International URANTIA Association and Fellowship Stage Historic Meeting

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On Friday, April 17, 1998, members of the Coordinating Committee and representatives of the International Urantia Association from five nations met in Chicago with the Executive Committee of the Fellowship and some members of their General Council to explore common interests. The Trustees attended this meeting in the capacity as the Board of Directors of IUA. The goal was to discuss common interests, address differences, and seek agreement which might lead to joint projects.

The meeting began with each organization outlining its vision and organizational structure. Lee Armstrong, IUA Coordinating Committee Human Resources Chair, characterized the International Urantia Association as a task-oriented group of readers committed to addressing readership issues, fostering the in-depth study of The Urantia Book. and the orderly dissemination of its teachings. IUA members provide services to readers and students of The Urantia Book and are committed to preserving the revelation for future generations. Armstrong outlined IUA's organizational structure and discussed how local and national associations come into being, as service projects and reader needs create demand. He also explained the activities of the Coordinating Committee as administrators for, and advisors to the Trustees of Urantia Foundation.

Speakers for the Fellowship included President Janet Farrington-Graham, Dan Massey, Lori Krasny, and Steve Dreier. Their presentations outlined the structure, history, projects, and vision of the Fellowship. An important objective of the Fellowship is to embrace diversity of viewpoints, expression, and philosophies. The Fellowship's projects, activities, workshops, and initiatives highlighted the positive nature of the organization's outreach programs. Of particular interest was the Fellowship's new Family Life program, and its focus on educational programs and activities for children.

One of the objectives of the IUA representatives in this meeting was to “seek first to understand” the differences between the two organizations. Another objective was to understand the Fellowship's position regarding the materials published on its web page, some of which are openly disparaging of the Foundation and it supporters. The Fellowship leaders emphasized that they exert no authority over the activities of individual members of the Fellowship or its societies, including the content of materials posted by individuals on the Fellowship's web page. The Fellowship representatives explained that under the Fellowship Constitution, the Executive Committee and General Council are prohibited from interfering with the activities of individual members or of its societies, which are strictly autonomous. Consequently, individuals are free to embark on projects and publish their own viewpoints on the Fellowship's website. Janet FarringtonGraham explained that only statements bearing her signature represent official positions of the Fellowship.

Exploration of the missions, scope, and structure of the organizations revealed clear and distinct differences between the established cultures of the organizations and framed some of the challenges and issues that remain.

The overall tone of the meeting was optimistic and progressive. The organizations agreed to:

  • Provide points of contact for future joint conference interaction;

  • Publicize, in each other's newsletters, the Fellowship's Family Life Program and the Coordinating Committee's project to compile a catalog of study aids and secondary works;

  • Form a Fellowship Unity & Conciliatory Committee to dovetail with the Coordinating Committee's Unity and Cooperation Committee;

  • Hold a meeting to discuss international trade shows;

  • Form joint working groups to make recommendations to each organization relating to translations, website content, and reader and study group referrals.

In addition, both organizations agreed to have further discussions in smaller groups regarding matters of mutual interest, including:

  • Joint participation in the presentation of The Urantia Book and Urantia teachings at public book fairs;

  • Joint efforts to produce a video suitable for introducing The Urantia Book to prospective readers;

  • The desirability of coordinating regional meetings and conferences and publishing a joint conference calendar.

International Urantia Association, the Coordinating Committee, and Urantia Foundation sincerely support the movement toward unity among all readers of The Urantia Book. We desire to cooperate with organizations throughout the world whose actions are consistent with the values taught in The Urantia Book. We look forward to progress in future meetings with the leadership of the Fellowship and in the pursuit of unity among readers.

Foundation Info

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