The Representative Council of Urantia Association International has just completed an election cycle for members of the International Service Board (ISB). Following are the positions that were due for election along with the successful candidates:
Vice President – Andres Ramirez (Colombia)
Secretary – Susan Owen (United States – re-elected)
Communications Chair – Kathleen Swadling (Australia)
Conference Chair – Antonio Schefer (The Netherlands)
Dissemination Chair – David Linthicum (United States)
Membership Chair – Anton Miroshnichenko (Ukraine)
Study Group Chair – Gaetan Charland (Quebec, Canada – previously served as President of Urantia Association International from 2003 to 2013)
Those remaining members whose positions were not due for election are:
President – Chris Wood (United States)
Treasurer – Bradly Tharp (United States)
Education Chair – Sheila Keen Lund (United States)
Translations Chair – Chris Moseley (United Kingdom)
Following are some insights into our newly elected ISB members who are serving on the board for the first time:
Vice President – Andres Ramirez
Andres comes from Bogota, Colombia and is 38 years old. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Mathematics. He found The Urantia Book when he was 16 through the books of J.J. Benitez and bought his own copy a couple of years later. He read the book alone for many years then heard about the Colombia Association in 2001 and joined a study group in 2002. Ever since then he has been active in the Bogota Urantia Association and currently serves as its Secretary.
Andres’ main focus has been with electronic media. He created a YouTube Channel for his Association and continues to be its administrator. He also undertook a web development course so that he could recreate and maintain his association’s website which had become out-dated.
Besides working with electronic media Andres is involved with the planning of events and conferences and develops strategies for the dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book. He says: “I have learned about the real importance and real objectives and goals of having an Association. As a purpose in life I’m willing to serve as much as I can in the work of disseminating the teachings of The Urantia Book.”
Andres has a keen mind and a deep commitment to work with Urantia Association in the service of the Revelation. We are truly blessed to have him on the board.
Conference Chair – Antonio Schefer
Antonio was born in Colombia and raised in the Netherlands. He is 38 years old and has been reading The Urantia Book since 2005. He graduated in 2008 with a degree in Public Administration. That same year he created a website dedicated to The Urantia Book teachings and organized his first activity for the Urantia community giving an introduction lecture about the book. Since then he has been giving lectures and video and radio interviews on The Urantia Book and has been actively involved in the Netherlands Association Stichting Urantia Nederlandstalig.
Antonio has developed skills in graphic art and 3D image technology and has been developing custom made videos using his own designs for mediums such as Facebook and YouTube. He spent time in Colombia visiting study groups and assisting with a variety of Urantia related activities such as the International Book Fair where he displayed one of his videos. Recently he has been involved with utilizing his skills in digital 3D technology for Urantia Book related image art. His biggest and best video production to date was released in 2013 titled The Urantia Secret.
Urantia Association is fortunate to have one such as Antonio on the board. Apart from his sincere dedication to the Urantia revelation and a willingness to serve, he brings with him the freshness and enthusiasm of youth as well as modern Internet technology to help us keep step with the rapidly changing world around us.
Dissemination Chair – David Linthicum
David is from Oklahoma in the United States and found The Urantia Book in 1996; he has been an avid student of the Revelation ever since. He recently retired after a 40-year career with a Fortune 500 company with extensive experience in supervisory management, accounting, real estate, project management, training and budget forecasting. He is married with two grown children and four grandchildren.
David is a charter member of the Spirit of Oklahoma Local Association having served as President, Treasurer and currently as Vice-President. He has served on the national level as UAUS Treasurer and President and as a member of the Urantia Association Judicial Commission. He has been the chairman of the Prisoner Inquiry Response Team (PIRT) since its inception ten years ago, as well as being a member of the planning committees for both the Association’s Leadership and Study Group Symposiums where he introduced the “group dynamic” conference format. As well as being actively involved in planning conferences at the local, regional and international levels he is a strong supporter of study groups.
In addition to his commitment to serving the Revelation and his long time loyalty in the service of Urantia Association, David brings with him a high level of expertise in organizational and administrative ability as well as proven leadership qualities. We are certainly blessed to have one such as he on the board and we will definitely draw from his many talents.
