Sergey Litvinov and Anton Miroshnichenko
Becoming Friends & Loving Each Other
9 to 11 September, 2016
The first meeting of Russian speaking readers of The Urantia Book was held 9 – 11 September, 2016 at the Novahoff Hotel in Nicholas Uryupino Village near Moscow. This conference was initiated and skilfully organized by Tamila Ragimova from Medellin, Colombia. Twenty five readers attended hailing from Russia, Finland, the Ukraine and the USA.
On the first day over dinner, each of those present spoke about his or her path to finding The Urantia Book. Presentations were given in the mornings, then after lunch we broke up into smaller discussion groups.
To give you an idea of the subjects discussed, following is a list of the titles of the presentations and workshops:
All questions were initially addressed to a group of panellists who expressed their own point of view, then followed a general discussion during which everyone had a chance to express their positions on all the issues discussed.
In the evenings around the fireplace room of the Hotel Novahoff we held small and pleasant conversations on a variety of topics, which ended with relaxing sing-a-longs accompanied by dry red wine.
There was an active exchange of views on the various approaches to studying The Urantia Book. During this discussion, the idea to consolidate the efforts of people interested in promoting The Urantia Book in Russia emerged. Also the ideas of creating a new website and the formation of an organization for Urantia Book readers in Russia were discussed.
On Saturday night we enjoyed a wonderful banquet in a warm, fun and friendly atmosphere followed by lively dancing and singing. During the banquet, all participants expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Tamila Ragimova for all her work in preparing and organizing the event.
On the last day after breakfast we held a discussion about future joint projects and a proposal to hold another conference next year. It was suggested we hold it in St. Petersburg and invite other readers of The Urantia Book who do not speak Russian.
A copy of The Urantia Book was signed and donated to the library of the Novahoff Hotel before we all said our goodbyes and departed the conference.
Materials presented at the conference are published in Russian at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_L9kH3d6qVGTERySGFSYks0Yjg?usp=sharing
This report was prepared by Sergey Litvinov and Anton Miroshnichenko. We used photos taken by various conference participants.The full range of photos can be viewed at: http://350ukraine.livejournal.com/photo/album/1535?page=1
Survival of the Human Self
7 to 9 October, 2016
In a quiet hotel on the shores of Lake Garda, which was our panorama during the sessions, we had met our Italian Urantia neighbours for the second time on the initiative of our dynamic Danielle La Scala, whose abilities as a translator are astonishing. Apart from Danielle and three non-Urantians, there were three French people (Georges and Marlène Michelson-Dupont and Ivan Stol), two Swiss (Doris Calmel and Guy de Viron) and six Italians (Nirvana and Deanna Bussadori, Maria Dolores Novati, Alberto Dujela and Serena Zaganelli), and the European co-ordinator Antonio Schefer.
The discussions on the topic of “Survival of the Human Self” gave us a chance to clarify many questions on the existential issues of “who will survive” and “the true choice of survival.” Likewise, “how to live with other people,” “what is love,” “doing the will of God,” and “becoming perfect” were dealt with making use of Georges’ expert practice in guiding discussions.
The question was raised with the Italians about their wish to maintain one or several permanent groups. The recurring problem of distance came up again. The next gathering is envisaged for Bologna, a city not too far from most of the Italian readers.
It must also be mentioned that this meeting encouraged Maria Dolores to create a study group at Desenzano with slightly fewer than ten readers, while Nirvana had created one following the Congress last year.
Let us also say that these charming people are potentially capable of making this revelation come alive in their own countries, once the precious and greatly appreciated assistance of the French participants has enabled them to organize themselves.
The plenary presentations held at the recent conferences listed below were video recorded and are now available for viewing. These recordings are of a high quality and are very easy to watch; it's just like being in the audience so if you were unable to attend the conference, we recommend you take a look. Following are the links to our website pages for each conference. From these pages you will find a direct link to the opening plenary presentation as well as a link to the complete set of presentations on YouTube.
A special thanks to Gaetan Charland and his team for the great work in producing these videos.
Gaetan G. Charland
After my return from the Budapest conference, I was contacted by one of our members asking me about the different study group models I know of, because from what this reader said in her message, it was her opinion that the younger generation is less prone to joining study groups the way that most are currently structured.
