We were already excited about the prospect of working in partnership with Urantia Association International during our 2017 Urantia Conference in Accra Ghana, when Antonio Schefer alerted us to Antonio Roque’s desire for us to host a Study Group “meetup” in London in the UK during our visit to Birmingham (UK) en route to Africa. Even more thrilling was the knowledge that some of our Urantia family in Europe had expressed their desire to fly over and join us too!
Part 1—Hallmark Hotel, East London, UK
Initially, the London gathering was intended to be a full day of studying The Urantia Book with some live music (performed by us) intertwined, but because many of us were meeting for the first time, we decided to change the format into a group discussion which would allow us to get to know each other better, to learn about our individual journeys since finding The Urantia Book and to see how we could improve on applying the teachings in our daily lives. Of course the music was still interwoven throughout the program, but now, everyone was involved in contributing to the celebration!
And celebrate we did! The atmosphere during the whole conference was fun, beautiful, inspiring, light-hearted but also deeply touching as we learned about each other’s personal experiences that brought us to this point on our spiritual paths. We studied together, prayed together, sang, danced and laughed about the trials of life and the roles we need to play in making the world a better place.
The highlights of the day for us were:
- Learning that Zoe Millington (who lives in South Hampton) found The Urantia Book in March 2016 by observing our Facebook activity and joined our Spiritual Family Group. She drove two hours to be at the gathering and her knowledge of The Urantia Book was quite impressive.
- Being blown away when Alexander H from Germany grabbed the mic and started rapping over the music in his native language!
- When Lenson, our Indian waiter accepted our invitation to share his religious philosophy with everyone in the room. He said, “I was raised as a Christian, but I believe that God loves everybody!” He then held hands with us and joined in for our closing prayer circle with a prayer that touched our hearts and souls. He was excited to receive a Urantia Book and promised to stay in touch with us.
Part 2—Hotel Blu, Birmingham, UK
Still buzzing from the amazing experience at the London Urantia gathering, the next day seven of us decided to make our way to Birmingham by car and train for another exchange of inspiration, spiritual motivation and love.
Three of Pato’s daughters usually host the Urantia study group and other activities in Birmingham, and they had estimated a turn-out of about 14 people for this gathering. But because they had also asked Pato to use this occasion to perform the Christening Ceremony of five of his grandchildren, it also became a family celebration with about 40 people in attendance. Pato opened the evening with a prayer and proceeded to christen the children by anointing their heads with oil. Alexander H from Germany shared his desire to be consecrated by Pato during this moment, and Pato obliged with a very touching ceremony.
We then told everyone that we were about to study a paper in The Urantia Book, and if anyone wasn’t interested or needed to leave, now was a good time to do so. But to our surprise, everyone grabbed a Urantia Book and stayed, participating in what became a very memorable evening that continued way beyond the scheduled time.
The chosen paper was The Second Discourse on True Religion, which turned out to be a great choice, as everyone in the room (Muslims, Christians and Agnostics alike) could relate to Jesus’ teachings on this thought provoking subject of spiritual freedom. This was also an ideal opportunity for the skeptics to have their questions about The Urantia Book answered in an open and loving environment.
The closing prayer circle (with everyone holding hands) was a true testament to how much we all have in common when we open our hearts and minds in the spirit of Spiritual Unity!
There were many great moments throughout this event but some of the main highlights for us were:
- Pato’s mum arriving with some Caribbean home cooking for everyone and sharing her ideas about spiritual freedom and the need for everyone to simply coexist.
- Tanisha Mendes (Pato’s niece) who was leaning towards becoming a Muslim, excitedly sharing many expressions and reflections during the evening and embracing many of the concepts of The Urantia Book, stating, “This makes so much sense to me and the way I think!” Before departing she took some of the books to share with her open-minded friends who she felt would be interested in learning about these “new truths.”
To illustrate these inspiring events in the UK, two attendees: Akex H from Germany and Anna Zeven from the Netherlands wrote reports of their enlightening experiences. See: https://urantia-association.org/2017/attendee-reports-urantia-gatherings-uk
Part 3—Accra City Hotel, Ghana, West Africa
With our missions to London and Birmingham completed, we set our sights towards Africa…
This was truly set to be an international gathering with attendees from the UK, France, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and the USA. The “meet and greet” that had been planned the evening before the conference, progressed into “An introduction to The Urantia Book” due to the many inquisitive new truth-seekers who had heard about the event and wanted to know, “What is this all about?” They had heard of The Urantia Book from local readers who had invited them to the conference and from friends in the USA who told them that we would be hosting a spiritual event in Accra. We stayed up late into the night answering questions and getting to know our African brothers and sisters.
We could write a book about the amazing presentations, musical performances, testimonies of faith, group discussions and inspiring moments during our conference the following day, which was attended by a very diverse group of people from a wide range of belief systems.
But even with all this diversity of intellectual viewpoint, the gathering was very harmonious and savored the beautiful flavor of spiritual unity.
On the third day we gathered for an in-depth study of The Urantia Book on the subject of “Spiritual Unity.” The attendance was almost overwhelming but the discussions and reflections were outstanding and fun!
Hotel accommodations were provided for many people traveling from outside Ghana and the hotel buffet was provided each day for everyone in attendance, complimentary of Urantia Association International. (Thank you!)
For a more detailed review of this gathering in Ghana please see Kwajdo Spiri’s (03/27/2017 Mission Accomplished) reflections here: http://www.urantia.org/category/news-categories/gatherings
Highlights during our trip to Ghana were:
- The discovery of a group of female, long time Urantia Book readers who, since the conference are now responsible for hosting the weekly Urantia Study Group alongside Kwadjo Spiri and Collins Lomo.
- Our television interview on the most popular TV3 Network to promote the reason for our trip to Africa and was broadcast to six different countries. During the interview the TV host did a presentation on Pato’s long career and sang one of his songs with him. Pato also used this as an opportunity to promote our gathering, some of the teachings of The Urantia Book and he even held his book in front of the camera.
- A revealing and heart-wrenching tour of the town and schools of Nima, the poorest community in Accra, Ghana. We are dedicated to providing ongoing support, in some small way, to help improve the conditions for some of the children there.
Through teamwork great things are achieved!