© 1961 William S. Sadler
© 1961 Urantia Foundation
Several members of this group who participated in the preliminary “contacts” which led up to the appearance of the Urantia Papers, had had considerable experience in the investigation of psychic phenomena. This group early arrived at the conclusion that the phenomena connected with the personality, who was later associated with the Urantia Papers, was in no way similar to any other well-known type of psychic performance —such as hypnosis, automatic writing, clairvoyance, trances, spirit mediumship, telepathy, or double personality.
It should be made clear that the antecedents of the Urantia Papers were in no way associated with so-called spiritualism—with its seances and supposed communication with spirits of departed human beings.
It would seem that, during these early years, our unseen friends were engaged in a thoroughgoing testing of the contact personality, rehearsing the technique of communication, selecting the Contact Commissioners—in fact, in a general way—setting the stage for the subsequent initiation of the presentation of the “Urantia Papers.”
During these early years we were introduced to many new and, to us, somewhat strange concepts of the universe of universes and as concerned man and his life on earth.
Among these numerous new ideas of cosmology and philosophy, the following may be mentioned:
Our superhuman friends thus spent upward of two decades in extending our cosmic horizons, enlarging our theologic concepts, and expanding our over-all philosophy.
We never realized how much our religious thinking had been expanded until the Papers began to arrive. As the Revelation progressed we came more fully to appreciate how we had been prepared for the vast alteration of our religious beliefs by these preliminary contacts extending over a period of twenty years of pre-education.
Our apprenticeship training for subsequent service in association with the presentation of the Urantia Papers was facilitated by the fact that, except for contacts with the midwayers, no two contacts were alike. Seldom did we meet the visiting personalities more than once. Every contact was entirely different from any and all that had gone before. And all of this experience was an extensive and liberal preparatory educational training in the expansion of our cosmology, theology and philosophy—not to mention our introduction to new ideas and concepts concerning a vast array of more mundane objects.
The limited discussion of Jesus’ life and teachings during these pre-revelatory contacts might be explained by the fact that the midwayers were a bit dubious as to how much authority they had in such matters—as shown later on when a whole year was consumed in the clarification of their right to retell the story of the Michael bestowal.
Those of us who early attended upon these nocturnal vigils never suspected that we were in contact with anything supernatural.
During these early years, all of our observations and investigations utterly failed to reveal the technique of reducing messages to writing.
After about twenty years of contact experience, an alleged student visitor, speaking through this sleeping subject during one of these nocturnal vigils, in answer to one of our questions, said: “If you only knew what you are in contact with you would not ask such trivial questions. You would rather ask such questions as might elicit answers of supreme value to the human race.”
This was something of a shock, as well as a mild rebuke, and caused all of us to look upon this unique experience in a new and different way. Later on that night, one of our number said: “Now they have asked for it—let us give them questions that no human being can answer.”
Now it is best to let matters rest here while we shift this narrative to a new and different setting.
Dr. William S. Sadler, a member of this early group of observers and investigators, tells the following story regarding the origin of that group of interested individuals which later on became known as the “Forum.” He says: “On my way to the University of Kansas to deliver some lectures on Gestalt psychology, I wrote a letter to my son saying that I thought doctors should try to maintain some contact with their old patients. I suggested that he talk with his mother about the feasibility of inviting some of our old friends to meet with us on Sunday afternoons for an hour or two of informal discussion and social exchange.”
“When I returned to Chicago one Sunday morning I found that my wife had invited a group of our old patients to meet at our house that afternoon at three o’clock. It was the plan to conduct these Sunday afternoon gatherings somewhat as follows: First have a talk on some health topic—such as the treatment of common colds, the cause and cure of worry, and then, after a cup of tea, engage in informal discussions—asking and answering questions.”
“As time passed, this group became a cosmopolitan gathering consisting of professional men and women—doctors, lawyers, dentists, ministers, teachers—together with individuals from all walks of life. Farmers, housewives, secretaries, office workers, and common laborers.”
Presently, I was asked to give a series of talks on “Mental Hygiene,” or “Psychic Phenomena.” At the beginning of my first talk, I said: “With only or two exceptions, all of the psychic phenomena which I have investigated have turned out to be either conscious or unconscious frauds. Some were deliberate frauds—others were those peculiar cases in which the performer was a victim of the deceptions of his own subconscious mind.”
I had no more than said this when one of the group spoke up, saying, “Doctor, if you have contacted something which you have been unable to solve—it would be interesting—tell us more about it.”
I asked Dr. Lena to get some notes she had taken at a recent “contact” and read them to the group. It should be understood that up to this time there was no secrecy connected with this case. The Urantia Papers had not begun to appear.
It was at about this time that this group meeting at our house on Sunday afternoons began to be called the “Forum.”
