Tidings – September 2019
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In This Issue
- President’s Message – September 2019 – Chris Wood, USA
- 2nd European Urantia Association Conference – Antonio Schefer, The Netherlands
- Young Adults Pre-European Conference Retreat – Alex Hehlert, Germany
- Remembering Jesus on His Birthday – Rick Warren, USA
- Feria del Libro de Bolivia 2019 – Santa Cruz – Jose Ernesto Arias, Bolivia
- Ecuador Book Fair 2019 – Efrain Vivanco, Ecuador
- Guatemala Book Fair – Gerardo Leche, Guatemala
- ANTFIL – an Alternative Fair in Peru – Cecilia Barreto, Peru
- Study Group Testimonial – Susan Hemmingsen, New Zealand
- Farewell Mark Bloomfield – Kathleen Swadling, Australia
- Upcoming Events
- International Service Board
- About Tidings Newsletter
Chris Wood, USA
Religionists, as a group, must never concern themselves with anything but religion, albeit any one such religionist, as an individual citizen, may become the outstanding leader of some social, economic, or political reconstruction movement. [Paper 99:3.15, page 1089.7]
Indirectly, cultural civilization is influenced by the attitude of these individual religionists as they become active and influential members of various social, moral, economic, and political groups. [Paper 99:3.3, page 1088.47]
Whenever we gather as a group at a conference, there is a question that often gets raised: “What exactly are we as a group?” and “Is Urantia a religion?” In many ways we resemble a religion. We are a group of religionists; as a group, and as official organizations, we do not concern ourselves with the social, economic or political issues; we actively encourage each other and others to get to know God and to become more like him.
The difference is that throughout our history organized religions have become ingrained in the social, economic and even political realms. Group thinking replaces individual choice, and group ideas of deity replaces individual relationships with the Father. As a group of religionists, we need to actively work to keep our mission focused on God and our relationship with God.
But as individuals, we are charged with getting directly involved in society. We have the ability slowly to adjust the trajectory of the social, economic, and political realms with our spiritual and universal insights.
There are many levels of service that we engage in both inside and outside our Urantia Community. At the European Conference in Tallinn there were long discussions about how we should engage the world with our services. Across the world students of The Urantia Book are actively changing the world for the better. One of the great joys of conferences is getting updates on many of these projects.
I hope we can all gather together in the coming years to share our service updates. Upcoming conferences in Nigeria in December 2019, Canada in July 2020, and Peru in 2021 will be wonderful opportunities to get together and share.
Urantia Association International
Antonio Schefer, The Netherlands
From 11-14 July 2019, the Urantia Association of Estonia hosted the 2nd European Urantia Conference at Tallink City Hotel with the theme “Sowing Seeds.” This event was the 2nd Continental Conference in Europe and took place almost three years after the Budapest conference. Eighty-seven participants celebrated friendship and brotherhood, in one of the best-preserved medieval cities of Europe, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At this event in North-East Europe, readers from 15 different countries were present. Students and friends coming from the USA and Canada crossed the Atlantic Ocean, gathered together with people from several European countries; such as Estonia, Finland, Spain, France, The Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Lithuania and more. Just as in Budapest it was a truly worldwide event with association members present from all around the world, but mainly Europe and North America. It was an unforgettable experience in a truly “must-see” city.
In the late afternoon of Thursday July 11, and after the Meet & Greet, our president, Chris Wood, and Karmo Kalda, the conference chair, opened the official program. They were introduced by the Masters of Ceremony, Michael MacIsaac and Helen Anvelt. After the dinner, Sebastian Nozzi (European Coordinator), welcomed the attendees on behalf of the European community. Helen Anvelt gave a musical, dance-art performance called “Bliss, Serenity, and Love,” and with that we ended the official program for that first day. For those who wanted to socialize more every night, there was the hotel lobby with music and drinks, which we all enjoyed.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday just before breakfast there were meditation sessions with Peep Sõber. Guy Perron organized the worship sessions after breakfast just before the main program started. On Friday, three presentations were given, followed by breakout sessions of one hour, relating to the presentations. In the afternoon of that day, there was a cultural program, with excursions to the Estonian Sea Museum, Art Museum, and a guided tour through Tallinn Old Town. That night Hara Davis gave a traditional dance workshop called “Sacred Dance” which closed the second conference day.
