Tidings – March 2018
In This Issue
Chris Wood, President
In January representatives of Urantia Association International and Urantia Foundation met to update each other on our current projects, discuss issues of mutual interest and to plan for the future. Many issues were discussed but two themes stand out as highlights.
First is the need for succession of leadership within both organizations. A successful community such as ours depends upon a rotation of leadership. One sign of a healthy and vibrant social organization is to have volunteer leaders rotate into decision making positions and then rotating into other capacities for a period of time. As a decentralized international group, the Association has a large pool of active leaders. This leads to a problem of perceived overabundance: some potential leaders may think to themselves, “Surely there is someone better qualified than I am, so I will not step forward to take on International responsibility.” But the number of positions needed under the Association’s umbrella is enormous. We need active and willing volunteers at the local, national, continental, and international levels. We cannot afford to deprive Local and National Associations of good leadership in order to fill International positions. The need for new and excited volunteers is large and ever-growing as we expand across the globe.
For the Foundation, the issue of succession is complex for different reasons: they need employees to staff their Central Office in Chicago. They need a rotating group of volunteers to take positions on their Expanded Board as well as within their many active committees. And then they also need a small group of specially qualified volunteers to take lifelong positions on the Board of Trustees. This blend of contributors has led to a stable yet dynamic organization for the last generation or so, but the Foundation is now facing a generational transition which will continue for the next decade or so.
It is imperative that we continue to have a steady stream of people dedicated to The Urantia Book and its teachings to step forward and lead the Association and Foundation. There are projects for all levels of experience, a vast number of interests, and a scale that spans from local communities to global impact.
A second issue which was a highlight of the meeting is the ongoing need to ensure that The Urantia Book and its teachings are well represented on their own merit and not blended with outside political, social or intellectual influences. Our community needs to “Hold the Center” and not let the Urantia teachings become overly influenced by any one cultural influence. The Urantia Book tells us that the Christian religion…
…has become so thoroughly Occidentalized that many non-European peoples very naturally look upon Christianity as a strange revelation of a strange God and for strangers. [Paper 92:6.18, page 1011.16]
We must ensure that the Urantia teachings do not fall to a similar fate.
For the first 60 years of our community we have tried to guard against this trap by keeping the teachings as our own personal religious influence and taking pains to not try to make The Urantia Book prescribed readings for all others; we have been cautious in how we share and represent the book. But with the rapid changes of the digital age we are faced with a new challenge: How do we “Hold the Center” on YouTube or Facebook or Google?
The strategy of “Holding the Center” has shifted from cautious to active. We must actively represent the true Urantia teachings on social media so that outside groups do not misrepresent them. We must actively share the true teachings of Jesus on YouTube so that others cannot successfully substitute their own false teachings and claim to represent “Urantia.” It is a new challenge that we were not fully aware of 20 years ago, and were not prepared for 10 years ago, but are now rapidly trying to address. The new challenges have forced our entire community to reexamine our guiding policies and philosophies while trying to ensure that The Urantia Book can continue to stand on its own merits in the 21st Century.
The Foundation and Association have long been great friends and true sister organizations. We will continue to work together as organizations as well as with the growing global Urantia Community to ensure that we grow and evolve together to meet the challenges of the coming decades.
The Association’s Education Committee organized a live Webinar titled “Lifting Together: The Future of Urantia Association” presented by President, Chris Wood. This presentation was developed to share with the growing Global Urantia Community the goals, plans and vision for the Urantia Association International for the next three years and beyond. The Webinar was held on February 17th, at 11:00 a.m. EST USA.
