IC96 an Outstanding Success
The 1996 International Conference is a fond memory for the more than 1000 who attended. The event set new standards for all aspects of a Urantia Book conference, including program, activities for children and teens, and entertainment. Future conferences are certain to continue the achievements of IC96. Many thanks to conference chair Janet Farrington and the entire conference planning team. Their three years of dedicated effort provided a supreme experience for all.
Highlights of the August 1996 Annual General Council Meeting
The General Council voted against a proposal to enlarge the 36 member General Council by giving each Fellowship society the right to directly elect an councilor. Potentially, the General Council could have expanded to 55 members. The proposal, under consideration for more than five years, had been discussed at several meetings of the General Council, at society conclaves, and was the subject of several reports and many position papers.
The General Council approved in principle Fellowship-sponsored translations of The Urantia Book. An ad-hoc committee was formed to investigate the feasibility of specific translation projects. The committee will consider several translation proposals and report their findings at the February 1997 mid-year council meeting.
The General Council approved a proposal to develop an alternate membership category for reader groups who desire to affiliate with the Fellowship but who do not wish to become a Fellowship society. Membership requirements will be less demanding than those required for chartering as a society. Affiliated groups will not participate in the Triennial Delegate Assembly. The Charter Committee will develop the final details for this membership category, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee.
The General Council elected the following individuals to committee memberships:
Judicial -- Steve McIntosh 6 year
Charter -- Robert Bruyn 6 year
Fraternal Relations -- Gard Jameson 6 year
Domestic Extension -- Mo Siegel 6 year
International Fellowship -- Susan Ransbottorn 6 year
Education -- Michelle Klimesh 6 year
Education -- Patrick Yesh 1 year
Publications -- Carolyn Kendall 6 year
Finance -- Steve Wilsey 6 year
Special Projects -- Barbara Newsom 6 year
Mid-Year General Council Meeting in Kansas City MO
The mid-year meeting of the General Council will be held in Kansas City, MO at the Westin Crown Center Hotel beginning Friday, February 7, 1997 at 7:00 PM and continuing through to Sunday, February 9 at noon. The meeting will focus on review and planning for various Fellowship activities. All members are welcome to attend as observers. Societies are particularly encouraged to send representative observers.
1997 Summer Seminar in Vancouver, BC
The 1997 Summer Seminar will be begin with a social evening on Thursday July 10, 1997 at 7:00 PM and continue through to Monday, July 13 at noon at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. As noted below, this is the same facility that will host IC99. The Summer Seminar will be preceded by the Triennial Delegate Assembly and followed by the Triennial Meeting of the General Council.
IC99 Site Decision - Vancouver, BC
International Conference 1999 will be held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. Gard Jameson, the conference chair, is now in the process of assembling the conference planning team. Anyone wishing to make recommendations to Gard concerning any feature of the conference is encouraged to do so.
Date for 1997 Triennial Delegate Assembly
The 1997 Triennial Delegate Assembly (TDA) will be begin on Wednesday, July 9, 1997 at 7:00 PM and continue on Thursday July 10 until the completion of business. The meeting will be held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, in conjunction with the Summer Seminar. The primary business of the TDA is the election of 12 General Councilors to 9 year terms. In addition, the TDA usually adopts resolutions which are presented to the General Council for consideration. Societies are encouraged to begin the process of electing their delegates and alternates as soon as possible. All members are encouraged to nominate qualified individuals for service on the General Council. Forms for this purpose can be obtained from the Wrightwood office.
First Wisconsin Society Chartered
The First Wisconsin Society was formally installed as a Fellowship Society on Saturday, September 14, 1996. Founders, Charter Members and guests gathered in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin for the installation ceremonies and celebration. Welcome and congratulations to the newest Fellowship society.
Urantia Foundation Sues the Fellowship
Urantia Foundation filed a formal legal complaint against the Fellowship on August 16, 1996. The complaint alleged various counts of trademark infringement, unfair advertising and copyright infringernent. Fortunately we were able to reach a settlement with Urantia Foundation ending the matter, and avoiding the unhappy potential for extended litigation. Members wishing additional details about this matter should contact the Fellowship office.
