Tidings – December 2015
In This Issue
Happy New Year to you all! I hope you’ve had a nice festive season and have found some time to relax and reflect as we begin another year in our exciting and challenging life journeys.
I have spent the last several months rehabilitating my home in preparations for a move. I am correctly designated an amateur in the arena of home building and design so I cannot speak to the finer details of much of this work. I have noticed however how important it is to have the first base layer of any project level and true. While laying tiles on a wall we spent as much time properly setting the first placing of the first layer as we did placing all the layers above it. We knew any deviations on the first level would have to be adjusted for later on, so we made sure to do it right.
Hours of repetitive work gives you plenty of time to think, so I have been thinking about the ascension career we have before us. Let’s face it: we are living a crooked first layer. On a standard world there are programs in place to help us gain level experiences, and those first world lessons are corrected and made true on the mansion worlds. But we have been given a decimal planet rocked by rebellion and default. We have skipped standard mortal epochs and had two emergency revelations given to us. We have never been visited by a Magisterial Sons, our Bestowal Son was the creator of the local universe, and The Urantia Book provides us with a cosmological view of Deity generally imparted by the Trinity Teacher Sons.
Our first layer is as jagged as the Himalayas. Our Mansion World training will not be the standard program designed to gradually lift a mortal up to Jerusem citizenship. Instead our program will be filling in gaps and smoothing over our rough edges. On Jerusem we know we will be housed in the special Adgondontor sector away from the average ascending mortals. And the uneven training we are receiving now will define us until we reach Paradise. I find this very intriguing.
I hope we can all have an opportunity to meet with other readers at a conference this year to discuss this and other ideas that the Fifth Epochal Revelation has given us to ponder.
President, Urantia Association International
Gaetan G. Charland
At the beginning of December 2015 I attended a new online study group that is designed mainly for young readers. This new group was initiated by Antonio Schefer and is facilitated by Jeffrey Wattles. It is international and uses a very efficient Web platform called Zoom to gather and unite the participants. This Web application allows participants to see each other if they so desire, and the facilitator can share his screen, documents, power point presentations and even videos. All the sessions are recorded so each participant may review the session at their leisure when it is made available online by Antonio Schefer.
What is more outstanding and avant-garde about this virtual study group is its curriculum and protocol. With the expert assistance of Jeffrey Wattles, the group focuses its activities on training leaders and teachers by exploring passages from the life and teachings of Jesus as exemplified in The Urantia Book. But it does not stop there; it also encourages participants to become actively present at conferences by giving presentations and facilitating workshops. The group also explores how Jesus shared and disseminated his teachings and how each of us can, in our own ways be inspired to adapt and apply the Master’s methods in our own communities.
It is very refreshing and encouraging to witness such an initiative as this online study group method. It responds to the requests given to us by the revelators in the Publication Mandate to help train leaders and teachers and create thousands of study groups. Those same revelators also encouraged us to study the life of Jesus to find ways to achieve our mission as teachers and leaders.
I believe that when more study groups endorse this curriculum, we will see great changes happening not only in our own lives, but in our families and communities. If you would like to join this study group or view a recording of one of them, please contact Antonio Schefer at [email protected].
For more information on Study Group schedules visit the website at http://urantia-association.org/2016/01/24/urantia-young-adult-study-group/
In spirit of brotherhood,
Gaetan G. Charland
Study Group Chair
Urantia Association International
This historic, combined event of the Urantia Association of the United States (UAUS) 2016 National Conference and the Urantia Book Fellowship Summer Study Session 2016 will be held at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. We’re going to study Jesus as the Master Teacher – covering a wide variety of topics exploring his mastery and applying it to our lives. The organization of this event will be sponsored by the Lone Star Urantia Association (the Texas Local Association of UAUS) and the Education Committee of The Fellowship.
In addition, this is an opportunity to visit the great state of Texas and be Texan for a while. Bring your cowboy boots, the cowboy hat you haven’t worn in ages and your Texan spirit to this conference. You’ll have a chance to meet with friends you haven’t seen in a long while and make new friendships while studying and learning about another aspect of Jesus, The Master Teacher. We look forward to seeing you in June 2016!
