Committee approval duties concerning the name of each new Local Society.
Section 12.10 was amended to give the Executive Committee the power to determine beneficiaries of assets in the event THE FELLOWSHIP should dissolve.
Section 14.1 was amended to allow amendment to the Constitution at any meeting of the General Council.
Section 5.1 of the By-Laws was amended changing the corporate name to FIFTH EPOCHAL FELLOWSHIP CORPORATION.
The Constitution was amended to require that standard generic representation shall be used when indicating the name of The Urantia Book.
CONSIDERATION OF TDA RESOLUTIONS
The TDA resolutions calling for consideration of structural changes to The Fellowship were referred to the Judicial Committee for study. The Judicial Committee will consult with local societies concerning the proposed changes, and will provide a preliminary report at the 1992 mid-year General Council meeting.
A TDA resolution calling for more detailed information about candidates for the General Council was adopted.
A TDA resolution calling for distribution of the agenda and supporting materials for each General Council meeting to be sent, upon request, to the president and secretary of each society at least 60 days prior to the meeting was approved.
A TDA resolution calling for preliminary and unapproved minutes of General Council meetings to be distributed, upon request, to the president and secretary of each society within 45 days after the meeting was approved.
A TDA resolution calling for the resignation of the trustees of Urantia Foundation was given a vote of support. This resolution was forwarded to the Executive Committee, which directed the president to forward an information copy to the current trustees of Urantia Foundation.
A TDA resolution expressing regret over the absence of representatives from Northern Light Society of Alaska was sent to the Executive Committee with instruction to communicate these sentiments to the members of Northern Light Society of Alaska.
A TDA resolution calling for an annual society conclave in non-TDA years was approved. Further discussions with societies will take place to expand the details and mechanisms of this proposal.
A TDA resolution calling for a relevancy review of the committee structure of The Fellowship was approved and referred to the Executive Committee for additional study.
The General Council approved a trial membership in the North American Interfaith Network. Representatives were instructed to abstain from any votes on political or social issues.
1993 International Conference Chairman Brent St. Denis reported on the status of the planning process. The conference will be held July 31 to August 5, 1993 near Montreal, Canada.
A resolution was adopted calling for broad-based participation in the continuation of the strategic planning process, along with an annual reporting mechanism.
A resolution was adopted asking the Judicial Committee to consider the constitutionality of having a Fellowship committee join an outside organization.
The General Council unanimously adopted the following motion:
WHEREAS Urantia Foundation, the publisher of The Urantia Book, has repeatedly made public denial of the religious and revelatory character of the book, and
WHEREAS the General Council of The Fellowship desires to resolve the uncertainty about these matters which may have been created in the public mind, and
WHEREAS the General Council is a duly elected body serving an organized community of over 1200 dedicated readers of The Urantia Book, and is charged with the development and promulgation of policy for the organization;
NOW THEREFORE the General Council of The Fellowship affirms that:
1. The members of The Fellowship hold in common the belief that The Urantia Book is a religious revelation authored by divine beings.
2. The Fellowship was organized in 1955 as an unincorporated legal entity by individuals who believed The Urantia Book to be a religious revelation of divine origin.
3. The Fellowship was organized as an independent and autonomous organization.
4. The word "Urantia" is the name by which our planet has been known throughout the universe for more than one billion years, a fact revealed by divine beings in The Urantia Book.
5. The word "Urantian" is used in The Urantia Book to designate an inhabitant of this planet and has been commonly used by readers of The Urantia Book variously to designate a reader of the book or an inhabitant of the planet.
6. The three concentric circles symbol designates the Trinity Government of all creation and is the material emblem of Michael of Nebadon, otherwise known as Jesus of Nazareth, a fact revealed by divine beings in The Urantia Book.
7. This symbol has been in use with this designation on Urantia for more than one-half million years, a fact revealed by divine beings in The Urantia Book.
8. The three concentric circles are emblematic of the infinity, eternity and universality of the Paradise Trinity of divine maintenance and direction, a fact revealed by divine beings in The Urantia Book.
9. Throughout human history, and at least for thousands of years, the three concentric circles symbol has been considered by our ancestors to be emblematic of the Most High God, a fact revealed by divine beings in The Urantia Book.
A copy of the above resolution has been sent to the trustees for their information.
1992 MID YEAR GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING
The next meeting of the General Council will be January 31-February 2, 1991, with the second choice of February 7-9, 1991. This meeting will most likely be held in the area of Los Angeles, California. While some business will be considered, a major portion of the meeting will be devoted to informal discussions of various matters. The planning committee for this meeting is composed of John Lange, Marilynn Kulieke, and Gard Jameson. Members wishing to make suggestions regarding the program for this meeting are encouraged to contact these individuals. Part, if not all, of the meeting will be open to observers.
LETTER FROM STEVE DREIER
As I begin a term as president of The Fellowship, I think it is appropriate for me to share with you some of my views about the nature and purpose of our organization, and about the directions in which I hope it will move over the next few years. I believe the membership of an organization is entitled to know of the views which reside in the consciousness of those who have been elected to fill their executive positions.
