In October, Urantia Association International joined with Urantia Foundation and The Urantia Book Fellowship in participating in the Parliament of the World’s Religion’s 2015 gathering in Salt Lake City. It was a great learning experience and benefit to many of our members while having dissemination value to a very large audience.
As Urantia Association’s liaison to the Joint Parliament Committee, I had the pleasure of working with a solid group of our volunteers who were instrumental in the success of the overall effort. I also had the pleasure of working with both staff and volunteers of Urantia Foundation. Working with a large contingent of Fellowship staff and volunteers was also pleasurable, even as we faced some challenges related to organizational diversity. More importantly, the actual joining of hands for meaningful cooperation on shared goals should be counted as true and welcome progress within our community.
Great appreciation goes to Executive Administrator, Margaret Slater Thompson. She supported our efforts from day one until well after the event, providing essential finance and registration assistance for our team. She offered the committee generous time and a cheerful attitude with accounting, logistics, and more, helping me in all phases of inter-organizational planning and support.
Also, much gratitude goes to Richard Jernigan, Urantia Foundation’s liaison to the joint committee. It was his compelling graphic design that we chose to grace our booth, and he was also instrumental in our planning logistics and on-site management. Cristina Seaborn, the Fellowship’s Interfaith Committee Chair, was the other member of the core planning team and did loads of work in all the booth preparation and volunteer coordinating.
We went to the Parliament as a unified team to educate a diverse spectrum of religious adherents about The Urantia Book and its teachings. I feel that we were successful in that, but measurable metrics are hard to produce. Books were sold and promotional literature was handed out; for the most part, all handout material adhered to our mutual agreement that we would only promote the book, not any organization. Distributed materials did not feature promotional information—only the three website addresses were printed on handouts. The same was true for the simple but attractive display that anchored our booth. For an excellent narrative report on the event, see Richard Jernigan’s article in the newsletter from Urantia Foundation:
Well over 100 books were sold or given away, hundreds of items of literature found their way into the hands of the participants, and many in-depth conversations took place between Urantia Book students and the attendees of the Parliament, officially reported as 10,859 people. As an outreach exercise for The Urantia Book, our efforts should be noted as a qualified success. Additionally, due to careful management and unexpected generosity from Urantia Foundation, Urantia Association expenses came in under budget.
Our Parliament adventure was a good prelude to this year’s first joint conference in San Antonio. These activities bring some much needed and beneficial social balm to the reader community; our organizational teams will continue to hone the details of working together, reaping the benefits of friendship and the pursuit of common goals. We must move forward and we must maintain our focus on developing teachers and leaders who are guided by inner-spirit wisdom and unwavering faith. We are only mortal actors on the stage of the evolving Supreme.