This year the conference and pre-and post-conference events are held on the beautiful campus of Trinity University. Trinity University is located at 1 Trinity Place, San Antonio TX 78212. Its website at https://new.trinity.edu has a virtual tour that you can visit before the conference begins. Trinity is a beautiful university and like most universities is spread out. The dining hall and dormitories are on the “lower campus” and the conferencing areas are on the “upper campus”. Be prepared to do quite a bit of walking this week – wear those comfortable walking shoes when you go to the conferencing events.
All conferencing fees include meals, water breaks/snacks and dormitory rooms. You have a choice of dormitory room which will affect your registration costs. Meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner for each of the days you sign up for. All activities are priced for an adult who is considered 13 and above. Children may attend the various activities and are considered 12 and under.
For more information and to register click here
For information on workshops and how to apply click here
Below is our contact information if you have any questions about the event or how to register.
Finally, thank you for your attention and response. We look forward to seeing you at this event.
President – Lone Star Urantia Association
Happy New Year to you! Here is our greeting video and special announcement for 2016 https://youtu.be/oU-pg04pa9s.
We want to wish you a warm welcome to The United Urantia Family Festival 2016! Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday Together in His Homeland!
The United Urantia Family is beyond pleased to announce our 2016 Family Festival Gathering from August 10-23, 2016 in “The Holy Land of Jesus” during Jesus’ Birthday on Sunday August 21 which will be celebrated in Nazareth itself – the land of his youth.
This pilgrimage will bring you to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount of Olives, Bethany, Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, the Jordan River, Sepphoris, Scythopolis, Nazareth, Cana, Caesarea-Philippi, Mount Hermon as well as the Sea of Galilee!
Our theme is ‘Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday Together in His Homeland’ and for that special occasion, we will have a specially catered meal to mark this unique event while dining together at Nazareth Village amidst the decor of an authentic replica of a Nazareth village as in the days of Jesus.
This exceptional trip will be one of close bonding and sharing while revisiting the Life and Teachings of Jesus as He lived it during His Bestowal years on Urantia. For more details, visit us at www.tuuff.org or direct link http://www.tuuff.com/Family%20Festivals/Israel_2016/home.html
You can also visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/The-United-Urantia-Family-144956382184979/ which we will keep updated as the event approaches in order to keep everyone abreast of all the latest news.
You can occupy a room for DOUBLE or TRIPLE OCCUPANCY for the price of $1750 USD PER PERSON including all breakfasts and dinners, lodging, transportation everywhere and all fees applicable at paying sites.
Note: You can also reserve a room for SINGLE OCCUPANCY at an extra cost. Please contact the organizer and guide Diane Labrecque at [email protected] to make your special reservation.
This price does not include your airline ticket which you will have to book by yourself since people will be coming from different cities and countries.
We anticipate having you come ‘Celebrate Jesus’ Birthday Together in His Homeland’ as part of The United Urantia Family Festival 2016!
May you have a very Happy & Fruitful Year 2016!
Director, The United Urantia Family
Please note: A very Special Thanks! goes to Lisa Crowe for all of her expert design work for The United Urantia Family website.
Line St Pierre
Toward Weaving the Tapestry of the Supreme
In an upper room at 533 Diversey Parkway (Urantia Foundation), ten women met to share themselves and their spiritual journeys. The facilitators of the retreat, The Daughters of God, led by Line St-Pierre, created and tested a new model for group sharing that worked very well and can be used with other groups.
This handful of women spoke of their inner lives and their relationship to the Urantia Revelation, and its meaning and calling for women. We explored how to help other women value themselves as Daughters of God, to be equally loved and equally endowed as men, and how to embody, nourish, and spread this eternal dance with God through service opportunities as women.