You can view this presentation on the Association’s YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/1EU_ed53IUI
Service—more service, increased service, difficult service, adventurous service, and at last divine and perfect service—is the goal of time and the destination of space. [The Urantia Book, Paper 28:6.17, page 316.4]
(Adapted from the Meeting Minutes and reports submitted by Chris Moseley, UK and Sebastian Nozzi, Germany)
Members of National and Local Urantia Associations in Europe met at the Ibersol Hotel in Sitges, Catalonia 27—29 October 2017 for three days of fellowship and discussion about the present and future of the Urantia movement in Europe. Participants came from Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Estonia, and the UK. This was no ordinary pan-European Urantia meeting; the main thing everyone had in common was their affiliation with Urantia Association International. Thank you to the Association’s Conference Chair, Antonio Schefer from the Netherlands for organizing this historic event.
The main purpose of this meeting was to gather together the leaders of the various European Urantia Associations so they may get to know one another and begin creating a European focus. The aim was to discuss common goals for the revelation and decide on how European readers could work together to achieve these goals in their respective regions. Some of the main topics discussed were:
- Improved communication between European associations.
- Greater mutual support and active involvement in pan-European activities.
- A pan-European conference in 2019.
- A European website to provide a forum for news and events.
- Projects that appeal to younger audiences in each country and more effective ways to reach these audiences.
- Financial self-sufficiency and fundraising activities.
The program of activities was well-structured, allowing for flexibility when need be. Each morning began with meditation at sunrise on the beach for the early birds. An important part of the first morning’s program was the second European readers’ conference, to be planned for 2019. Various cities were discussed as location options such as Rome, Birmingham, Barcelona, Vienna, Tallinn, York, Lyon and Galilee. The final choice will be made before the 2018 International Conference in Amsterdam.
Presentations were made by the representatives of each association. Jaap Terra spoke for the National Association of the Netherlands and talked about his association’s great challenge of hosting Urantia Association’s 2018 International Conference. Ivan Stol from France, Carmelo Martínez from Spain, and Risto Mäntynen from Finland all reported on their associations, noting the challenges faced with an aging membership which is not being replenished with younger readers. These three associations are well established with numerous study groups in various towns. The most important thing is that all groups expressed a willingness to take measures to ensure that new and potential readers know there are Urantia associations in their regions that provide information about other readers, study groups and Urantia related events being held in local regions. There are many things that can be done in this regard, like having websites that are easy to find with clear and engaging messages, newsletters, promoting secondary works and developing a higher profile in social media.
In Estonia, Karmo Kalda has been energetically promoting The Urantia Book as well as handling the production of a children’s introduction to the teachings. Danielle La Scala reported on the efforts in Italy, where it is hard to form study groups with so few readers spread out. Chris Moseley reported on the UK and Ireland describing the long history of their study groups and annual Summer Retreats—the next of which will be held at Charney Manor 7—9 September, 2018 in Oxfordshire. Alex H, the new President for DACH (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) reported on his new fledgling association. They are working on establishing study groups and recently held an annual gathering. Although the numbers are still small there is a true commitment to “stay the course.” They are in the process of establishing a website to service the German-speaking European regions.
Anna Zeven from the Netherlands and member of the Urantia Young Adults Association gave a wonderful presentation on “Light and Life” focusing on how we can improve the way we promote and talk about The Urantia Book, especially among young readers. The number of older readers compared to younger ones is sorely out of balance. Some of Anna’s practical suggestions included:
- Tailoring our meetings and events to appeal to young people—they must be engaging and alive.
- Developing warm “welcome paths” for young people and those who are new to the book.
- Walk the talk; “wherever Jesus walked, the world changed.”
- Avoid dogmatism at all costs.
- Present a cosmic point of view.
- Outreach suggestions included producing movies, podcasts and video clips, utilizing a Urantia Book Network (UBN), and making better use of social media.
A brain-storming session facilitated by Antonio Schefer and Sebastian Nozzi was held. Some of the points put forward were: a visit to Israel; a tour in Italy following Jesus’ steps; a Swiss/Italian conference; contact readers and facilitate Urantia movements in Portugal, Belgium, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden; support translations in other European languages; support readers in Africa; fundraise for operations in Europe; make The Urantia Book more accessible throughout Europe.
