Trustees and CCs Meet in Boulder

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The Trustees and Coordinating Committee held their quarterly meeting in Boulder this month and took the opportunity to meet with the Boulder community of Urantia Book readers. Trustee, Mo Siegel, and his wife, Jennifer, kindly opened their home for a social evening on Thursday, July 16 where all known readers from the state of Colorado were invited. About sixty people attended. The Trustees and CCs held their meeting all day Friday at the Jesusonian Foundation office, and Friday evening another gathering of readers was held in a local church hall where the Trustees gave a presentation and answered questions.

On Saturday, the CCs officially had the “day off” while the Trustees continued to meet. One of the Boulder readers, John DeToy, kindly offered to show the group the sights of the Rocky Mountains. So with a van and a four-wheel drive, they headed off in convoy up to the mountain tops to enjoy the fresh mountain air at twelve thousand feet. After picnicking, walking, and relaxing on the tundra, they read the section in The Urantia Book on Diversion and Relaxation (p.1610). All experienced the benefit of getting away from the pressures of everyday life and of spending time in the hills with brothers, sisters, and the Father.

The following is an edited report of the meetings with the Boulder readers through the eyes of Lee Armstrong which fairly accurately sums up what took place:

I wanted to share a few perceptions of the meeting experience. Thursday evening, many members of the Boulder community came to Mo Siegel's house for a reception. All five Trustees were present and most members of the Coordinating Committee.

It was interesting to meet many new people. Most of the talk seemed to be apolitical, but there were a few discussions about issues here and there. I enjoyed meeting usual Foundation critic, Phil Geiger who rve known only from the internet. There is a light in his eyes, and I can safely call him my brother!

The drama of the reception came when Kristen Maaherra, who said she was going to boycott the meeting, made a late-hour appearance and handed out copies of her latest copyright-infringing CD “The Urantia Papers” to each of the Trustees and others.

Friday evening's town hall meeting was the event which will get the most publicity and be most remembered. The meeting occurred in the basement of a church. There was no air conditioning which emphasized the severe heat that the West has been experiencing. Two tables punctuated with a speaker's podium in the middle were at the front of the room. Last minute maneuvering among the Rocky Mountain Society of the Fellowship resulted in a panel of the most severe critics of the Foundation on one side with the Trustees on the other. With Phil Geiger, Kristen Maaherra, Eric Shaveland and Lany Mullins facing Richard, Georges, Kwan, Gard, Mo, and Tonia.

Each of the Trustees and Tonia gave introductory remarks. Richard had several good jokes as he usually does. Georges' remarks were direct, speaking of the problems of impatience. Kwan gave a rousing talk on the Asian perspective which was filled with energy and enthusiasm for taking this revelation to the land of our Asian sisters and brothers. Gard spoke about his decision to leave the Executive Committee of the Fellowship and become a Trustee. Mo gave a good talk on the need for unity, sometimes looking down eyeball to eyeball with Lany Mullins who was directly next to him at the podium. Mo forcefully and clearly indicated that it is time to move beyond the discord. Tonia expressed the need for unity amidst the diversity of readers and gave some information on the work of the Foundation.

The program was then given over to Larry Mullins for a five-minute presentation representing the critic's panel. He criticized the presence of the Coordinating Committee as the Foundation's buying of support by filling the house with shills. He decried all of the “lies” the Foundation has made in obtaining the copyright. The only thing which I believe he was positive about was the fact that the Trustees showed up.

I sat in the front row in front of the critics. I wanted to look at their faces and into their eyes. Phil Geiger was quite serious. His tape recorder was on. Kristen Maaherra mostly took notes. Eric Shaveland was silent throughout the evening. Larry Mullins was next to the podium. His very stern countenance cracked only for a millisecond near the end of the session. But there was not much that pleased him.

The first part of the program was to be written questions presented to the Trustees. The second was to be live questions from the audience. One person commented how the evening seemed to build. I recall the first question as being Phil Geiger's on how the Foundation coined the term “Urantia” and “Urantian” for the trademark. Mo said that the word “coined” had legal implications and did not therefore wish to go into this.

The Trustees did a good job of answering the questions. I think the audience got a chance to feel like they were being heard. I think we were all tickled when Kwan indicated his puzzlement about why his Caucasian brothers seemed to have such a need to argue about everything. Why can't we just get on with the work? Gard had a pointed interchange with Kristen Maaherra where he quoted a phone call in which he was seeking to find out what could be done to resolve the issues. As I recall Gard's words, her response was that short of the Foundation giving up the copyright and trademarks she would see them in court. Kristen said she did not recall saying that.

The climactic moment came when Foundation Vice President, Georges Michelson-Dupont took the microphone and told Kristen that he wanted to publicly make the offer that if she submitted her new CD to the Foundation, and if it proved to be of high quality, that Urantia Foundation would take steps toward licensing her to distribute the material. The crowd hushed. You could see expressions of expectation on many of the audience members' faces as they turned in those awful seconds of silence as the attention shifted from Georges to Kristen. One reader shouted from across the room, “Take it, Kristen.” Kristen reached for the microphone. She said she appreciated the sincerity of the Trustees, but that she could not accept because, in her eyes the copyright and trademarks of the book belong to God, and she recognizes no authority of Urantia Foundation to license her.

The Foundation has taken a lot of heat for not negotiating with Kristen. In actuality, there have been many discussions trying to resolve these issues. I think it became apparent to many members of the Boulder community that it takes two to negotiate. The fact that the Court of Appeals has upheld the copyright and ruled that she did inftinge the copyright does not matter to her. She does not recognize the right of the courts to rule on this. For her, it is a matter of her own religious freedom; she refuses to answer to any but God. In my mind, I think Kristen was shown for what she is, intractable.

The consensus of the CC's I spoke with was that having the critics there actually worked to the Foundation's advantage. It showed two radically different ideologies. And when one side speaks of love, wants to work cooperatively and proactively on behalf of the revelation, and the other is filled with anger and blatant calls for self-rights, it's a clear contrast to all with an open mind.

The case was made on the need for unity. We must focus on the task and stop fighting in order to progress on translations and all of the needed tasks from library placement, to study groups, to sharing these teachings with the world. Most members of the Boulder community were wonderful. They are sisters and brothers who love this revelation and wish to let the past be past. I think we are beginning to see great dividends to the Trustees' efforts to move beyond the past and work cooperatively in the future. Who knows, we might even have gained enough support to develop a Colorado IUA!

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