News and Opinions for Readers of The Urantia Book
Articles in this issue:
- Fellowship Meets Foundation in Chicago
- Area Coordinators Called to Service in New Study Group Leader Program
- Mighty Messenger Celebrates First Year; Fellowship Launches The Hearald
- Long's Peak Faithers Becomes Fellowship Associate
- Many Ways to Serve Editorial by Denis Neumann
- Happenings Here and There
- John Hyde Memorial
- Pilot Light Society Retreat
- Videos Wanted
FELLOWSHIP MEETS FOUNDATION
Foundation and Fellowship representatives met in Chicago on Friday, April 17 to discuss issues of mutual concern to both organizations. The all-day meeting was preceded by a social event Thursday evening, which included hors d'oeuvres, at the Fellowship headquarters followed by a dinner at the Foundation headquarters a block away. The Foundation team consisted of the five trustees, Foundation staff members, International Urantia Association (IUA) representatives and Coordinating Committee (CC) members appointed by the trustees. The Fellowship was represented by its Executive Committee and several General Councilors.
Friday morning was spent on presentations regarding the structure, decision-making process and operational methodology of each organization and the manner in which these differed from one organization to the other. One of the most substantial differences that became clear was that IUA policies and activities are governed by the five trustees who constitute the IUA board of directors, while Fellowship societies are autonomous and can carry out policies that are not directly derived from the General Council, the policy-making body of the Fellowship. Consequently, one finds diverse dissemination approaches and expressions of opinion regarding organizational matters among Fellowship societies and individuals, some of which may appear contrary to Fellowship policy, while IUA activities will almost invariably fall in line with Foundation policy.
On Friday afternoon the group discussed areas of possible mutual cooperation between the two organizations, including socialization among readers, outreach and dissemination. There was a general consensus that some of the more difficult inter- organizational issues were best left to be dealt with by smaller cooperative teams composed of Foundation and Fellowship representatives. These issues include translations, website activity, reader referral, and combined video presentations.
In her letter to members regarding this meeting, Fellowship President Janet Farrington Graham said, “It is my personal hope that this exploration will result in the illumination of a new paradigm for revelation service, one that will encourage all members of a unified community to freely disseminate an inviolate text.”
On Saturday evening most of the participants gathered again at the Foundation's headquarters for an impromptu pizza dinner and a remembrance supper. “Many of us were moved to tears,” Graham said, “by the sight of brothers and sisters joined in heart and mind by the Master's presence.”
AREA COORDINATORS CALLED TO SERVICE IN NEW
STUDY GROUP LEADER PROGRAM
Paula Thompson, Chairman of the Domestic Extension Committee, recently notified Area Coordinators about a redirection of their activities in the new Study Group Leader Program.
In her letter of February 20, she thanked Area Coordinators for their past service. “Of course we want to serve God by spreading the good news of the revelation,” she wrote, “”but we equally want to serve the brotherhood of believers by fostering sincere study of the book." Paula explained, “The AC program was originally intended to network readers and support study groups. The idea was to pass reader referrals, outreach ideas, and other pertinent information along to ACs who would in turn share that information with their area study groups. We now realize that direct service to study groups is more efficient.”
Features of the new program were outlined:
- Support of regional Study Group Leader conferences
- Study Group Leader workshops and retreats at international conferences
- Study Group Leader web page and chat list on the internet
- A Study Group Leader column in the Mighty Messenger newsletter
- Study group aids and resources available to Study Group Leaders on request
- Help with contacts and support for persons wishing to start a study group.
“Of course we will continue to publish the yearly Study Group Directory,” she added.
Thompson assured the ACs that the change was not due to the failure of the Area Coordinator program. Rather, she cited the changed environment within the reader community due to several factors: the recent discontinuation of the Uversa Press edition of the book; a rapproachment with Urantia Foundation; and a need to refocus our limited resources, time and talents.