The last major item on the agenda was a Zoom meeting with the officers of the Association’s International Service Board (ISB.) The presentation by Chris Wood, President, about the future direction of the Association was informative and inspiring. A lot of emphasis was placed on European activities. Chris presented the Association’s three-year goals as well as a longer-term plan. He also explained that the Association has created a “European Restricted Fund” where people may donate finds to be used exclusively for European activities. Margaret Slater-Thompson, Executive Administrator, explained the database services that are now available to each association in English, French and Spanish. Susan Owen, Secretary, explained the website services that are now available to associations in the form of “Subsites.” Luis Garcia Bory, Membership Chair, reported on a Global Members Survey he is introducing aimed at leadership development.
Despite such a packed agenda, there was plenty of time for socializing and getting to know each other, especially over the sumptuous dinners provided by the hotel. Also, thanks to the sunny weather, we were able to engage with one another during relaxing strolls along the beach. In the words of Chris Moseley from the UK: “…it was a wonderful experience, and I want to pass on to you my strong sense that we must collaborate at every opportunity in the future with our European brothers and sisters—starting with the international conference planned for Amsterdam next April. It is bound to be inspiring.” In the words of Sebastian Nozzi from Germany: “…it was energizing, fun, stimulating—not only from an organizational perspective but more particularly from a personal point of view. At the end of the day it felt to me like a group of good friends getting together and talking about our common goals.”
Kathleen Swadling, Communications Committee
The website for Urantia Association International at https://urantia-association.org has a new feature allowing for multiple “subsites.” A subsite is a website that is joined to a main website, but has the appearance of a stand-alone website with its own unique domain name.
In January we were pleased to announce to the Representative Council (RC), consisting of the Presidents and Vice Presidents of all the National and Local Urantia Associations, that we can now offer them a valuable opportunity to create their own subsite at no cost! The main website has been upgraded to support this new option for our leaders throughout the world. There are several benefits for those associations who decide to take advantage of this service:
- Developing a website and keeping it maintained can be very costly and time consuming to an association. There are no development or maintenance costs for a subsite (unless a more complex website is desired.) A simple-to-use template has been developed which only requires input of content.
- A dedicated website provides associations with a web location providing the ability to help people find other readers, promoting local news on activities such as study groups and events, and developing opportunities for service outreach in spreading the teachings of The Urantia Book.
- All costs for the server, domain name fees, technical support, upgrades and backup are part of this complimentary service.
Each association will appoint at least one dedicated volunteer who is willing to learn how to upload and manage the content of their subsite. The website software is user-friendly and easy to learn. The volunteers who currently manage the main website originally learned without having had any prior website or Information Technology (IT) experience. Members of the Communications Committee will be providing all the necessary training and support as a free service to motivated leaders. Our team has a direct link to the Association’s professional Webmaster for any technical issues that cannot be easily solved.
The Association’s first subsite has been created by the Australia and New Zealand Urantia Association (ANZURA)—it was the “guinea pig.” It can be viewed at https://anzura.urantia-association.org to reveal the kind of content that is possible. A template theme has been developed for the subsites so that they all have a similar look and feel to the main site, but there is flexibility for expressing local identities through the use of images and text.
Already several associations have requested a subsite and we encourage all chartered associations of the Urantia Association International to take advantage of this offer. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com for further information.
Enrique Traver, Brazil
The next Continental Conference for Latin America will be held in Guarulhos, São Paulo, Brazil.
With the theme of Living the Teachings, this event will bring together students of The Urantia Book from all Latin American countries. We also invite readers from all over the world to join us in this unique opportunity to share three days of exploring together the many practical ways for living the teachings of The Urantia Book.
The conference is being organized by the Urantia Association of Brazil, with the support of the Latin American Committee, and will be conducted in three languages: Portuguese, Spanish and English. It will be possible to follow the presentations in one of these languages through a Zoom Internet meeting room.
