Tidings – March 2019
In This Issue
- President’s Message – March 2019 – Chris Wood, USA
- Dissemination Committee Update – David Linthicum, USA
- ISB Elections – Chris Wood, USA
- More on Study Groups – Gaetan Charland, Quebec, Canada
- Update 2nd European Urantia Conference – Antonio Schefer, The Netherlands
- Vancouver Canada 2020 – Vancouver 2020 Conference Committee
- ANZURA Conference – Canberra 2019 – Anzura Conference Committee
- Vancouver Island Campout – Debbie Bartman, Canada
- Happy Birthday PIRT! – Myra Hight, USA
- Challenges and Loving Service Ministry in Venezuela – Luis Garcia-Bory, Mexico/Switzerland
- Urantia Peru National Conference 2018 – Lourdes Burga-Cisneros, Peru
- Women’s Meeting—Máncora, Peru – Cecilia Barreto, Peru
- Pensacola, Florida Study Group Luncheon – Mark Kutz, USA
- Helping the Revelation Succeed – Eric Martel, Quebec, Canada
- Graduation of Richard Keeler
- Graduation of Eddie King
- Graduation of Ken Ingle – Richard Glass, USA
- Upcoming Events
Chris Wood, USA
“What is Urantia?” It’s not a trick question. It’s one we have encountered ever since we started keeping a copy of The Urantia Book on our shelves. It’s a question we get asked when our friends and families find out that we take our precious vacation resources and spend them on Urantia conferences. The same question takes many forms, from “What is The Urantia Book?” to “What is your religion?” We each come up with our best answer, hopefully one that is true to our own life and inspires thoughtful questions and conversations. I have been using some form of the same answer for about six years now.
“Urantia is about a personal relationship with God that propels a person into service.”
It works for me. I see it as a reformulation of “The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.” In Paper 142, The Passover at Jerusalem, Jesus is visiting with a Greek Jew and tells him, in part, that we should be engaged in
…two great privileges: sincere worship of the infinite Creator, the Paradise Father, and loving service bestowed upon one’s fellow men. [Paper 142:4:2, page 1600.3]
In essence, The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. But Jesus adds one more teaching to this sentence. He says that these two great privileges are the expression of a single supreme duty. “Worship” and “service” are two expressions of the same motivation. “Worship” and “service” are two ways we attempt to fulfill the supreme mandate, “Be you perfect, as I am perfect.”
The Association is in the middle of a three-year study of the theme, “Living the Teachings.” In Tallinn, Estonia in July 2019 there will be a conference dedicated to the study of this supreme duty and its two expressions: “international, qualitative growth and external, quantitative growth.” I hope you are able to join me in Tallinn to explore these themes together.
David Linthicum, USA
David Linthicum, our current Dissemination Committee Chairman, will finish his term as chairman on March 31, 2019. David’s successor is Willem Jeths who was raised in the Netherlands and holds degrees in biology, science, and mathematics and speaks Dutch, English, German, and Portuguese. Willem currently resides in the south of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
We welcome Willem and wish to offer our thanks to David for his service to the Association, not just in his role as Dissemination Chair on Urantia Association’s International Service Board, but also for his twenty-plus years of service to Urantia Association of the United States (UAUS) where he served two terms as Treasurer, two terms as President, served as the Study Groups Chair, and also served on the International Association’s Judicial Commission. David remains active in his local association as a charter member of Spirit of Oklahoma.
The primary function of the Dissemination Committee is the dissemination of The Urantia Book. During David’s term in office hundreds of books have been distributed, with the help of willing souls around the planet. This could not have been accomplished without the energetic support of people “on the ground” in their native countries. David’s committee has identified and worked with several individuals to get the book placed in prominent institutions and to study groups and individuals in places as far as Fiji, Cuba, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, Palestine, the Philippines, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
In addition, the Dissemination Committee supports book fairs around the world which are visited by tens of thousands of people each year. Most of the recent efforts have been focused on book fairs in Latin America which has seen an accelerated interest in the revelation. It is noted that Brazil accounts for almost half of all new readers identified by the Reader Services sub-committee.
Reader Services is a recent addition to the Dissemination Committee; its purpose is communication with those who contact either Urantia Foundation or the Association. A welcoming letter is sent to each individual and their contact information is then forwarded on to our local or national association’s chosen representatives who follow-up with offers to assist with questions, finding study groups, conferences etc. For those who live outside the United States it is comforting to hear back from someone in the Association that speaks their native language. Person-to-person communication is always the most enduring experience.
Dissemination’s Prisoner Inquiry Response Team (PIRT) which began in 2004, remains an integral part of the committee. Over the years this team has answered 4,400 inmate letters and delivered around 2,100 books to those who languish in some of the darkest places on the planet, our nation’s prisons. This was once a function provided by Urantia Foundation. Our team also supports inmate-led study groups at various facilities. We opened a new Canada chapter a couple of years ago and is currently in communication with representatives in Finland who are actively sending books to all the penal institutions there. When asked why the Association spends resources on “prisoners” we remind people of Jesus’ statement concerning sinners:
“This kingdom is an everlasting dominion. Those who enter the kingdom shall ascend to my Father; they will certainly attain the right hand of his glory in Paradise. And all who enter the kingdom of heaven shall become the sons of God, and in the age to come so shall they ascend to the Father. And I have not come to call the would-be righteous but sinners and all who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of divine perfection.” [Paper 137:8.16, page 1537.3]
Much remains to be done. Due to the generosity of our membership, Dissemination has accomplished much in our efforts to get the teachings of The Urantia Book into the hands of so many who hunger and thirst for the divine truths it contains. The Global Seeding Fund is integral to our mission of disseminating the Fifth Epochal Revelation. We thank you for your support.
Chris Wood, USA
Every two years the International Representative Council holds elections to select volunteers to serve as officers and committee chairs on the International Service Board (ISB). This election season the Association will see four positions change hands.