This is a very important question associated with a more important comment. The question is easy to answer as there exist on different organizations’ website many study aids, guides, articles and experiences shared by readers about the value of study groups and how they can be organized and managed. The difficulty arises when trying to respond to a comment like this about the interest young readers have for the actual ways study groups are conducted, organized or managed. Not being a young reader myself and belonging to a very different generation (I am now 67) I find myself somewhat unqualified to provide good solutions to this problem.
So what I have asked of this reader who contacted me is to help me understand and find out what these new readers are looking for in study groups, but at the same time explaining to her the purpose of study groups in relation to the mission of The Urantia Book. Maybe my request was a bit too demanding or my expectations too high as this reader has not yet responded to my request. So after sharing my email with members of my study group committee, one of them shared with me his initial experience with a study group so I could get a better perspective about new readers in study groups. I have urged him to write an article about it so other hosts of study groups could benefit from it.
So what is my goal in writing this article? I am looking for young readers who would like to be part of my committee so we could find solutions on how to organize and manage study groups that would be attractive and interesting to the new generations of readers. If we do not find ways to readjust the way we do things in study groups, we might fail in our goal to create thousands of them.
We often hear the comment, “where are the young readers?” when we gather together in conferences. I believe the ones who can answer this question are the young readers themselves.
If you are a young reader and would like to help us find answers and solutions to what I’ve mentioned here, please contact me at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
As for ways to organize study groups and facilitate them, I have a plethora of documents and study aids that address this issue. I cannot give the web address of my collection here as it is too long, but if you write to me, I will gladly send it to you.
Gaetan G. Charland
Jaap Terra, the Netherlands
On Sunday, August 21st the annual Dutch Urantia Meeting Day was held in a nice conference centre “Groot Kievitsdal” near Baarn. It was the 10th time we celebrated the birth of Michael of Nebadon, incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth on Urantia, with readers of The Urantia Book.
We could rejoice with a large number of attendees, including 17 new guests visiting this gathering for the first time. It was nice to see that visitors who had joined us in previous years and those who visited for the first time felt a sense of belonging.
During the introduction, attention was paid to the administrative affairs of the SUN (the Urantia Association of the Netherlands). Bernhard Mertens, who passed away in early August after being in hospital for 40 days, was commemorated. Bernhard Mertens and Johan Vandewalle took care of the various presentations for the last few years at our Urantia gatherings. Also Johan and Bernard were planning to provide the first reading for this year.
There is a Urantia candle that we lit as a symbol of the alliance between the Dutch and Belgian Flemish readers of The Urantia Book as some Flemings were our guest this day.
Leading up to the Urantia Association International Conference in Amsterdam in 2018 with the theme: “Jesus as a Teacher,” the main theme for this year was chosen to be: “Michael of Nebadon: Son of God and Son of the People.” Johan Vandewalle took care of the first presentation with the theme: “The status of Michael for his final bestowal,” while Karen Huigsloot presented the second reading relating to the final bestowal, Jesus himself, his dual purpose, and his bestowal orders and restrictions.
The third presentation was innovative in design. Ria Sprenger and Ina Terra held a dialogue, led by Frank van Rooij with the theme: “The current position of Michael of Nebadon and the value of his bestowal on this planet and the local universe.”
Some passages of the life of Jesus from The Urantia Book were distributed to the attendees so that we could participate interactively, using examples from everyday life and thereby posing the question: “What would Jesus do?” The information from The Urantia Book really came “alive.” From the responses on the survey at the end of the meeting, we concluded that the attendees appreciated this innovative way of presentation.
After the presentatons there was an opportunity to ask questions to the speakers. Some interesting discussions arose. To the credit of the audience, everyone’s opinions where treated with respect. Ultimately it is everyone’s personal relationship with God.
Afterwards there was sufficient opportunity for social interaction. Given the positive response we have received, we can certainly speak of a successful day.
Make a note in your diary: Urantiadag 2017 on Monday, August 21st.
Georges Michelson-DuPont, France
I would like to tell you about the Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS). This adventure of our age is staffed by a team of volunteers; women and men who are devoted to building something substantial and enduring that will assist readers of The Urantia Book.
This undertaking began in late 1998 in order to respond to concerns expressed by isolated readers about their need to study the teachings of The Urantia Book in a structured and stable context while sharing them with other truth seekers around the world. The Internet made this possible.
The Urantia Book Internet School operates on a software platform called Moodle. This open-source software is user-friendly and offers many custom features that the user can choose, as well as a large number of educational tools. Further, its interface has been translated into more than 120 languages.
