Urantia Foundation's Outgoing President - Richard Keeler
From Richard Keeler, Urantia Foundation's Outgoing President
During the six years I served as President, I endeavored to promote spiritual unity. I realize that the revelators also emphasize diversity, imagination, and creative spiritual freedom. But spiritual unity - unity of purpose - does not require uniformity of belief, much less uniformity of institutional arrangements. The Midwayer Commission states that as Jesus and the apostles were passing through northern Galilee, Jesus said:
"The religion of the spirit requires only unity of experience - uniformity of destiny - making full allowance for diversity of belief. The religion of the spirit requires only uniformity of insight, not uniformity of viewpoint and outlook. The religion of the spirit does not demand uniformity of intellectual views, only unity of spirit feeling. The religions of authority crystallize into lifeless creeds; the religion of the spirit grows into the increasing joy and liberty of ennobling deeds of loving service and merciful ministration." (p.1732, par. 2)
Jesus' emphasis on loving service is a vivid reminder of the challenges that confront the Foundation and all readers of the revelation. Yes, we must continue to carry out the Foundation's longstanding work of publishing, translating, and preserving the text. But I am convinced that readers of the revelation must also find ways to work together more imaginatively, effectively, and lovingly as we seek to promote spiritual growth throughout the world - broader, deeper, and more sincere respect for the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
After all, the revelators did not bring forth their teachings just to give business to printers and bookstores. The real challenge is to bring about epochal changes in the ways that men and women think, live, and treat each other. As a Divine Counselor tells us, "The affectionate dedication of the human will to the doing of the Father's will is man's choicest gift to God." (p.22, par.5) And as the Master said, "If you love your fellows as I have loved you, then shall all men know that you are my disciples." (p.1125, par.2) This sweeping spiritual upgrade will inspire humanity and help us turn in much overdue homework - important parts of the Father's plans for Urantia that have been greatly delayed because of the Caligastia betrayal and the default of Adam and Eve.
While I served as President, interest in the revelation expanded substantially in other regions of the world. For example, the International Urantia Association (IUA) now operates in 17 countries, and the Foundation is selling considerably more copies of the six translations it publishes than of the original text in English. The revelation is not quite a global movement, but we are coming close.
Within the next few years, the Foundation will make available seven more translations (Estonian, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Swedish). We have also started working on translations into Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, and six other languages, but it will take considerably longer to complete these projects.
As the Foundation's President, I sought to expand the circle of committed readers who help with particular tasks and make other invaluable contributions of their time and resources. For example, since 1999 the members of the Matthew Project Committee have been helping the Foundation develop improved plans for raising funds and broadening the Foundation's base of contributors.
Last September I encouraged the Board of Trustees to increase its storehouse of wisdom and experience by inviting experienced advisors to our quarterly meetings. Since then, the Foundation's four Associate Trustees (Carolyn Kendall, Jane Ploetz, Nancy Shaffer, and Kathleen Swadling) and two Trustees Emeriti (Patricia Mundelius and Neal Waldrop) have shouldered increasing amounts of the Trustees' workload, and I look forward to further benefits from their insight and energy in the years to come.
I am not leaving the Board, just shifting to another chair.
Before I make a few personal remarks, I would like to offer hearty congratulations to The Urantia Book Internet School, an innovative endeavor that sprang to life within the last few years because of the initiative and effort of Dorothy Elder. I also take pleasure in commending the insight, dedication, and contributions of Tonia Baney, who served for seven and a half years as the Foundation's Executive Director and has now returned to a less tumultuous life at her former residence in Hawaii.
In the span of my 62 years on Urantia I have gleaned a few truths from my Amerind ancestors, who belonged to the Cherokee Nation of Native Americans. As I leave the Presidency of Urantia Foundation, two traditions come to mind.
The Central Fire. When Native Americans established a camp or village, they lit a fire in the main lodge and kept it burning night and day, never allowing it to go out. All other fires sprang from that central fire. If a particular campfire went out, the mother of that family would light a torch at the main fire and bring it to their teepee.
In effect, that is what we try to do at Urantia Foundation. In our publications and traditions, we seek to maintain a welcoming fire where everyone can come to warm themselves and renew their devotion to the will of the Great Spirit, our Father in heaven. We all warm ourselves before fires we did not build and drink from wells we did not dig.
The Eagle Feather. Many groups of the red man maintained a tradition that when a chief had completed his term, he would hand his successor an eagle feather to be worn in his hair or headdress.
So now, in spirit, I pass an eagle feather to my friend and colleague Seppo Kanerva, the new President of Urantia Foundation. May he carry it in peace, spiritual serenity, and the love of God and man. May he also hold high the heritage of his predecessors - and may he, when the time comes, pass on to his own successor the symbolic feather of the noble eagle.
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