Saturday morning, the European associations of The Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark gave us updates about the activities in their countries related to the conference theme “Sowing Seeds,” which was followed by a breakout session created and given by Karmo Kalda. Breakout session group representatives informed us just before lunch, during the feedback presentation, about what was discussed in their groups. We were all inspired, and this was truly a great success. It was good to see what all the European associations have accomplished, and what they did to increase Urantia Book seeding in their countries. That Saturday afternoon two other presentations were given including one by Chris Wood, followed by two breakout sessions. Tamara Strumfeld (Executive Director at Urantia Foundation) also gave a brief presentation that afternoon, with updates and other information about Urantia Foundation. Piia & Peeter Paemurru closed the third conference day with classical music, playing the piano can cello together.
Sunday started just as the other conference days except that is was closing day. With two more presentations and a breakout session it all went pretty fast that morning. In between we looked briefly into the future events with our president Chris Wood and talked about the 3rd European Urantia Conference, which will be held in 2022 in Málaga Spain, as announced to us the day before by the Urantia Association of Spain. We said goodbye to each other and thanked the conference organizers for a very successful event. Lunch that afternoon was for most of us the farewell moment. However, for some of us there was a post-conference for additional socializing and sightseeing among Urantia Book students with a Visa-Free Cruise to St. Petersburg and stops in Helsinki, Finland by ferry.
When we started preparations during the 1st European Leadership Meeting in October 2017 in the city of Sitges-Spain and selected the Urantia Association of Estonia to organize this conference, we never expected that the 2nd European Urantia Conference would be such a great success. Personally, I thought we could not do better than Budapest but Karmo Kalda and his local conference team showed that it was possible. It always amazes me how conference planning ideas develop into real conferences and how unforgettable and life-changing they become. For this reason and more, I want to thank the Estonians. I also want to thank our sponsors; Urantia Association International, Urantia Foundation, and Truthbook for their financial and other support offered. But most of all I want to thank the attendees from all around the world who made this 2nd European Urantia Conference happen. Without your trust in our events this would never have been possible.
All the presentations were videoed and are now available for viewing on the Associations YouTube channel. See this link and click on the playlist for the 2nd European Urantia Conference.
I’m looking forward seeing you all again at our next big event, which is the 2021 Urantia Association International Conference, to be held in Urubamba-Cusco-Peru. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you all with helping to organize conferences together with my Conference Committee. It is truly a pleasure to serve you, and I can’t wait to help you with the next one.
Urantia Association International
P.S. I’ll leave you with a few snap shots of our time together:
Alex Hehlert, Germany
(This is an extract summary on the Young Adults’ pre-conference retreat of Alex Heh’s personal testimonial of his experiences at the conference. Used by permission.)
In July I traveled to Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, to attend the 2nd European Urantia Association Conference. A number of young Urantia Book readers and I arrived some days earlier to attend the pre-conference retreat that was held from Sunday July 7 to Thursday July 11. This retreat was a joint event organized by Urantia Association’s UYAI (Urantia Young Adult International) and the Fellowship’s YaYas (Youth and Young Adults). I don’t exaggerate when I say that this event—held in a beautiful city and with lots of wonderful lovely people—was one of the most profound experiences in my life so far. By the end of the first night I felt I was able to leave my past behind and start a new life. It didn’t take long for me to stop thinking in my mother tongue (German) and start thinking (and feeling) in English.
