The Mighty Messenger
News from The Urantia Book Fellowship
Democracy in Action -- News about the upcoming TDA meeting
Executive Committee Letter -- Organizational update from President Avi Dogim
IC05 Site Selected
Invitation to the Summer Study Session
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION
The Fellowship's 21 Chartered Societies have been called to elect representatives to attend a newly constituted Triennial Delegate Assembly (TDA). The TDA is scheduled for July 16 and 17, just prior to the Summer Study Session in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
The selection of a Delegate and an Alternate is a very important duty and privilege for a Society. First, their representatives will elect 12 of the 36 members of the General Council (the Fellowship's policy-making board) whose terms expire this year, plus at least two vacancies created by resignations. Secondly, they can influence the General Council's agenda by passing resolutions for the Council to consider. Finally, the TDA may choose to recess and reconvene each of the next two years, as did the Assembly three years ago. If such is the case, Society representatives would be serving three-year terms.
Society representatives should be chosen for qualities that match the tasks of the Assembly. When the representatives, themselves, have attended Council meetings, know how it functions, and appreciate the kind of volunteers the Council needs to function effectively, then the Assembly can select the best members for the Council. Knowledge of the Fellowship Constitution and how the organization functions is important. Of course, there is no substitute for knowing candidates personally and being aware of their contributions to the revelation. Finally, Society representatives who are level-headed and team players contribute greatly to the Assembly's deliberative process.
"10. Intelligent and trained representation. The survival of democracy is dependent on successful representative government; and that is conditioned upon the practice of electing to public offices only those individuals who are technically trained, intellectually competent, socially loyal, and morally fit." [71:2.14]
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE LETTERDear Fellowship Member:
To the reader: This special edition of the Mighty Messenger features the Executive Letter, informing The Fellowship members of recent developments in their organization. The Executive Letter has in the past been mailed 1st class to members. The current method of disseminating the letter is employed in order to cut mailing costs. This issue is mailed to Fellowship members only. Please feel free to share it with anyone in your area who is interested. As always, your comments are most welcome.
The bulk of this letter is a report on the mid year meeting of the General Council and the Executive Committee as well as the retreat-like special session of the Executive Committee, all of which were held in Las Vegas from January 28 - February 2, 2003.
The Executive Committee had decided, at the conclusion of its October meeting, to hold a special session, prior to its regular February meeting, to discuss issues of overarching concern which it normally has no time to discuss during its regular business meetings. A fairly detailed report on this special session was presented to the General Council, which, in turn, spent a good portion of its meeting reacting to this report. The issues discussed were as follows: 1. How does The Fellowship, as an organization, present the Urantia Book to the world? 2. How does The Fellowship communicate with the world – through its print publications, through its website, and through other means? 3. Should The Fellowship view itself as a publisher of The Urantia Book for the long haul or is it in the publishing business for a temporary period of time? 4. Does The Fellowship need to be involved in Urantia Book translation efforts? 5. What should be the scope, priorities and approaches of The Fellowship’s international outreach efforts? 6. Is the Fellowship making proper use of its current committee structure? 7. Does the Fellowship’s structure serve well the Fellowship’s purpose or are revisions in the structure necessary?
Presenting the Book to the World: The question of how to present the book to the world generated a long discussion among the members of the EC, during which individuals expressed deep feelings about the meaning of The Urantia Book to them and how that meaning has evolved over the years. While the principle of gauging an individual’s readiness for various types of information contained in the book, when one is involved in person-to-person dialogue, is well understood, it is quite another matter when one considers the question of how does an organization introduce the book to the world. The problem with introducing the book as a “revelation” is that one runs the risk of being perceived as a “fundamentalist”. The fact that it contains a vast number and voluminously incorporated human sources, may, among other things, be a hedge against the pitfall of fundamentalism. It may require one to say that the book contains a revelation, rather than it is one. The EC did not arrive at definite conclusions on this matter, other than to say that much thinking needs to continue to be invested into this.
The Fellowship Website is regarded as an excellent dissemination tool as well as a powerful research tool for anyone interested in learning about The Urantia Book, The Fellowship and related matters. Two basic guiding principles were agreed upon regarding the structure and content of our website: 1. There should be a very clear distinction between items on the website that relate to The Urantia Book and items that relate to the organization, 2. Items that relate to certain arcane organizational matters or to political matters should be subject to restricted access, possibly through the use of a password; there should be a way to insure that such items would not pop up through the use of the word “Urantia” as a keyword on a search engine. An ad hoc website committee was formed. Its purpose is to review the entire Fellowship website in order to ascertain, among other things, to what degree the website conforms to the above principles. The committee will teleconference by March 1 and issue its report and recommendations shortly afterwards.