The school helps expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, thereby assisting the authors of The Urantia Book in achieving these aims. It does this by providing an educational environment that is well suited to studying the teachings, while embodying methods that are non-interpretative, non-invasive, and dynamic — resembling the approach that Jesus of Nazareth adopted while he was living on Urantia.
The work of the Urantia Book Internet School is aimed at the following objectives:
Structure and Pattern of Operations
The Urantia Book Internet School currently provides courses in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Thus far, over 750 registered students coming from more than 65 countries on the five inhabited continents have taken more than 250 different courses, some for beginners and the rest for intermediate or advanced readers. Over 120 volunteers work together to operate the school; the great majority of them are teacher-facilitators, but 14 persons serve on the Board of Directors.
The school’s academic year consists of trimesters lasting ten weeks each. Enrollment and registration occur during the first half of September, January, and April.
Each ten-week trimester begins with a week of orientation. The next eight weeks are devoted to four cycles lasting two weeks each. During the first week of each cycle, the students read the passages that have been assigned because of the topic of the course then reply to the three questions that they choose out of the six questions that are available. During the second week of each cycle, all the answers are pooled; the students proceed to discuss them and share their ideas in a spirit of spiritual friendship and great cooperation. During the final week of the trimester, each student writes an essay.
The School’s Approach to Teaching and Learning
The school’s approach to teaching and learning is the key to its success. This approach is based on three dynamic principles:
1. The revelators are the real teachers. Exposing the students to their writings by means of the readings that are recommended is the fundamental technique that helps expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception.
2. The teacher-facilitators do not interpret the teachings. They choose a particular theme or consecutive papers then prepare their courses by selecting specific passages for the students to read. This enables them to offer a voyage of discovery during which those participating will ponder the questions and seek to find their own answers. The teacher-facilitator then monitors the sharing of ideas and impressions that takes place during the final week.
3. The contributions whereby the students share their spiritual lives inspire everyone and promote the spiritual progress of each individual. This phase is essential, for it stimulates faith and enables each participant to describe his or her experiences, while also benefiting from the insights of others.
The three-step cycle is very effective (i.e., Reading, Questions & Answers, and Sharing). The first week devoted to reading recommended passages and finding one’s own answers to questions enables the student to clarify many ideas that he or she may have misunderstood, while making substantial progress in grasping new revelations of truth and appreciating new meanings, perhaps in relation to the fact, the law, and the love of God. During this phase of active reading and inquiry, while the mind is resonating to new insights, the Spirit of Truth can operate effectively by causing truths to emerge that the Thought Adjuster will draw on to enhance spiritual perceptions. Spiritual relationships and dynamic exchanges of energy associate the human mind that is searching for God with the Thought Adjuster who is revealing God.
The subsequent phase of sharing enables each participant to savor the views of the other students, while describing life experiences related to the teachings and implicitly discovering other approaches to spiritual insight, conviction, and devotion. This process unfolds amidst profound concord of the soul, an atmosphere attesting to a strong and mutual attraction to God’s plans for us, as well as an intense desire to do good for others. As a result, the students acquire an increased understanding of our responsibilities to the Universal Father and the Supreme Being, as well as greater awareness of our responsibilities to the Creator Son and the Creative Mother Spirit — the immediate spiritual sponsors who unceasingly attract and inspire us throughout our lives on Urantia, and also during our ascendant lives on the mansion worlds.
If a reader of The Urantia Book is well advanced in studying the teachings and, in addition, has taken at least two courses of the Urantia Book Internet School, then he or she is eligible “to sign up” by volunteering to become a teacher-facilitator. The school will then provide a training course that describes and explains the school’s approach to teaching and learning, and an experienced colleague will assist the new teacher-facilitator during the first course that he or she gives. Therefore we can accurately describe the school’s teacher-facilitators as dedicated readers of The Urantia Book who have absorbed and accepted the school’s methods and approaches, and who have decided to devote themselves to this adventure of unselfish service.
A Cordial Invitation
On behalf of the Trustees, Associate Trustees, and staff of Urantia Foundation, I cordially invite each of you to confirm the accuracy of everything that I have written here by registering for one or more courses of the Urantia Book Internet School. Our website http://ubis.urantia.org/moodle explains the curriculum and provides all the other information that you will need.
I would like to finish with this profoundly inspiring thought that our Sovereign Creator Son Michael of Nebadon voiced to a young companion of his while he was incarnate on Urantia in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth:
Thank you for your attention.