Membership Chair – Anton Miroshnichenko
Anton is from Ukraine, is 32 years old, and is married with two children. He found The Urantia Book in 2005 while working in a bookshop that carried spiritual literature. He graduated from university the same year after completing studies in electrical engineering. He has gained extensive experience in a variety of fields that include news media, event management, climate change science, scripting and filming, and technical writing for IT companies. He is currently involved in the civil ecological movement and works as a program manager and IT specialist for a non-profit ecological club that handles a number of educational ecological activities that promote energy efficiency and sustainable development in schools of Ukraine and other Western European and Asian countries.
After finishing his first reading of The Urantia Book, Anton soon realized that he would like to know more about The Urantia Book reader’s community so he contacted the Urantia Youth web forum and was greeted by Mike MacIsaac from Sweden who maintained a global young readers’ network. Mike introduced Anton to other readers in Ukraine and as a result of their common efforts, in December of 2010 established a local association known as Urantia Association of Ukraine where Anton is currently serving as President.
In 2011 Anton and his wife Kateryna attended the Chicago Leadership Symposium as well as the European Urantia Book reader’s conference in Berlin. He attends a couple of online Urantia Book study groups via Skype, one of which is organized by Michael Hanian, the Russian translator of The Urantia Book. One of the main goals of that group is to improve the Russian translation.
In May of 2014 Anton was involved in a book project undertaken by his association whereby, with the help of Urantia Association International, they imported 270 Urantia Books from Urantia Foundation into Ukraine. So far they have distributed 110 of those books. Anton is currently working on placing the book in the major bookstores.
Anton has also been organizing the translating of material from Urantia Association’s website into Ukrainian and Russian. Because of his IT background he is keen to assist with the management of the Association’s website.
Anton will be a tremendous asset the Association. We feel very fortunate to have one with Anton’s level of experience and expertise on the board. His willingness to serve and his level of dedication to the Revelation is a blessing to us all.
Communications Chair – Kathleen Swadling
Kathleen is from Sydney, Australia and is 62 years old. She has been a reader of The Urantia Book since 1974 and, along with her husband Trevor, has been hosting a study group since 1981. They have 3 adult children, who are all second generation Urantia Book readers, and 6 grandchildren. Kathleen is now retired but in her professional life gained extensive experience in all facets of people management, customer services, and administration.
Kathleen has been active in the Urantia movement since the early 1980’s. In the early years she was involved in a comprehensive library donation project where over 500 Urantia Books were donated to libraries throughout Australia and New Zealand. She was a founding member of the first readership association for Australia & New Zealand that became known as ANZURA. She has served on its Governing Board several times as President, Secretary, and Treasurer. During the early ‘90’s she and Trevor opened the first branch office of Urantia Foundation in Sydney Australia in order to supply The Urantia Book to the book trade in the Asia Pacific region. They have attended many book fairs and have been providing services to readers ever since.
In the late ‘90’s Kathleen and her husband lived and worked at Urantia Foundation’s head office in Chicago. Kathleen was the Development Coordinator and worked closely with the Trustees and Executive Director, Tonia Baney. Duties included fundraising and event management, database development, reader services, public relations, and assisting in the development of a long-term strategy for the Foundation. She represented the Foundation at international book fairs in Chicago, South Korea, and India. During that time she also served on the committee that assisted the Foundation in creating the Charter & Bylaws for Urantia Association International. After returning to Sydney in the early 2000’s she remained a part-time employee of Urantia Foundation for another 6 years and continued with public relations and development as well as taking over the role as Manager for Urantia Foundation’s corps of International Representatives and Branch Offices. She also served as an Associate Trustee for 3 years during that time and attended many of the Association’s international conferences. In more recent years she has been serving Urantia Association as the Chair of the Website Management Committee which has been developing the revised website.
Kathleen’s long time commitment to the Revelation, as well as her lasting loyalty and involvement with study groups and Urantia organizations, along with well developed organizational and management skills and proven leadership qualities brings a much appreciated wealth of history and experience to the board.
Study Group Chair – Gaetan Charland
To those familiar with Urantia Association, no introduction is needed for Gaetan who served as the Association’s first President from 2003 to 2013. After a two-year break from the board it is good to have Gaetan back as part of the team. Currently he and his wife Line are organizing the upcoming 2015 International Conference for the Association on their home turf in Quebec, Canada. Gaetan’s passion is study groups and he has spent many years, both in his capacity as the former President and in his everyday service life fostering study groups and assisting readers in their journey with The Urantia Book. A more loyal, hardworking, and dedicated servant of the Revelation would be hard to find. Welcome back Gaetan!