Letter to the Members of The Urantia Book Fellowship
August 30, 1999
From Janet Farrington Graham, President, The Urantia Book Fellowship
August 30, 1999
During the first week of August in Vancouver B.C., over 900 loving souls experienced a family reunion filled with an outpouring of genuine friendship, enlightening scholarship, inspiring worship, and energizing entertainment. On behalf of all who attended IC99, I would like to thank the organizing team, the workshop leaders and plenary speakers, and the musicians and producers, every one of who committed their skills and abilities--and their valuable time--to create an experience that will forever exist as a treasured memory.
Although this memory will surely provide comfort during inevitable difficulties, the most valuable aspect of our time together was the opportunity to experience true brotherhood, and the influence of this unfailing love upon our children. The youth were aglow as they moved among us in bonded units of two or more; the teens were transformed by their midnight meetings in the rose garden with the young adults who shared with them a personal passion for the revelation. The harvest of these new relationships will sustain our community throughout the great struggle of revelation service to which we have each dedicated our lives.
As you can read in my 1999 Annual Report, The Fellowship has been transforming itself as well. We are fully committed to an embrace of the entire readership through an encompassing philosophy of service; we actively seek to meet the needs of each individual and group regardless of their interest in, or affiliation with, any other organization. To that end, the General Council, in the annual meeting following the conference, passed two resolutions that represent our vision of community.
The first resolution states: The General Council of The Fellowship supports the recommendation of the Millennium Initiative Committee (MI) to form a formal working alliance with the International Urantia Association (IUA).
The MI consists of twenty individuals associated with the IUA, The Fellowship and other organizations who agreed to meet and discuss potential ways in which our two organizations could better work together. The committee proposed a formal working alliance, and although we understand that the council’s decision does not activate this alliance, we look forward to hearing from the IUA regarding their interest in pursuing the MI recommendation. We envision cooperative outreach projects, shared educational resources and study group information, and other progressive initiatives that serve the community of readers. A copy of the MI recommendation is attached.
The second resolution states: Whereas questions have arisen within the readership concerning the attitude of The Fellowship towards the recent private publication of "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" as a separate book, the General Council hereby reaffirms The Fellowship’s constitutional purpose, e.g. the study and dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book.
The council also directed me to briefly review our recent history regarding the separate publication of Part IV. Our hope is that the membership of The Fellowship will better understand our consistent behavior regarding this issue. At the August 9, 1996 General Council meeting--during the time The Urantia Book was in the public domain and after we had completed our publication of the Uversa Press edition--a proposal for the publication of Part IV as a separate volume was debated.
During that meeting, a proposal was made by a councilor concerning publishing Part IV of The Urantia Book as a separate volume. The money for this project would be privately provided and would not come out of The Fellowship’s budget. Another councilor indicated strong interested in this project. However each had different requests of the General Council: one was seeking our approval for acting as a private citizen to insure there would be no conflict-of-interest; the other was requesting the use of The Fellowship’s new architecture for a Part IV publication.
The council was reminded that when The Urantia Book first went into the public domain, the council voted unanimously to protect and preserve the text inviolate; this project of publishing Part IV as a separate volume would conflict with that resolution. After discussion, the two councilors withdrew their request, stating that they needed time to rethink the project and the various opinions expressed to them.
The General Council feels it is very important for the membership, and the readership at large, to understand that The Fellowship, as an organization, does not pass judgment on the dissemination efforts of private individuals. In addition, the clause in our constitution that states The Fellowship will be "...ever obedient and subservient to the laws of this country..." relates to the activities of the organization, not to individual members. We would remind the community that in keeping with this constitutional requirement, The Fellowship immediately ceased printing and selling the Uversa Press edition of The Urantia Book when the copyright was returned upon appeal to Urantia Foundation in June of 1997.
We consider the Michael Foundation’s publication of "Jesus -- A New Revelation" to be a private matter between the Michael Foundation and Urantia Foundation Trustees.
We now head into the final four months before the year 2000. During this time, I plan to engage in a season of communion and personal creative work, and to honestly evaluate the progress of the past, the prejudices still held in the present, and to envision a unity of purpose for the future. To prepare, I have been carefully reading the Jesus papers from beginning to end. It has been an enlightening and inspiring experience. There is no doubt in my mind that we can find answers to our complex material problems by contemplating the life and teachings of Jesus. I pray for the wisdom to comprehend the Master’s ennobling truth, and for the courage with which this truth must be lived.
Janet Farrington Graham