Tidings – August 2015
Homenaje a Edward Hopper by Carlos Rubinsky
In This Issue
A summer of celebration is turning into an autumn of progress and dedicated effort to extending the reach and depth of the Urantia Revelation.
This summer I attended two conferences which took time to honor the 60th Anniversary of the first printing of The Urantia Book and the first attempts to create a formal social organization dedicated to the Urantia teachings. From those early efforts in Chicago, collective reach has expanded tremendously. The Urantia Book is now available in 17 languages, 24 countries have joined Urantia Association International and 12 more countries have organized communities on the cusp of joining. With the perspective of time we can appreciate just how far we have come and how far we will go in the next 60 years!
In Quebec we held the 9th Urantia Association International Conference hosted by the Urantia Association of Quebec and the Urantia Association of Canada. These International conferences are moments to reflect, study, celebrate, and plot the course for the years to come. The international Service Board met to discuss the challenges of the year ahead, and the International Representative Council met to discuss progress in each country in our Association.
Each committee and country is dedicated to their own individual projects, but as a collective our focus for the next year will be three conferences on three continents, each sharing the same theme: Jesus as a Teacher. In North America, the Urantia Association of the United States will team with The Urantia Book Fellowship to host a combined National Conference and Summer Study Session in San Antonio, TX USA, from June 9-12, 2016. This is the first time in nearly 25 years that the entire Urantia Community in the United States will work in harmony for the same conference.
In Europe, Urantia Association International will team with and support The Blue Club of Europe to host a conference in Budapest, September 15-18, 2016. There is a growing united European Urantia Community and this event will be the biggest conference dedicated to fostering this important development. We are encouraging all Urantia Associations in Europe to send a contingent to Budapest. Translation services will be available so register early to help facilitate the hiring of the necessary translators.
In Latin America, Urantia Association of Colombia will host every Latin American Association in a conference in Bogota, October 14-17, 2016. Latin America is the fastest growing region in our International Association and this event will be used to shape the future for this region. English translation will be provided for those who want to visit but do not speak Spanish.
Going forward we will see many more years like 2016, with major events across the world coordinating themes and broadcasting their activities to the world. As our responsibilities continue to grow more volunteers are stepping forward to work for the advancement of our community. Thank you to all!
Finally, I want to congratulate the Urantia Association of the Netherlands who will host our next International Conference in Amsterdam in 2018. Plan ahead! This conference should not be missed!
If you were present at this event, I suspect you took great pleasure in participating. I had the opportunity of being there and I saw a lot of light pouring out from the participants. For all and any who couldn’t make it I offer this short summary.
The plenaries were much in line with the theme of the conference, “Progressing from Human to Divine”; every speaker demonstrated how they let God penetrate their daily lives. The choice of workshops, facilitated either in English or French, was abundant. For the early birds who showed up promptly in the amphitheatre, the ambiance was stirred up with the inspiring music of Rebecca Oswald. Later, the evening entertainment included various singers such as Marc Belleau and his quartet, Bob Solone and his piano session, and a wonderful group of singers from abroad whose names escape me; not to mention a couple of spontaneous jam sessions improvised in one of the halls at our disposal. Evening dancing and socializing was also at our convenience in the campus bar. A star gazing event was made possible on the warm and breezy evening which gave course to a clear sky presenting a blue moon.
We were also privileged to share ideas with many of the Trustees of Urantia Foundation. President Mo Siegel offered us a positive and encouraging picture in regard to the dissemination of The Urantia Book. A silent auction was open for everyone and it seems that over $3,000 was raised for this good cause. Thank you, Marian Hughes, for handling this project.
Most of all and in my opinion, the valued result of this experience is disclosed in the manner in which all were united in a willingness to act and move forward; to swim with the river and not just look at the flow.
It was announced that the next Urantia Association International Conference is to be held in the Netherlands in 2018. Also joint events and projects of the Association and Fellowship are in the air.
Statistics on Conference Participation
Countries represented: 19; total participants: 225 (73 women, 152 men); children: 9 (aged 2 to 12. Day care assistance was provided for the young ones).