We started our program on the first full day (Monday) of the retreat with a walk to the beach; a few of us even jumped into the sea! We enjoyed the atmosphere at this little beach where we introduced ourselves to each other and shared hugs all round. We then divided into pairs and interviewed one another so we could get to know more about each person. After our first group prayer I started to feel at home with these new-found friends. We read and talked about the “Kingdom of Heaven” and I felt that this would be an important topic for me during the conference as I was already starting to consider it from a new angle.
On the next day (Tuesday) we visited the Estonian Parliament and had a guided tour inside. It was very impressive. The Estonians seem to have a well organized political structure. The tour-guide did a great job and was very friendly. Next to the Parliament was a beautiful Orthodox church that we visited. I lit a candle and did a short prayer to Michael. As we came out of the church a Russian street-musician raised my mood by singing first a German song for me and then “Yellow Submarine!”
After lunch, back at the conference venue we held a brainstorming session about “The Combined Vision of the UYAI and YaYas.” We soon found that we were all of the same mind and realized that we need to work together in the future; maybe we might even be an inspiration for the older generation. We’d like to show that we will allow nothing and no one to come between us or hinder us from cooperating with our work for the revelation. We made some big plans and by the end of the retreat and we now consider UYAI and YaYas to be “together as one.”
Our next reading session was on the “Art of Living” and the “Lures of Maturity” as taught by Rodan of Alexandria. I was deeply impressed with Rodan’s high-minded philosophy. I understand why his teachings have been included in The Urantia Book. I promised myself to study these papers again when I am back home.
On Wednesday we were joined by Gard, Guy and Agnès, who decided to join our pre-conference activities and do workshops with us. We found a nice place in a park with beautiful scenery surrounding us. The first workshop was about “Worship, Prayer and Love.” We sat on the ground in a circle reminding ourselves that these three things always belong together. Gard led us in a group-prayer where we stood in a circle holding hands and one after another, we each said a short prayer. I did mine in German; this was the first moment when I noticed that something special was happening to me. I cried my first tears of joy during this prayer-circle as I felt an overwhelming feeling of love like I’d never felt before—a real unconditional love.
Later we visited the castle of Tallinn. What a beautiful sight. I was happy like never before. We had a great day and I was carrying an enthusiasm that is impossible to describe. I found myself praying a lot. The whole day was like one big prayer. In the evening when I was alone in my room I kept praying and asked the angels to be with us and share our wonderful moments together. I felt their presence and began to understand why I kept crying tears of joy so often. The feeling is hard to describe but it was like a kind of energy flowing through my body, then I started relaxing and felt as if I was not alone. My mood was blissful…
The next day (Thursday) was when many started to arrive for the main conference. That’s a whole other story so I will leave the details of that amazing time to someone else to tell for this newsletter. However, I will just briefly share my impressions of the lovely opening moments, which were warm and welcoming. I was aware that the atmosphere—the “energy in the air”—was different from all other conferences that I had attended before. Mike MacIsaac was the ideal person to be the Master of Ceremonies. His easy, chilled manner, coupled with his sense of humor made everything feel less formal than other events I’ve been to. Mike was the very first Urantia Book reader I met in person—he was simply the first person to say “hi” to me six years ago at the Blue Club Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. He is what I would call a “big brother”—a kind of heroic role model for me. Thank you, Mike!
After the closing ceremony at the end of the main conference it was time to say goodbye. Thank you to all of you who made this momentous event so special and spiritually uplifting. I am looking forward to continuing to meet with all my wonderful brothers and sisters online soon, because we simply cannot go on without each other anymore. Our parting promise to one another was: “See you in Vancouver next year!”
Rick Warren, USA
Happy birthday to Jesus of Nazareth, Michael of Nebadon our Creator Father, on this, the 2026th anniversary of the inauguration of his 7th self-bestowal, right here on Urantia. What might he ask for on this anniversary?