Susan Owen will be leaving as Secretary after ten full years of dedicated service. Susan has been the backbone of the Association. She has helped shape every committee and leadership goal for the last decade. She has proven to be one of the most trustworthy volunteers for our community and her faithful service to the Urantia teachings will undoubtedly continue for many years to come. But The Urantia Book teaches us that cycles of service are alternated with cycles of rest and play. I hope that Susan will enjoy a few years of joyful reversion.
David Linthicum will step down as Chair of the Dissemination Committee. For twenty years, David has played a role shaping the work of the Association. He has served at many levels at the Local and National levels as well his time on the ISB. He has helped shape the program at our international symposiums and conferences and has been a wise and steady council for the entire Urania community. No matter how busy his life has been, he has steadfastly served Urantia Association. As his focus returns to the Spirit of Oklahoma Urantia Association and Urantia Association of United States (UAUS), we know that his continued success will be for the benefit of the entire Association.
Gaetan Charland will take a term off the ISB and allow another volunteer to lead the Study Group Committee. Gaetan is one of the founding voices of the Association. He served 10 years as our first international President and another four leading the Study Group Committee. He has always led by example and made the success of the Association one of the lead priorities of his life. We will benefit from his wisdom for many years to come, even as he turns his attention to serving a term as an Association Trustee with Urantia Foundation.
Kathleen Swadling of Australia was elected to a second term as Chair of the Communications Committee. During her first four years she led the modernization efforts of our newsletters, annual reports, Journal, Tidings and the rapid expansion of our web services. We are fortunate that her guiding hands will continue their work for another four years.
Andrès Ramirez of Colombia will leave the office of the Vice President to assume the Chair of the Study Groups Committee. As Vice President, Andrès has been a wonderful Chair of the Representatives Council and has helped shape the administrative goals of the Association. He will continue to provide wise counsel to the entire board as he turns his focus to study groups.
Santiago Kneeland of Mexico will assume the role of Vice President. He has been a student of the book for twenty years serving in many capacities for both Urantia Association International and Urantia Foundation. He assisted with translation services whenever personnel from the Association or Foundation visited with readers in Mexico, as well as translating internal communications for the two organizations. He served on the board of Asociación Urantia de Mexico in its early years and has organized reader conferences. Welcome to the team Santiago; we’re looking forward to working with you.
Willem Jeths of Brazil will be the new Chair of the Dissemination Committee. He has been studying The Urantia Book for thirty years. Originally from the Netherlands, he has worked as a Sound Engineer and IT manager then moved to Brazil and worked at studying, developing, and teaching sustainable living techniques in the rainforests of Brazil. Currently he is building a healing center in a 3-hectare garden forest in the mountains of the south of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He finds the concepts in The Urantia Book help to guide him in this work. We welcome Willem to the team and look forward to working with him.
Joycee Patterson will be the new Secretary for the International Association. Joycee began studying the book in 1974 and started hosting a study group shortly thereafter. She has been active in the Florida Urantia community for many years, serving various roles for Urantia Brotherhood and Urantia Association of Florida. She brings years of training to the role and will be a wonderful guide for our international leadership team.
The incoming International Service Board will have members from nine different countries on five different continents and collectively speak seven languages. For the first time in our history all seven of our service committees will be led by volunteers outside of the United States.
Thank you to our outgoing Board members! The works of Susan, Gaetan and David have defined Urantia Association’s scope and values. The new team is ready to take the torch you pass and carry it forward into our exciting future.
Gaetan Charland, Quebec, Canada
Dear Friends of the Revelation,
There are many things I would like to write and share with you that are important to the revelation and to the work we do to promote its teachings, but for me, none of these are as important as study groups. Even if fraternal organizations such as Urantia Association International or The Urantia Book Fellowship should disappear, study groups could go on unhindered because there will always be a strong urge for truth seekers to meet and share their understandings, passions, and experiences, as well as their hopes for these teachings to change the world.
Study groups of many kinds have, for many years, decades, centuries, or millennia, flourished in the world, and will continue to flourish even more as our liberty and our search for truth is challenged by politics, religious suppression and fanaticism, or the rise of a materialistic society. There indwells in our minds a divine spirit presence that will always show the way to those who look for it.
…for in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, the Spirit of Truth will always speak, saying, “This is the way.” [Paper 34:7.8, page 383.2]
It will never cease to amaze me how much the experience of a study group has enhanced my perception of divine values in others, how much it has made a difference in my daily life, and how much it has influenced my way of living and reacting to the sometimes perplexing and troubling situations of life on our world. It has even supported and maintained my sometimes-faltering efforts to live up to the level of my faith in times of crisis and adversity.
Study groups have given me more than I have ever expected and they have helped me to be loyal to a daily practice of morning meditation, prayers, and worship. They have also produced in me a greater urge and desire to be of service to others, not only in the Urantia movement, but to my family, friends, employees, and to the community in which I live. They have challenged me to become the change I want to see in the world.
Study groups have done all of that for me and much more. When I think about all those new relationships that were created during the many years I was privileged to host two study groups, I thank God for the opportunities I had to serve Jesus’ plan for this world. I have made many new friends in all those years with whom I will enjoy an eternal relationship. Sometimes I dwell on the promise of a future life and the pleasure I will have to continue in the company of all those who were part of my life on this planet.
One of the greatest pleasures I cherish from study groups, is having enjoyed them with the participation of my mother, one of my sisters and, most importantly, my wife. What a blessing to be able to share the same pleasure of exploring the teachings of The Urantia Book together—what a great spiritual unifying experience. Today, I still enjoy a study group at our home with my wife and many friends, either in person or online. We have extended our spiritual family with the help of the Internet.
