HISTORY OF THE Urantia MOVEMENT
Several members of the pioneer group who participated in the preliminary contacts, which led up the appearance of the Urantia papers, had had considerable experience in the investigation of psychic phenomena. This group early arrived at the conclusion that the phenomenon connected with the subject who was later associated with the Urantia papers, was in no way similar to any other well-known type of psychic performance – such as hypnotism, automatic writing, clairvoyance, trances, spirit mediumship, telepathy, or double personality.
It should be made clear that the antecedents of the Urantia papers were in no way associated with so-called spiritualism – with its séances and supposed communication with the spirits of departed human beings.CONTACT ACTIVITIES PRECEDING THE Urantia PAPERS
As the Urantia Book indicates, the papers were received as follows: Superhuman personalities, the authors of the papers, sometimes called “the revelators,” worked through the mind of a human subject, sometimes called “the contact personality”. Also involved was a small group of human associates, called the “contact commission”, who were charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the papers, putting them in typewritten form, handling all details of publication, securing copyrights, etc.
For a number of years before the presentation of the papers, the contact personality and the contact commissioners went through what seemed to be a period of testing and training in the matter of technique of communication, etc., in a general way setting the stage for the subsequent presentation of the Urantia papers.
After some years of preliminary contacts, during which many new concepts of the universe and of Deity were implanted, it was suggested that questions of a serious nature should be asked in order to elicit answers of supreme value to the human race. The result was that the Urantia papers began to appear.FUNCTIONING OF THE CONTACT COMMISSIONERS
The commissioners were the custodians of the Urantia manuscript, and they were also charged with full responsibility for supervising all the details connected with the publication of the book, securing the international copyrights, etc.
They were enjoined to refrain from discussing the identity of the contact personality and, after the publication of the book, to make no statement at any time as to whether the subject was still living or was deceased.REASONS FOR SILENCE RESPECTING DETAILS OF THE ORIGIN OF THE Urantia BOOK
Just about all that is known or can be told about the origin of the Urantia Papers is to be found in various places in the Urantia Book. A list of such references is to be found on the back of the dust jacket of the book.
Among the several reasons given for not discussing details of personal experiences associated with the origin of the Urantia Book, the two major reasons were the following:
Remember – you can appreciate a good poem – even if you do not know the author. Likewise, you can enjoy a symphony even if you are ignorant of the name of the composer.THE PUBLICATION MANDATE
When permission to publish the Urantia papers was granted, the revelatory commission states that they regard the Urantia Book as a feature of the progressive evolution of human society. It is not germane to the spectacular episode of epochal revolution, even though it may apparently be timed to appear in the wake of one such revolution in human society. The book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle. That will be the day when men will be willing to seek truth and righteousness. When the chaos of the present confusion has passed, it will be more readily possible to formulate the cosmos of a new and improved era of human relationships. And it is for this better order of affairs on earth that the book was being made ready.
They further stated that the publication of the book was not being postponed to that (possibly) somewhat remote date. An early publication of the book was being provided so that it might be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. Its presence is also required to engage the attention of persons of means who may be thus led to provide funds for translation into other languages.
Upon the receipt of the publication mandate, the contact commissioners entered upon the task of publishing the Urantia Book and of planning for its distribution.THE FORUM
Many years ago a small group began meeting to discuss matters of health, mental hygiene, and so on. One of the group opened his home for these meetings. This group came to consist of professional men and women – doctors, lawyers, dentists, ministers, and teachers – together with individuals from all walks of life – farmers, housewives, secretaries, and common laborers.
During a discussion on psychic phenomena, mention was made of a contact, which did not fit into any of the known categories. As a result of questions the group began to obtain information not previously known on this planet. Although many new concepts were implanted during these early years, the revelators suggested to the contact commission that questions of a serious nature should be asked in order to elicit answers of supreme value to the human race. This suggestion was passed on to the discussion group (now called the Forum). Questions in writing concerning Deity, creation, evolution, and so on, were formulated, and as a result the Urantia papers started appearing.