Fellowship and Foundation to Meet for Informal Discussion
As a result of the lawsuit mentioned above, there has been considerable direct contact between officers of the Fellowship and the Foundation in the last few months. These discussions have resulted in a planned meeting between the Trustees of Urantia Foundation and five members of the Fellowship Executive Committee. The meeting is scheduled for the weekend of January 10- 12, 1997. This will be the first "official' meeting of the two groups since their separation in October 1989.
The meeting will be informal, with no fixed agenda. Members are strongly encouraged to submit comments concerning this meeting, including suggestions for matters the Fellowship representatives might raise with the Trustees. Send your thoughts to Steve Dreier at the Fellowship office.
Uversa Press Edition of The Urantia Book
The new soft-cover Uversa Press edition of The Urantia Book has been well received by both readers and the book industry. Many distributors now stock the new edition and it will soon begin to appear on bookstore shelves at a retail price of $18.95. International distributors have also placed substantial orders. You can help stimulate bookstore stocking of this edition by visiting a local bookstore and ordering a copy. The ISBN number is 0-9651972-1-2.
Based on current sales levels, a second printing is planned for Summer 1997. In anticipation of this, the Fellowship would be happy to receive any suggestions for improvements to the next printing.
International Activities Increasing
The Fellowship is continually engaged in efforts to stimulate worldwide interest in The Urantia Book. Some of these efforts are beginning to show significant fruit. For example, as a result of visits to Lithuania beginning three years ago, including the gifting~g of several dozen books, there are now active study groups involving about 200 people. Several of these readers are working on a Lithuanian translation.
The Fellowship also has active contact with readers in Russia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, India and several other countries. We continue to supply books to these readers, and to stimulate study by regular communication and periodic visits.
Fellowship Web Page - www.ubfellowship.org
The Fellowship now has a web page on the Internet at ubfellowship.org. The page is being managed by the Special Projects Committee in association with a number of technically proficient individuals. The page is under constant development and those working on it would appreciate any suggestions for additions or improvements. In addition, the Fellowship can be reached through E-mail at email@example.com. Suggestions can be posted to this address marked to the attention of David Kantor.
Worldwide interest in The Urantia Book seems to be increasing. Annual book sales are one indication of this trend. For many years this figure hovered at about 10,000, but recently it jumped to about 20,000. As sales continue at or above this level we can anticipate significant increases in activity for the Fellowship and for all other organizations associated with The Urantia Book. We should expect more reader inquiries and participation in study groups, conferences and similar activities.
Some of this increase is likely due to the expanded communications made possible by the development of the Internet. There are literally dozens of Urantia-related web pages functioning around the world. Internet browsers interested in spiritual topics are discovering The Urantia Book through these pages, and existing readers are coming into contact with other readers, often for the first time. The entire text of Yhe Urantia Book, fiffly indexed, can be easily downloaded from several websites. These activities are still in their infancy. As they mature they will likely have a profound effect on worldwide interest in The Urantia Book.
It is important to recognize that this increase in interest is worldwide; much of it is occurring in countries where the principal language is not English, and the cultural and social practices are cWerent from those in North America. During its 41 years of existence, the Fellowship has functioned primarily with readers from North America. The Fellowship's future will be conditioned by its willingness and ability to serve and fellowship an increasingly diverse international Urantia Book community.
As things develop there will be greater need for assistance from individuals who are willing and able to serve the needs of the growing Urantia movement. As always, the most fundamental service is simply studying the book, to know and sincerely attempt to live its teachings. This can be done with or without organizational involvement. Next, supporting or starting a local study group is a valuable and important service activity. And for those who are so disposed there are always many opportunities to help with the many complex organizational projects sponsored by the Fellowship and other Urantia-related organizations.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and for a healthy and productive new year.
Steve Dreier President