Letter to the Membership
Avi Dogim, President,
The Urantia Book Fellowship
October 3, 2001
Dear Fellowship Member:
This letter, the purpose of which is to inform you of important developments within The Fellowship, is coming to you later than originally intended because I was more than a little distracted by the recent events that have altered our lives on this planet. My domestic perch on the Palisades overlooks Manhattan and my eyes are drawn with greater than ever frequency toward the gap in the skyline where the Twin Towers once stood. But that is merely the sensory cue that repeatedly opens the floodgates to the “what ifs”, “how could theys”, “now we musts”, and the myriad other swirling questions, half baked answers, resolutions and prayers. My hope and prayer, for now, is that this cataclysmic event will serve to accelerate the shift in human group identification from the national to the global.
As to Fellowship business, the General Council met in Santa Cruz, CA in August. Our friend John Hay returned to the Council, filling the seat recently vacated by Christel Schmidt. Duane Faw presented The Fellowship with his new version of The Paramony, the fruit of his labor of love of many years; The Fellowship accepted this important reference tool with gratitude and will publish it in the near future. The General Council voted to publish The Urantia Book. It also affirmed the Executive Committee’s fiduciary responsibility to undertake any office reorganization efforts that it considers to be in the best interests of the Fellowship. Plans for IC 2002 scheduled for June 30 – July 6 in Estes Park, CO, are well underway.
Some of the items mentioned above deserve elaboration. The following is fairly representative of the Executive Committee’s views on these subjects but you can reasonably assume that it may be slightly colored by my personal biases:
Publishing The Urantia Book
As you know, The Fellowship’s publishing arm, Uversa Press, published The Urantia Book in 1996 after a federal court ruling placed the book in the public domain. That edition was removed from the market, within a year of its appearance, upon the reversal of the ruling on appeal. The Fellowship chose to withdraw the books in order to avoid the certain risk of lengthy litigation that would have cost hundreds of thousands of donated dollars.
Over a year ago, the General Council took a straw vote to determine if there was sufficient support for publishing The Urantia Book in the event that it was placed, once again, in the public domain. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of doing so. In August of this year, a couple of months after a federal jury in Oklahoma placed the book in the public domain, the General Council considered the issue again and voted, formally this time, to publish the book. Although early into the discussion it became apparent that the majority on the council were in favor of publishing, a great deal of time was devoted to the topic in order to allow for a complete presentation of all viewpoints available around the table.
The Fellowship has a compelling reason for publishing The Urantia Book. This reason goes beyond the conviction that Uversa Press will improve on the book’s format and referencing system and significantly enhance its accessibility to serious study by the inclusion of an index.
Since 1955, The Fellowship has provided readers with a choice of participating in a democratically run, constitutionally driven organization that tolerates a great variety of viewpoints. We need to continue to provide that choice, and the only way we can do that is if new readers know about us.
Over three years ago, the Executive Committee drafted a plan for decentralizing The Fellowship office functions with a view toward increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our outreach and dissemination efforts. One of the elements of the plan was the eventual sale of the Wrightwood Avenue building in Chicago. For a variety of reasons, nothing has been done about this plan until recently when the EC decided to begin implementation. Prior to doing so, the EC decided to air this issue at the August GC meeting. Discussion of this topic centered primarily on whether or not it is important for The Fellowship to have a definite physical location. Finally, the General Council decided that the entire matter resides properly (and constitutionally) in the domain of the EC and that it alone should continue to deal with the implementation of this reorganization plan in the best way it saw fit.
The Fellowship’s next International Conference will be held from June 30 to July 6, 2002 in Estes Park, a conference center adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Well over 1000 Urantia Book students and their families are expected to attend. Information on and registration material for this exciting event, the theme of which is “Revelation in Action – Living the Teaching in Loving Service”, will be coming to you in the near future. You can also learn more about it on The Fellowship’s web site at http://urantia-book.org. We look forward to seeing you there.
In service and friendship,
For the Executive Committee