Susan Lyon, USA
Recently I went online to purchase some sports items for my son-in-law Tim’s birthday. A few years ago I set up an Amazon-Smile account. Every time I need to shop for birthdays, holidays or any special event for my family, I can do something that has been very difficult financially for me to do in the past; I can support a cause. Raising my four children as a single parent made it nearly impossible for me to give to worthy charities and causes such as Urantia Foundation and all of their translation projects. Now Amazon helps me to accomplish this by taking 0.5% out of their profits for my total purchase amount, and then they send it to Urantia Foundation. When I need to shop for someone, first I check Amazon-Smile to see if they have something that would be an appropriate gift, and generally they don’t disappoint me. I appreciate the great variety available and reasonable prices.
I know some of my friends have set up similar accounts with Amazon-Smile to support Urantia Association International. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this great opportunity. Many people acting as a large network collectively giving their resources and time can be much more effective than a few wealthy donors carrying the heavy load of expense and doing all of the work of planting the seeds for the fifth epochal revelation.
Amazon is thanking their customers for all of the wonderful success they have had, and they are giving back to the community by allowing each customer to use their purchasing power to support one of their own passionate causes. We all have family and friends to shop for throughout the year, so it’s a perfect chance for all of us to make a big difference!
We all know how the Internet works – you go to your computer to shop or to look up something online and all of that intuitive marketing stuff goes to work behind the scenes to suggest your next item to click on. It’s a little creepy but the Internet is also a great source of information, so we all tend to be willing to pay the price of the intrusion of our privacy. Well, on this particular shopping occasion, a suggestion came up for the soft cover edition of The Urantia Book on Amazon. I noticed that there were over 500 reviews on that particular item so I decided to check them out. I ended up spending a couple of hours and barely made a dent in them. So many reviews had been added since I submitted a review of the book myself about three years ago. I was interested to see what the current reception and responses to the book Amazon was receiving from the general public nowadays. A few years ago Mo Siegel put out a request for all of the believer community to put a review of the book on Amazon, so there are many glowing testimonies that you would expect from long-time readers that we all know or have heard of. What I found most compelling was that there is a huge treasure trove of new reader comments revealing that these people have been greatly impacted and transformed by reading The Urantia Book. They might not have always ranked it as five stars, but I was inspired when I read through some of these brief reviews. All of the wonder, enthusiasm, and praise reminded me of my own feelings back in 1978 when I had the profound experience of reading the book the first time. It was the one great lasting influence that changed the course of my life. It was the basic foundation that I built my faith upon, and influenced the person I have grown to become. It is the reason I met the love of my life ten years ago, and together we use it as a powerful tool to renew our hope and faith each day. It provides a pattern for all loving healthy relationships, and a real vision of what the world can become; one where all mankind can live in peace. One five star reviewer expressed my sentiments exactly: “there aren’t enough stars to rank it – this book is epic!”
There are always going to be a few detractors who are critical, but you know I had to laugh out loud at one particular fellow that wrote: “This book will make you give up reading all together, don’t know what I was thinking.” That poor soul obviously didn’t know that he was tackling a 2097 page book when he ordered it! Too funny, but I was really astounded at the number of people who posted an honest review of the book admitting that it was more than they expected in size and difficulty, yet still many expressed that they felt it was worth the effort of reading through to the end of the book just because of the high praise it was receiving from other readers. They also had the feeling that it was something very important. One reviewer wrote: “Difficult to read, but fascinating…. makes you keep picking it up and reading.” Another person added: “Feels like truth. Answers to questions you didn’t even realize you had.” And one other reader said: “Most important book ever, even if some of it is difficult to comprehend.”
