EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE LETTER
Dear Members of The Fellowship:
Our fourth quarter, 1990 meeting of the Executive Committee took place at our 529 Wrightwood offices on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17, 1990. This report will summarize for your information the deliberations and actions taken at the meeting. Prior to the meeting itself, the members of the Executive Committee, office staff, and several Chicago area friends gathered at the office to share a meal together in honor of the long and dedicated service given unselfishly to our organization by Gloriann Harris.
SUMMARY OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ACTIONS
1. Norman DuVal of Missoula, Montana and Michael Bartolo of Clearwater, Florida are welcomed into The Fellowship as new members-at-large.
2. The Finance Committee's proposal for a more personal fundraising program, involving members of the General Council, was approved for immediate implementation. The mailing list will be evaluated to identify the various categories of persons included on the list: donors, Fellowship members, study group participants, conference attenders, JOURNAL subscribers, and those who have not been especially active. Fundraising efforts will take this information into account. A 1991 ribbon bookmark with a printed quote was approved to send in thanks to every donor.
3. The proposed budget for 1991 was approved with modifications to maximize cost savings, maintain reader services, and more effectively support the organization's philosophical direction, mission, and purposes as set forth in its constitution.
4. It was agreed that the winter, 1991 issue of the BULLETIN would be used this year as the organization's annual report issue, containing information on finances, programs, and services for the past year and plans for the upcoming year. If worthwhile, this approach and timing may be utilized in future years as well.
5. The Executive Committee agreed that the site for the 1993 International Conference will be changed from British Columbia to Quebec, Canada. Specifically, the approved site is the Auberge des Seigneurs in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec located between Montreal and Quebec City. Brent St. Denis was selected as the conference chairperson. The International Conference will take place during the week of July 31-August 6, 1993. This move from Victoria was necessitated by restrictive timing and room availability changes made at the site previously selected. The Site Selection Committee reported that they had conferred with local groups both in California and the Seattle area but were unable to locate any facilities which combined the economy and accommodations offered by the Sainte-Hyacinthe location. The Site Committee also met with a dedicated group of Montreal area readers who have committed to help actualize the 1993 Conference.
6. The newspaper/phone outreach program now being tested in both California and Colorado, was formally approved as a Domestic Extension program. This committee will help coordinate and facilitate its implementation by any societies and/or local groups interested in undertaking it in their area, and may be able to secure matching funds to help local fundraising efforts. Chicago area societies have formally requested the help of Domestic Extension in launching the program in their area. It is expected that the program will continue to evolve through use and experience in local implementation.
7. The informative tear pad for placement in bookstores and on community bulletin boards by readers who wish to invite interest in the study of The Urantia Book was approved. Once printed, announcement will be made of its availability to Area Coordinators (who originally requested the tear pads) and to societies and other interested readers.
8. The Executive Committee instructed the chairman to contact Lynn Lear in the Los Angeles area to ascertain the possibility of holding the combined 1992 mid-year meeting of the General Council and Council retreat in that area of the country.
9. The chair's recommendation that the Program Committee for the 1991 Triennial Delegate Assembly consist of Brent St. Denis, Lynne Kulieke, and Jim Johnston was approved.
10. It was agreed that the responsibility to present a report to the General Council on open meetings would be given to the subcommittee which is facilitating the upcoming 1991 mid-year meeting of the General Council, Society Delegates, and Area Coordinators: Steve Dreier, Avi Dogim, and Mo Siegel.
11. It was also agreed that all members of the Fellowship's standing committees would be invited to attend the February meeting, to be held in Tampa, Florida on the weekend of February 15-17, 1991.
12. The office reorganization plan proposed by Mike Painter, who was appointed Executive Director of office services, was approved for immediate implementation.
REPORTS AND OTHER BUSINESS
1. It was reported that the availability of The Urantia Book in standard book industry channels--distributors and retail bookstores--was declining further inasmuch as Urantia Foundation had not fulfilled distributor orders in some cases since August. Research indicates that Baker and Taylor, Ingrams, Bookpeople, and Devorss were no longer carrying the book and may not include it in their 1991 catalogues. Retail bookstores consistently confirmed that distributors were listing The Urantia Book as currently "out-of-stock" on their microfiche catalog listing for 1990. There was a consensus that the new book policies implemented by Urantia Foundation had effectively destroyed 20 years of work in building book availability in legitimate book industry channels.
2. In an effort to counteract the growing unavailability of The Urantia Book in legitimate bookstore channels, the Fellowship has obtained a limited supply of Urantia Books for resale purposes and will make them available at cost to persons who are unable to purchase it through bookstores or other channels. Because the supply is somewhat limited, the number of copies sold to any single purchaser will have to be limited at this time.
3. It was reported that in the 1989/90 and 1990/91 editions of Bowker's Books in Print, the book industry bible listing all currently available books, "Urantia Foundation Staff" is listed as the author of The Urantia Book. The origin of this listing will be researched further and a report/suggested action will be directed to the Executive Committee.
