Highlights: Virtual Study Experiences
Table of Contents
- 24-hour Urantiathons
- From the Education Committee
- From the Study Group Committee
- A New Opportunity for Study Groups
To everyone’s surprise, the negative impacts of the enforced isolation brought on by the Coronavirus was amply compensated by Urantia Book reader communities and the ease in which they could bring people together in virtual meetings, at no cost, that could run for 24 hours! In 2020, Urantia Association International hosted three 24-hour Urantia conference events that came to be known as “Urantiathons.” The experimental pilot event was held in March and the theme was A Reward of Isolation. Then, because of its resounding success, another was held in May (We’re in This Together!), and then another in August (Faith, Joy, and Peace).
Volunteers around the world took shifts hosting different segments of the meetings according to their time zones and kept things running smoothly. These 24-hour presentations were scheduled so that presenters could share their material just as they would in a face-to-face meeting and subsequently conduct interactive discussions. Many attendees marvelled at being able to catch up with old friends they hadn’t seen in years. What a privilege to be able to do such a thing while so many of us are in isolation.
One of the amazing benefits to come from these virtual meetings, apart from their ability to comfort and nourish so many lonely souls in lockdown, is the ability to provide simultaneous translations. We are grateful to those hardworking translators who served tirelessly for hours at a time to make it possible for more people to experience the diversity of presenters and their many presentations given in different languages.
These events were interactive in Zoom and livestreamed to Facebook. Each presentation was recorded and uploaded to the Association’s YouTube channel as a separate video. Check them out by clicking on Urantia Association’s YouTube channel.
From the Education Committee
Jeannie Vasquez, Uruguay
Education Committee Chair
In 2020, the pandemic changed the way we live and meet together. Still, our practice of previous years facilitated our adaptation to the new way of life regarding our Education Committee service, which in this particular year was intense, full of new activities online. It was satisfying to connect with Urantia Book students around the world, which made the isolation more tolerable.
Continuing with our efforts to offer study opportunities and promote reflection on the teachings during 2020, the Urantia Association Education Committee developed a series of webinars and workshops and collaborated in the Urantiathons. This fantastic initiative offered opportunities to share the teachings virtually and make friends around the world.
Hundreds of readers around the world enjoyed the presentations. There was also time to offer comments and personal visions about the teachings shared.
Webinars and Workshops
English Topics and Presenters
- The Pursuit of Happiness (Chris Wood, USA)
- Our Quest of God Consciousness (Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron, Belgium)
- The Vision of Education with Respect to the Revelation (Gard Jameson, USA)
- A Spiritual Perspective on the Coronavirus (English and French, by Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron, Belgium)
- Our Quest of God Consciousness (English and French, by Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron, Belgium)
- Worship by the Book (English and French, by Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron)
- Share-A-Quote (English and French, by Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron
- Remember This (Rick Lyon, USA)
- The Will of God (Georges Michelson-Dupont, France)
- Living Faith—a Progressive Spiritual Experience (English and French, by Agnès Lazar and Guy Perron – part 1 and 2- in French and English.)
- The Master Educator (English and French, by Agnès Lazar, Moustapha NDiaye, and Guy Perron, in French and English)
Spanish Topics and Presenters
- The Arrival of the Adjuster—Birth of the Soul (Alfredo Esquivel, México)
- Our Heavenly Mothers (Isabel Reinoso, Colombia)
- “The Nourishment of the Soul—Prayer and Worship” (Javier Martínez, Spain)
- Answers for Unbelievers (Olga López, Spain)
- Biological Evolution of Races (Mariano Pérez Blanco, Spain)
- The Future of our Planet (Javier Martínez, Spain)
- The Religions of the World (Gerardo Leche, Guatemala)
- Monmatia, our Solar System (Javier Martínez, Spain)
- The Government of God (Omar Delgado, Colombia)
- The Yellow Man and China (Gerardo Leche, Guatemala)
- A Look to the Next Heaven (Pablo Morales, Venezuela)
- Our Heavenly Mother (Javier Martínez, Spain)
- Cyborg, The Evolutionary Technological Human and His Spiritual Essence (Francisco Vela, Guatemala)
- Angels (Javier Martínez, Spain)
Five sessions Workshop titled; “The Second-Milers” presented by:
- Isabel Reinoso (Colombia)
- Andrés Ramírez (Colombia)
- Gerardo Leche (Guatemala)
- Marinett Morales (Venezuela)
- Jeannie Vázquez (Uruguay)
Portuguese Topics and Presenters
- The Kingdom of God (Enrique Traver, Brazil)
- Evolutionary Races of Urantia, Part 1 (Nemias Mol, Brazil)
- At the Brink of a Better Epoch (Carlos Leite da Silva, Brazil)
- Machiventa Melchizedek (Liliam Marques, Brazil)
- Tolerance, a Big Step Towards Unselfish Love (Stella Maris Leonardi, Brazil)
- Out of Step (Adriano Santos, Brazil)
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to all the presenters and participants that made it possible to offer this service to our Urantia Community.