…Jesus wished to develop spiritual insight into eternal realities and to stimulate initiative in the originality of living; he concerned himself exclusively with the underlying and permanent spiritual needs of the human race…. [Paper 140:8:31, page 1583.5]
…Jesus wanted not only the mortals of this world but the onlookers of innumerable other worlds to know that, when doubts exist as to the sincerity and wholeheartedness of a creature’s devotion to the kingdom, it is the invariable practice of the Judges of men fully to receive the doubtful candidate…. [Paper 139:12:7, page 1566.6]
…Jesus wanted his children on earth to live as though they were already citizens of the completed heavenly kingdom…. [Paper 140:8:25, page 1582.6]
Jose Ernesto Arias, Bolivia
The twentieth annual book fair took place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia from May 31 to June 11. The fair had 200 exhibitors and more than 80 book presentations. More than 50 international writers and about 100 national writers attended it, with the presence of the European Union as Guest of Honor. In the middle of all this exhibition was also present the most important book to all of us volunteers attending this fair: The Urantia Book.
The volunteers of our booth spent twelve days explaining the importance of this book for humanity. Many children, young students, and adults were also present. Despite the normal skepticism of some people, there were 273 souls that were sensitive to the truths of this book and left us their contact details to receive more information.
One of the most significant interactions we had, was that of an intelligent girl of about 10 years old who began to ask questions, and after listening to the answers she became serious. One could see in the expression of her gaze the excited satisfaction of finally having found the answers. And she cried, “Yes!” and between sobs, she told her father, “I don’t want any other book but this one.” I think it was the best moment of the whole fair.
About 2,500 informative leaflets were distributed and 24 books were sold. Also a lecture was given about the book, which was attended by about 30 listeners.
Thanks to the Father and all his helpers, the fair gave satisfaction to the volunteers for having contributed to the great work of spiritual evolution towards the Kingdom of Heaven and the Era of Light and Life.
Efrain Vivanco, Ecuador
This year’s book fair in Ecuador was held at the Puce Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador from 3—7 June. Although we are not yet officially recognized as the National Association of Urantia Book Readers of Ecuador (AUEC), this year we participated in the Puce Fair as AUEC.
We were located at booth number 17, which we arranged with posters alluding to The Urantia Book and graphics of the Master Universe. We were joined by a collaboration of Urantia Book students from the Readers Group of the Garden of Edentia, the Valley of the Chillos, and the city of Quito.
This is a small six-day fair, attended mainly by students and teachers; there is not a large audience, but the quality of the attendees is of a high educational level.
Only four books were sold; but we distributed 1,000 copies of the three-side folder with information on the contents of The Urantia Book. Most students interested in the themes of the book said they intend to search the book on the Internet.
On Monday, June 3 at 5:00 p.m., we gave an informative lecture about The Urantia Book that was attended by about 20 people.
A copy of The Urantia Book was delivered to the College of Philosophy and Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE).
Finally, considering that the purpose of this fair is not to sell books but rather to make the book known to other people, we believe that we accomplished our goal.
Gerardo Leche, Guatemala
In the month of July 2019, from July 11 to July 21, The International Book Fair was held in Guatemala City. The headquarters was Foro Majadas in Zone 11 of the capital.
For Urantia Guatemala, it was the opportunity to continue presenting The Urantia Book, making it known to different population segments and sharing its content through conversations—to illustrate the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.
Our booth was Stand 101, in which during two weekends, our volunteers interacted with the general public, trying to establish contacts, especially with young people. We consider their curiosity and open minds to be fertile soil to present the concepts of the Truth of the Cosmos, the Beauty of the Universe, and the Goodness of our Beloved Father. During our days of service, we tried to make contact with children and young students who visited the fair.
