By Judy Van Cleave, Trustee, Secretary, Urantia Foundation, Boise, Idaho, United States
Richard Jernigan Elected as Associate Trustee
The Board of Trustees appointed Richard Jernigan of Dallas, Texas, to the position of associate trustee. Richard is a long-time reader and study group host. He is an executive producer and director of all creative aspects of video, including more than 200 educational products. Many readers of The Urantia Book know his film about the Holy Land, A Feast of Uncertainty.
After 15 years of dedicated service to Urantia Foundation, Executive Director Jay Peregrine is retiring. During his tenure, the Foundation has made much progress. We are thankful for all that Jay has done for Urantia Foundation, and we salute him and bid him Godspeed in his retirement.
You may have seen the Foundation’s post regarding the availability of the executive director position. We have received more than 20 applicants. Every week we receive more applications and feel confident that we shall find the right person. In the meantime, Jay has agreed to continue as executive director until his replacement arrives. A special thanks to Urantia Foundation’s staff for laboring so diligently during this busy period. With Jay leaving and Tamara Strumfeld working part time (so she can spend more time with her young children), the shifting workload has occasioned some adjustments on the part of the staff.
Urantia Foundation raised about $777,000 in 2013. The budget was $706,000, but the goal was $800,000. An additional $115,000 in pledges arrived in early January 2014. That brought the total 2013 donations, pledged or received, to $865,000. The best news was that 913 persons donated in 2013 versus 807 persons in 2012—a 13% increase. Thank you, generous donors! The work of printing, translating, and distributing The Urantia Book and its teachings globally will continue to steadily move forward.
John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." We started 2013 expecting physical book sales to grow about 7%, but they declined about 12%. Since North America is the number one market for Urantia Book sales, the declines seem to reflect the sales trends for spiritual books in North America. Although the final numbers are not yet available, global sales numbers for books are also flat to declining.
The biggest surprise in 2013 was that North American digital book sales declined about 10%, and free downloads were also down for the first time since digital books were introduced. In the United States, digital books had been the growth engine and darling of the book industry for the last few years, but something changed in 2013.
From a numbers perspective, 2013 was an exceptionally good year for distribution of The Urantia Book worldwide through the app provided by Dandelion Applications. There were 33,995 downloads, an increase of 68% from 2012. The app just had its five-year anniversary, and since its inception, over 177,000 Urantia Books have been downloaded in 116 countries. In 2013 the top five countries for downloads were Russia at 6,526, the US at 5,716, France at 3,443, Italy at 3,300, Mexico at 2,366, and Brazil at 2,306.
In the next few months we shall learn more about why physical book sales declined and about what we can do to improve them. With Barnes and Noble struggling financially, selling books in North America will be more challenging than ever. We need to reinvent our strategies in order to keep The Urantia Book in circulation while the book industry sorts itself out. That is our job, and we shall figure it out.
Translations and Revisions
The task force comprised of members of the Translation Committee presented a special report concerning translations and revision of translations. The Foundation is establishing policies and procedures to guide future translations and revisions. Marilynn Kulieke, George Michelson-Dupont, Henk Mylanus, and Jay Peregrine presented the report, which included policies, history, priorities, and evaluation criteria. In the end, this project should streamline translation and revision costs, improve quality control, amplify strategic decision making, and provide a documented system that allows the board to pass on to the next generation proven procedures and policies concerning translations and revisions of translations.
Renovation of the Third Floor, Attic, and Carriage House
In December the third floor renovation was completed on schedule and below budget. For the first time in decades, Dr. Sadler's gift of the beautiful building at 533 W. Diversey Parkway is in pristine condition. The top three floors have been fully renovated with new electrical, plumbing, bathrooms, kitchens, flooring, insulation, and much more.
The carriage house (that is, the garage and garage apartment) in the back of the building is also being renovated and will be rented. The architect, the contractors, and the builders did an outstanding job, and the renovation would not have been possible without donor support. (See article on page X) Please visit the Foundation and see the renovated home of the Fifth Epochal Revelation.