United States 106, Canada 82, Netherlands 7, France 6, United Kingdom 4, Belgium 3, Colombia 2, Switzerland 2, Ukraine 2, Congo 1, Estonia 1, Finland 1, Germany 1, Greece 1, Haiti 1, Israel 1, Mexico 1, Péru 1, Sénégal 1, Sweden 1
On the subjective level, I can only say that this event for me was a bath in a tremendous study group that allowed me to reacquaint with old friends, fraternize with people I had been in touch with but had never met in person, meet people from diverse parts of Urantia who came to share our common ideal and especially, to learn how to love a bit more on the path to light and life.
To view the video presentations of the plenary sessions visit: https://vimeo.com/album/3537836
To view photos of the conference visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/131017306@N03/sets/72157655409215754/
The international conference that Line and Gaetan Charland, and others organized in Quebec was unforgettable for me for many reasons, but most of all because of the new initiatives of cooperation that our hardworking and dear President Chris Wood announced between Urantia Association and the Fellowship in upcoming conferences. One for which I have a date is a joint conference planned for June 9-12, 2016, in San Antonio. Other announcements will be shared as appropriate. There’s one in Budapest; and another in Latin America.
When I attended the Summer Study Session, I could feel it. People are being drawn together – the unseen friends are moving like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before. Anger is being flushed, friendships are being formed, and love is breaking out. Members of Urantia Foundation are involved, too. I heard a number of reports about people who had not associated across organizational lines who are now doing so.
Those of you who were not in Quebec might want to take a deep breath and see if you can sense and participate in this movement of cooperation and openness. Please pray for the organizers of various organizations and continents and for the participants to sustain this wave.
Obviously it is not necessary to travel in order to be part of this. Audio and video recordings were made of the plenary proceedings in Quebec, and in due time I expect they will be available for you to see. Also, there are many other ways for all to participate.
I have long advocated spiritual unity, assuming that organizational harmony would follow; and my motto from the 1990s was cooperate when you can, fight when you must (and if we cooperate when we can, the need to fight will become less and less). I am one who discovered that I was carrying anger about organizational things that I did not even know was in me, and the next morning in Quebec, it got swept out of me like a spirit hurricane.
I can see how each person has a part to play, and each person is playing his or her part to the best of their abilities. Let us rejoice in the unifying power of the Spirit of Truth. A new day is dawning.
Thanks to One and all!
On February 12th, 2015, I received 120 copies of The Urantia Book from the Urantia Foundation through Urantia Association International’s President Chris Wood. This was the largest shipment that I had received here in Malawi.
I, and our Vice President Brian Mambo, distributed the books to a number of cities. We visited various places and met with people in their homes, offices, prisons, universities, hospitals, and communities. While working on these distributions, we were able to talk with people who became new members of our study group. Below are some of our success stories.
Encounter with Members of Seventh Day Adventist
On the first day of distributing books, I met with ten members of the Seventh Day Adventist church. They asked politely what I was carrying in the carton, and I responded positively that it contained copies of The Urantia Book and from that response, we had a long conversation.
One of them, named Gift Chirwa, asked questions such as: “What is Urantia? What does this book talk about? Where did you get it and how can I know more about the teachings of this book?”
I answered his questions as best as I could seeing as this was the first time they had heard about The Urantia Book, and explained how they could find more information. One of their group, Kristina Kamwendo, said “Thank God today we met with you and on Saturday next week, we will join your group.” Accordingly, the following week they joined my study group, and ever since that day they have been attending our meetings. Each of them has a copy of the book. They have become part of our group and are well disciplined, hard workers, friendly and eager to learn more from us.
Special Visit to the Prisons
I visited two prisons and at Dedza Prison I met with Chifundo Phiri, a prison ward who was very kind to me and requested two books because of the high number of prisoners who are remanded at this prison. Three weeks later, I received a phone call from Chifundo Phiri, the Prison Ward, and this is what he said on the phone “Hello Grevet, I have read part of The Urantia Book which you left here at the prison and it’s a very good book. Therefore, I would like to join your study group.”
At our next meeting, he and his wife attended and we welcomed them. Since then, he and his wife have been coming to our meetings regularly.
Placement in Libraries
I visited four libraries but I was very impressed with Lilongwe National Library. When I first went there I could not find the librarian because he was not in his office. I then went there the following day and was able to meet him; his name is Patrick Chilombe. After being given the book and looking at it he said, “This is a good book with detailed information. I like it and I will put it on the shelf once I have finished reading it.”