I am now at the end of my term as Chair of Urantia Association International’s Study Groups Committee. I just wish I had done more for study groups during those last four years, but I am confident and happy to know that a very capable servant of the revelation has stepped up to replace me. He is from Colombia, where there is phenomenal growth in the number of study groups, and his name is Andrès Ramirez, who was the former Vice-President of the Association. I am certain Andrès will bring new ideas and enthusiasm in helping study groups proliferate around the world.
To help Andrès in his new role as Study Groups Chair would be to:
- Start a study group or be part of one.
- Register your group in the Study Group Directory or update your information about your group so it keeps being listed, here is the address to do so: https://www.urantiastudygroup.org.
- Write a story about your experience with a study group and send it to the editor of Tidings so others can be inspired by your story.
I leave you with two of my favorite African sayings:
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.”
Gaetan G. Charland
Study Groups Chair
Urantia Association International
Antonio Schefer, The Netherlands
This summer the 2nd European Urantia Conference takes place in Tallinn, Estonia 11 to 14 July, 2019. The Urantia Association of Estonia has been preparing for this event in Northeast Europe. Tallinn is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The organizers chose this city in an effort to unite Urantia Book students from all around Europe, and from abroad for the second time since 2016. The previous conference was in Budapest-Hungary and about eighty Urantia Book readers from around the world participated in that historical event.
This conference will address the theme: “Sowing Seeds” by posing questions: – How can we grow internally in spirit and externally in numbers? On Friday and Sunday the program will concentrate on spiritual growth possibilities, and on Saturday the focus will be on growing the numbers of readers. Presenters will discuss personal experiences from different countries in Europe, and from other continents—exploring how to find new readers and form new study groups. Following these presentations, the various European national groups are invited to make their own plans for finding new readers. Breakout sessions will be organized into smaller language groups, and translation materials will be available for those who do not speak English.
On Friday, July 12, after lunchtime, three optional cultural excursions are offered as part of the conference program, such as visiting the Art Museum, Estonian Sea Museum, and Tallinn Old Town excursion with guide. This event has also a European Leadership Meeting, a pre-conference organized by the young adults of the UYAI and the YaYa’s together, and a post conference with a visa-free cruise to St. Petersburg 14-16 July, organized by Finnish Urantia Book Readers for those who want to foster more friendship among Urantia Book students.
For more information and the pre- or the post-conference go to: http://urantia.ee/conference2019/
The conference fee itself is €140, and includes organized excursions, guides, conference meetings, gala dinner, entertainment, and break refreshments during the main event. Your hotel accommodations are to be paid separately together with the lunch and dinner for all event days. Registration is still open for our 2nd European Urantia Conference; sign up for this unforgettable event and receive an Early Bird Discount of €60 – if you register before the 1st of April 2019. This is a special deal for those who read this announcement via Tidings and who use the discount code: “Tidings 2019” during your registration!
To register your conference package without accommodation: click here
To obtain the exclusive one month extended discount send an email to Karmo Kalda, Vice President of the Estonian Urantia Association (EUA): [email protected] and give him the discount code “Tiding 2019” or call him at 00372 5 200 300 for this and other registration related questions.
For more information about the pre- or the post-conference go to: http://urantia.ee/conference2019/
The venue for the conference will be in the 4-star Tallink City Hotel (updated location) located in the heart of Tallinn, in the popular shopping and business district of the city center and just a few minutes walk from the historic old town. Conference attendees are required to book their own hotel accommodations.
You can do it by email: [email protected]
Although we are reserving an adequate number of rooms at the hotel, there is no guarantee that rooms will be available at short notice before the conference. For that reason, please register as soon as possible. Once you are registered you will receive a specific booking code together with your registration confirmation via email.
Do not book your hotel before you receive your registration confirmation with booking code/password by email!
Please let us also know if you prefer a roommate and we will try to match you if possible.
On behalf of the Estonian Urantia Association (EUA) and the organizing team for this conference we are happy to welcome you at this event. We anticipate a very successful conference of learning and socializing, along with the goal to move the European Urantia community forward just as happened after the 2016 event in Budapest.
Sign up today and make sure you will be there for the once-in-a-lifetime experience in Northeast Europe!
(ISB Conference Chair)
click here to enlarge poster
Note: This conference is sponsored by Urantia Association International, Urantia Foundation and Truthbook and hosted by the Estonian Urantia Association.
Vancouver 2020 Conference Committee
15 to 19 July, 2020
Lifting Together: United In Purpose – Serving God The Supreme
The overriding objective of the Urantia Global Experience is spiritual unity, a unity inspired by our common motive to do the will of God, and by the recognition that each of us is indwelt by the spiritual gift of God.
More specifically, we aspire to spiritual unity for the purpose of effecting positive changes in the evolution of civilization on our planet. Through unity we gain strength, making it possible for all of us to lift together in the great task of making such progressive changes a reality. And as we lift together to raise our world a little closer to an age of light and life, we find ourselves engaged in humble service to God the Supreme.
While we share a common understanding of destiny and hope, we also recognize that our spiritual unity is built on a foundation of free personality and spirit originality. As Jesus said,
“You do not have to see alike or feel alike, or even think alike, in order spiritually to be alike.” [Paper 141:5.1, page 1591.6]
The Urantia revelation, prayer, and worship provide our inspiration and direction as we work in full cooperation with the angels of progress to provide a positive environment conducive to both individual and group participation.
Visit the Website
It is our desire that the Urantia Global Experience will bring together free and original thinkers dedicated to doing the will of God and serving others. Our objective is to further a progressive civilization by formulating effective methods to improve the institutions and practices of our planet. To this end, participants will have the opportunity to work together in Focus Groups and Vision Teams.
Focus Groups—Thinking Inside the Circles
Focus Group participants will start their discussions by concentrating on the twelve points outlined in The Urantia Book under “Progressive Civilization” [Paper 71:4]. It is the goal of Focus Group sessions to be united in purpose and to achieve, through teamwork, greater comprehension and actualization of God the Supreme. Focus groups seek to establish a foundation of higher values on which to build visions for a progressive social environment.