Print Publications: The general view was that both The Fellowship Herald and The Mighty Messenger serve our purposes well. A suggestion was made that we may want to publish our journal for the general public rather than just for The Urantia Book reader community. It was generally felt that in order to do so we would need a totally different kind of journal than the Herald and that we are not ready for this. Ideally we would want the newsletter to be published quarterly, but cost of mailing is a very significant factor militating against this. There was a discussion about the possibility of emailing the newsletters to individuals on the list who are able to receive the newsletter in this format. An ad hoc committee was appointed to investigate this option. A subsequent discussion on the Executive Committee addressed additional ways of reducing mailing costs by combing mailings and making greater use of 3rd class rather than 1st class mailings.
General Communication: During a discussion on the General Council about the way all of us communicate, some have made the observation that we tend to rely too much on email and that there is not enough communication that is more personal. Some commented and most seemed to agree that all of us on the Council should be talking more frequently to our friends in the “reader community” and that we should recognize the work individuals are performing in order to disseminate The Urantia Book.
The discussion on publishing The Urantia Book was rather short. The consensus was that doing so is very much part of our mission for now and for the foreseeable future. It is too difficult to determine at this time whether this will need to remain as part of our mission years from now. Time will tell. Certainly, our mission or vision will need to be revisited periodically in order to correct and/or to determine our course.
Regarding translations, there was a general update about the status of various translation efforts we know of. There was no sense that the Fellowship needs to get involved directly in any translation work at this time.
International outreach is undertaken by The Fellowship for the primary purpose of spreading The Urantia Book throughout the world. In order to do so, we needs to identify key individuals who can serve in liaison between the local groups and The Fellowship, we need to be available to assist groups to organize, and we need to foster an environment in which study of the book is promoted. We need to do all this in an un-intrusive manner – in a way that allows each group to develop its own character rather than have us impose our character on them. The major area of concentration today is Central and South America. There is a need to reach out to Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. We must find a way to find the resources for doing this.
This led to a discussion about the need to involve young people in our work, internationally and otherwise. Questions were raised about how does one attract young people to the “movement”. Observations were made that many of the younger readers seem interested in attending conferences and traveling to various “Urantia” related events, but do not appear interested in doing much work. Suggestions were made that perhaps the younger readers need to be challenged with a meaningful and exciting project. An example that surfaced was the distribution of Urantia Books to refugee camps in various parts of the world.
Organizational Structure: There was a general consensus that we need to review our constitution to determine whether, in its current form, it serves our organizational needs, or whether it could be improved. The options available to us, should we want to institute changes, range anywhere from incremental changes, through a series of constitutional amendments over time, to a complete and radical overhaul through a constitutional convention. The judicial committee will consider the range of options and present them to the Executive Committee by the summer.
Regardless of whether or not structural changes are made, committee work could be improved. Committee work at its best is a process whereby the chair facilitates a deliberative process leading to decisions that culminate in meaningful actions. In order for the process to work well, all committee members must be actively engaged. The chair needs to be able to ask inactive members to step down so that people who are eager to do the work may be given an opportunity to do so.
Summer 2003 Meetings:
As seen in the previous issue of the Mighty Messenger, the upcoming Summer Study Session, Revelation and the Religionist, will be held at East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania from July 18 – 20, 2003.
Prior to the beginning of the study session, the Triennial Delegate Assembly (TDA), a group of society representatives, will meet to elect one third of The Fellowship’s 36-member General Council. Societies that have not already done so, need to elect their delegates as soon as possible. If there are issues that societies wish the General Council to discuss, they should consider drafting resolutions that their delegates can present for deliberation at the TDA. It would also help the process along if such resolutions were published in advance of the TDA on the SocAdmin list.
Fellowship members should think about individuals who could help advance the purposes of The Fellowship by serving on the General Council. If you know someone like that, try to persuade that person to submit a service application to The Fellowship office that he/she can be considered by the TDA during the summer elections.
The General Council convenes immediately after the conclusion of the Summer Study Session. The first item on the Council’s agenda will be the election of officers. As usual, the Executive Committee will present a slate of candidates; nominations can also be made from the floor. The election process itself is done in a closed session of the Council. All members are welcome to observe the rest of the Council meeting.
VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY SELECTED AS SITE FOR IC05
Nestled in a beautiful and historic suburb of Philadelphia, Villanova University will host the Fellowship's International Conference in 2005. Modern air-conditioned accommodations, spacious meeting rooms, convenient rail transportation to both the airport and downtown Philadelphia and many other amenities will provide an inviting backdrop for the study of the book and the socializing of attendees that make international conferences so memorable. A virtual tour of the Villanova University campus may be found on the web at http://www.admission.villanova.edu/virtualtour/index.html
Looking for a Logo for IC05
Are you creative? Artistic? As part of planning for IC05, conference coordinators are asking interested readers to submit designs for a conference logo. The Fellowship will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Urantia Book, and designers may want to consider including this theme in their designs.
