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Note on Glen Ivy from the Executive Director, Tonia Baney

Tonia Baney
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Note on Glen Ivy from the Executive Director, Tonia Baney

We have just returned from the USUA conference in Glen Ivy. The theme was Unity Without Uniformity. The main plenary speakers were Tom Vasile, Gard Jameson, Carolyn Prentice, and Kermit Anderson. Carry Prentice gave a wonderful talk on “Resolution of Conflict Arising from Diversity” and received a standing ovation.

The Glen Ivy community provided a wonderful setting for a conference. Many precious moments were shared among readers and the organizers did a great job of making everyone feel welcome and comfortable. One of the highlights of my experience of this conference weekend were the talks given on the mountain plateau on Saturday night by David Glass and Roy Mooneyham. Plastic tarps were laid down so that we could bring our pillows and blankets to lie flat on our backs and observe the heavens above. What a sight it was to behold; over forty people lying flat on their backs looking up at the heavens! While we gazed at our universe, David Glass described the “big picture” as he stated the numbers of worlds, sectors, major sectors etc., and our minds were expanded by his recital of the immense numbers. Then Roy Mooneyham came on and explained to us exactly where Paradise was in relationship to the constellations we could see in the sky on that evening. I shall never forget the “teapot” and the “scorpion's tail.”

The conference was financed and organized by the USUA with great assistance by the local IUA members. Fellowship members participated in the conference and the Fellowship's Executive Committee members who attended participated in leading roles in the worship and study sessions. Many IUA members voiced disappointment in the results. To the mind of many members, leading roles in worship and study given to the Fellowship members by-passed many attending IUA members who have not had previous opportunities to lead. When IUA produces a conference, one of the purposes is to develop speakers, leaders, and teachers. Members felt that if a conference is designed to be a joint project by two organizations, it needs to be promoted as such, and it is then appropriate that leadership roles are evenly shared by members of both organizations. However, if the conference is promoted as an IUA sponsored conference, it is appropriate that the members and individuals supporting that organization be given the responsibility of leadership roles.

The IUA and Fellowship are different organizations and have their own way of communicating. There are ways the two groups can work side by side unity amidst diversity, but the organizers of IUA sponsored conferences need to be mindful of the needs and wishes of the IUA members. The Foundation applauds the efforts to promote unity within the movement, but this unity needs to come from our hearts and cannot be legislated or planned for us.

Please, when planning your IUA events, involve as many other IUA leaders on the team as possible in your discussions and decision making.

We wish to note for everyone's information that T-shirts were made with Urantia Foundation's and Glen Ivy's trademarks placed together. Also the conference program folder had a covering page which displayed the trademarks included in an artist's painting. While both the T-shirts and the folder were tastefully done, we must note that the trademarks are to be used by our licensed organizations as an identifying mark for membership and organizational purposes. We shall soon be producing a trademark manual for our licensed IUAs to use as a guide when displaying the trademarks.

On the last day of the conference there was a panel discussion with questions from the floor. Bruce Porter, President ofUSUA, Janet Farrington, President of the Fellowship, and Gard Jameson, Trustee, were the panel members. Many organizational issues were discussed and it became clear throughout the discussion session that some Fellowship members attending the meeting, including those in leadership positions, believe that in order for the two groups to work in unity, the Foundation needs to release its hold on the copyright and marks and allow the text and the trademarks to be freely used by the public. They feel that this is what will be required in order to resolve the conflicts within the movement and to avoid future lawsuits. It was clear that some do not believe that the copyright and marks should be held by Urantia Foundation, in spite of the fact that the Contact Commission was charged to copyright the text by the Revelatory Commission as early as the 1930's.

Gard Jameson, in answer to these statements, made it very clear that the Foundation was not like the straw house in the children's story of the “Three Little Pigs.” He used this metaphor to indicate that the Foundation's house is built out of bricks and will stand strong and true to its trust to protect the inviolate text of The Urantia Book, and in order to do this it must maintain the copyright and marks. All the Foundation is asking of readers is to recognize the law and conduct their dissemination activities within that law. Gard also emphasized that the Foundation works from a place of wisdom and not fear: to be as wise as serpents but gentle as doves.

The call for unity does not mean that the Foundation will surrender its trust. The choice to cooperate and work with the Foundation has been offered to all readers who share the Foundation's goals for the revelation. If some individual readers choose only to accept that offer on the condition that we tear down our brick house, then those few readers have essentially chosen not to work with us. To anyone who is willing to abide by the law, recognize our ownership of the copyright and trademarks, and join together to disseminate the teachings to mankind, our doors are always open. Our house is made of bricks, is large enough for many, and can always be expanded.