Vision Teams—Building Outside the Circles
The religious challenge of this age is to those farseeing and forward-looking men and women of spiritual insight who will dare to construct a new and appealing philosophy of living out of the enlarged and exquisitely integrated modern concepts of cosmic truth, universe beauty, and divine goodness. [Paper 2:7.10, page 43.3]
Vision teams will be composed of presenters, panelists, project leaders, authors, artists, and inspirational speakers who will engage in creating cooperative service project goals for the revelation as well as learning and contributing to existing or emerging projects in the future service of civilization.
The aim is to engage with the insights gained from our morning discussions outlining our visions for service, teaching, and for living the revelatory truths on both personal and collective levels by finding supportive ways to cooperate with existing service organizations.
Both Focus Groups and Vision Teams will present and share their collective insights and conclusions at the end of the experience. These ideas will form the basis for ongoing centers of dialogue in which all participants can engage. We hope to inspire everyone to continue to evolve these ideas with the intention of making them a reality on the world stage.
“And then, when you are blessed with spiritual vision, go forth to your work, dedicating your life to the cause of leading mankind to search for God and to seek eternal realities with the eye of spiritual faith and not with the eyes of the material mind.” [Paper 181:2.20, page 1960.1]
Anzura Conference Committee
September 27 – 30, 2019
This year the ANZURA conference returns to the nation’s capital, this time in a bush setting on the north bank of the Murrumbidgee River. The conference will be hosted by the very capable “Canberra Crew” and our keynote speaker will be astrophysicist and long-time reader, Nigel Nunn.
Theme: Mind Over Matter—Spirit Over Mind
In the evolutionary superuniverses energy-matter is dominant except in personality, where spirit through the mediation of mind is struggling for the mastery. The goal of the evolutionary universes is the subjugation of energy-matter by mind, the co-ordination of mind with spirit, and all of this by virtue of the creative and unifying presence of personality. [Paper 116:6.1, page 1275.1]
It is pretty obvious that in the 21st Century there is considerable understanding of the ways in which the human mind has been subjugating matter. The industrial and technological advances of the previous couple of centuries have resulted in modern men becoming virtual worshipers of science, and many suggest that this will lead eventually to mankind’s complete understanding of the material world.
However, we need to remember that the Supreme requires that matter be subjected to spirit, and that mind is only the means to this end. This leaves science with the job only partially done, and unless that mind with which matter has been partially subdued is itself directed by spirit, with the motivation of personality, then nothing like complete understanding is possible.
Our object in this conference is to highlight this distinction.
Green Hills Conference Centre, Stromlo, Canberra, ACT 2611.
Greenhills Centre is only fifteen minutes from Parliament House, yet there by the Murrumbidgee River you will feel far from the hustle and bustle of politics, out in the country, relaxed in a beautiful bush setting with views over the Brindabella Ranges. The ideal setting for delving into Mind Over Matter – Spirit Over Mind.
It is also just a short distance from the Cotter Dam recreation reserve and Mt Stromlo Observatory.
Full conference $300 — includes 3 nights of twin-share accommodation with ensuite bathroom, bed linen and all meals from Friday night dinner to Monday breakfast. (If you do not wish to share a room please indicate on the registration form. Additional charges will apply.)
Daily Rate $70 — includes both lunch and dinner.
Daily Rate $40 — includes lunch only.
For more information and registration details click on the Conference Brochure
or email us at [email protected]
Visit ANZURA’s website at https://anzura.urantia-association.org
Debbie Bartman, Canada
26 to 30 August, 2019
Hello friends! Two years have passed and it’s now time for our Biannual Vancouver Island Urantia Friends Campout! We have been holding this event since 2007 and, over the years, have had the pleasure of meeting Urantia Book readers from around the world. It’s normally a small group affair of about 15-25 people but we can always accommodate more.
This year, we will be meeting at Miracle Beach Provincial Campground from Monday, August 26 to Friday, August 30 (four nights). This is a beautiful space and the ocean is spectacular! The campground is midway between Courtenay and Campbell River (an hour or so north of Nanaimo) on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
We have reserved a group campground situated on about two acres of flat land surrounded by thick forest on all sides. You can bring a tent or a small to medium sized camper vehicle. Toilets (outhouses), fresh water, and picnic tables are on-site, but there’s no electricity so you’ll have to rough it a bit. Fortunately, free hot showers and flush toilets are a short walk away. There’s a long beach of pebble and sand so don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and beach shoes. It’s also a popular spot for kayaking or canoeing, and there are about 2 km of walking trails.
It’s best to be well prepared because the nearest store is 5 km (3 miles) away and the nearest town is over 20 km. The campground has bags of ice available but not much else. Campfires are usually not allowed during the summer months, but propane-burning fire rings were acceptable in the past (always check with the park supervisor).
Please let me know if you want to do a workshop, study group or presentation. There is no over-riding theme; all ideas and topics are welcome. Presentations usually last 1-2 hours, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The rest of our time is spent either in recreation or discussing all things Urantia. On Thursday evening, we will have a potluck Remembrance Supper honoring our friend, Creator-brother-father Michael.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Registration fee is $65.00 Canadian which is $50.00 US. The price includes camping fees for the week. For registration and further info please contact Debbie at [email protected]
Myra Hight, USA
PIRT, the “Prisoner Inquiry Response Team” ended the year 2018 on an extra positive note and we would like to share our news with fellow readers. PIRT was formed by a small group of volunteers in the United States to disseminate The Urantia Book to our planet’s darkest corners, the nation’s many prisons. All of the original PIRTeam members continue to serve in some capacity after 15 years! Currently there are six United States volunteers actively answering inmate inquiries, or helping in other ways, and a few more good people have served and moved on. We rejoice and give thanks for all the hungry souls who have found the soul saving truths in The Urantia Book. I am humbled by the dedication of our volunteers who make it all happen; we are excited to celebrate fifteen wonderful years of Urantia Book placements that PIRT members have delivered. It is thrilling to see the seeds of the revelation grow and come to fruition.