First, I wish to say to each of you, without reservation, that I love you and I will do my best to serve you as I understand Jesus would. While it is certainly true that experience and wisdom are necessary for the successful resolution of the many practical problems associated with organizational work, it is also true that "love is the true guide to real insight." (p 2076) Therefore, with your permission, I will here respectfully remind each of you that it is our privilege to love one another, even our so-called enemies, as Jesus loves us. We must refuse to be ashamed or timid in our willingness to love. The Urantia Book teaches us that "love is the greatest thing in the universe" (p 648) and "the greatest of all spirit realities." (p 1608) It is our great privilege to boldly and vigorously proclaim this great truth, not only in our words, but in the living and loving relationships we sustain with one another, and with all others.
Secondly, we have a responsibility to the Supreme Being, the evolving God of finite reality. We must not only love one another, but we must also learn to work together, harmoniously and productively. We must cooperate in making our contribution to the progress of the divine plan on Urantia, while also preparing ourselves for the work of the next life on the mansion worlds. The Universal Father relates to individuals, one at a time. The Supreme Being regards only the group, the total organization of all finite things and beings. We find the Universal Father personally - one at a time - by grace and through faith. We come to know the Supreme only together, through collective effort and achievement. That is why collective work is so important in the cosmic economy. That is why The Urantia Book teaches that "One of the most important lessons to be learned during your mortal career is teamwork. The spheres of perfection are manned by those who have mastered this art of working with other beings. Few are the duties in the universe for the lone servant." (p 312:2)
There is a third phase to all this which probably constitutes our greatest challenge. It concerns the integration of these two basic cosmic domains--the personal and the supreme. Can we find a way to integrate the endless variety of our uniquely personal experience with the Universal Father into a collective work of cosmic unity which reflects the reality of the Supreme Being? Clearly, that is a highly idealistic goal, not easy to attain. It is certainly no undertaking for those who are easily discouraged or unwilling to contend with challenge and difficulty. But it is also the one of most exciting and adventurous opportunities available to a universe-conscious group of individuals. It is a chance to make a real and lasting contribution to the evolution of the finite, upon which future generations of universe-conscious citizens can continue to build towards light and life.
How does all this express itself in specific action and practical programs? In my view the transition is quite natural and more or less self-evident. The Fellowship already sponsors a number of activities which, directly or indirectly, facilitate growth in the above areas. Conferences, fostering study groups, the area coordinator program, book distribution programs, journals, newsletters, the study group directory and reader contact services are some of the many things we already do. Undoubtedly we will continue to do these things, and many others as well. There are dozens of good ideas which have been suggested for things to do.
I believe that our current challenge is not so much concerned with what we do, but with how we do it. We must develop methods which will allow broader participation of our entire membership in both the development and execution of our activities. Each personality is unique, and therefore possesses a unique perspective on reality. The more personality participation we have, the richer and more comprehensive our collective viewpoint will be. At the same time we will have greater opportunity to experientially grow in our ability to integrate all these unique perspectives into a unified and supremely sound whole.
It should not be too difficult to work out mechanisms which allow all members to actively participate in the decision making processes of The Fellowship. In fact, we have already begun to develop such techniques. But I believe that the greater challenges lie elsewhere, and there are two of them.
The first challenge concerns the group. Do we as a group have the spiritual and intellectual resources to accommodate all the unique and diverse viewpoints of each of our members? Do we have the patience, understanding, and affection which will certainly be required to peacefully accommodate our great personal diversity? Can we unify over goals rather than creeds? Are we prepared to grow in number, understanding that such growth can be accomplished only through the addition to our fellowship of more personalities with more unique and diverse perspectives. Have we learned enough from our past experiences? As a group, are we now mature enough to really seek unity, not uniformity?
The second challenge concerns each individual member. Is each member willing to sincerely try to accommodate and adjust his or her unique perception of reality so as to allow it to mesh with the equally unique perceptions of their fellows? Is each member willing to carry a share of the work, and serve in a reliable and devoted manner. Has each individual member sincerely examined his or her motive for joining The Fellowship - to serve or to be served, to give or to take?
I know that some feel that thinking of this kind is too idealistic and impractical; I respect that view, but I do not agree with it. I am aware of the requirements of practical reality, but I believe we are capable of facing far more than that. I have studied The Urantia Book for more than twenty years, and during that time I have met and shared with hundreds of readers. I believe that the members of our fellowship possess enormous resources of both spiritual and intellectual power. I believe they are willing to devote themselves to the welfare of the Revelation, and that they are fully capable of overcoming all barriers which might be encountered on the path to making a new and living demonstration of the reality of the presence of God, both as Father and as Supreme.
These are my thoughts; now, I need to know yours. I am quite serious when I say that The Fellowship needs the active participation of all of its members. What are your ideas and opinions? Perhaps you agree with what I have said here, or perhaps you do not. It does not matter; everyone's view is uniquely valuable. I assure you that I am truly interested in the thoughts and feelings of each and every member. I learn something new and useful almost every time I have the opportunity to become familiar with another's thoughts and feelings. I hope you will take the time to share yours with me. I need the guidance and insights that only you can provide.
It seems to me that our immediate future is filled with pregnant opportunities for meaningful and exhilarating service. I have in mind Jesus' concluding words to the Second Discourse on Religion. He said simply: "Let us be on our way."
In loving fellowship,