At about this time instruction s were received from the revelators to form a closed group. Membership tickets were issued and the charter membership numbered thirty. From time to time new members were received into the Forum, after being interviewed by the officers and after signing the same pledge that was signed by the original charter members. This pledge read: “We acknowledge our pledge of secrecy, renewing our promise not to discuss the Urantia Revelations or their subject matter with anyone save active Forum members, and to take no notes of such matter as is read or discussed at the public sessions, or make copies or notes of what we personally read.”
The first group of papers numbered 57. The revelators then suggested that since the Forum could now ask more intelligent questions, they would undertake to enlarge the revelation and to expand the papers in accordance with new questions.
The procedure was to read a paper on Sunday afternoon and the following Sunday the new questions would be presented. These would be sorted, classified, and duplicates eliminated. This program covered several years and ultimately resulted I the presentation of the 196 papers as now found in the Urantia Book.
The last meeting of the Forum as a genetic assembly was held on May 31st, 1942. During its existence the membership figure mounted to a total of 486. From this date in 1942 the Forum continued as a study group to the time of the organization of the First Urantia Society in 1956.THE SEVENTY
In 1939, it appeared that the time had come to form a class to engage in the more serious and systematic study of the Urantia papers. This project was presented to the Forum and when those who wished to join such a group were counted, it was found that just 70 persons desired to enter upon this study. So for several years this class was referred to as “The Seventy”. Two or three years preceding the formation of the Seventy an informal study group had been meeting on Wednesday evenings.
The Seventy carried on systematic study of the Urantia papers from April 3rd, 1939. The group was reorganized in a more formal way on July 26th, 1943, but it continued to be known as the Seventy and the study of the papers continued to the summer of 1956. This was the forerunner of the Urantia Brotherhood School
During these years the Seventy enrolled 107 students.THE Urantia FOUNDATION
The plates of the Urantia Book, which had been previously made, constituted the basis for the creation of the Urantia Foundation by Declaration of trust under the laws of the State of Illinois, dated January 11th, 1950. This is a non-profit organization.
One of the objects for which the Foundation was created was to perpetually preserve inviolate the text of the Urantia Book and to disseminate the principles, teachings, and doctrines of the Urantia Book.
When an appeal was made to the Forum for funds to defray the expense of printing the first 10,000 copies, the appeal was made only to the members of the Forum group and the response was immediate. The sum contributed was in excess of $49,000.00.
With the Urantia Foundation acting as the publisher, the Urantia Book was published under international copyright October 12th, 1955.THE Urantia BROTHERHOOD
It was inevitable that some sort of fraternal organization would grow out of the teachings of the Urantia Book. However, it was clear that it was not the purpose of the Urantia revelation to start a new church.
Accordingly, on January 2nd, 1955, a group of persons who believed the teachings of the book and who were interested in their proclamation, assembled in Chicago and completed the organization of the Urantia Brotherhood, a voluntary and fraternal organization of Urantia believers. This group of 36 composed the charter membership of the Urantia Brotherhood.
The purpose of the Brotherhood is well expressed in the preamble to the Constitution, as follows:
“Inasmuch as it is our most solemn conviction that the comfort, happiness, and well-being of man will be enhanced by the creation of an organization devoted to the purposes hereinafter expressed, and inasmuch as it is our considered judgment that the purposes hereinafter expressed, may best be accomplished through the mutual assistance and association of a body of people working together for a common cause, we do hereby unite together as a voluntary association and fellowship under the name of Urantia Brotherhood, and we do hereby adopt and establish this constitution of Urantia Brotherhood.”
The General Council, the original 36 organizers of the Brotherhood and their successors, is the direct the organization for the first nine years. Thereafter, the Brotherhood will be governed by the action of a Triennial Delegate Assembly composed of delegates from the various Urantia Societies.