The group manifested such a great interest in this case that I never did get around to giving any of the health talks such as had been planned.
It was while these informal discussions were going on from week to week that the challenge came to us suggesting that if we would ask more serious questions we might get information of value to all mankind.
We told the Forum all about this and invited them to join us in the preparation of questions. We decided to start out with questions pertaining to the origin of the cosmos, Deity, creation, and such other subjects as were far beyond the present-day knowledge of all humankind.
The following Sunday several hundred questions were brought in. We sorted out these questions, discarding duplicates, and in a general way, classifying them. Shortly thereafter, the first Urantia Paper appeared in answer to these questions. From first to last, when the Papers appeared, the questions disappeared.
This was the procedure followed throughout the many years of the reception of the Urantia Papers. No questions—no Papers.
About this time, the Forum, as it were, was taken away from us. We were instructed to form a “closed group”—requiring each member to sign a pledge of secrecy and to discuss the Papers and all matters pertaining thereto with only those persons who were members of the Forum.
Membership tickets were issued and the Charter membership numbered thirty. The date of this organization was September, 1925. Seventeen of these Charter Members are still living.
The individuals charged with the responsibility of gathering up the questions and comparing the typewritten text with the original handwritten manuscript, came to be know as the “Contact Commissioners.” From that date forward only these Contact Commissioners attended “contacts” and received written communications through the contact personality.
From time to time new members were received into the Forum, after being interviewed by the officers and after signing the same pledge that was signed by the original Charter Members. This pledge read: “We acknowledge our pledge of secrecy, renewing our promise not to discuss the Urantia Revelations or their subject matter with any one save active Forum members, and to take no notes of such matter as is read or discussed at the public sessions, or make copies or notes of what we personally read.”
The last meeting of the Forum as a genetic assembly was held on May 31st, 1942. During the seventeen years of official existence the Forum attained a total membership of 486.
During the period of the reception of the Urantia Papers, upward of 300 different persons participated in asking these genetic questions. With but few exceptions, all of the Urantia Papers were given in response to such questions.
Just about all that is known or could be told about the origin of the Urantia Papers is to be found, here and there, in The Urantia Book. A list of such references is to be found on the back of the dust jacket of the Book.
Let us take a brief look at these citations. 
Recently, a group of ministers from northern Indiana, who were engaged in studying The Urantia Book, spent the day with us and, during the evening, Dr. Sadler led a discussion on “How We Did Not Get The Urantia Book.”
The following is a gist of that presentation:
Several members of this group who participated in the preliminary “contacts” which led up to the appearance of the Urantia Papers had considerable experience in the investigation of psychic phenomena. This group early arrived at the conclusion that the phenomena connected with the personality who was later associated with the Urantia Papers, was in no way similar to any other well-known type of psychic performance—such as hypnotism, automatic writing, clairvoyance, trances, spirit mediumship, telepathy, or double personality.
It should be made clear that the antecedents of the Urantia Papers were in no way associated with so-called spiritualism—with its seances and supposed communication with the spirits of departed human beings.
Psychic Phenomena: Unusual Activities Of The Marginal Consciousness
The Subconscious Mind
Note: The technique of the reception of The Urantia Book in English in no way parallels or impinges upon any of the above phenomena of the marginal consciousness.
Among the several reasons given us at the time we were requested not to discuss the details of our personal experiences associated with the origin of The Urantia Book, the two major reasons were the following:
The first group of Papers numbered 57. We then received a communication suggesting that since we could now ask many and much more intelligent questions, the supervising agencies and personalities responsible for transmitting the 57 Papers would engage to enlarge the revelation and to expand the Papers in accordance with our new questions.
This was the plan: We would read a Paper on a Sunday afternoon and the following Sunday the new questions would be presented. Again, these would be sorted, classified, etc. This program covered several years and ultimately resulted in the presentation of the 196 Papers as now found in The Urantia Book.
In a way, there was a third presentation. After receiving these 196 Papers, we were told that the “Revelatory Commission” would be pleased to have us go over the Papers once more and ask questions concerning the “Clarification of Concepts” and the “Removal of Ambiguities.” This program again covered several years. During this period very little new information was imparted. Only minor changes were made in any of the Papers. Some matter was added—some removed—but there was little revision or amplification of the text.
What has just been recorded refers more particularly to Parts I, II, and III of The Urantia Book. Part IV—The Jesus Papers—had a little different origin. They were produced by a midwayer commission and were completed on year later than the other Papers. The first three parts were completed and certified to us in A.D. 1934. The Jesus Papers were not so delivered to us until 1935.