Stay tuned for more information or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Urantia Associação do Brasil
Marlène and Georges Michelson-Dupont
Jean Royer, one of the Association’s most long-standing and dedicated French translation volunteers graduated from Urantia on the 5th of February, 2018 at the age of 78 years. He passed away in the evening in the hospital of Avignon (South of France.)
Jean had been exposed to the teachings of The Urantia Book (Le Livre d’Urantia) in the early 1960’s and became a strong supporter of the revelation. He contacted J. Weiss and started corresponding with him about the French translation. At the end of the sixties, Jean contacted my father, Jacques Dupont, and they became very close friends, visiting one another, sharing the teachings, writing articles and organizing study groups in their respective areas.
In the seventies, the relationship between a small group of French readers and Urantia Foundation/Urantia Brotherhood grew more and more; Jean attended several meetings and retreats in Recloses during the times of the revelation’s pioneers such as the Kendals, the Hales’, Martin Myers, Berkeley Elliot, the Begemans and many other Americans when visiting the Weiss and/or the Duponts. It was during these meetings that Marlène and I met Jean and developed a strong life-long friendship.
In 1978, Jean joined Jacques Dupont and Fernand De Vink, the team working on the revision of the French translation that was published in 1994. As a result of this collaboration a real fraternity between these three men was born. The revision was an opportunity to share meanings and values on the soul level, supported by the Spirit of Truth and their respective Thought Adjusters. Living long distances from one another, they used to meet at my father’s house quarterly over sixteen years to discuss revision issues that were problematic. Decisions were always made by consensus. I had the opportunity to join the team in the late 1980’s and I really enjoyed this authentic fellowship imbued with respect and mutual love.
Jean joined C.E.R.D.H., the first French association of readers (1978-1994) and became a contributor to the newsletter La Lettre, published in French and English. C.E.R.D.H was also the distributor of Le Livre d’Urantia in Europe until the creation of the French office of Urantia Foundation in 1994.
Jean was an active participant in the planning and preparation of the various international conferences organized in France by the C.E.R.D.H in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He was both the translator of study texts and the French-English interpreter during plenary session and workshops. In 1986, C.E.R.D.H became A.F.L.L.U., the French National Urantia Association of which Jean was a founding member.
Professor of English by profession, Jean was a scholar of The Urantia Book; he participated in the translation of the two red books by William Sadler Jr. (i.e. A Study of the Master Universe and its Appendices) and did many translations for Urantia Association’s newsletter in French and other Urantia publications.
On a personal level, Jean was a “Bon Vivant;” smoking a pipe and drinking good quality wine. He had a legendary and much appreciated sense of humor. While being modest and reserved, he was very appreciated in study groups for his deep knowledge of The Urantia Book and his profound insights. He never spoke to say nothing. Erudite, multi-linguist, cultivated in astronomy and science, he remained a true student of The Urantia Book, always open to others’ ideas. For many of us he was a valuable resource person.
Jean had a balanced temper, never impatient or angry, always showing an interest and empathy to others. Weakened by an illness, he never complained but asked to graduate to the mansion worlds with dignity which he did.
Jean’s graduation marks one of the last French pioneers of the Urantia movement to leave the planet.
Thank you, Jean for being such a loving and inspiring brother. See you soon.
Jeannie Vaszquez, Education Committee
A series of weekly online workshops on the subject, Leadership and Teaching According to The Urantia Book was organized by the Education Committee of Urantia Association International late last year. I would like to thank those who helped to make this an instructive and satisfying experience.