In case you haven’t read our occasional articles in previous Tidings, the first PIRT article tells the story of how, about thirty-plus years ago, one reader’s efforts to seed the many United States’ prison libraries turned out to be the catalyst for PIRT, the longest running group of volunteers in Urantia Association International. Sometime after her seeding efforts, the Foundation began receiving letters from inmates asking about The Urantia Book. When it became overwhelming, PIRT was formed to relieve Urantia Foundation’s Reader Services staff from the duty of replying to them, thus freeing Foundation staff to focus on other equally important business. To this day inmate letters continue to arrive at Diversey Parkway which are then forwarded on to PIRT for our handling.
Since the formation of PIRT in 2004, more than 4,500 inmate letters have been answered and over 2,100 Urantia Books have been disseminated to inmates. We have since discovered that the book also makes its way to the inmate’s family, friends, prison officials and chaplains.
Three years ago PIRT went international, adding Chris Gravel, Canada’s PIRT chair, to the team. Chris had read one of our PIRT articles and was moved to join the team as a result. He has been able to seed Canada’s forty-three federal prisons, over eighteen months, and has a team of fellow volunteers ready to answer inmate letters. Apparently seeds take time to sprout and there were no letters from inmates immediately. It’s now three years later and Chris has just received his first two book requests! In God’s time, eh?
Last year we provided our policies and procedures, as well as access to our internal documents, to the new PIRT Chapter that Risto Mäntyen of the Finnish Urantia Association started in Finland. Their team of four volunteers seeded all twenty-six prisons in their country with Urantia Books. Without a doubt the letters will begin to flow in, in God’s time.
For the past few years PIRT has taken on an annual group project. One year we adapted the Association’s study group guide for use in the prisons. Since then we’ve had more than a dozen study groups sprout up at different institutions and we send this study group guide as support. Another year David Linthicum, the Association’s former Dissemination Chair, obtained two Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS) online study group course outlines for our use. When we are asked for more study material, we send them the UBIS courses. It is impossible to monitor the activities of each facility and we don’t always get immediate feedback but there have been signs that the courses are well received and that inmate study groups continue to develop and grow.
This year we have more PIRT projects germinating. One project is to foster outside study group leaders to help facilitate inmate study groups at the prisons in their area. Another is a video about what PIRT does for inmates, geared toward the family and friends of those who are incarcerated. My project, as PIRT Chair, is to focus greater attention on developing additional international groups who are willing to seed prisons in their native countries.
Often, we get very serious, in-depth questions about The Urantia Book. While PIRT does not typically offer “pen pal” type services, we do respond to thoughtful inquiries, often times with personal correspondence, at other times we send out the informational materials that we’ve gathered over time to help them out. The most gratifying experience—what keeps us all here year after year—are the moving words of gratitude and appreciation we receive from inmates for providing them the light of the Father, which comforts and guides their souls as they sit in material darkness.
If you would like additional information about PIRT’s programs, please feel free contact me. If you are so moved, please consider a donation to the Association’s PIRT fund. All our funds are used exclusively for the purchase/shipment of books; our volunteers provide all else at their own expense.
May we all plant many beautiful seeds throughout 2019. Most assuredly, they will sprout in time, in God’s time!
Luis Garcia-Bory, Mexico/Switzerland
It is forty years since Marcelino Ramirez opened his mind and spirit to God in the aftermath of a personal crisis that lasted more than 15 years. After a prolonged period of self-edification, he discovered The Urantia Book in 1991. By 1996, he found that the teachings of the book were such an extraordinary inspiration he decided to travel to many states in his beloved Venezuela to sow the seeds of what he calls “our wonderful Revelation.”
His service extended for another five years, until early 2001, when he decided to devote himself full-time to the dissemination of the revelation in his country, relying only on his modest state pension for money and what he calls “the miracle of the limited economic support of a few people with a huge heart.”
As of today, Marcelino has made a total of 1,135 formal visits to readers and truth-seekers in 22 of the 24 states of Venezuela. Such dedication has been truly intense and extraordinary. His efforts have helped to start various study groups in the country, as well as to organize fourteen national conferences of Urantia Book readers and students.
Despite the social and communication difficulties resulting from the deep economic and security crisis in which the country is at present, five study groups remain active in Venezuela today. Marcelino sees this resilience of the fruits of his work and the active collaboration of so many sister and brother readers as genuine works of God, since in the last two years the situation has become truly complex in Venezuela.
These “works of God” were recently tested, as Marcelino decided to undertake the greatest challenge of his twenty-four years of loving service by visiting six different states from his native city of Mérida and moderating nineteen formal Urantia Book seminars in nine different cities over thirty-four days.
The task of the past decades has not been easy. Over his various years of ministry to his Venezuelan sisters and brothers, Marcelino had to overcome risk of attacks and health crises, intense physical demands and exhaustion, reservations, rejections, and deceptions of all kinds. It is truly exemplary what he has achieved and that he has continued this commendable service to the Father even with extremely limited financial resources.
But all this has been a reality, for what Marcelino has discovered as a devotee to the ministry of loving service, he sums up wisely in one sentence: “By submitting ourselves to the will of God, we learn that he makes possible what we considered impossible.”
Today, our Venezuelan family counts among its ranks dozens of people all over the country, largely thanks to that splendid sowing of seeds of love that Marcelino did, and which still has many more fruits to harvest in the future.
Today, more than ever, given the difficulty of their situation, our circles of readers and students of The Urantia Book in Venezuela need leaders like Marcelino; people of great dedication and commitment to the true ministry of service to the Father. Today, each of us can find in brothers like him inspiration to add our little grain of salt by furthering the teachings of The Urantia Book in the various communities in which we participate.