The delay of one year in the reception of the Jesus Papers—Part IV of The Urantia Book—may be explained as follows: The midwayers were a bit apprehensive about becoming involved in the suit pending in the Universe courts—Gabriel vs. Lucifer—and they hesitated to complete their project until they were assured that they had full authority to retell the story of Jesus’ life on earth.
After some months waiting there came the mandate from Uversa directing the United Midwayers of Urantia to proceed with their project of revealing the story of the life and teaching of Michael when incarnated on Urantia, and not only assuring them that they were not in “contempt” of the Uversa courts, but instead granting them a mandate to do this service and admonishing any and all persons connected therewith to refrain from interfering with, or in any way hindering, the execution of such an undertaking.
And this is the explanation of why the Jesus Papers appeared one year after the other Papers had been completed.
During these early years the Contact Commissioners received many communications and directives in writing. Almost all of these messages had annotation at the bottom of the last page which read: “To be destroyed by fire not later than the appearance of the Urantia Papers in print.” It was the design of our unseen friends to prevent the appearance of an “Urantia Apocrypha” subsequent to the publication of The Urantia Book.
All of this was encouraging to us in that it assured us that the Urantia Papers would some time be published. It sustained our hopes through the long waiting years of delay.
The fact that no provision was ever made for replacing members of the Contact Commission who might be lost through disability or death, also led us to entertain the belief that the Book would be published during the lifetime of some of us.
The Commissioners were the custodians of the Urantia manuscript, keeping the carbon copy of the typewritten transcript in a fireproof vault. They were also charged with full responsibility for supervising all the details connected with the publication of the Book, securing the international copyrights, etc.
We were enjoined to refrain from discussing the identity of the Contact Personality and, after the publication of the Book, to make any statement at any time as to whether the “subject” was still living or was deceased.
In 1939, some of us thought the time had come when we should form a class to engage in the more serious and systematic study of the Urantia Papers. This project was presented to the Forum and when those who wished to join such a group were counted, it was found that just 70 persons desired to enter upon this study. So for several years this class was referred to as “The Seventy.” Two or three years preceding the formation of The Seventy an informal group had been meeting on Wednesday evenings.
The Seventy carried on systematic study of the Urantia Papers from April 3, 1939 to the summer of 1956, and was the forerunner of the later “School of the Urantia Brotherhood.”
During these years the Seventy enrolled 107 students.
The Seventy carried on its work of study, thesis writing, and practice of teaching for 17 years. During this period eight written communications were given to the Seventy by the Seraphim of Progress attached to the superhuman Planetary Government of Urantia.
At long last, permission to publish the Urantia Papers was granted. The Introduction to this mandate reads:
“We regard The Urantia Book as a feature of the progressive evolution of human society. It is not germane to the spectacular episode of epochal revolution, even though it may apparently be timed to appear in the wake of one such revolution in human society. The Book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle. That will be the day when men will be willing to seek truth and righteousness. When the chaos of the present confusion has passed, it will be more readily possible to formulate the cosmos of a new and improved era of human relationships. And it is for this better order of affairs on earth that the book has been made ready.”
“But the publication of the book has not been postponed to that (possibly) somewhat remote date. An early publication of the book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. Its presence is also required to engage the attention of persons of means who may be thus led to provide funds for translation into other languages.”
Upon receipt of these instructions, the Contact Commissioners entered upon the task of publishing The Urantia Book and preparation of plans for its distribution.
The Papers were published just as we received them. The Contact Commissioners had no editorial authority. Our job was limited to “spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.”
Before the demise of Dr. Lena K. Sadler in August, 1939 she had collected about twenty thousand dollars for the publication fund, and this was used to set type and prepare plates for the printing of the book.
It was these plates of The Urantia Book that constituted the basis for the formation of Urantia Foundation. This Foundation, set up under the laws of Illinois, was completed on January 11, 1950. The first Board of Trustees were:
It was learned that one of the wealthy members of the Forum desired to contribute fifty thousand dollars for the publication of the Book. By instruction, this was circumvented, because, they told us, it was best to give all parties concerned an opportunity to contribute to the publication fund.
Accordingly, an appeal was made for $50,000.00 to defray the expense of printing ten thousand copies. The response was immediate. The sum contributed was in excess of forty-nine thousand dollars. The first money to reach the Foundation office was one thousand dollars from the late Sir Hubert Wilkins, the arctic explorer.
The book was published under international copyright October 12, 1955.
It was inevitable that some sort of fraternal organization would grow out of the teachings of The Urantia Book. All interested persons could see that the Urantia teachings were opposed to the sectarianism of Christian believers. It was clear that it was not the purpose of the Urantia Revelation to start a new church.
Accordingly, on January 2, 1955, a group of persons who believed the teachings of the Book and who were interested in their proclamation, assembled in Chicago and completed the organization of the Urantia Brotherhood, a voluntary and fraternal organization of Urantia believers. This group composed the charter membership of the Urantia Brotherhood, and were 36 in number.