Following are comments from participants of the Daughters of God Retreat September 2015:
“We danced, enfolded and emboldened by our spiritual beliefs, we moved to the rhythm of a new dance. We learned to be aware of our frame with just the right amount of tension instead of resistance from the cocoon of pain, tears, abuse and confusion. A luminous thread is spun and we survive to thrive, embracing audacity of authenticity, choosing attunement over atonement. Divine Mother-Son – Holy Mother Spirit, you are the Cosmic Blue-Print. Daughters of God, we are the warp upon which the tapestry of the Supreme can be woven.”
“I did not know what to expect as I signed up for this retreat and the outcome is beyond anything I ever could have imagined. It is the first step in finishing the task of my life’s path. The feelings of the spiritual awakening in my mind and body are overwhelming and almost indescribable. I more fully understand what it means to be a Daughter of God. I have been searching a life-time for this spirituality and need it for my personal commitment to the family of God. I feel I have the connection through witnessing the love, passion, spirituality and knowledge of this group of women. I did not expect that – I have been learning through osmosis and it’s really only the beginning of everything.”
“This memory of a safe and secure place helps me to continue to be safe in my soul all the way through the bones. By sharing our experiences of pain, fear, joy and revelation we learn, grow, appreciate and love. Thank you for sharing your ways of how you care, inspire and how you reach out and are enfolded by your spiritual beings. This too will go a long way as I walk my path in life.”
“Explorers guided by our heart-lights, hand in hand we helped each other through tunnels and places damp with tears, over boulders, around hairpin turns, over precipices. Opening into caverns dazzling with reflected God-light we danced around the warmth and brightness of the spirit burning within us.”
“Everything about this place, 533, is perfect. I feel the perfection of our being together, such gratitude. I am amazed at the cascade of events that brought us together. Such sisterly love, trust and sharing of our sorrows, secrets and dreams. I am greatly enriched. I believe in my heart that the strength of our voices, individually and together are changing the world. Using our voices to speak the Truth, to walk in Beauty and to embrace Goodness is in service to our Universal Father and our Mother Spirit.
If you truly desire to find God, you cannot help having born in your minds the consciousness of the Supreme. As God is your divine Father, so is the Supreme your divine Mother, in whom you are nurtured throughout your lives as universe creatures. “How universal is the Supreme — he is on all sides! The limitless things of creation depend on his presence for life, and none are refused.”[The Urantia Book, paper 117:6.2, page 1288.1]
“Thank you for being so intimately with me and for allowing me to be so intimately with you. I will never forget this experience.”
“What I have seen and heard this weekend is the beauty in each one of you, the talents, the ability, the knowledge, the skills and the joy and I heard your voices – as a single voice can be beautiful – but when we sing together how much more beautiful a song becomes. Together we have become a chorus of voices and yet I could hear every individual voice – all the beauty, wisdom and love each one of us carries forth and that empowered me. I feel empowered not to give up and to share what I know. This is what I saw and experienced this weekend.”
“The theme of a new dance, at this stage in my life to learn a new dance, oh yes this is great news. In learning salsa steps, the true gift was in the awareness of needing a frame in this new dance for the next stage in my life. I have a sense of what that new dance will be and I got my frame. I could not have found that frame anywhere else: the strengthening of my trust in God, my faith and my hope for the future especially passing the torch to the future generations who will continue to contribute to the development of the Supreme on our planet.”
“Often in life I have felt moved to action by an inevitable and powerful force impossible to know exactly where it comes from. It is not from mind, it is deeper than intuition; it may be closer to gut feeling. Anyhow, it makes it possible for me to be in a particular place with a certain group of people. This is how I ended attending the retreats of the Daughters of God. Why is this retreat so important? The questions we reflected upon were: What does God need/want from us women? What is our role within the Divine plan for our planet? At a very elemental level, for a start we are life givers, we bring human beings into this world. All men born have been delivered by a fellow human being of the opposite sex. However, over the millennia women lost their equal status to men and we still struggle to this day with all sorts of abuses from the evident to the most subtle via modern society practices that go against the very essence of being a woman. So, we Urantia women readers, what can we do? What did Jesus entrust his female disciples with? Why did he know they would not fail him? Shall we 21st Century women pick up the torch of service and healing that was entrusted to women by our beloved Master over 2000 years ago? YES!!! What came very clear to me this weekend after working with my sisters is that God our Father is inviting us to Dance with him, and guess what? We all accepted it!!! We all have inside ourselves the leading and safe protection of our Father, we inherited the Grace of our Mother Spirit and Jesus provided the music of healing and service for us. We women help other women daily and bring up boys who will love and honor their female partners according to this Divine dance that we are all invited to. Brothers and Sisters out there, would you accept to dance with God and make your unique contribution to our eternal and joyful path God-wards?”