And perhaps, if possible, we can consider contributing to the upcoming fundraising campaign that Urantia Association International will carry out in 2019. The current financial challenge the readers in Venezuela face to maintain their existing study groups is truly great. And they need our help to see these groups grow and consolidate into a future Urantia Association of Venezuela, which is a dream of Marcelino’s and of many of our beloved readers in that beautiful sister nation of Latin America.
Lourdes Burga-Cisneros, Peru
The second Urantia Peru National Conference took place in Pachacámac from 20—21 October 2018. Pachacámac is a rural site about 30 km south of Lima in a place called Atinchik (in the Quechua language, “together, we can do it”.)
The theme of the event was "The Practice of Brotherhood…Truth or Utopia?" In this conference, six plenary lectures and two experiential workshops were given by readers from different parts of Peru, and a guest from Canada.
In Peru, there are many long-time readers of The Urantia Book who have a wide range of experience in the organization of events and activities related to the dissemination of the teachings of the book, but it was only in 2018 that we incorporated ourselves into becoming a National Urantia Association.
Since then, we have made a commitment to host a National Conference each year in order to disseminate the teachings in an interesting and attractive way, and to foster committed readers and study groups.
We also have another goal; given that Peru is the future site for the next Urantia Association International Conference in April of 2021, we hope to gain as much experience as possible to insure the international conference will be a good quality and valuable experience for all participants.
Following is a description of the presentations and workshops:
My Fellow, My Brother (Patricia Llosa y Ernesto Kohler). A lecture based on the experience of personal growth about how to consider the different people appearing to you in everyday life as beings to whom and with whom you must cultivate brotherhood.
The Jesus Brotherhood (Gabriela Condorchúa). A presentation about the sublime and wonderful way in which Jesus united with others, made them part of the Universal Brotherhood, and taught them how to accept the Father in order to learn to love their neighbors, their brothers and sisters, as the Father would.
The Universal Plot (Mairam Durand). An exposition about how a series of celestial assistants work as a team, in our minds and in our environments, in order to make us conscious of our life-plan related to the acceptance of the Fatherhood of God and the formation of the Brotherhood of Man.
The Sisterhood of Women (Line St. Pierre). A testimony about the inspiration of life received by women in order to develop a service-plan for the benefit of women who, as sisters, wish to serve the Universal Father.
Path to Divine Sovereignty (Alonso Gonzáles). An explanation on the importance of submitting the individual and collective sovereignty of the ego—in its different forms of manifestation—to divine sovereignty through our free will and with a view to doing the will of the Father.
Being a Cosmic Citizen (Alejandro Ampudia). An enlarged vision on how brotherhood—the loving service to humanity—constitutes the will of the Father and shows the degree of loyalty we have for Him. This is the basis for embarking on the ascension journey through the universes and being a cosmic citizen.
Communication in the Brotherhood (Mairam Durand). A living experience through brainstorming and a team psychomotor exercise about the communication, roles, and responsibilities that a team needs in order to truly accomplish brotherhood.
Enemy of Mine (Lourdes Burga-Cisneros). An individual and group reflection, through questioning, mental maps, and teamwork dynamics about how the inconveniences, obstacles, problems, and contradictions of brotherhood are in oneself and not in others.
Thank you to all volunteers and participants who made this conference such a special event. Before 2021, we will have gained valuable experience for the next Urantia Association International Conference: Towards Cosmic Citizenship that we will be sharing with you in Cusco, Peru 22—25 April 2021.
If you always wanted to go to Peru, 2021 is the year to do it! This is a conference you should not miss!
Cecilia Barreto, Peru
At the beginning of 2018, Mairam Durand and I started a virtual group called The Discernment Club. It was directed at potential new readers. The idea was to talk about life topics, to share different points of view and, by taking quotes from The Urantia Book, to contribute to the topic in a high-minded way. So we slowly introduced these people into a reading of the book, forming a beautiful group of women—four from Lima and three from Máncora (a popular beach area in northern Peru).
When we started to promote the 2nd National Urantia Peru Conference, the northern women wanted to participate as well, but it was difficult to do so because Peru is an extensive country. Traveling from the north, from Máncora to Lima, takes about twenty hours by bus or two hours by plane… a lot of time and money for our Máncora readers who, because they are enterprising leaders in their own fields, could not attend the conference.
So we decided to take the meeting to them—and they, in turn, looked for other women thirsting for Truth because they wanted to share with others what we had discovered together in The Discernment Club. The Máncora meeting, which took place as a sort of post-conference event was called: I Transform Myself by Inspiration. And for this we had the valuable participation and support of Line St. Pierre from Canada.
During the meeting, the women of Máncora celebrated! Two small groups of approximately ten women each were formed—one in the morning, taking place in one of the most popular hotels of the beach resort, and the other in the afternoon, held in the Municipal Library and sponsored by the Municipality of Máncora, to which a Urantia Book was donated.
All Máncora spoke of Line St. Pierre from Quebec, Canada who gave a free workshop-conference. Not only women from high society were present, but also working women of the town, all getting to know and appreciate themselves as daughters of the Father and eager to serve him. Their testimonies were truly beautiful. Tears of joy and the thirst to share with others were the legacy of the dialogue that Line had with these women. It was indeed a strong and really beautiful experience!
Since then, we continue to communicate and have received messages such as:
“I will never forget the love of the Father that was transmitted to me… that I am of true worth to the world, and that I have a voice!”
Line St. Pierre talked to them about their importance as women, daughters of God. She talked to them about her workshop, Dancing with God, and invited them to replicate it there in Máncora. The town women could not believe that Line had not gone to Máncora simply on vacation like many of the tourists that visit the area, but had gone just for them.
In this regard, I attest to the great sacrifice, long journey, and the heat (40 degrees C) that we had to endure before being motivated to serve others just for one day of talks. The inner joy we all experienced, visitors and local residents alike, was wonderful!
I thank Line for giving her time and for giving of herself to these new and potential readers of The Urantia Book… and also to me, for giving me that exchange of experiences which have enriched my soul infinitely.