A Constitution and By-laws were adopted, and since that date numerous Societies have been formed throughout the United States.
When ten or more persons who are familiar with, and believe in, the teachings of The Urantia Book so desire they may be chartered as a Urantia Society. Membership in any church or fraternal organization does not interfere with becoming a member of a Urantia Society.
The original organizers of the Brotherhood and their successors were to direct the organization for the first nine years. Thereafter, the Brotherhood would be ordered by the action of the Triennial Delegate Assembly composed of delegates from the various Urantia Societies.
The departmental Committees of the Brotherhood are:
The Chairmen of the Committees, together with the Brotherhood officers, constitute the Executive Committee of the Brotherhood.
The over-all purpose of the Brotherhood is well expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution.
“Inasmuch as it is our most solemn conviction that the comfort, happiness, and well-being of man will be enhanced by the creation of an organization devoted to the purposes hereinafter expressed may best be accomplished through the mutual assistance and association of a body of people working together for a common cause, we do hereby unite together as a voluntary association and fellowship under the name of Urantia Brotherhood, and we do hereby adopt and establish this constitution of Urantia Brotherhood.”
The original 36 Founders became the General Council which was designed to govern the Brotherhood for its first nine years.
The First Urantia Society of Chicago was organized and granted Charter No. 1 on June 17, 1956. The Society had 34 charter Members. The present membership of the First Society is 142.
In co-operation with Urantia Foundation, the Brotherhood is just now interested in the completion of the Index to The Urantia Book in reality, a concordance. Its publication is hoped for in 1961.
We are all interested in the progress of a French translation, which is in final review and may be published late in 1961.
The Brotherhood recently completed the formulation of a Funeral Service consisting of Scriptural passages and appropriate selections from The Urantia Book.
The Brotherhood sponsors a Quarterly News Letter which the Executive Committee sends to all Urantia Societies and other interested persons.
The Brotherhood posters many study groups scattered throughout the United States and in foreign countries. Eventually, most of these study groups will develop into Urantia Societies.
During the last year, two Field Representatives have been appointed to foster the individual Urantia Societies and pay them visits periodically.
In December 1959, the Internal Revenue Bureau of the United States government ruled that Urantia Foundation, the Urantia Brotherhood, and the Urantia Brotherhood Corporation were exempt from paying income taxes, and that any and all contributions made to these organizations are deductible from the income taxes of such donors.
The Van Award, Section three of Article Thirteen of the Constitution of the Urantia Brotherhood reads: “If the opinion of the Executive Committee, any member of Urantia Brotherhood shall perform or render some unusual, extraordinary, or distinguished service, the Executive Committee shall present to the General Council the name of such member with the recommendation that a suitable award or citation in recognition thereof be given. Upon the presentation of such recommendation, the General Council, unanimous vote of all Councilors present at any duly constituted meeting, may give or confer on such member such award or citation in recognition of the unusual, extraordinary, or distinguished service of such member as the General Council may deem fitting and appropriate.”
On January 25, 1959, the first award under this Constitutional provision was made to the President of the Urantia Brotherhood School.
The reason for demonstrating this The Van Award is recited in the declaration of the award, and reads as follows:
“The spiritual insight and moral steadfastness which enabled Van to maintain such an unshakable attitude of loyalty to the universe government was the product of clear thinking, wise reasoning, logical judgement, sincere motivation, unselfish purpose, intelligent loyalty, experiential memory, disciplined character, and the unquestioning dedication of his personality to the doing of the will of the Father in Paradise.”
The conclusion of the award says: “In honor of his many years of devoted and distinguished service in behalf of the Urantia movement.”
At the time of the publication of The Urantia Book we were given many suggestions respecting the methods we should employ in the work of its distribution. These instructions may be summarized as follows:
Study the methods employed by Jesus in introducing his work on earth. Note how quietly he worked at first —so often after even a miracle, he would admonish the recipient of his ministry, saying: “Tell no man what has happened to you.”
We were advised to avoid all efforts to achieve early and spectacular recognition.
During the first five years, these methods have been adhered to. The distribution increases yearly. At present, more than fifty book stores, from coast to coast, carry the Book.
The vast majority of the Brotherhood have concurred in this sort of quiet and gradual presentation of the Book. Only a few individuals have exhibited some restlessness and craving for aggressive plans for increased distribution.
One thing should be made clear: Nothing is done to interfere with the energetic and enthusiastic efforts of any individuals to introduce The Urantia Book to his varied contacts and human associations.
Note from Editor: Some references has been updated from original text to reflect current Urantia Book edition. ↩︎