One week later, he called me requesting two more books because his library is one of the biggest in Lilongwe city. As per his request, I gave him two books, for which he was very grateful.
Placement in Universities
I visited two universities: Kamuzu College of Nursing and Malawi College of Medicine; each of them received three books. But when I went to Malawi College of Medicine, I was glad to meet with a lecturer of Epidemiology named Dr.Sarah Mwale. She received the books and said, “I will be the first person at this campus to read this book.” Three months later, she requested a copy of her own use and I gave her one. During this second visit, I had an opportunity to submit my application for BSc. studies to her. Some weeks later, I was accepted to further my studies but due to a lack of funds, I reserved the place for the January 2016 intake, hoping that along the way I might find sponsorship. If I hadn’t done the book distribution to her library, I would not have been able to meet with Dr. Sarah Mwale.
Placement in Hospitals
I visited and was allowed to place copies of The Urantia Book in five government hospitals: Kamuzu Central Hospital, Kawale Health Centre, Chiwamba Health Centre, Kang’oma Health Centre and Chifundo Clinic. Each hospital received three books which were placed in the adult wards. One of the nurse supervisors named Idah Nkhoma of Kamuzu Central Hospital, the biggest hospital in Malawi, thanked me for visiting the hospital and said: “Thank you very much for donating three books to our hospital.”
Among Urantia Book Readers in Malawi
Each of the members of our Urantia Association of Malawi was given a copy of the book. I had an opportunity to visit members in their homes and also distributed copies at our study group meetings.
One of our long-time Urantia Book readers, Thomson Singini, expressed his gratitude and said, “Many thanks to Urantia Foundation, Urantia Association International President and others for their contributions. May God bless them all.” One month later, we welcomed her cousin who had read part of The Urantia Book and was interested to know more. She later joined our study group.
Another long-time Urantia Book reader commented “This is great. I like the book; it’s beautiful and it has a strong cover.”
All were thankful and grateful to have received the book.
In general, we had a very successful distribution exercise. However, in some areas, there were some difficulties due to lack of knowledge because so many people have never seen this book before.
Others felt compelled to come back to me and testify. James Banda testifies that, “Wow, this book is great and has wonderful teachings and I will keep reading until I get to the last paper.” Statements like this clearly show that The Urantia Book is a good book and can transform the lives of many people.
During the distribution period, we had some challenges, especially walking long distances with boxes of Urantia Books since we had no funds for vehicle transportation. In the slums of Lilongwe city where I am now based most of the people are illiterate and were not interested; such being the case, I did not distribute copies there.
President- Urantia Association of Malawi
The national meeting of Urantia Book readers took place this year from 18 to 21 June 2015 at the Neylière estate, near Lyon.
Seventeen readers were gathered at this calm and invigorating place, at an altitude of 650 metres, run by the Marist Fathers, to study the book on a particular theme, hold the Association’s general meeting and of course meet with other readers.
The subject of study dealt with the differences between evolution on a “normal” planet and evolution on Urantia, Urantia being a decimal planet and the location of a betrayal by its Planetary Prince and an Adamic default. The task was to reflect on the consequences, advantages and disadvantages of being born on such a world.
Here is a brief summary of our study:
The subject was introduced with a reminder of the Plan, or rather the Plans, for divine perfection, of:
- God the Father: the plan of progressive achievement, or ascension through evolution;
- God the Son: the bestowal plan of the sons for the revelation of the Father;
- God the Infinite Spirit: the ministry of mercy through himself and his personalities to execute the plan.
Paradise is the residence of absolute perfection and Havona is the model for it.
The seven superuniverses have been given one single injunction: Be you perfect as your Father in Paradise is perfect.
The study was carried out following the order of Paper 52, Planetary Mortal Epochs, which trace the seven periods of evolution from the commencement of human life to the era of light and life:
1st age: Pre-Planetary Prince man
2nd age: Post-Planetary Prince man
3rd age: Post-Adamic man
4th age: Post-Magisterial Son man
5th age: Post-Bestowal Son man
6th age: Post-Teacher Son man
7th age: The era of light and life
From the 1st age, when man emerges from the animal level, to the 7th age, the era of light and life, an evolution takes place which proceeds from the conflicts between tribes to a highly advanced civilisation characterised by such things as world peace, a true philosophy, and the interests of the universe.
