Highlights: Continental Growth
The purpose of the Continental Coordinators is to achieve heightened focus on Urantia Association’s mission and goals on those continents that have existing associations or reader activities that are in the development stages of becoming organized. Eventually we plan to have one Continental Coordinator for each continent, but currently we have three that cover Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Respectively they are: Wilson Leon from Colombia, Sabastian Nozzi from Germany, and Collins Lomo from Ghana.
These Coordinators serve as the representatives of the Central Administration to the reader groups and associations, as well as being liaisons between their region’s associations. Their core tasks are to promote cooperation, communication, projects, and activities that help readers and the associations spread the teachings of The Urantia Book and to bring Urantia students together for comradery and service.
This is Africa
Collins Lomo, African Continental Coordinator
It only seems like a year ago when I first glanced through such awe-inspiring truths and discoveries about life in our world and beyond. The words and statements stunned me to the point that I wondered how a book written on earth could possibly hold such amazing information.
Ten years down the line, what began as a journey of self-enlightenment, has transformed through dedication and service over the years into a service hub for sharing the truths and inspirations from The Urantia Book as well as sharing delightful and challenging experiences in promoting this book in Africa.
The uniqueness of Africa is that, whilst the continent had a checkered past in socio-economic and scientific development, its people have emerged as passionate advocates for advancing the family units, religious harmony, and life preservation, particularly through the preservation of culture.
Someone once asked me, “So, how do the people of Africa take The Urantia Book?” For a minute I thought to myself, “We are doing amazingly, and people have already embraced it in their homes, churches, and schools and even teaching it to their children.” But I paused for a moment and sensed that my inquirer longed to catch a more in-depth view with the hope of catching a glimpse into the African psyche about the book and how its people reckon with the advent of new thought patterns, opposing facts, and an impending shift in belief systems. It is not a question about truth discovery because deep within the African soul are embodiments of universal truth realities and faith in the divine presence.
So, I gave a response depicting one of those rare moments when I’m just being frank; the kind of feedback I’d usually offer anyone who really longs to know. “Africa is a delicate place for an epochal revelation such as The Urantia Book. Its people are quite passionate about their beliefs and identity. When we are convinced about something and our eyes are fixed on it, real or unreal, we take it to the extremes; so much so that it is hard to change our minds about it afterwards.” You can say, we are hooked for life. This is Africa!
Generally, this offers some positive outcomes by way of propelling the book, its teachings and revelations to a whole new level, creating awareness and drawing so much attention to it. But there is a downside to this in that it could lead to unimaginable interpretations of the book, leading to fanatic renderings of the revelation and mis-adaptations of the book’s message and teachings to many simple minded Urantians in the sub region.
For those men and women who have devoted their lives in service to the revelation, striking a balance between publicizing the book on the one side and putting structures in-place to nurture in-depth study coupled with fostering leadership dedicated to service on the other hand, will be critical in achieving success or failure in the continent, as far as the fifth epochal revelation is concerned.
I have barely started my tenure as Africa’s Continental Coordinator for the Association but over the years I have met readers from the sub region both in person and virtually, from diverse backgrounds and having different expectations and motivations for the book.
There are readers I like to call “the Forerunners.” They beamed the lights of the revelations in Africa from the savanna plains of Senegal, the highlands of Malawi, and the waterfall tops of Zambia, keeping hopes alive for future advents.
The call to service and what might also be described as sheer coincidence were at play when readers hailing from the coastal shores of Ghana and their counterparts from the green landscapes of Nigeria collaborated on many Urantia Book activities over a couple of years bringing new energy and dreams for the revelation in Africa. Then our fellow readers, our sisters and brothers from the ports and beaches of Cameroon and the mountain ranges of Uganda, joined in the call to reveal the truth liberating message of the Universal Father presented in The Urantia Book to their communities.
African readers, in and outside of the continent, were inspired to collaborate on hosting events and share experiences on the book. This move witnessed the emergence of study groups in some countries and the hosting of some beautiful Urantia Book conferences in others.
Well, as you all know, things haven’t been smooth in recent times owing to the outbreak of COVID 19 with its resultant disruption to the social order which affected religious gatherings and the like. One thing that keeps my spirit high and my service guns still firing is getting feeds and alerts, as I call it, from various bodies across the entire Urantia Book community about readers from Africa either reaching out to find fellow readers in the continent, or searching for study groups to join, or requesting books for dissemination.
Imagine the excitement that engulfs me when a fellow reader from the Masai reserves of Kenya, the deserts of Angola and more recently, from the plains of Serengeti, a brother in Tanzania, all inspired by the book and with an enthusiastic poise, reaching out to join this call to share this wonderful book in their homelands. Nothing beats the joy of discovering that your fellow sister or brother identifies with you in service to the Universal Father on Urantia.
Through these phases of events and with the passage of time, Urantia Africa is emerging to be among other regions across the globe all working to lift the banner of Michael, promulgating the three cardinal themes of the revelation—truth, beauty, and goodness—among the people of this world. To my sisters and brothers across Africa, readers in South Africa, Tunisia, Somalia, Mauritania, Congo, all of Africa, “Hear the drums beat, resounding with the message of the fifth epochal revelation, signifying the dawn of a new era.” Come let’s share this life-liberating revelation to and among our fellows.
What more could inspire me to serve!
What more could invigorate this servant of the revelation!
It will be an honor to devote my time and energy, together with my fellow sisters and brothers in the sub region, to this noble call. If you ask me what my expectations are for this journey, call it my goals or aspirations for Urantia Association, they are simply a restatement of my motivation for offering myself to be part of all this:
- Enjoin readers, existing and emerging ones all over the region to embark on in-depth study of The Urantia Book as this will greatly enhance all we do in promoting it.