Thank you to Gaétan Charland, who presented three beautiful and instructive sessions about how to be a true spiritual leader and servant of the Urantia Revelation, living the teachings and serving others as a fruit of the spirit;
to Rick Lyon, who gave us a useful and instructive lesson about the value of social organizations of service to the spiritual fraternity;
to Guy Perron, who gave us a comprehensive instruction over four sessions about the importance of developing our inner life—going inward, upward, onward and outward in our search for God;
to Jeffrey Wattles, who instructed us over two valuable sessions about “Leadership and Teamwork,” enlightening us about the wisdom of mobilizing our powers of mind and soul before activating our physical energies in service and teaching the revelation;
to Chris Wood, who offered an amusing and enlightening lesson about “A Life of Service,” explaining the concepts of “moral duty,” “service,” “what is love?” and “what is the meaning of life?” He made us all think about these important concepts in a very smart and ingenious way;
to Donna Mejia, who gave us an instructive, touching and thought-provoking lesson about “Being an Ally, Moving Beyond By-stander Syndrome and Having Courageous Conversations in the Midst of Cultural Collisions.” Donna gave us a unique opportunity to see ourselves, how we have prejudices and discriminate against others without perceiving it many times. I felt deeply touched by her intelligence and wisdom. Thank you very much, Donna!
I would also like to give a special thanks to:
Samantha Nior for her a wonderful job facilitating this Workshop Series.
Susan Owen for her loving and constant assistance.
Flor Robles for her steadfast service and love.
Susan Lyon for her loving service and for sharing her joy of living with us.
Pato Banton for sharing his beautiful and enlightening experience of service and understanding about the teachings.
Antoinette Rootsdawtah for her loving service to our Father and the Spiritual Brotherhood.
This was a real wonderful team effort and without the involvement of all these dedicated and conscientious volunteers, we would not have been able to provide such a value-packed set of workshops. God bless you all.
To view YouTube recordings go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_a2gwYGKpctnii4_nx8_vA
Urantia Association International
Gaetan Charland, Study Groups Committee
Many new students of The Urantia Book today have not had the experience of being a part of the Urantia movement while in its early years of development—when study groups were the main focus of the former Urantia Brotherhood, the original fraternal organization. Throughout the many years of reorganization while our young movement has undergone many growth problems common to organizations such as ours, the focus has tended to shift from creating study groups to growing the membership and trying to make The Urantia Book more visible to the public in the belief that this would—all by itself—change the world.
In searching the history of our movement to find more about study groups, and while reflecting on why we were told by the revelators to create thousands of them, I came across some very interesting articles and letters that were published by the Brotherhood and Urantia Foundation—articles written by readers who believed that study groups were very important.
I do not wish to dwell on the history of The Urantia Book or its associated movement as such, but I would like us to remember the origins and wisdom of the direction for the movement that was established by the early leaders. The Urantia Book elegantly states:
If mind cannot fathom conclusions, if it cannot penetrate to true origins, then will such mind unfailingly postulate conclusions and invent origins that it may have a means of logical thought within the frame of these mind-created postulates. [Paper 115:1.1, page 1260.2]
Study groups have not been growing very well. I believe this is partly because the focus concerning their importance has shifted. There is nothing wrong with other kinds of dissemination activities, but those should not replace the importance of study groups and living the teachings. If the new generation of readers, as well as seasoned ones, were to pay closer attention to the Publication Mandate that was given to the early leaders to help them establish a direction for moving forward with the revelation, they might better understand the important role that study groups play in the execution of our mission.
Following is an extract from an article published by the Urantia Foundation titled “Study Groups Around the World” during the 1970’s when Thomas A. Kendall was President.
“Note that we are told that “Thousands of study groups must be brought into existence.” How many do we now have? By checking carefully, we can only account for approximately 250-300 study groups in the whole world. So here is our great challenge: To build little study groups wherever we are and however we can. “Where three or four are gathered together, there am I” said the Master. We can never force study groups but we can nurture and help when there is a budding desire. There are ten states without any study groups. There’s our challenge!”
Today, many decades later, according to the last census of study groups around the world, there are no more than 500 groups in existence, and not all of them meet regularly or are growing much, if at all.