As Area Coordinators shift emphasis, it might be interesting to review their history. The forerunners of ACs were Field Representatives. The first Urantia Brotherhood Field Rep was William S. Sadler, Jr., appointed in 1959. Others soon followed. The appointment of persons having authority in local areas was opposed by Constitutional purists at first. They were not answerable to the General Council. This issue was resolved by the Domestic Extension Committee who formulated their responsibilities and assumed oversight of Field Representative activities, thus making them indirectly responsible to the Executive Committee. In 1979 the Judicial Committee ruled that the Executive Committee indeed had the power to appoint individuals to carry out their purposes.
Besides Sadler, Field Representatives serving with distinction were Julia Fenderson, Berkeley Elliott, Paul Snider, Meredith Sprunger, Lew Clark, Steve Dreier, Helena Sprague, Peter Sarfaty, Dick Prince and Jim Mills. Henry Begemann and Mario Harrington were international “roving ambassadors.” They were catalyst personalities —they made things happen where no study groups existed.
Their original mission was to be liaisons between headquarters and the field, keeping communications open, and encouraging mutual understanding. They evolved into traveling teachers, organizers and personal ministers to individuals and groups. Field Reps were coordinators of, and advisors to, students and study groups in their geographic areas.
In the late 1980s their title was changed to Area Coordinator, and their activities expanded to include activities such as library book placement, bookstore promotion, telephone programs, regional conferences, local newsletters, book fairs, and annual AC conclaves. Several became activists, attempting to mediate the rift between the Fellowship (the former Brotherhood) and Urantia Foundation.
After 1989 there were fewer referrals to Area Coordinators because of unavailability of names of book purchasers. There has been less emphasis on training leaders and teachers than in early years. Study groups are not thriving; their number and quality are static or declining. Without a support structure, new readers drift away.
It was this problem the Triennial Delegates addressed in Vancouver last summer. They passed a resolution to restructure the function of Area Coordinators, to refocus their energies on the support and nurture of study groups. This motion was received unanimously by the General Council and sent to the Domestic Extension Committee, over which Paula Thompson now presides.
—Carolyn Kendall, April 1998
MIGHTY MESSENGER CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR;
FELLOWSHIP LAUNCHES THE HERALD
This edition of the Mighty Messenger marks the first anniversary of the Fellowship's new newsletter. One year ago, the Fellowship undertook the publishing of an experimental bare-bones newsletter to bring Urantia Book readers timely information about recent events, organizational decisions, and coming meetings. Since then, the Mighty Messenger has reached its intended audience on a quarterly basis as planned.
While the Messenger is devoted to time sensitive news, it was recognized that there is also a need for a philosophical and creative publication.
Though not precisely a revival of the old Brotherhood/Fellowship Journal, the new Fellowship Herald will include the literary features of the Journal, wedded to the upbeat tone of the more recent Study Group Herald, which was last published over a year ago. The Fellowship Herald will work toward a semiannual publication schedule. The first issue should be in people's mailboxes by late summer.
The Herald will include material related to family and community issues, scientific subjects, religious and philosophical matters, all examined in the light of The Urantia Book and its teachings. It could include digests of articles or presentations originally appearing in other forums that the editors deem to be deserving of a wider audience. Efforts will be made to also include original artwork and poetry.
As its main theme, the first issue will take its cue from the title of the publication—The Fellowship Herald. It will review how the fifth epochal revelation was introduced to the world. In the 43 years since the publication of the book, there has evolved a rich treasure trove of experience and debate on how this can be accomplished effectively and wisely.
We will present some of the ideas of leaders and readers, past and present, on how they have shared the book and its teachings, and how they believe it should be heralded to the world. Among the subjects to be highlighted: Does the book sell itself? Have introductory brochures and secondary publications been effective promotional aids? What part do translations play? Is person to person the best way? Why are some people so good at introducing the book to others—what are their secrets? How have the teachings affected professional religionists? How have readers who work in the entertainment media influenced the content of their projects? Have phone message programs, bulletin boards, booths and book fairs worked? What about the internet? Have our controversies helped or hindered the spread of the book?
With a more ambitious publications program, the need for donations is becoming evident. The first issue of the Herald will be free. It remains to be seen whether a subscription will be necessary.