The majority of the population came to the fair in search of novels and scientific literature. It is strange for some to find The Urantia Book and its spiritual contents at this event. The rejection was obvious in some people, because it disrupts their religious beliefs. However, the young people, especially those who have entered the universities, are seeking knowledge and desire to know new concepts of truth. Our talks with them aroused their interest in the book. They took advantage of these opportunities to offer their contact details for the mailing list and showed interest in participating as new readers and in study groups.
Our booth featured twelve books, of which two were sold and two were donated. In 2020 we will focus our strategy on presentations with young people for young people, with the purpose of penetrating this segment.
I publicly appreciate the participation in the presentation of The Urantia Book of brothers Francisco Vela, César Gonzalez, Ivon de Gonzalez, Sergio López, and Gerardo Leche. Our Universal Father thanks you and embraces with mercy. Peace.
Cecilia Barreto, Peru
Why did Urantia Peru choose to participate in the ANTFIL 2019? When traditional systems continue to maintain obsolete formats that do not consider the changes that are rapidly being made in humanity, new avant-garde movements led by young people emerge. ANTIFIL (an alternative fair) has arisen in response to the traditional International Book Fair in Lima, Peru, and is entirely organized by young people.
A strong driver for the traditional book fairs is profit. Why is there an entrance fee, when the exhibitors and big publishers already pay an exorbitant amount for showing their products? And everything has a price tag: the stands, the arts, the culture, the exhibitions… that is to say the market of consumption is in the foreground.
In contrast, ANTIFIL has free admission and offers all kinds of cultural genres, whether Literary, Performing Arts, Graphics or Music, all with a criterion of non-discrimination and social, economic and religious inclusion. As exhibitors, we “give value” to the fair with our presence.
We must emphasize that ANTIFIL attracts more and more people every year. It started with 12,000 visitors; two years later there were more than 65,000 visitors and seventy per cent of them are young people! This type of event attracts non-traditional thinkers, change seekers and those with existential questions.
This is the second year that Urantia Peru was present in ANTIFIL, exhibiting, talking, and motivating the attendees to read The Urantia Book. The results? Interesting experiences with young people and adults looking for answers, establishing bonds of respect, consideration, and service.
During the fair, many visitors approached us starting their adventure with the first question, and then continued asking questions such as: “What does Urantia mean?” “Is this a religion?”
And we smilingly respond: “We live on Urantia. And we are not a religion!”
We like to share with everyone, religious or not—scientists, philosophers, questioners—we just look to evolve and live the teachings and it is always a lovely journey of internal exploration. The Urantia Book teachings guide you; they give you the guidelines to do it in your own rhythm of experience and comprehension, according to your free will, and always accompanied—we are never alone.
There should be more ANTIFIL fairs, where the search for knowledge allows us to discern and explore our reality, our neighbors, and the Universal Father.
Vice-President, Urantia Peru
Susan Hemmingsen, New Zealand
(Editor’s note: This was written in response to a new study group attendee who wanted a group in New Zealand to study other spiritual works in addition to The Urantia Book.)
I have canvassed opinions of other members of our group, including those who didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting. The overwhelming response expressed, was that the purpose of our online meeting is simply to study The Urantia Book. That is our purpose and our “raison d’etre.” For us, that means we take turns to choose papers then read and discuss what we read. During the discussion, we all have an opportunity to share how particular passages impact our lives, discuss our interpretation of a passage, and make references to other parts of the book that add depth to our understanding.
Personally speaking, I have found over the years, that no matter how many times I read the book, I always find things I didn’t understand before—things I’ve missed, or things that need reinforcing—so for me, reading is a continuous mission and a pleasurable adventure. I feel that feeding my intellect enhances my spiritual quest as well as my understanding of the ways of the world and its people.