In all domains, the scientific, the economic, the political and the spiritual, humans mature, also thanks to the aid of the different bestowals of the Sons.
The study of this paper has allowed us to comprehend the different epochs.
The table below sets out the principal differences between evolution on a normal planet and the evolution of Urantia from the 1st to the 3rd age.
Do not hesitate to read Paper 52 again to see the details of these periods:
Urantia has moved so far away from the divine plan following the default by the Planetary Prince coupled with the fall of Adam and Eve that it is difficult at any point to compare the evolution in terms of Ages.
In view of this, Urantia has benefited from emergency plans with “unique” characteristics such as the bestowal of Jesus (our Creator Son!), the gift of Adjusters and the Spirit of Truth. In the same way, it is extremely difficult to know in which period were are now, since on Urantia we possess elements of different ages.
Globally we have a very great retardation (3rd age) despite our great advancement in the domains of science and technology.
Reading this paper up to the 5th age has also allowed us to know the coming future evolution on Urantia, for example the unification of governments, the presence of a single race, peace on Urantia, only a few working hours per day and a good use of leisure, practising music and the arts.
Finally, we have realised the “good luck” or the “bad luck” of being born on Urantia rather than on a normal planet by reading Paper 50 section 7, ‘The Rewards of Isolation, which defines the Agondonters: “evolutionary will creatures who can believe without seeing, persevere when isolated, and triumph over insuperable difficulties even when alone.”
To end this report, we have to thank all the spiritual aids present during this weekend, all the absent readers who were present in thought with us, all the present readers who made for an interesting study of the book, fraternal fellowship during the breaks, meals and evenings, a good community of spirit and the constructive mood of our association’s general meeting.
We had an agreeable surprise during this weekend – the arrival of Antonio Schefer, President of the Conference Committee of the UAI, for a lengthy fellowship with us.
There were about 40 participants at our summer conference which was held 12-14 of June. Most were from Finland, but we were excited to welcome four foreign visitors: Vice President Karmo Kalda and his wife Margit from the Estonian Urantia Association; Antonio Schefer, Chair of Urantia Association International’s Conference Committee, and our Hungarian friend Eva Pap. The theme was “Great thinkers and minds of our time in the light of The Urantia Book.”
Prior to the conference an official annual meeting was held on Friday evening. About 20 of the 82 Association members participated and we went through financial and other important matters as well as electing new board and committee members.
On Saturday morning, the actual conference program began and we listened to presentations given about some famous thinkers and writers whose thoughts in certain areas resembled thoughts presented in The Urantia Book. Those thinkers included people such as Mika Waltari, Eckhardt Tolle, Anthony de Mello, Louise L. Hay and B. Welten.
In the evening, many of us went to a sauna as Finnish people quite often do. It’s said that a sauna will clean and refresh your body and soul.
On Sunday, we began by listening to some beautiful music, followed by a presentation on a national epic of Finland named Kalevala. Kalevala consists of epic poetry from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of Finnish literature.
After lunch, I presented a 3D computer presentation of the Universe. This three dimensional presentation starts from the fourth and outermost space level, going inward through the third, second and first outer space level, reaching the Seven Superuniverses, and finally the Central Universe of Havona and Paradise with its satellites.
This image is from my presentation and is a view looking towards the Central Universe.
President Finnish Urantia Association
On Friday the 21st of August, 2015 the Netherlands Urantia Association (UAISUN) organized the eighth Annual Urantia Day. After commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the day was devoted to study and becoming acquainted with new readers and renewing old friendships.
As last year, the Annual Meeting Day took place at Groot Kievitsdal, a conference center and restaurant beautifully located in the woods of the Estate Pijnenburg in Hilversum.
As usual there were a good number of attendees with 46 readers of The Urantia Book from The Netherlands and Belgian Flanders.
Three presenters discussed the following subjects:
- Morontia on Urantia
- The School known as Urantia
- The Artisans of Morontia
After each introduction with a PowerPoint presentation of about 20 minutes there was time to discuss the subject in groups of 7-8 people for 15 minutes. The questions that arose from those discussions at each roundtable were then posed to the presenter who had 15 minutes to answer the questions. In between those three sessions there was time for coffee, lunch, and drinks afterwards.