4. Dan Massey reported on the deliberations of the Education Committee with regard to the program for the Summer Seminars to be held at Lake Forest College this coming summer, just after the Triennial Delegate Assembly and during the period June 23-28, 1991. The focus of the Seminars will be the first half of Section IV of The Urantia Book, Papers 120-157, and may include the following tentative thematic emphases:
* Inspired Living Amidst the Struggles/Trials of Time;
* As Seeing Him who is Unseen/Invisible;
* In Partnership with the Father/God;
* Building on the Foundation of Spiritual Reality;
* Who Do You Say that I Am?
5. The Fraternal Relations Committee will also conduct a portion of the Seminar program focusing on their continuing effort to better educate readers of The Urantia Book concerning the theologies, practices, expressions, and experiences of religionists who follow different paths to our common Father.
6. John Hay reported that after overcoming many often comical, logistical obstacles, the 1990 International Conference "Name-Address-Photo Booklet" will be mailed this month to conference attenders.
7. Jim Johnston reported on the status of various Fellowship publications: The Special Conference Issue of the JOURNAL--Part I, is slated for printing and mailing in early January and will be approximately 60-70 pages in length. It will be followed by Part II in the spring. Thereafter, the JOURNAL will be appear in its new, expanded format. The next issue of the BULLETIN is scheduled for first quarter, 1991 and in addition to featuring the organization's annual report, will contain the informational and registration materials for the Summer Seminars. Finally, the Study Group Herald's Inaugural Issue is nearing completion and should also be mailed during the first quarter of 1991.
8. Bob Bruyn reported that the Oral History Project, which involves taped interviews with readers who participated in the Forum and the Seventy, will begin shortly. He also informed the Executive Committee that with the help of Nancy Johnson, General Council and Executive Committee minutes from 1955 on will be scanned into a computer data base for indexing as an historical and reference resource. He requested names of volunteers who could help with the scanning. Anyone interested?
9. The Programs and Services Subcommittee made a report on their Friday night meeting. Their proposal to invite standing committee members to the February meeting was approved; the proposed schedule for that meeting was approved; and the informal re-structuring of the Executive Committee into three mission-based groups was approved, pending the outcome of the February meeting. The three groupings of Executive Committee officers and chairpersons would be: the purposes group (Domestic Extension, Education, Fraternal Relations, and International Fellowship); the administrative group (the officers minus the President); the support group (Finance, Special Projects, Publications, and Charter). The President would be an ex-officio member of each group, and the Judicial Committee chair would remain separate from each group and serve each in an advisory capacity.
10. The Name Subcommittee reported that the issue of our organization's name would be discussed at the February meetings in anticipation of making the final name selection this summer as scheduled.
Sometimes the circumstances of life are such that we cannot see the blessings we've been given because they are contained in packaging which hardly seems to speak of good fortune. Though many might argue that the search for blessings in the recent organizational experience we have gone through is a bit pollyanna-ish, the universe pattern seems to suggest that this is what we need to do. We know that the Father can always bring good out of something less; and if we are truly challenged by his admonition to become as perfect in our sphere of existence as he is in his, we will seek to do the same.
The recent thought which has been given by many readers of late concerning the mission and purposes of our Fellowship and which has led to a deeper examination of the original purpose statement contained in our Constitution, may be just such a search for blessings. Though it may not be correct to assert that this statement was "ordained" or "inspired," it can be stated that we know it was drafted by human beings deeply involved in the transmission of The Urantia Book and took place during the latter part of that revelatory, interactive process (beginning circa 1939). The very existence of the statement of purpose as institutionalized in the Constitution attests to the fact that, at the least, it must contain the spirit of what the Revelators intended for the evolution of a religio-social organization which was destined to develop as a consequence of the meeting between the teachings of The Urantia Book and searching mortals. So, a deeper look at that statement seems justified for those persons interested in the attempt to ascertain the intentions of the Revelators and desirous of bringing the very best out of our recent experiences.
In an effort to understand more fully the true challenge of this purpose statement, we have dissected it into what we believe are its various elements. More thinking needs to be done on all of this, and other than to put it forward here to encourage your active participation in the process, we will leave it to you to listen for the ring of truth and the echoes of the Revelator's intentions.
The Mission of Fifth Epochal Fellowship is "...to increase and enhance the comfort, happiness, and well-being of [humankind], as an individual and as a member of society, by fostering a religion, a philosophy, and a cosmology which are commensurate with [humankind's] intellectual and cultural development, through the medium of fraternal association."
Our material purpose is "...the study and dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book."
Our mindal purpose is "...the promotion, improvement, and expansion among the peoples of the world of the comprehension and understanding of Cosmology and the relation of the planet on which we live [Urantia] to the universe, of the genesis and destiny of [the individual and his/her] relation to God, and of the teachings of Jesus Christ."
Our spiritual purpose is "...the inculcation and encouragement of the realization and appreciation of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of [humankind]."
How do you respond to this view of our Constitution's purpose statement? Does it give a clearer picture of what was believed possible for a religio-social association of readers and believers in the teachings of The Urantia Book to accomplish together in this world? We would value any insights you care to share. May you each walk with God in your daily lives.
David N. Elders
A Service of
The Fellowship for Readers of The Urantia Book