EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE LETTER
To: General Councilors, Society Presidents, and Field Representatives
It is evident that Urantia Brotherhood has become involved in a rather complex situation dealing with personal beliefs and organizational responses. I visited Vern Grimsley at his new headquarters in Clayton, California, in order to obtain first-hand information he wished to share, realizing there would be repercussions on activities of Urantia Brotherhood. I reported on my visits at the November 18 meeting of the Executive Committee.
After lengthy discussion, the Executive Committee reached a consensus that we must rely on the group process in making our decisions. As a result of this democratic procedure, it was agreed a letter would be written to state our position which might help alleviate some of the confusion being expressed in phone calls and letters received at Brotherhood headquarters. Suggestions were made by committee members and I was asked to write a letter which would be representative of our collective thinking. My letter of Dec. 15, 1983, reflects this group effort and was mailed to those on our mailing list. For convenient reference, a copy of this letter is attached.
Charter Committee... Chairman Dave Elders reported on the installation of the Urantia Society of San Fernando Valley on October 9. He also mentioned that two more requests for information on the chartering of societies have been received -- one from a study group in Anchorage, Alaska, and the other from a group in Santa Cruz, California. Both groups have been in existence for some time. He has sent informational material so that the process might get under way.
Domestic Extension Committee... Harry McMullan, Chairman, reported that as of now approximately 196 study groups have requested to be listed in the directory of study groups. This directory will include the names and phone numbers of contact individuals as well as a listing of group members. When printed, it will be for sale through the office.
Finance Committee -- 1984 Budget... The proposed 1984 budget was presented by Chairman Frank Sgaraglino and was adopted by the Executive Committee. A copy of the budget is enclosed. If there are any questions concerning these financial matters, please feel free to contact either Frank or myself.
Dust jacket of The Urantia Book.... The recommended changes to the dust jacket were reported on by Vice-President Carolyn Kendall. This was a project initiated by the General Council with the intention of making changes that would encourage bookstore browsers to be more attracted to looking into The Urantia Book. These recommendations were sent to Urantia Foundation for their final assessment. It is hoped that what changes are approved will be in time for the 8th printing which will take place sometime this year.
The Dissemination of The Urantia Book and statement on Publicity... This unabridged statement is now available to those requesting it. As a topic of importance to our organizational work, I am enclosing a copy for your study To date, we have had some 40 requests for this complete version. As you may recall, an abridged statement was mailed in the fall to our entire mailing list. I wish to thank Carolyn for her fine work in editing this paper. I would look forward to any comments you wish to make concerning this document.
1984 General Conference... Report of the Planning Committee indicated the various elements that go into conference planning are coming together. I am enthusiastic about the program which is flexible enough to appeal to the different interests of readers -- those on their first reading as well as students of many years experience. It was pointed out that early registration will greatly facilitate planning for workshop leaders.
Members-at-Large... I wish to welcome Mike and Cindy Wood of Gardner, Kansas, as members of Urantia BROTHERHOOD.
Enclosed is part of an article which appeared in Harper's November 1983 issue titled "Who's Who in Gurus." There is a rather benign reference to The Urantia Book dealing with its phenomena rather than the content. Harper's has a wide circulation among middle and upper-middle class college-educated people.
From the lighter side, I include something sent to me sometime ago by an interested reader. Enjoy. Or should I say "bon appetit."
Warm Regards, John W. Hales, President JWH/rj Encl: Letter of 12/15/83 1984 Budget Publicity Statement (unabridged) Harper's Article Toad
cc: Society Secretaries
Urantia Brotherhood 533 Diversey Parkway Chicago Illinois 60614 December 15, 1983
I am writing on behalf of the Executive Committee of Urantia Brotherhood concerning recent events. Information has been circulated about the possibility of a world war by an individual who has enjoyed long association with the activities of Urantia Brotherhood. Such information is neither new nor remarkable in itself. What is new is the claim that the message is of spirit origin. We have received many telephone inquiries questioning the position of the Brotherhood concerning these matters and the individuals directly involved with spreading this information.
It is probable that many of you had not heard about these events until you received a letter from Urantia Foundation stating some details of this matter.
The first opportunity for the fourteen member Executive Committee of the Brotherhood to discuss these events was at its regular meeting November 18. Through the group discussion process we reached certain conclusions. I wish to share the results of our deliberations with you.
It should be clear that as an organization the Brotherhood does not support the claims being made nor are we to be in any way linked to them. This statement of group policy is not a judgment of the personal experience of any individual.
Let me review some background information. Urantia Brotherhood is described in its Constitution as a social and fraternal organization with a religious purpose. Being associated with the Brotherhood either through membership or as a friend does not limit one's involvement with any other organization. The Brotherhood is not an ecclesiastical organization nor does it claim any ecclesiastical authority. It exercises no authority to sit in judgment on the personal religious experiences of anyone. To make an exception to this principle would set a bad precedent as it would change the nature of the Brotherhood. It is not our mission to assess any individual's sometimes dramatic experiences for validity, accuracy, or spiritual content.
However, while the Brotherhood does not pass judgment on the claims of individuals or groups, it does have the duty to make response to actions taken by individuals or groups that may create misunderstanding or confusion among members and friends of the Brotherhood. This is especially true if such confusion diverts efforts from our primary mission -- encouraging the study and dissemination of The Urantia Book and its teachings. We believe the current situation requires our comment.
Over the years, the Brotherhood office has received phone calls and letters from individuals claiming to have received, or to be receiving, special messages from supernatural sources. We have never disputed their personal claims. Neither have we accepted or encouraged them. Rather, we have sincerely wished them well in their truth-seeking efforts. Urantia Brotherhood must conduct its affairs through the insights acquired from evolutionary experiential wisdom, epochal revelation, and the personal guidance of its members as all of these resources find group expression in the democratic process. Our democratic organization was established to allow group wisdom to function.
This situation is different in degree from those of the past since the individual bringing the message has had a long history of public ministry in promoting the gospel of Jesus. In addition, he has been a speaker at many conferences and gatherings of Urantia Book readers. His public stature coupled with the sincerity of his claim has created a perplexing situation for many who find it difficult to separate their love and caring for the individual from the disbelief in the claims he has made.
Let us not divide ourselves over whether one believes the validity of the "message" or not. Let us not make belief in the "message" a test of faith and friendship. Human argument about the claims being made have shown that what is reasonable to one can be unreasonable to another.
Urantia Brotherhood is an organization established to promote and encourage teamwork among all believers in the fifth epochal revelation and their wise efforts to disseminate the supernal truths it contain. Do not let the thorns of human differences divert us from our task. Recall that Jesus tells us that we are not created to think alike. He tells his apostles to demonstrate spirit unity in the face of great diversity.
During this traditional season which celebrates the birth of Jesus let us pause to pray for greater understanding of each other and rededicate ourselves to the Father's will.
John W. Hales, President Urantia Brotherhood
A Service of
The Fellowship for Readers of The Urantia Book