“Threads and yarns of various fibers, colors, thickness, length.
We toss them in together, pulling them out of
Pockets, unwrapping them from the private places where we’ve spirited them away.
Some we are eager to proffer,
And others, hesitantly, reluctantly,
We pull out from hidden caches,
Rumpled and stained with sweat and tears,
Blood and the soot of many places.
As the pile grows, we take each strand and
Weave it into the warp already on the loom,
The fiber framework provided long ago, long waiting for us,
Calling us to weave and sing,
To speak and dance together.”
The Daughters of God group would love to share this model with other groups to help them encourage more women to appreciate their value and calling. If you would like to experience this retreat, we would be happy to travel to your retreat site to meet with your group. If you plan a date, gather 6 to 8 women, and reserve a venue, we will commit to meeting with your group. We look forward to empowering more women to follow their spiritual longings for sisterhood and outreach. Please contact Line St- Pierre for more information at [email protected]
In October, Urantia Association International joined with Urantia Foundation and The Urantia Book Fellowship in participating in the Parliament of the World’s Religion’s 2015 gathering in Salt Lake City. It was a great learning experience and benefit to many of our members while having dissemination value to a very large audience.
As Urantia Association’s liaison to the Joint Parliament Committee, I had the pleasure of working with a solid group of our volunteers who were instrumental in the success of the overall effort. I also had the pleasure of working with both staff and volunteers of Urantia Foundation. Working with a large contingent of Fellowship staff and volunteers was also pleasurable, even as we faced some challenges related to organizational diversity. More importantly, the actual joining of hands for meaningful cooperation on shared goals should be counted as true and welcome progress within our community.
Great appreciation goes to Executive Administrator, Margaret Slater Thompson. She supported our efforts from day one until well after the event, providing essential finance and registration assistance for our team. She offered the committee generous time and a cheerful attitude with accounting, logistics, and more, helping me in all phases of inter-organizational planning and support.
Also, much gratitude goes to Richard Jernigan, Urantia Foundation’s liaison to the joint committee. It was his compelling graphic design that we chose to grace our booth, and he was also instrumental in our planning logistics and on-site management. Cristina Seaborn, the Fellowship’s Interfaith Committee Chair, was the other member of the core planning team and did loads of work in all the booth preparation and volunteer coordinating.
We went to the Parliament as a unified team to educate a diverse spectrum of religious adherents about The Urantia Book and its teachings. I feel that we were successful in that, but measurable metrics are hard to produce. Books were sold and promotional literature was handed out; for the most part, all handout material adhered to our mutual agreement that we would only promote the book, not any organization. Distributed materials did not feature promotional information—only the three website addresses were printed on handouts. The same was true for the simple but attractive display that anchored our booth. For an excellent narrative report on the event, see Richard Jernigan’s article in the newsletter from Urantia Foundation:
Well over 100 books were sold or given away, hundreds of items of literature found their way into the hands of the participants, and many in-depth conversations took place between Urantia Book students and the attendees of the Parliament, officially reported as 10,859 people. As an outreach exercise for The Urantia Book, our efforts should be noted as a qualified success. Additionally, due to careful management and unexpected generosity from Urantia Foundation, Urantia Association expenses came in under budget.