Send your completed designs to: IC05 Committee, The Urantia Book Fellowship, 99 Park Avenue, #434A, New York, NY 10016.
May 17 & 18 - Santa Cruz, CA "Angel Fest" will be held in the homes of individual readers. For information, contact Dolores Nice at email@example.com.
May 23-26 (Memorial Day Weekend) Florida Students of The Urantia Book are sponsoring
"Spiritual Relationships: Uniting Human & Divine" at the Methodist Life Enrichment
Center, Leesburg, FL. For further information contact Share Beasley (813) 684-1540 or ]
July 18-20 - Fellowship Summer Study Session, East Stroudsburg Univ., East Stroudsburg, PA
July 18-Sept. 12 - Various retreats at Silver Springs, Ontario. For further information, contact
Sue & Derek Tennant at 1-800-546-5601 or www.ubretreats.ca.
Oct. 3-5 - "The Eternal Son" at St. Dorothy's Rest in the redwoods at Camp Meeker, CA.
Contact Dolores Nice at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
And don't forget 7th Annual Lone Star Roundup in the hill country of Texas at the end of October. Further information to follow.
INVITATION TO THE FELLOWSHIP'S SUMMER STUDY SESSION AND TDA
This issue of the Mighty Messenger brings with it your registration form for The Fellowship's upcoming Summer Study Session in East Stroudsburg, PA. (The form is available electronically on the website at http://urantia-book.org/conferences/ss03reg21.pdf). The three-day session is being held on the charming 185-acre campus of East Stroudsburg University (www.esu.edu), nestled in the picturesque Pocono Mountains at the northern edge of the Delaware Water Gap National Conservancy. The Summer Study Session begins Friday morning, July 18 and ends Sunday afternoon, July 20. Most attendees will be checking in on Thursday evening in time to enjoy the social gathering hosted by the New York Society and readers from the greater New York region.
The Triennial Delegate Assembly (TDA) will convene just prior to the Study Session, from Wednesday evening, July 16 through Thursday, the 17th. During the TDA Fellowship Society representatives will determine which candidates will fill the thirteen available seats in the General Council, which will meet right after the Summer Session ends on Sunday at 1:00 P.M. The TDA will also deliberate and vote on Society-sponsored resolutions that will be presented to the newly constituted General Council.
Our theme, "Revelation and the Religionist," has been chosen to promote the exploration of the Urantia Papers from the perspective of epochal revelation's impact on the individual religionist vis-ŕ-vis social and organizational identities. The distinction here becomes more profound as we pause to consider, both personally and collectively, how the human source materials were masterfully woven into the fabric of the truth, meaning, and value content of The Urantia Book.
With increasing public exposure, these papers will soon face further scrutiny in regard to their mysterious origins in relation to the employment of some of the highest human thoughts and writings of the early 1900s. It is becoming more apparent that some of the science content in various papers in The Urantia Book may be in "need of revision." This may be troubling to many believers. Yet, we are repeatedly cautioned about crystallizing our truth receptivity and faith acceptance within the limited frame of a written document.
"Owing to the isolation of rebellion, the revelation of truth on Urantia has all too often been mixed up with the statements of partial and transient cosmologies. Truth remains unchanged from generation to generation, but the associated teachings about the physical world vary from day to day and from year to year. Eternal truth should not be slighted because it chances to be found in company with obsolete ideas regarding the material world. The more of science you know, the less sure you can be; the more of religion you have, the more certain you are.
The certainties of science proceed entirely from the intellect; the certitudes of religion spring from the very foundations of the entire personality. Science appeals to the understanding of the mind; religion appeals to the loyalty and devotion of the body, mind, and spirit, even to the whole personality. [102:1.3,4]
When asked about the validity of "holy scripture" as the authority for daily living, Jesus replied to Nathaniel: "Mark you well my words, Nathaniel, nothing which human nature has touched can be regarded as infallible. Through the mind of man divine truth may indeed shine forth, but always of relative purity and partial divinity. The creature may crave infallibility, but only the Creators possess it." [159:4.8]
As pioneers in the discovery and study of many of the human sources Matthew Block, Steve Dreier and others will be on hand to present personal perspectives on their findings. Dan Massey will re-examine some of the scientific facts offered in the papers, along with their context. And David Kantor will present "Divine Values and Sacred Texts: Linguistic Issues in the Textural Presentation of Revelation."
A number of workshops are also planned. Alison Gardner and the Fellowship's Public Relations Committee will be offering workshops on presenting The Urantia Book in public venues, and the Interfaith Committee is planning a workshop on Islam and another on models of effective interfaith dialogue.
Let's come together for this year's summer session with renewed truth hunger and faith sincerity. These are the qualities of true religionists, who with spiritual courage and commitment dare to unite in continuing to build upon Jesus' unfinished creation of "family fellowship with God" the kingdom of heaven on earth!