This new approach was different from the previous annual meetings. The result was a better comprehension of the subjects and a profound interaction between participants.
With great pleasure we can look back on a very successful day!
President Netherlands Urantia Association
On August 21 and 22, Joyce and Dave Anderson hosted the Urantia Association of NY-Pennsylvania Jesus Celebration at their home in Niskayuna, NY. Ten association members gathered on Friday evening for a Remembrance Supper, dinner and fellowship, including a lively discussion of how to encourage more young people to read the book and become involved in study groups.
On Saturday morning, most of us met to walk or run along the Mohawk River. Our formal program commenced at 10 am with a discussion of the readings. We then shared favorite stories of Jesus’ life, from early childhood through to his final hours on earth. The focus of many of these stories was how Jesus encouraged people of various backgrounds to recognize truth. We also discussed how expertly he used narrative to impart his message, in ways that still speaks very powerfully to us today. Our discussion continued over a vegetarian lunch. We concluded with some uplifting music by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
A smaller group attended the final performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday evening. As is traditional, the concert ended with a rousing version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with an 18th century cannon and fireworks!
Our farewells were made easier by the fact that we will meet again in less than a month for our 13th Annual Fall Conference, details of which can be found on the Association’s website at http://urantia-association.org/events-list/.
Meredith Hartt Tenney and Dr. David S. Tenney
The theme of New England’s Spring 2015 retreat was Living Loyally in Unity, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do. After the acrimonious political divisions of the 90’s, membership in Urantia affiliated organizations dwindled in the Northeast and was scattered over the six New England states. Urantia Association of New England, (UAONE) had not met for several years, while the Fellowships’ Connecticut Society was equally inactive. Neither group had enough strength in numbers to keep going. Urantia Book readers seldom gathered, and the sense of spiritual community in the region was disappearing, but all that has changed.
Five years ago, a core group of readers came together to form a single, unified organization for readers in New England. We sought to create grassroots healing of old schisms within the Urantia movement and promote spiritual unity. We agreed that all Urantia Book readers would be welcome, and that membership would be open to any reader regardless of their individual affiliation. We invited participants who were members of the Urantia Association of the United States, others who were members of the Fellowship, and many who were members of both, or neither. Our newly formed organization, Urantia Book Service Corps of New England, (UBSCNE), pays membership dues to both organizations and seeks to offer support and service to both these organizations and other Urantia-affiliated groups and projects.
UBSCNE has been growing in size and has 25-30 active members. The diversity of our membership body has never presented problems. We have one elected slate of officers, all of whom belong to both main organizations. We now gather together for an annual spring spiritual retreat at Angel House, for a one day educational program every fall, and for a celebration on Jesus’ birthday at Hopkinton State Park. We’ve put up a website and just finished incorporating as Urantia Book Service Corps of New England. We study The Urantia Book together, worship and pray together, do service projects and provide spiritual support for each other. Once again, there is a feeling of spiritual community and unity in New England!
For details of our next two upcoming events at Angel House visit http://urantia-association.org/events-list/.
Chris Wood worked closely with the Conference Chair to establish co-hosting agreements for the Association to partner with the Blue Club on the continental conference to be held in Budapest in 2016, and the 2016 Latin American conference to be held in Colombia. He also worked with the Education Chair of The Urantia Book Fellowship towards gaining approval from the Fellowship to combine its 2016 Annual Summer Study Session with the 2016 Annual National Conference of the Urantia Association of the United States (UAUS) that’s being held in San Antonio, Texas.
Andres Ramirez is also the Chair of the Representative Council. He has made contacts with Association leaders throughout Latin America and participated as a member of the ISB Executive Team and the planning team for the 2016 Latin American Conference in Bogota.
Chief Financial Officer
Bradly Tharp submitted the 1st quarter financial reports and participated as a member of the Executive Team and the Fundraising Committee.
Susan Owen provided meeting minutes and action points for the monthly ISB meetings and posted March, April and May ISB meeting minutes to the Representative Council. She participated as a member of the Executive Team, Education Committee, Website Management Committee, Public Relations Committee, and provided minutes and action points for their various meetings. As a member of the 2014 Annual Report team, she helped to complete the report and submitted it for formatting and printing.
