Since well before the creation of the Urantia Association in Britain and Ireland (UAIUK), readers and members of the regular study groups in Britain have been holding an annual event we call the ‘Summer Meeting’, where readers gather to discuss a particular theme in the book over a relaxing weekend. We started with meetings in readers’ back gardens, with a simple ‘pot luck’ meal on the Sunday, but since the formation of UAIUK in 2003, the venues have been hired, and the guests have been paying, and the theme and programme have been prepared well in advance. Each year one of us chooses some ‘retreat’ centre in a tranquil beauty spot somewhere in Britain – once even in Ireland. We let others pamper us with the catering and accommodation; we enjoy unfamiliar scenery away from our usual haunts, while we concentrate our minds on higher things.
This year, 2015, was no exception in that sense. Since Jesus’ birthday, 21st August, happened to fall this year at the start of the weekend, why not let the Summer Meeting coincide with that? Usually our timetable for the meeting is adjusted to suit the vacant weekends during the summer at the time of booking the chosen venue, but Jesus’ birthday weekend found Ty’n Cellar Farm, near Margam, South Wales, with a suitable number of vacancies. It turned out to be yet another lovely venue for our Summer Meeting.
The theme, then, was related to Jesus’ birthday: The Times of the Bestowal. At our summer meetings, it’s traditional for each participant to prepare a paper or presentation on a particular aspect of the theme. It’s an ideal opportunity to expand our thinking and knowledge about a part of The Urantia Book which we might skim over more superficially in a study group: a chance to speculate and reflect and discuss in depth, and maybe search for other sources outside The Urantia Book to illuminate the topic.
Over the weekend, we examined the papers relating to the Bestowal of Jesus and considered tier meanings and repercussions. It was as spiritually and intellectually satisfying as it always is – and yet, this year there were just six readers from the UK present. We also had a special guest of honour: Antonio Schefer, the recently elected Conference Chair of the International Service Board. Antonio gave us the opportunity to compare our organized work and meetings with those in other countries he’s visited with local associations, and that’s always fruitful.
Since holding the event, as Secretary I have called for nominations for new office-bearers in the UAIUK. The only nominations received were for the existing team to continue. So it remains to be seen where the UAIUK will go from here.