From the Study Groups Committee
Andres Ramirez, Colombia
Study Groups Committee Chair
Study groups for The Urantia Book are the most important way for the understanding and in-depth study of the Urantia revelation. For seventy years they were based mostly on “physical” meetings. In just one year with the pandemic, most of them turned into online groups using different meeting software, mostly Zoom. We have adapted very quickly to these unexpected changes, but even before 2020, we were having a big increase in the number of online groups. This effort to adapt is worth admiring, especially since we have a lot of readers who are not young and had to learn new technologies.
We have also advanced one step more towards global integration by using a Zoom feature acquired by the Association that has multichannel audio for the meetings, allowing simultaneous translations. This is a dream come true and has allowed us to have events in many languages. And we have started letting people know that Urantia Association’s ten Zoom accounts are available for associations to use for events they are planning.
I have observed with delight how many readers are attending multiple online groups, showing an amazing desire to study the book. I have observed too how some facilitators have created many new groups and many new formats. I know of one that facilitates a total of seven groups during six days of the week. So, despite the downside of not having in-person interaction, except for a couple of countries that have controlled the pandemic extremely well, we are really trying to make the most of the situation and perhaps we are studying the book more hours per week that ever before and in many new and very creative ways. One challenge ahead of us is to better learn how to let people outside our groups know of these spaces and attract them.
Over the past year Urantia Association’s Study Group Committee has been very carefully reviewing the Study Group Guide for facilitators, hosts, and readers; the new revision is in its final stages. Once finished we will organize workshops for the facilitators and readers in general to help them have a more profound understanding of all the factors involved in running a study group. Also, a survey has been designed and will be released soon to help us better understand the needs of the groups and to help them in the creation of new groups. Our next big project will be focused on the creation and gathering of study aids of excellent quality to assist the groups.
A New Opportunity for Study Groups
Isabel Reinoso Manrique, Colombia
President, Urantia Association of Colombia
By the end of 2019, we had registered 72 study groups throughout Colombia, and this number continued to grow in 2020.
Because of the forced lockdown from March 2020, we set about to organize virtual study groups. Immediately, I updated myself and managed the technology better. Before, I had only one study group via Zoom but thanks to the video conferencing technology, I now have seven study groups during the week and a permanent session for anyone interested in taking a first approach to The Urantia Book. The most beautiful thing is that people are constantly approaching me and at least one new person accesses the study group for beginners every week.
Things are changing globally, they have already changed and they are not going to go back to the way they used to be. For that reason, I immediately devoted myself to virtual groups with new people. These people knew nothing of the book, but students who already knew me were interested in starting a further reading after advertising the groups.
The big surprise is that they helped me to overcome some obstacles. When my computer crashed, seeing the difficulties of doing the talks from my cell phone, these students, who only just knew me, bought me a computer and sent it to me. When Zoom’s security issue started, and we did not have a virtual room that we could use freely for all our activities, the groups agreed to hire the services of a particular Zoom Room. I think these groups are functioning very well with people who knew nothing of the book. In six months of deep study, they already dare to talk on a specific topic and prepare their presentations in PowerPoint, with excellent quality.
When these seven groups finish studying the whole book, our idea is that each of them will form their own study group, either face-to-face or virtually. And a first step has already been taken in this regard with the recent opening of a study group in San José de Costa Rica facilitated by Irene Valenciano, a student of one of these study groups.
Each one of them makes their plans according to their needs and resources and according to the goal they set for themselves because when you sincerely decide to do the will of the Eternal Father, he puts all means in your way to achieve it. The whole great universe conspires to help you.