One common thread among those people who praised The Urantia Book was the effort they had put into searching for the truth for many years, or that they had experienced bitter disappointments in life, or in general felt they were lost. They perhaps didn’t even know what they sought until they had found the peace and comfort of faith. One thing was for sure, for them, discovering the book seemed much sweeter because of the valleys they had walked through in their lives, and the dead ends that they had encountered in their search. One person spoke of their journey in this way:
One gentleman had such an unusual calm and poise when he was about to go in and face heart surgery – this calm “no fear” attitude he expressed in his review below is a common benefit associated with faith…
One story stood apart from the others in my opinion. Somehow in one paragraph, an American veteran of the Vietnam war era touched my heart and moved me to a better understanding of the tragic effects war has on our troops – good people who have all lived through the unimaginable – and then come home to realize that everything seems changed. But it is they who have changed, and they don’t know how to heal their pain or regain their peace. Their experience was earned and paid for with their blood, their injuries, and their innocence. It is too important to let go of, and therefore it is inseparable from their identity. This vet spoke of finding his way through a maze of many dysfunctional techniques that he used to deal with his pain, and literally – he moved my soul to compassion. His alternating strength and hope hammered out on the anvil of despair and hopelessness were a normal part of existence until he found the healing light of truth in The Urantia Book. I believe that we are creating a legion of brave heroes every time we go to war, but in the process we are creating an enormous painful reckoning of lost or broken lives. The cross they bear is one they carry all of the way home with them, indeed if they return home at all. We all know about the suicide rate for our returning troops because they cannot find a way through the pain to re-establish their lives. Read this story of a true American hero. What a victory of faith.
I believe this is not only an opportunity, but a sacred obligation for the Urantia community, to help in whatever way we can. I invite you to read through the reviews on Amazon. You will see that the seeds we have planted over the course of many years are beginning to take root and grow. We are seeing results in our own lifetimes, something we may have doubted would ever happen as we ministered to others as we passed by. Enjoy reading as many of them as you like, I hope you will take the time to be blessed, and then go wherever your heart leads you to serve our human community. Forget not those who are in prison, the sick, the helpless, and the poor. Sharing the truths and facts of The Urantia Book is important when there is receptivity, but there are so many who are in need (like our veterans) and we have the recipe to help them find a full recovery to live a life with bountiful fruits of the spirit. We really only need to share the recipe with them, and then I believe we will begin to see a marvelous transformation in their lives!
FEAST OF BROTHERLY LOVE – INGREDIENTS
1. A generous helping of our loving and merciful Heavenly Father – one-on-one, a personal connection.
2. A thick slice of the “Bread of Life”– the true Jesus that everyone needs to know.
3. A full pitcher poured out of the Spirit of Truth – ready for one and all to receive.
4. A caring community who serve and give our hearts to all who are hungry or “weary and heavy-laden.”
Stir with love. Make sure to allow enough time to bake to golden perfection, and soon your kitchen will be filled with the most delightful spiritual fragrance.
Of course I am preaching to the choir, but just like you would expect everybody you know to line up for a gift if you hit the Powerball jackpot, for years it has puzzled me why those same people don’t eagerly read a book that we tell them will absolutely change their lives? How many ways can we say it? I hit the lottery of truth in 1978. This book is a true gift from heaven. Fear not, God has seen our need and He has literally responded to it. He is alive and powerfully involved in this world. We are not alone or forgotten. God has spoken in a modern way that is brilliant, compelling, and accessible to everyone. He is our Heavenly Father just as Jesus told us 2000 years ago. If only people would realize what a profound experience they are cheating themselves out of by ignoring The Urantia Book. We who have read the book know that what seems impossible and unbelievable is possible, and thankfully, our referrals on Amazon are beginning to be heard by others. It is so encouraging to know that people all over the world are beginning to awake and discover this transcendent gift of truth.
Gabriel Rymberg, Israel
Imagine a beautifully built, professionally and spiritually managed and deeply inspiring Pilgrim Center right where the Master lived and taught.
Imagine a Hotel and Conference Center that welcomes the one million pilgrims that flock to the Sea of Galilee every year to walk “in the footsteps of the Master”; a Center that spreads the Fifth Epochal Revelation by embodying the Master’s Teachings – right in Bethsaida itself.
A group of Urantia Book readers has located a pristine 25-acre tract of land that is located on the banks of the Jordan River three miles north of the Sea of Galilee and one mile north of the ruins of Bethsaida.
We intend to build and operate a Center that contributes to an acceleration of progress towards light and life on Earth by facilitating the individual’s journey inward.
We ask for your spiritual and material support to take the next steps. If this message stirs your heart, please contact me: email: email@example.com, cell phone: +972-544-592514
With Love and in His Service,
*Footnote: Urantia Association International supports the efforts of individuals and groups to serve, announce, and discuss worthy service projects in our publications, website, social media, and email systems but the Association does not endorse or approve of such service projects or opinions which have not received the full due diligence and official approval for Association funding or sponsorship. All opinions expressed herein are personal to the author(s) and do not represent the Association’s leadership or its membership regarding policy.
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.
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