Our Parliament adventure was a good prelude to this year’s first joint conference in San Antonio. These activities bring some much needed and beneficial social balm to the reader community; our organizational teams will continue to hone the details of working together, reaping the benefits of friendship and the pursuit of common goals. We must move forward and we must maintain our focus on developing teachers and leaders who are guided by inner-spirit wisdom and unwavering faith. We are only mortal actors on the stage of the evolving Supreme.
A project that began in 2009 to build a website where readers could find study groups has matured into an independent institution with broad sponsorship and a wide reach. Over 400 study groups representing 42 countries have chosen to list their study groups with the online search engine called The Urantia Book Study Group Directory (UBSGD). Each month nearly 1,000 people visit the site. The site serves pages in four languages and there are translations underway for additional languages.
A reader who visits http://urantiastudygroup.org can specify a country, city, or postal code and will be presented with a list of study groups that meet his or her search criteria. It sounds simple enough, but the road to this simple interface was far from easy. Issues such as what constitutes a study group, how to fairly administer the directory, how to deal with inactive or errant study groups, and dozens of other thorny issues have been the challenge of the eight-person management team who has worked through these concerns.
The directory is managed by a team whose members come from the three sponsoring organizations: Urantia Foundation, The Urantia Book Fellowship, and Urantia Association International. The presidents of each sponsoring organization are ex-officio members of the governing board, while the other five members function as a team to manage day-to-day issues. Under the leadership of Barry Clark of New Jersey, USA, the team began the development of a governance model that would provide a fair and robust set of principles and operating guidelines to satisfy the interests of the sponsoring organizations, without favoritism, and to serve the interests of Urantia Book readers around the world.
The directory team meets frequently via teleconference to manage and work on the directory. Today, the UBSGD is an independent directory managed by this volunteer team with ongoing programming funds donated by the three sponsoring organizations.
The team responds to the many questions sent in by users. There is a procedure to deal with reports of listed study groups that may not be aligned with the requirements of the directory (i.e., a study group must be focused exclusively on the study of The Urantia Book). When such a report is submitted, the team follows this approved process to investigate the complaint and delist the study group if necessary.
The team continues to plan new features and make necessary tweaks to the interface. While the site will remain simple, straight-forward, and focused on the primary task of helping readers find study groups, there are always new challenges.
A most daunting challenge is that of keeping the database up-to-date and ensuring that only active study groups are listed in the directory. Each year a mail and phone campaign makes contact with all study groups hosts and request that they validate their study group information. Unresponsive study groups are culled from the directory! Surprisingly, getting all listed study groups to periodically verify their current information has proven to be one of the biggest, among the many big challenges, to have faced the UBSGD team in these early years.
Another interesting and important development in recent years has been the growth of virtual study groups via the use of Skype, FaceTime, and other communication tools that allow local study groups to include virtual guests. Since adding support for these virtual study groups over 40 such groups have been listed.
In addition, a UBSGD function will be added to assist readers who want to start a study group.
Please visit the site at http://urantiastudygroup.org and register your study group. If your study group is already listed, and you have not validated your information, please be sure to do so. You may also send any questions, concerns, or suggestions to [email protected].
Please help us evolve this valuable resource and keep its content both relevant and accurate.
Current UBSGD team members are: Bill Beasley, Scott Brooks, Barry Clark, Jacquelyn Koury, and Tamara Strumfeld.
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Chris Wood worked with the Fellowship’s Education Chair, David Kulieke, to finalize the 2016 co-sponsored UAUS-Fellowship Conference date and establish the planning team. He also worked with Presidents of the Fellowship and Urantia Foundation to facilitate cooperation for the Parliament of World Religions.
Andres Ramirez continued to Chair the online continuous meeting of the Representative Council. He also met with readers and leaders in Guatemala, served as a member of the planning team for the 2016 Latin American Conference, and liaised with Wilson Leon on a Leadership Seminar for readers in Latin America.
Chief Financial Officer
Bradly Tharp submitted the 2nd quarter financial reports and participated as member of the Executive Team and the Fundraising Committee.