Mark Kutz, USA
Delicious food, fun, fellowship, and reading about a nation on a nearby planet (Paper 72) were highlights for 11 Pensacola Study Group reader-students and guests at a luncheon hosted by Mark and Karen Kurtz in Fairhope, Alabama, USA, on Saturday, February 2, 2019.
Meeting in a home was a refreshing delight for the group that normally meets in a church basement. Rick and Susan Lyon from South Bend, Indiana, contributed to the discussion. Rick briefed the group about their internet online store, CosmicCreations.biz.
Kathy Soukup suggested Paper 72, which most always invigorates lively discussion as it did for the group. Reading about this isolated nation seems to inspire readers to think Urantia could be improved by adopting new policies. Looking at that nation we can hardly justify cynical and pessimistic souls who say we have so many problems and who contribute little or nothing to positive change. The discussion resulted in new understanding and hope for Urantia to progress. We will, with world-wide help, from dedicated reader-students.
Eric Martel, Quebec, Canada
We are all keen to see the success of the Fifth Epochal Revelation. Of course, it will be a long journey. It takes place on a time scale that we cannot really understand. Nevertheless, I regularly ask myself the question, what can I do at my scale that will contribute to the enterprise? First, of course, I try to put the teachings of The Urantia Book into practice by transmitting the truths that I have discovered into my surroundings without necessarily speaking of the book. Then I formed a study group and, for the first time, I made a donation to Urantia Association International. For the moment, that’s what I found was in my power to do.
Last week I received an email from the Association asking me for permission to publish my name as a donor in their 2018 Annual Report without indicating the amount. This was to encourage other potential donors. I accepted, of course.
I then asked myself the question, how many readers are there in Quebec and in Canada and how many of them contribute financially to the Urantia Association mission? I had no problem finding the answer but was stunned by the numbers.
Although the exact number of readers in Canada is not known precisely because many of them do not contact organizations, the number of francophone readers is 560 people and, for English readers, 300. How many readers do you think have contributed financially to the Association in 2018 for all of Canada? The answer is 17!
So, I asked myself the same question, what can I do? The answer is simple; to write to you, to give you these figures, and to urge you to ask yourself what can you do?
Although the mission of the book is spiritual, we live in a material world and money is a “material means” indispensable for carrying out this revelation in time. Jesus never personally dealt with the finances of the apostolic group, but he and his apostles could not have accomplished anything if they had not been financially supported by believers, either poor or rich.
The Urantia Book teaches us that a group of individuals is much stronger that the sum of the individuals that make it up. It is with this idea in mind that I encourage you to give what you can, whether to Urantia Association International or the Urantia Foundation. It’s very easy to do, just go to their websites.
Thank you all.
Richard Keeler passed away peacefully on 16 January of this year after a battling a terminal illness. Long-time servant of the Urantia Revelation, good friend to many, loyal and trusted member and supporter of Urantia Association International, and Trustee of Urantia Foundation for thirty years, Richard was loved by many and will be sorely missed by those who called him their friend.
Following are some tributes from some of his friends that portray the depth of love and gratitude so many had for this wonderful man.
It is with tears of sadness, joy, and celebration that we announce that Richard Keeler has graduated. Last evening, January 16, 2019, our beloved brother and friend transitioned from Urantia. His health had been on the decline for two years, and his passing was a blessing that he looked forward to. He met the challenge of his final journey with courage and faith in his heavenly Father.
Richard Keeler served as a Trustee of Urantia Foundation for 30 years. He was steadfast in his love of the revelation and his service to the Foundation and the readership. He brought wisdom, humor, and fraternity to us all. Richard’s loving service, unselfish devotion, and courageous loyalty were a testament to his dedication to living the fruits of the spirit.
We all miss Richard and bid him Godspeed as his guardian angel takes him to the mansion worlds. Richard, we salute the fragment of infinity, the spark of divinity, and the ember of eternity within you. We leave you with Richard’s favorite quote from The Urantia Book:
Of God, the most inescapable of all presences, the most real of all facts, the most living of all truths, the most loving of all friends, and the most divine of all values, we have the right to be the most certain of all universe experiences. [Paper 102:7.10, page 1127.4]
Richard was my best friend and the most memorable “character” I’ve known ever since our freshman year in the Sigma Chi house at Kansas University, where we both were introduced to The Urantia Book by our pledge brother Vern Grimsley. Suffering a long, progressing, and debilitating illness from a rare pancreatic cancer that prevented his body from processing critical nutrients, Richard was lovingly cared for by Mike Wood and Evette Twyford for the past year or more. They took care of all his daily needs, accompanying him to Urantia study group meetings, and helping him to eat to maintain his strength and weight. Rich eventually went into a coma and made the transition to his next great adventure in the care of a hospice team at his home in Wyoming. Shortly before his daughter Libby arrived the previous day, he came out of the coma and was able to recognize her and have a brief heart-warming conversation, even humming along as she sang “You Are My Miracle,” a song he often sang to her, before falling back into the coma. After they did a Cherokee blessing with sage and bear bark, he passed away a day later. As his brother Sigma Chi’s would say, “All honor to his name!”
Richard Keeler was a most amazing spirit being. Generous with his time, treasure, humor, knowledge and wisdom he was a welcome addition to any endeavor you shared together. He was a steadfast and loyal friend and a brother-in-arms in the dissemination of The Urantia Book revelation. He could be spiritual and irreverent all at once. I will forever remain honored to have called him my friend and I look forward to meeting up with him again somewhere along the ascension pathway. Rest in peace and rise in glory faithful servant.