The Departmental Committees of the Brotherhood are:
Fraternal Relations Committee
Domestic Extension Committee
Foreign Extension Committee
Committee of Education
Committee on Miscellaneous Activities
The chairmen of the committees, together with the Brotherhood officers, constitute the Executive Committee of the Brotherhood.
When ten or more persons who are familiar with, and believe in, the teachings of the Urantia Book so desire, they may be chartered as a Urantia Society. Membership in any church or fraternal organization does not interfere with becoming a member of a Urantia Society. Several local societies have been formed throughout the United States and the Brotherhood is fostering many study groups which will eventually develop into local societies.
Two Field Representatives have been appointed to act as liaisons between the Executive Committee and the local societies and study groups.
In accordance with Section 3 of Article 13 of the constitution, the Van Award has been established. This provision of the constitution reads: “If, in the opinion of the Executive Committee, any member of Urantia Brotherhood shall perform or render some unusual, extraordinary, or distinguished service, the Executive Committee shall present to the General Council the name of such member with the recommendation that a suitable award or citation in recognition thereof be given. Upon the presentation of such recommendation, the General Council, by unanimous vote of all Councilors present at any duly constituted meeting, may give of confer on such member such award or citation in recognition of the unusual, extraordinary, or distinguished service of such member as the General Council may deem fitting and appropriate.”
On January 25th, 1959, the first Van award was made.
Urantia BROTHERHOOD CORPORATION,
Since the Urantia Brotherhood is not a corporation – a legal entity – the Urantia Brotherhood Corporation was formed on October 21st, 1955, under the laws of the State of Illinois, designed to provide for corporations not-for-profit, to serve as the legal arm of the fraternal and voluntary association of the Urantia Brotherhood.
This corporation is the fiscal agent of the Brotherhood and in a general way takes care of the varied financial and legal interests of the Brotherhood.
In December 1959 the Internal Revenue Bureau of the United States government ruled that the Urantia Foundation, and the Urantia Brotherhood, and the Urantia Brotherhood Corporation were exempt from paying income taxes, and that any and all contributions made to these organizations are deductible from the income taxes of such donors.Urantia BROTHERHOOD SCHOOL
Among the early activities of the Brotherhood was the organization of the School of the Brotherhood, which began its first session in September 1956. The highest degree granted is that of “Ordained Teacher”. A shorter course of study leads to the degree of “Certified Leader”.
The school is conducted by the Committee on Education. Many textbooks have been prepared for use in the school and for use by a future correspondence school, which will no doubt materialize as the Urantia Book continues to be distributed throughout the world. These textbooks cover, among other subjects, theology of the Urantia Book, the teachings of Jesus, worship and wisdom, science in the Urantia Book, and topical studies. Other texts are in preparation.
At this writing only part-time evening classes are being provided.
The curriculum embraces courses in the following subjects:
Technique of Public Speaking
Leadership and Teaching
Christian Sects and Denominations
Old and New Testament History
Organization of the Urantia Book
Studies in the Urantia Book:
Life of Jesus
Worship and Wisdom
Short Course in Doctrine
Comparison with the Four Gospels
Science in the Urantia Book
Up to this time no degrees of “Ordained Teacher” have been granted, but diplomas as “Certified Leader” have been given to 14 individuals.DISTRIBUTION OF THE Urantia BOOK
At the time of the publication of the Urantia Book suggestions were given by the revelators respecting the methods to be employed in the work of its distribution. These instructions may be summarized as follows:
During the first five years these suggestions have been followed and the distribution increases yearly. The vast majority of the Brotherhood has concurred in this sort of quiet and gradual presentation of the book. However, one thing should be made clear: While it is the policy of the Brotherhood to work slowly in the presentation of the book, nothing is done to interfere with the energetic and enthusiastic efforts of any individual to introduce the Urantia Book to his friends and associates.