LONGS PEAK FAITHERS BECOMES FELLOWSHIP ASSOCIATE
Longs Peak Faithers (formerly known as the Longs Peak Fellowship) of Loveland, Colorado, was recently granted Fellowship Associate status. Jill Kaveny and Jim Smith, who had been studying the book together for some years, were joined by LuAnn Harney in 1995, and the embryonic group was formed. Soon thereafter, long-time readers from around the area began joining the fledgling group. On February 5, 1998 the Fellowship received a request from the now thriving group for Fellowship Associate status.
Longs Peak Faithers activities have included hosting a booth in New West Fest in Fort Collins, an outreach program which helped them sharpen their dissemination skills and make their small group visible. Since then, they have had several others join their group that meets weekly for socialization, worship/prayer and study.
The group alternates meeting location on a monthly basis between Fort Collins and Loveland. This affords all individuals a shorter commuting time every other month and has created a sense of camaraderie among the members in the two cities.
The members plan to continue sharing with each other insights, discoveries, trials and joys. Their first and foremost goal is that of developing a “startling affection” for one another. They hope to bring to the world that which the world needs to see—the life of Jesus lived in their lives. They believe that “a natural outworking of this affection will be agreement on social and service projects [they] may endeavor to take upon [themselves].”
Their success will be a blessing to us all.
MANY WAYS TO SERVE
By H. Denis Neumann
Nearly every reader I have met over the years is well educated. A college education teaches the student to analyze and to question what he reads. This is particularly true if he is in the sciences.
I think this questioning makes it more difficult to spread the word. As we all know, the Urantia “word” is not an easy thing to spread.
My father did not finish high school. He had a strong religious faith that was unshakable, but it also did not allow for any questioning. When I tried to discuss The Urantia Book with my parents, my mother left the room. My father listened for a while and then said, “You have your beliefs, and we have ours.” End of conversation. Here was a man who did not question nor allowed questions. He was not introspective about his beliefs. I think many of the so-called Christian conservatives fall into this way of thinking. They do not question; they act. And this is right for them for where they happen to be in their progress toward spiritual understanding. I neither criticize nor envy them.
I think there is an effective way of getting our message across that has not been tried in a concerted manner.
We know that the written word of The Urantia Book was given to the planet as the most effective way to disseminate God's teachings in the twentieth century.
I propose that in addition to The Urantia Book, an effort be made by our readers to write articles, editorials and letters to the editors. When articles appear in various magazines and newspapers expressing ideas contrary to our understanding, a well-written letter could present another viewpoint of the cosmos, reality, or God. To eventually reach the era of light and life, the entire planet must be changed in manifold ways. Gradually changing the beliefs of thousands of people through other types of written material is one way of preparing the way for The Urantia Book's teachings.
There is a terrible impatience among many Urantia believers to do something NOW! Particularly is this so with newer readers. There are many ways to change the world, and the most effective ones are usually slow and sometimes tedious.
We must remember that there are many ways to serve. For one individual, it may be nothing more than doing thoughtful acts for others. For another, it may be doing volunteer work; for yet another it may be writing articles or letters to the editors. Who is to say that they are not effective ambassadors?
HAPPENINGS HERE AND THERE
- Summer Conference in Washington, DC July 9-12, 1998. There's still time to register for the 1998 Summer Conference at beautiful Mount Vernon College in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. This year's theme is “The Art of Spiritual Living.” You are invited to join Urantians from the US and abroad for this three-day experience of study, worship, recreation and fellowship. Special activities are planned for children. To register, call John Hales at 773-327-0424.
- Norman Ingram and Co., of “World Outreach for Urantia Nations” fame, are planning a trip to Africa in September of 1998. Their mission? To bring the light of the fifth epochal revelation to the “dark continent.” For more information, fax 562-698-2122*51 or e-mail norlastar @aol.com.
- The Urantian Emprise, Serge Bisson's and Cynthia Mantel's sailboat was recently launched and completed her first blue water voyage from Puerto Rico to Florida. The mariners will participate in the Millennial Odyssey, a multiphase global yacht race with spiritual overtones beginning in 1998 and ending in the year 2000. Serge and Cynthia plan to carry a mother lode of Urantia Books on board.