You fulfilled the life of a son of God. I had the great pleasure of being with you and many other beautiful people in Cottonwood 2007 after 30 plus years of being a lone reader. It will always be profound to me that the first gathering I attended was in the company such a wonderful group of people. I must say that you are a shining light in my memories, and if it be said that we are all solders of the circles, then we have lost one of our generals in you dear friend. I look to the not-too-distant future when my proposal to meet at the “relief map of Edentia” will be a new and fabulous experience yet again. Rest for now Richard and we’ll sing and dance again on the day of reunion mate.
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard more than 20 years ago and enjoyed being in his presence many times over that period. He became a close friend of my brother Victor and by extension of myself and our family. Many generations of Urantia Book students, including myself, found exemplary leadership and refreshing spiritual guidance in association with Richard. I was touched by his wisdom to confront challenges trusting fully in the Father’s will, which I could see was only matched by his quick wit, extraordinary good cheer and splendid sense of humor.
His legacy at Urantia Foundation (and by extension at Urantia Association International), is truly exceptional; perhaps only surpassed by the enormous bounty of spiritual seeds he sowed in so many of us, which I am certain will continue to yield supreme, soulful fruits over many generations.
A heartfelt thank you, dearest Richard, for being a true spiritual titan and solid pillar of our community. May the Father give us strength to take much of your legacy forward with the great generosity, courage and determination that you demonstrated to us is required to continue a life of service, spiritual expansion and tireless dissemination of the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Revelation.
Richard was instrumental in making the first Russian translation of The Urantia Book a reality. Back in 1992, he came to Finland and offered his cooperation. I will miss him (and his banjo!) greatly.
When we were chartering our Local in Houston, circa 1992, Rich, Phil R, Kathy, and Pat M were each giving a little talk. During Richard’s, a woman took a removable cast off her arm. Rich was all serious in discussion of the chartering but stopped dead, leapt up pointing and yelled like a wild-eyed madman, “It’s a miracle!” When I wanted to put a Urantia Book in every library in Texas, he made it happen, if I would call the library, Urantia Foundation would ship them. Almost 1,000 went out. And he didn’t stop or withdraw when he was dealt repeated bad blows. Play on Ricardo, you do it so well. Reversion candidate alert, Mansonia.
My husband Trevor and I count Richard among our very special Urantia Book reader friends. We first met him in 1989 when he came to an Australian conference. Like so many others, we clicked with him immediately and enjoyed our first of many sing-a-longs with him and his banjo. Over the years, as we started working closely with Urantia Foundation, we developed a wonderful friendship. We came to realize what a selflessness and utterly dedicated individual he was. What the apostle Matthew was to the fourth epochal revelation, so was Richard to the fifth. He withstood many storms but always stayed on course. His devotion and loyalty to the revelation is an inspiration for anyone who wishes to see this revelation succeed—he was truly a “Hero of the Revelation.” Farewell dear Richard, until we meet again…
Long-time student of The Urantia Book and dedicated member and volunteer of Urantia Association International, Eddie King passed away on 13th February, 2019 after a battle with health problems. Eddie follows his wife and long-life friend and soul-mate, Joanne who passed away last August.
Eddie and his Urantia colleagues in the Southern Kindred Spirits in Nashville were among the first to form a Local Association of Urantia Association International. They hosted the first three international conferences of the Association in Nashville from 1994 to 1996. Eddie also served as the first Conference Committee Chair of the International Service Board (ISB).
Eddie will be sorely missed by his family and close friends. To quote his granddaughter, “There are a million kind and wonderful things I could say about my grandpa, but mostly I’m just incredibly sad that I don’t get to hear his voice, such a memorable one, or be the recipient of his superior hugs. To lose someone who is so foundational to you, who helped to build you into the person that you are, is a kind of loss that permeates through everything. I’m so lucky that he was my grandpa and that I get to benefit from his wisdom, his ways of thinking, his love, for the rest of my life. I’m choosing to believe that he didn’t want to miss a date with my grandma on Valentine’s Day, and that they’re happy to explore the afterlife together.”
Farewell dear Eddie. May your soul be at peace.
Richard Glass, USA
(Editor’s note: Ken Ingle of the Lone Star Urantia Association (LSUA) in Texas passed away on Saturday, 2nd February at the age of 85. Following is an account of his life by his good friend, Richard Glass)
As real lover of life, Ken’s example of defining his own life was a good goal for any personality. He became a self-created, award-winning, science-fiction novelist heralded and acclaimed by sci-fi loving groups at UTA and other locations in the state and nation. Ken hosted a study group for many years. He had a wide variety of world interests which included his family, maintaining his health and vitality, sports, science, and his passion for science-fiction writing.
I was very happy when Ken first contacted me in the 1980s to inquire about the book and its study in the area. I was living in Fort Worth and he in Arlington at the time. It was shortly thereafter that he decided to host a study group on Pebble Way that kept going and growing, having its ups and downs, and sometimes serving as a venue for introducing some prospective readers to the Good News—to Better News than anyone initially expects.
I also want to record my appreciation and gratitude to Ken for virtually single-handedly re-vitalizing the Lone Star Urantia Association when he was serving as its Vice President, an action which eventually led to the historical and noteworthy event of the San Antonio Urantia Conference of 2016. This was the very first inter-organizational and cooperatively planned conference with input and support from Urantia Foundation, the Urantia Book Fellowship, Urantia Association International, Truthbook, and LSUA. This event, in part, can be attributed to Ken’s initiative in making sure that, as he retired as Vice President of Lone Star, a new team of officers with a new vision, determination, and resourcefulness had been organized to bring into being a new association.
Overall, I will continue to admire and revere Ken’s initiative, spunk, and self-determination to create a new career for himself as a successful author, his success in finding a surgeon he could trust to perform the cranial surgery he needed a few years ago, his ongoing interest in leading-edge science, and his loyalty in keeping a study group going in his apartment for many years. I think his long-term contribution to the Urantia community will prove to have been his reforms in the Lone Star Urantia Association, which eventually led to very significant progress in the leadership of the entire readership.
Best wishes, Ken, as you take on the great challenges and adventures that lie ahead!
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.