- Formation and re-activation of study groups, taking advantage of current technology of virtual meetings, and increasing use of smart phones.
- Collaboration with diverse reader groups and entities in the Urantia community to fraternize and share experiences more often.
We have barely stepped onto the threshold. The land is full of promise, love, and passion for what we believe. So I say to you “Fasten your seat belt; be expectant of many interesting things from here. Look out for a re-emergence of Africa.”
This is Africa!
A Bridge to Better Times
Sebastian Nozzi, European Continental Coordinator
The Situation in Europe During 2020
Isolation is difficult. It is difficult not only because it is often impractical, but because it is psychologically taxing and emotionally painful. Adam and Eve felt it in their hearts when they found themselves on our isolated sphere. The Salem missionaries surely felt isolated when venturing into distant lands and living in foreign cultures. In the time of Jesus, the different groups of evangelists and believers kept in touch with one another using the invaluable messenger services of David Zebedee. Later, the Christian churches and key individuals like Peter and Paul, kept in touch with each other by sending letters, many of which are part of the New Testament as we know it today. All of this was done in order to withstand the effects of being isolated.
What is painfully missing when in isolation is simply contact. Contact with one another is the antidote to isolation. The Urantia Book tells us that religionists benefit from contact with each other and feel greatly empowered when doing so (“…spiritual growth is mutually stimulated by intimate association with other religionists” 100:0.2). I think I am not alone when I say that this phenomenon is really experienced, over and over again, whenever we go to events and have the chance to interact directly with other Urantia Book readers. The effect I have experienced during these encounters and afterwards could be described as highly “energetic.” People really feel uplifted.
What happens in the time between conferences would be different for each individual, depending on whether he or she had the luck to have a study group nearby or not. For the ones who did not, it would signify a time of long wait, looking forward to the next conference or event in order to meet other readers face to face again.
And then came the Coronavirus pandemic.
Within the European continent, the plan for 2020 was for people not only to attend their own regional events, but to “cross pollinate” the continent by attending events in other regions as well (as far as personal language skills would permit.) Hopefully, this would promote interchange within the continent, helping to foster the feeling of us all being part of “Europe” and would alleviate the language barriers and harmonize, even celebrate, cultural differences. As we now know, this would not be. One after the other, the local and regional events, retreats, and conferences were cancelled. In most cases we were not prepared with a “Plan B.” So, activities during 2020 were greatly reduced and almost came to a halt.
By 2021, however, things looked very different.
In 2021, the European communities had recovered from the initial shock of 2020 and were already in a good position to face and thrive in the middle of the crisis (thanks to technology and re-organization.) The European social WhatsApp group activity soared, which culminated in the community-organized “Winter Event” in December, with participants from all over the world. The Spanish community held their own “Urantiathon” events, spanning weeks, often with as much as three or four presentations per week. The German-speaking DACH community, which was already active through online technology, reorganized itself and resurrected its study group. The Finnish community took the opportunity to jump into the Zoom bandwagon, moving their events online. The Estonian community dared some in-person meetings when COVID cases were low but also have online activities. The Dutch community has many “digital” projects in their pipeline. The Italian-speaking community (Italy and Switzerland) is in the process of connecting far away and isolated readers, already having online study group sessions. The same can be said for France, where an online study group meets regularly. And the same for the Great Britain & Ireland Association. Regarding the latter, Chris Moseley actually praised their current situation. Paraphrasing his words in one of the last European meetings: “…we are meeting more regularly and with more readers than before the pandemic.” And last, but not least, the organization of the upcoming European conference in 2022, to be held in Spain, continues and will take place whether as an online event or in person. They hope for the latter but prepare for the former.
The Latin American Continental Coordinator, Wilson Leon from Colombia, has formed a Continental Coordinating Committee that provides services to students of The Urantia Book from Mexico to Chile. These services are designed to assist readers in their study of the book and provide practical support for outreach activities in spreading the Urantia teachings and ideals of living throughout the many countries of Latin America. The committee has developed a Strategic Plan to guide them in this organizational work. The plan is divided into four main Strategic Goals as follows:
- Study Groups: For the promotion, creation, and maintenance of study groups and to provide material support for leadership training for the successful hosting of meetings.
- National and Local Associations: For the promotion and creation of Local and National Associations throughout Latin America, training association leaders, and organizing and promoting national conferences.
- Book Fairs: To organize Urantia Book booths at international, national, and local book fairs and provide training and support to volunteers.
- Distribution and Donation of Books: To support the distribution of books, at low cost, for donating to schools, universities, prisons, and study groups.
Wilson’s coordinating committee consists of leaders from the Local and National Associations whose purpose is to foster and support the development of study groups and to train study group leaders to ensure their groups are attractive and sustainable throughout their regions. Currently the countries represented on the committee are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The committee organizes—both virtual and, when permitted, in-person—workshops and social meetings as well as regional, national, and international conferences. Members of the team donate their time, and often their money, to support reader outreach with book distribution and book donations. They also assist in maintaining databases for social networking to keep Urantia Book readers connected and informed.
By the end of 2020 there were 180 study groups registered, and four new Local Associations were formed (Guatemala, Venezuela, Cauca [Colombia], and Bolivia.) There are currently 11 National Associations for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.
Among the many virtual meetings, training sessions, and workshops held throughout the year, multiple virtual “Urantia Marathons” were a highlight whereby each marathon included five to six presentations in one day. Themes for these marathons included topics such as Urantia Leaders, Youth, Femininity, and Masculinity. Virtual workshops by e-learning were also held for the training of facilitators, study group hosts, associates, boards of directors, and for ways to introduce The Urantia Book. Members were also involved in the multi-lingual training program.