Transition to Unity

The following is an account of the Transition to Unity meeting held in October last year by a joint committee of representatives of Urantia Association International and the Urantia Book Fellowship. Included is an initial report written by one of the participants, followed by the proposal both parties agreed upon and presented to their prospective organizations. Following that is an announcement written by Chris Wood informing us of the decision made by the Fellowship’s General Council after its members were presented with the proposal. The date stamps indicate the chronological order of the various announcements.

General Report, November, 2016

On October 3-5, 2016, representatives from the Fellowship and the Association met in Chicago, USA to discuss the possibility of unity between our organizations. This meeting was approved by the Association’s International Service Board and Representative Council, and the Fellowship’s Executive Council. Chris Wood, Merindi Belarski, Rick Lyon, Share Beasley and Susan Owen represented the Association.  Michael Challis, Paula Thompson, Steve Dreier, Janet Graham, and Geoffrey Theiss represented the Fellowship. Janet had to leave early so John Hales replaced her on the second day.

The meeting began at 7:30 pm Sunday October 2nd after a delicious dinner prepared by Jen Siegel. Dana Brademeyer introduced us to a strategic thinking method using small group discussion. The stage was set by framing our discussion from the planetary government’s perspective. Our first discussion assignment was framed as follows: We were a group of student visitors to Urantia from other planets, and the planetary supervisors have asked us to advise them on outcomes we would like to see from this organizational unity meeting on Urantia. The outcomes of this assignment formed the basis for the discussions the following day.

Two videos were viewed during the meeting which informed our discussions.  They are worth viewing.  Links:

Dr. Russel Ackoff on Systems Theory
Clay Shirky on Institutions versus Collaboration

We discussed what unity might look like and what actions and activities might move us towards that goal. Our discussions were open, friendly, and respectful and lead to the Unity Proposal and recommendations shared below.

The next step in the unity process is for the General Council of the Fellowship and the International Representative Council of Urantia Association to consider the proposal and agree to move forward with the unity process. If this occurs, then small teams will begin work on developing a detailed plan and working out the fine details of uniting our groups. When these small teams are done with their work, formal resolutions along with the plan will be presented to our governing groups to be voted upon. We believe this work can be completed within one to two years.

In the meantime, we encourage the entire Urantia community to engage in discussions about the Unity Proposal presented below. Urantia Association of the United States has already held two Zoom meetings for the leaders of the Local Associations to discuss this proposal.  Members of the Association team attended both meetings, and Michael Challis, Steve Drier and Geoffrey Theiss of the Fellowship attended the second Zoom meeting where they answered many questions from attendees.

Everyone is encouraged to join both the Association and the Fellowship, to serve on the committees and leadership councils of each group, and even for entire Local Associations and Societies to formally join the other organization and work as one. Joint service projects at the local and individual levels are also encouraged.

Our unity meeting and discussions were successful because we were open, honest, free from judgement, and dedicated to do what was best for the Fifth Epochal Revelation. We pray that the entire Urantia community will approve of our efforts and work together toward a united future of service. 

Unity Proposal, November 2016

(co-authored by representatives of the Association and the Fellowship at the Unity Meeting, 3-5 October, 2016) 

Both the Association and the Fellowship representatives at the meeting unanimously agreed they desire to transition to unity.

Recommendations: 

  1. The Fellowship suspends publishing the Uversa Press version of The Urantia Book.
  2. The Association amends its Charter and Bylaws documents to remove wording relating to Urantia Foundation and replace it with a policy.

Short term (6-12 months): 

Greater collaboration – Wherever possible, at local, national and international levels, committees will be encouraged to work together on numerous projects. Some examples of this could be (note, list is not exhaustive):

  • Shared conferences and events
  • Consolidated and collaborated committee functions
  • More dual memberships (individuals and/or local groups)

 A different narrative – Leaders of both the Association and the Fellowship work to produce a new and different narrative. A narrative focusing on unity, combined effort, and shared mission. The new narrative could be communicated through a separate “unity newsletter,” at meetings, successful unity stories in our newsletters, perhaps a “unity blogspace,” and perhaps common use of the tag #urantiaunity. 

Exchange students – Two members of the Association could be invited to join the General Council (as observers) and two members of the Fellowship could be invited to observe the ongoing electronic meeting of the Representative Council, and/or observe the International Service Board meetings. In addition, members of each organization who may hold dual membership are encouraged to run for a position in either organization. The Fellowship has already invited dual members to run for two open seats on the General Council.

Mapping of local groups – A combined “map” of local societies and associations could be put together to foster cooperative efforts. The local groups could then pair-up to produce shared projects.

Personal reconciliation – It is recognized that persons are not organizations, and do not speak for their organizations. Both organizations encourage any individual involved in past conflicts to seek reconciliation and healing at a personal level.

Medium term (1-2 years):

The Fellowship will consider joining Urantia International at the National level. The Association will consider an exception for a second national in North America. If approved, the President and Vice President of the Fellowship would join the Representative Council, and its members would be eligible to serve on the International Service Board and its committees.

Urantia Association International will look to change its name to Urantia International.

Collaboration between local groups, committees and projects will continue to develop during this period.

Long term:

Further ideas were discussed for the longer term but no recommendations are being made now to allow for the short and medium term recommendations to evolve.

(end of Unity Proposal)

Update 10 March, 2017 

by Chris Wood, President of Urantia Association International

In February the General Council of the Fellowship met and deliberated on the Unity proposal that came out of our joint meeting of 3-5 October, 2016. The members of the General Council decided that at this time it would be unwise to attempt organizational unity. Instead, they passed a resolution calling for greater cooperation between our organizations in order to increase spiritual and social unity between our members.

Those of us who promoted organizational unity are of course disappointed. We had the choice for our North American community to either join together as we move forward on the same road, or to move forward separately on parallel roads. Nonetheless, we are all moving forward in the same direction to serve the students of The Urantia Book and promote its teachings.

Our North American community is more spiritually and socially united now than at any point in the last 25 years and I believe that as we continue to bond our groups will naturally come together.

In service,
Chris Wood
President, Urantia Association International