Urantia Foundation Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

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Trustee, Richard Keeler addressing readers
before the 50th Anniversary celebration.

URANTIA Foundation's 50th Anniversary prompted us to reflect on the past, assess the present, and plan for the future. Since 1950 the Foundation has established a Trust to translate, publish, and protect the revelation; and provided for the growth of study groups and membership organizations. At the heart of all these accomplishments lie the genuine motivations of scores of individuals. From the Contact Commission, to the Forum, to the line of Trustees, to the service-minded individuals who built and nurtured the readership groups, to the countless volunteers and the translators whose efforts inspire us all, this endeavor has been blessed with sincere men and women aspiring to the highest levels of service.

Because the Foundation was created in 1950, a fifties-style sock hop was a natural choice to kick off the celebration. Before the dancing started, several presentations were offered to an attentive audience. Trustee Richard Keeler was both serious and humorous in his acknowledgment of the Foundation's past accomplishments, but his message was clear: though much remains to be done, willing hands are in evidence and with God's help, the revelation is gaining momentum as it heads into the new millennium. Next, the Foundation's Executive Director, Tonia Baney, came to the podium sporting a ponytail, pleated skirt, and saddle oxfords. Tonia stressed the Foundation's role as the custodian of the book. She utilized marketing maxims to demonstrate that the copyright and marks must be preserved and protected.

Paul and Mary Snider (Paul is a past president of the former URANTIA Brotherhood) gave an eloquent presentation that underscored their support of URANTIA Foundation, its policies, and agenda for future growth.

They were the first of several speakers to introduce The Matthew Project during the anniversary weekend. The Matthew Project is a strategic plan to provide for the future of the revelation. Its task force members include devoted readers dedicated to the Foundation's long-range goals of financial security for the continued printing and translating of The URANTIA Book. The planning group is diverse in nature, including members of International Urantia Association (IUA), the Fellowship, and unaffiliated readers. All share in the desire to serve, offering their time and support to insure the continued growth of the revelation.

A playful skit followed, and then Dorothy Elder, the coordinator of The URANTIA Book Internet School, gave an update on the progress of that program. Although the school is only in its second semester, classes are full, and students are speaking highly of their learning experiences. Dorothy indicated that classes are filling up with students, many of whom are young readers, and more teachers are needed. (Individuals who are interested and have the time and computer skills to contribute may contact her at [email protected] for more information.)

Audience participation in an auction livened up the evening as the crowd bid on vacation packages donated by readers. Proceeds from the auction went into the Foundation's general fund.

Saturday morning began with a moving session of worship, prayer, and reflection accented by readings from the book and contemplative music performed by a piano-violin duo. Steve Shinall then delivered a thought-provoking message that recounted his personal journey with the teachings. The service concluded with "Pray Tell Me How," a hymn composed by students of the book.

The remainder of Saturday morning was devoted to the translators' discussion panel. Each of the translators offered insights into their motivations, the challenges of translating, and the difficulties of translating a work as comprehensive as The URANTIA Book. Their enthusiasm for the revelation and their desire to make the teachings available to their people in their own language were evident from the presentations.

The afternoon session was memorable, featuring a panel of former Trustees and Forum members, who shared their recollections of the early days and answered questions from an intrigued audience. These pioneers of the movement offered valuable historical memories and interesting stories. Neal Waldrop, a former Trustee, presented an engaging speech on living the teachings, and Tonia Baney served as moderator.

Saturday night proved to be an elegant affair with fine dining and good music performed by a longtime reader and his orchestra. After dinner, Carolyn Kendall, who was a member of the Forum, delivered a fascinating speech that invoked visions of what life will be like in the age of light and life. From her dramatic, telescopic view of the future, she then shared with us much history of the early days before the book was published.

Quin Frazer, corporate legal counsel for URANTIA Foundation for the past 15 years, served as the auctioneer for an effort to raise funds for translations. Most of the attendees were moved to donate; they were allowed to specify a particular translation as the beneficiary of their donation. Two first-edition copies of The URANTIA Book were also auctioned off. At the end of the spirited bidding and generous outpouring of donations, the total exceeded all expectations. The mood of people at the auction was one of hope and optimism, as people saw money being raised to provide for quality translations which will allow truth seekers to read the book in their own languages. The remainder of the evening was spent dancing and socializing.

Seppo Kanerva, Ralph Zehr, and Jeffrey Wattles in a panel discussion on outreach.
Seppo Kanerva, Ralph Zehr, and Jeffrey Wattles
in a panel discussion on outreach.

On Sunday, Carrie Prentice, editor of the IUA Journal, moderated a panel of speakers on the continuing topic of dissemination of the teachings. Jeffrey Wattles, Ralph Zehr, and Seppo Kanerva offered their personal insights into the methods, pitfalls, and rewards involved in outreach. Carrie stressed the importance of becoming active at any level that benefits our fellows. Will Sherwood then gave a visual tour of the new IUA Web site.

Finally, Tonia Baney summed up the value of the weekend's celebration: presenting the translators and discussing their important work; meeting and getting to know some veterans of the revelation; allowing readers the opportunity to direct their generosity into translations; and the coming together as an affirmation of support for the ongoing work of URANTIA Foundation to publish the inviolate text of The URANTIA Book and to spread its teachings to the world.

Foundation Info

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Urantia Foundation, 533 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Tel: +1-773-525-3319; Fax: +1-773-525-7739
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