Susan Owen carried out the regular administrative duties such as scheduling monthly meetings and providing their minutes, providing advice and support to the Executive Administrator, and keeping track of and following up the action points of each ISB member. She also participates as a member of the Executive Team, and is on committees for Website Management, Public Relations and Education.
Members of the Executive Team are Chris Wood, Andres Ramirez, Bradly Tharp and Susan Owen. Following are some of the topics addressed in the 3rd quarter:
- Continental Communication Coordinator Project: Antonio Schefer, ISB Conference Chair and Continental Coordinator for Europe attended association meetings and conferences in Italy, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Andres Ramiez, ISB Vice President and Continental Coordinator for Latin America attended conferences in Guatemala and Brazil.
- Job Description for Executive Administrator: Final edits were done in preparation for final completion.
- Volunteer Coordinator: Work and discussions continued on the establishment of a Volunteer Coordinator position.
Fundraising Committee – Chris Wood, Chair
$87,226.46 was raised through 30 September 2015 and work was completed on the fundraising letter for the 4th quarter capital campaign. A goal was set to raise $40,000 before the end of 2015. The Association is on target to meet its 3-year goal to have 2016 budget money in the bank by year end 2015.
Membership Committee – Anton Miroshnichenko, Chair
Two new committee members were confirmed and the first meeting of this committee was held. Work continued with Urantia Dach to form an association covering German, Switzerland and Austria. Membership coordinators for each National Association were recruited and plans to create webinars in Russian are underway. Also a translation service for the Central Administration was tested.
Communications Committee – Kathleen Swadling, Chair
- Publications: Regular issues of the Journal and Tidings were published in English, French and Spanish and the subscription policy to the Journal was revised. The 2014 Annual Report was completed.
- Website: Translating of the website into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Ukrainian continued. Two readers have offered to assist with translating the website into Dutch and Finnish. A new landing page for Events, along with an Events Calendar, has been added to the website. Investigations were undertaken to improve the speed of the website. The Website Committee has begun developing an Access Control Policy document to insure ongoing security of the site.
- Public Relations: A Social Media sub-committee was established to focus on Facebook, Twitter and any other form of social media that the Association is involved in. Antonio Schaffer is the new Chair and additional members include readers who are experienced in social media. Discussions began on revising the Home page content of the website and the committee assisted with the Fall fundraiser.
Study Group Committee – Gaetan Charland, Chair
Gaetan submitted all final reports and recommendations from the 2015 International Conference. He attended the Parliament of World Religions and will be presenting a strategic plan for the Study Group Committee in the 4th Quarter.
Conference Committee – Antonio Schefer, Chair
Antonio and his team have developed and hosted several webinars in Spanish and worked with all three of the 2016 Conference Committees to agree on individual themes for their conferences based on “Jesus as a Teacher”. Antonio has been actively using and promoting events on the Association’s Facebook page and updating the Events page on the website. He has reviewed, edited and uploaded all of the videos from the 2015 International Conference in Quebec to the Association’s YouTube channel. He has also created a private Facebook group for young adults and is in the process of forming a sub-committee for young adults. He attended conferences in Italy, United Kingdom and the Netherlands and worked on reviewing the draft of the Association’s Conference Guide.
Dissemination Committee – David Linthicum, Chair
David and his team focused on building book distribution channels in Malawi, Ukraine, Zambia and Philippines. David participated in the planning of the Parliament of World Religions and attended the event. The Prisoner Inquiry Response Team worked on funding a library placement program for prisons in the United States. A new greeting letter for the Association was developed and translated by the Reader Services Special Committee. 70 letters to readers were sent out in the 3rd quarter.
Translation Committee – Chris Moseley, Chair
Chris and his team continued to look for volunteer translators. They have been working with Anton Miroschnichenko to find a cost effective translation service for the Association’s governing documents and have provided translation services to the ISB, the RC and the website.
Education Committee – Sheila Keene-Lund, Chair
Sheila attended the Parliament of World Religions and continued work on the topical index for study aids.
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.