- Nick Curto of the Society of Greater New York plans to use the Gay Games, international gay and lesbian “Olympics,” which will be held in Amsterdam in August, 1998, as a forum for dissemination of The Urantia Book and its teachings to the gay community. Nick has the support of the New York Society as well as the Fellowship in this effort.
- Plan to attend Texas’ Lone Star Roundup Conference October 30-November 1, 1998 at Camp Buckner, near Burnet and Marble Falls, TX, adjacent to Longhorn Cavern State Park (60 miles northwest of Austin). Lodge and cabins available at reasonable rates. Early registration $30. Theme: “Why Pray?”
- The Grand Canyon Society is sponsoring a “Spiritual Retreat” at the Merritt Lodge in Payson, AZ, September 4-6, 1998.
- International Urantia Association (IUA) conference will be held in Helsinki August 7-10, 1998.
Upcoming Urantia Book Exhibits (Expos)
September 18-20 Austin
September 25-27 Sacramento
October 9-11 Chicago
October 16-18 Los Angeles
November 6-8 Atlanta
December 4-6 Portland
More detailed information on most of the above can be found on the Fellowship's website http://urantia-book.org.
JOHN HYDE MEMORIAL
On February 28 the Dallas Society held a special meeting to induct new members and to offer a farewell tribute to long-time member, John Hyde, who died January 2.
John was a reader for 20 years and took a very active part in society affairs, working booths in book fairs, organizing conferences and attending them, and placing more than a dozen Urantia Books in Dallas libraries. For some time he had been helping to compile a collection of “Urantia”-type music, and at the time of his death was writing a book expressing his ideas of the future of the Urantia movement.
John was an Area Coordinator and kept in contact with dozens of readers, sharing his extensive knowledge of the book with them. It was his dream to bring the book to the Russian people. He and his wife, Natasha, and their children were planning to move to Russia in December of this year to begin this work.
His favorite quotation is indicative of his faith: “...uncertainty is the secret of contented continuity....when ignorance is essential to success, it would be a colossal blunder for the creature to know the future.” (p. 438)
Warmhearted friends from Oklahoma attended and graced the double occasion with special musical arrangements.
We’ll miss you, John.
PILOT LIGHT SOCIETY RETREAT
The Pilot Light Society of Seattle is having a retreat and Jesus's Birthday celebration from Friday August 28, 1998 to Sunday August 30. It will be held at Lake Wenatchee YMCA camp in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. We will have morning seminars and presentations along with various types of exercise and play in the afternoons. Evenings will be filled with fellowship and worship experiences.
The camp is located 21 miles west of the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA and approximately 75 miles from downtown Seattle. The waterfront oriented camp offers swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing, as well as archery, basketball and hiking. Fifteen rustic cabins, each with 4 bunks are scattered among the trees and overlook scenic Lake Wenatchee. Meals will be served family style.
The cost of the retreat is $52 per person, plus $20 per person registration for a total of $72. The cost to register a family is $30. Children's activities will be planned, so bring these youngsters and share a great time with your family.
To reserve a space and receive more information, send the registration fee to Pilot Light Society of Seattle, c/o Carol Erickson, 22816 35th Ave SE, Bothell, WA 98021-8911 or phone 425-481-2923.
I am on the Fellowship PR committee and will be working on several Urantia Book video oriented tasks. Some of this will be on a cooperative basis with the Foundation, so I am requesting help from all Urantia Book readers regardless of affiliation.
What I am looking for right now are any audio/visual materials about the Urantia Book that can be put into our video archives, as well as possibly for making available for viewing during conferences, etc. Anything that was on the media; i.e., TV, radio, film, is acceptable, as well as any videos made during society meetings that are especially well done and potentially useful to the general readership and/or public. If you think you have what we're looking for, please e-mail me at email@example.com and I will give you my mailing address.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Published quarterly by Uversa Press
for the Publications Committee of
For Readers of The Urantia Book
Members: Avi Dogim, Chair
Nancy Johnson, Carolyn Kendall,
Linda Buselli, Geri Johnson
A Service of
The Fellowship for Readers of The Urantia Book