Members of the Executive Team are Chris Wood, Andres Ramirez, Bradly Tharp and Susan Owen. Following are some of the topics addressed in the second quarter:
- Training Modules: To develop training modules for new Associations after they have been chartered.
- Continental Communication Coordinator Project: Antonio Schefer, the ISB Conference Chair, has attended association meetings and conferences in Finland, Spain, and France as a representative of the Central Administration of the Association. Andres Ramiez, ISB Vice President, has made contact with leaders in Latin America, is directly involved in the 2016 Latin American Conference, and plans to travel to Guatemala and Brazil.
- Template Conference Financial Aid Policy & Application: This project has been completed and approved by the ISB and is being translated for submission to the Representative Council.
- Recruit Judicial Commissioner: Work is in progress to find a replacement Commissioner.
Anton Miroshnichenko and committee members continued to work with Urantia Dach to form an Association covering Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The committee is also working with contacts in Hungary, Costa Rica and Venezuela. Anton also found an inexpensive translation service for the Central Administration.
Kathleen Swadling and committee members published the first and second issues of the Journal for 2015, as well as the April and June issues of Tidings. The 2014 Annual Report was finalized and submitted for formatting and printing. The main pages of the website are now live in Russian and Ukrainian thanks to the work and expertise of Anton Miroshnichenko. The Spanish, French and Portuguese translation teams are in place and work is progressing. The Events section of the website is being revamped and work continues with the Education Committee on a topical index of study aids for the website. Sub-committees for Public Relations and Website Management were established.
Study Group Committee
Gaetan Charland had to postpone work on the Study Group committee due to his commitments to the organization of the 2015 International Conference in Quebec, Canada.
David Linthicum and committee members have been working with readers in the Ukraine on a second shipment of books. They have been participating in the planning for the Parliament of World Religions and provided help to Gary Rawlings for the Cardiff Health Fair in Wales.
The Prisoner Inquiry Response Team has been facilitating communications with a church ministry that handles outsourced inmate correspondence from the Fellowship. It has also been advising the ISB on the prison library book donation project and related funding needs.
The Reader Services Committee has been developing processes for merging the Reader Referrals and Reader Services functions, working to identify potential contact representatives throughout the world, working with the Communications Chair to develop a Reader Services page on the website, recruited a professional IT manager to oversee the development of the Reader Services webpage, and assumed responsibility for handling reader referral first contact communications from the Executive Administrator.
Sheila Keene-Lund and her committee members continue to search for high quality study aids and resources and to work to complete the website topical index of Tidings and Journal articles.
Antonio Schefer and his committee members obtained agreement from the Blue Club organizers to co-host with Urantia Association International the 2016 conference in Budapest. Antonio attended conferences in Spain, Finland and France; assisted in planning for the 2016 Latin American Conference; reported that the 2016 UAUS, Latin American and Blue Club conference teams have all agreed to adopt a common theme: Jesus as a Teacher. The culmination of this theme of teacher training will be presented at the next International Conference which will be held in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2018. Antonio’s team has also been actively using and promoting the Association’s Facebook page and reported that the first two webinars in Spanish, with approximately 25 attendees have been held. A team member is working on presenting one in Russian.
Chris Moseley and his team continue to provide translation services to the ISB, the Representative Council and the website and to search for more volunteer translators.
It’s a little late this year but the Association’s 2014 Annual Report is now available on the website. You can view and download it at http://urantia-association.org/about-uai/governance-policies.
In this report you can read about Urantia Association International’s activities and achievements throughout 2014 and about its goals for the future. It also includes a comprehensive financial report. Please don’t hesitate to contact Central Office with any comments, suggestions or questions.
Urantia Association International has a new Events Calendar. Check it out at http://urantia-association.org/events-list. Upcoming events can now be viewed in a List or Calendar view.
Urantia Book reader events provide opportunities for students to gain a deeper understanding of the ideas and concepts presented in The Urantia Book and help to facilitate a personal commitment to the ideals of spiritual living. We hope you can make it along to some of these events and experience the joys of meeting and studying with fellow readers.