Following is another example of the importance of study groups written by Julia K. Fenderson, who hailed from that same era of early leaders. In a detailed article titled “Why a Study Group,” Julia explains the real importance of study groups and why, according to The Urantia Book, we should meet and study as a group. Here is an extract from her article:
Why A Study Group
by Julia Fenderson
Let us pause for a moment and try to gain an “unseen visitor’s” view of our little study group and also to consider objectively some of the important reasons why we assemble to study together. Our “unseen friend” would know some of the problems and some of the values that come to us because we work and study together in a group.
We realize that any one or more of a number of “unseen friends” might be here with us. Student visitors could be here, or it is quite possible that a midwayer or a member of the many groups of seraphim, cherubim and sanobim resident on our planet could drop in. For example, a social architect labors to enhance all sincere social contacts. Isn’t it good to know that we are in a friendly universe with the angels of heaven working to help us? If, perchance, one was here, what would he see? Ref. Pages 1241, 1255, 430, 432, 438
He would see an extremely varied and heterogeneous group of plodding and sincere mortals—mortals way down at the bottom rung of the long ladder which evolutionary earthly animal origin beings must take, step by step, even to reach the beginning of the inward path to Havona. It is safe to say that no two of us have the same background or occupation. Our interests and hobbies vary so much that it is doubtful if we would ever have met, except for the blue book. But we have the strongest of common bonds which unite us—we are all fellow searchers for TRUTH. Our common deep interest in the big blue book testifies to that.
Learning and Working Together
Sometimes, it is a great temptation to reason that perhaps we could accomplish more by reading and studying alone at home and I believe that sooner or later everyone faces this question. Often in earlier days I thought that if I added up all the time traveling to and from meetings and the social times there, perhaps it would be better if I studied and read the Book at home, especially when one is so limited in precious time to study and read. But the Book tells us otherwise. All through its pages we are admonished to serve and to work with others. Listen to Rodan of Alexandria.
Isolation tends to exhaust the energy charge of the soul. Association with one’s fellows is essential to the renewal of the zest for life and is indispensable to the maintenance of the courage to fight those battles consequent upon the ascent to the higher levels of human living. Friendship enhances the joys and glorifies the triumphs of life… By intelligent symbols man is able to quicken and enlarge the appreciative capacities of his friends. One of the crowning glories of human friendship is this power and possibility of the mutual stimulation of the imagination. Great spiritual power is inherent in the consciousness of wholehearted devotion to a common cause, mutual loyalty to a cosmic Deity. [p.1776.2]
Our Group Goal— Searching for God
What is our true purpose in meeting together? What are we really doing? Though we have many contributory goals, that main purpose is a statement or composite of our individual goals. We are searching for final values and for God. As Bill Sadler so often pointed out in the seminars and Marian Rowley stated in her paper, the study of the book is second. The truths it contains are important—they are the “everlasting truths.” Jesus told us that our main purpose is to reveal God to man as his Father. Listen to this:
The Master sought to impress upon all teachers of the gospel of the kingdom that their only business was to reveal God to the individual man as his Father—to lead this individual man to become son-conscious; then to present this same man to God as his faith son. [p.1593:6]
In this search for final values we can help each other. Rodan of Alexandria tells us so beautifully that in the union of souls we can mobilize wisdom by uniting our views.
Every human being sooner or later acquires a certain concept of this world and a certain vision of the next. Now it is possible, through personality association, to unite these views of temporal existence and eternal prospects. Thus does the mind of one augment its spiritual values by gaining much of the insight of the other. In this way men enrich the soul by pooling their respective spiritual possessions. Likewise, in the same way, man is enabled to avoid that ever-present tendency to fall victim to distortion of vision, prejudice of viewpoint, and narrowness of judgment. Fear, envy and conceit can be prevented only by intimate contact with other minds. And since wisdom is super-knowledge, it follows that, in the union of wisdom, the social group, small or large, mutually shares all knowledge. [p.1776.1]
The search for God is the unstinted bestowal of love attended by amazing discoveries of new and greater love to be bestowed. [p.1289.2]
We see that we cannot search for God and live and work alone. Again, and again Jesus admonishes us that we can only learn and serve by working with our fellow men. Other authors in the Book give us the same type of admonishments. Here is one given by a Mighty Messenger temporarily residing on Urantia:
All true love is from God and man receives the divine affection as he himself bestows this love upon his fellows. Love is dynamic. It can never be captured; it is alive, free, thrilling and always moving. Man can never take the love of the Father and imprison it within his heart. The Father’s love can become real to mortal men only by passing through that man’s personality as he in turn bestows this love upon his fellows. [p.1289.3]
My goal here is not to reproduce this article in its entirety, but to glean from it the wisdom expressed by readers who were closer than us to the beginning of this movement. Sometimes, in our search for meanings and values about the purpose of our mission the history of our past can give us an enhanced and enlightened vision of the focus we should be placing on study groups.
