Fourteen devotees of the Urantia revelation gathered on 28th January at a hotel on the old site of Croydon Airport, south London, for a rare chance to meet with Pato Banton and his musical and life partner Antoinette Rootsdawtah. Pato and Antoinette were visiting Britain, and in fact the next day they were moving on to his former home town of Birmingham to host another meeting with readers. This gathering was something of a cross between a study group and a miniature conference, with the added spice of Pato’s and Antoinette’s music. Pato is always an effective evangelizer of the Revelation through his infectious music. We don’t see them often in Britain, as their music takes them around the world and they live in Southern California these days.
We began by going around the table describing how the Urantia revelation came into each of our lives. Most of us already knew each other, but it is always affecting to hear and compare our individual stories of how it came to touch us – and besides, this was an international gathering. There were some European readers present. In that sense, this was a bit of milestone in the British Urantia movement: the net was cast wider than the UAIUK can usually reach. Pato’s own story of his own personal and spiritual path was a pretty harrowing one, starting off from disadvantages most of us in the room could never dream about.
Part of the programme was the study of three papers: 33 (Administration of the Local Universe); 48 (The Morontia Life) and 170 (The Kingdom of Heaven). Pato is an effective study group leader, asking penetrating questions, and more importantly, provoking them. The heavy cerebral study was leavened with a convivial lunch of hotel finger-food, and songs from Pato and Antoinette (with recorded backing), which had us all up on our feet and at least swaying, if not downright dancing.
Preaching to the converted in a hermetically sealed environment – that’s how it might have looked to a bystander: but no, not quite. Pato has taken to heart Jesus’ injunction to constantly make a new friend at every opportunity, and the hotel staff member who served our tea and coffee – Lenson Rodrigues if I heard his name right – was asked by Pato to introduce himself and describe his own spiritual path, and then, to join us in prayer and worship. It was a touching moment to see Lenson becoming one of us, for however short a time.
Antonio Roque, who has now started convening a weekly on-line study group in Britain, and our UAI Conference Chair Antonio Schefer, are to be thanked for co-ordinating this meeting with Pato and Antoinette. I hope this is the start of a new trend!