These historical articles are stored on our website under Study Groups Material that can be found at https://urantia-association.org/hosting-study-groups/historical-study-group-material
May you start a study group or be part of one so that our mission can progress well into the future—a future that we cannot see but that we are all hoping for.
Gaetan G. Charland
Chair, Study Groups Committee
Urantia Association International
Chris Gravel, Canada
I would like to let you know what has been happening with the Prisoner Inquiry Response Team (PIRT) in Canada over the last couple of years. Thanks to the support of Urantia Association International I have been placing books into penitentiaries throughout Canada. In January of this year I sent French Urantia Books (Le Livre d’Urantia) to the thirteen Federal Institutions in Quebec. They were sent as book donations with Don de Livre de Bibliotheque (Donation of Book to Library) marked on four sides.
The winter of 2016 marked the initial effort of sending a copy of The Urantia Book to every federal prison in Canada. Thank you, Gaetan Charland for providing the initial support to “get the ball rolling.” The initial books sent from the Urantia Association of Quebec were sent to Ontario and other provinces in the west as well to the Atlantic provinces in the east. I was sure to send both English and French copies to New Brunswick as they are unique in that they have both English and French as official languages in Canada.
When all of the federal prisons have been covered, I plan to start sending books to the Provincial branches.
Agnès Lazare, Belgium
It all started just a year ago. The school in which I teach English and stress management was approached by a prison in the region with the aim of expanding their training offer to male prisoners, who want to expand their knowledge and practices in the diversified fields and thus increase their chances of social and professional reintegration as soon as they get out.
I accepted the challenge because of what it was at first, convinced that God was offering me a special opportunity to serve even more. The news having arrived a few weeks before the beginning of my teaching activities, I prayed a lot: “That the participants to the courses will be thirsty souls for God,” “And that I may be an instrument of his peace and a channel of his love by which God manifests himself and will be manifested.”
The days before the beginning of this activity, I was overwhelmed by multiple emotions including the fear of confinement and the doubt of my ability to see prisoners as sons of God. To be conscious that the person is not his behavior and that everyone is indwelt with a divine fragment which is the individualisation of the Father’s love for his creatures, was of great help to me.
On March 6, 2017, the experience begins. I enter this place devoid of human warmth, harmony, comfort, sweetness, joy, tolerance and love. This place is an obvious consequence of the failure of an entire society that neglects the core values of family and education.
I immediately realize the will of God being with me, working through me and in me to humbly serve my fellow men. Fear dissolves instantly giving way to the reception, without barriers, of these men between 20 and 45 years, eager for evolution.
Very quickly this course of forty hours of stress management becomes the learning ground for self-knowledge and self-awareness on a human level, favoring and increasing the moral values essential to acquiring and developing the birth of the morontial man. Regularly I repeat to them: “The doors of the prison are closed, however you can open the doors of your conscience and observe the effects.”
I tell them that I pray for them and that others are praying too; namely the members of the Dakar group, the members of the circle of conscience I have been leading for fifteen years, and Guy from Canada. They all accept these prayers with great enthusiasm, surprised by all this devotion to them, as they no longer feel worthy of any consideration!
The stress management course takes, in less than three meetings, a turn that I did not expect: God is really at the center of our sharing. Muslims, Protestants and Catholics agree: God lives within them and they want to know Him.
On June 14, an additional step is taken. People participating and working in the circle of conscience and trust, relying on the incomparable teachings of The Urantia Book, accompany me to the prison. This meeting creates a real shift in everyone. The external actors—these strangers—experience the immediate dissolution of their prejudices relating to the prisoners and they realize how much these prejudices exist in their minds and hearts. They realize that with God, in God and by God, we are truly all brothers and sisters in the spirit. The two and a half hour session is held in an atmosphere of joy, peace, harmony, mutual respect and conviviality to the point that we all forget that we are in this place called prison.
Since then, the prison director has given me permission to maintain the circle of conscience and trust on Sunday mornings as a voluntary work and to be accompanied by anyone wishing to participate. Guy from Canada has been with us since the end of October, and his presence enhances, through his experience, the quality of the exchanges. Our Senegalese brothers shared written prayers that deeply moved our brothers in prison and deeply touched them in their beautiful and goodness-expanding souls.
A fraternity has been created and is evolving. Thank you, God for living within each one of us, and by your divine presence, making this morontial brotherhood possible.
lazaragnescarla at gmail-dot-com
Laura Suominen-Raatikainen, Finland
Once again enthusiastic Finnish readers of The Urantia Book gathered together for the annual winter meeting of the Urantia Association of Finland. It was held 26-28 January at Lautsia Resort Center in Southern Finland, a beautiful place in the countryside near a lake.
Over 30 readers attended from all over Finland and two from Estonia. The meeting was a huge success. Everything seemed to flow beautifully thanks to efforts of Olli Ylitapio, Tapio Kankkonen and Raimo Kujala who organized the program. The theme of the meeting was “Spiritual Coaching” and this proved to be a very fruitful theme. People were alert and interested.
The meeting started with a short presentation on “Moral Education.” Then Tapio and Raimo presented on the “Coaching of the Apostles.” After this the participants were divided into small groups to discuss what kind of coaching would be needed for a person who is aware of their Thought Adjuster and the Holy Spirit. The discussion afterwards was very lively and brought forth new ideas.
After the coffee break Tapio spoke about what he felt to be the “Pearls of The Urantia Book” citing several extracts from the book. Once again a very lively discussion was held afterwards; people started sharing their own “pearls” from the book and the discussion lasted pretty late into the evening.
Next morning started with a short morning assembly followed by one of the members who shared her own experiences on the subject of “Who Seeketh He Finds.” The last presentation of the meeting was “Experiences on Coaching One´s Spirit.” The meeting ended with a short information session by the President of our Associaion, Risto Mäntynen.
Everybody left feeling very satisfied and in a happy mood. Not only had there been a chance to meet each other again and feel social cohesion, but we also took home with us new ideas and thoughts as well as renewed strength.
Ramon Franco, USA
The Miami Study Group participated in the Miami Book Fair from 17-19 November 2017. Many thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers who worked together so well to create a Urantia Book display booth and to make this such a great experience. Our team consisted of Angela Alvarez, Jeanette Francis, Eva Castell, Luis Betancur, Raul Pujol, and me. The booth attracted a lot of interest.
We sold 25 books, handed out 1,000 flyers in Spanish and 1,500 in English, and added 60 people to our mailing list. We enjoyed being able to share with new and long-time readers and we heard some incredible testimonies and stories of personal transformation from people who had read the book.
Without a doubt, this has been our best experience so far in our efforts to share the amazing Urantia revelation. Please enjoy these photos that capture the atmosphere of this incredible event.
Check out Urantia Association International’s Events Calendar at http://urantia-association.org/events-list. Upcoming events can 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 to some of these events and experience the joys of meeting and studying with fellow readers.
If you’re planning a Urantia Book reader event in your region and would like help in promoting it, please send us your information and we’ll consider it for our Events Calendar.