Every day I receive “Thoughts to Ponder” from Urantia Foundation, and this one on Wednesday seemed relevant regarding why we study The Urantia Book at our online and face-to-face meetings:
Things are time conditioned, but truth is timeless. The more truth you know, the more truth you are, the more of the past you can understand and of the future you can comprehend. [Paper 118:3.2, page 1297.3]
I believe that my own personal spiritual growth is dependent on the choices I make, every minute of every day. I feel that every interaction with another human being, be it family, friend, or stranger, gives me an opportunity to do the will of God if I make myself open to the promptings of my Thought Adjuster. I can ignore a request for help or react in a less than positive way to someone, or I can listen to my inner voice that confirms my thought to help, listen or react positively. When I am choosing to do the right thing, I know I am serving God, and little by little will grow spiritually. I’d be stating the obvious when I say I have a long, long way to go…
Kathleen Swadling, Australia
Mark Bloomfield, just 54 years of age, died recently from injuries after a tragic incident in Swansea, Wales. The matter is under investigation with the police and a man has been charged. This horrific event made the British news because of Mark’s links with Mother Teresa. The BBC News reported:
A charity worker who worked with Mother Teresa in India has died after an alleged attack in Swansea. Mark Bloomfield, 54, died on Saturday after he was found injured in High Street in the city centre last Thursday… The family of Mr Bloomfield, originally from Stratford Upon Avon, paid tribute to his charity work across the world saying he “had built a legacy”. They said that as a special assistant to Mother Teresa in Calcutta, he was an essential contributor to her mission.
Mark was a Field Representative of Urantia Foundation in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. He was highly skilled in placing Urantia Books in public libraries, seminaries, universities and other centers of learning. He was renowned in The Urantia Book reader community for his extraordinary and tireless service to the revelation by personally hand-seeding around 9,000 Urantia Books throughout the world. He was particularly inspired to seed the revelation in developing countries where he’d lived and worked for many years as a humanitarian missionary. Having experienced firsthand the heart-wrenching and atrocious plight of women and children, he decided to devote his life to treating the cause of the world’s problems rather than the symptoms, by getting The Urantia Book into the hands of educated people in places where innocent millions were caught up in the cycle of ignorance and poverty.
During much of that time I served as Urantia Foundation’s Representative Manager where I had the pleasure of assisting with the coordination of Mark’s many seeding projects while he was out and about in the field. I, along with several others attended three book fairs in India with Mark while he was living there. He took care of all the arrangements for the booth including the importing and delivery of the books. He also acted as a chaperone and educator of Indian culture for we western visitors who were not familiar with the complexities of life in India. Mark’s ability to engage with interested people who visited our booth was impressive to say the least. He was eloquent, gracious and able to adapt The Urantia Book teachings to literally hundreds of people hailing from the many different faiths practiced in India.
In 2000 Mark accompanied me to Seoul in South Korea where he and David Kim (who is now President of the Korean Urantia Association) unloaded a delivery of 5,000 Korean translations from the back of a truck and carried them up two flights of stairs where they were to be stored in David’s warehouse. After that he traveled through South Korea and placed around 600 copies of the new translation in various types of libraries.
Mark left a significant trail of revelation behind in India, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States. The stories he wrote in his regular reports of his journey as he traveled from city to city and country-to-country placing books make for fascinating reading. You can view summaries of some of his stories on Urantia Foundation’s website at: https://www.urantia.org/search/node/mark%20bloomfield
Mark has been called the “Johnny Appleseed” and the “Indiana Jones” of the Urantia movement, but he liked to call himself the “chore boy” saying his favorite historical role model was the young lad John Mark who spent a whole day in the hills alone with the Master. Mark said at the end of one of his reports:
…And all this goes a long way to explain why this particular fieldworker has been doing what he’s been doing these years, for the chore boy of Jesus’ day [John Mark] has long been the nearest he has ever had to a role model.
Here’s what Mark had to say about his adventure in Myanmar (Burma):
Now there aren’t many libraries in Burma. With the 30 books I had with me, I was able to cover all the important bases. Foreigners are prohibited from entering university campuses so needless to say, all the universities I visited ended up as a story in itself. At Rangoon University, I finally managed to befriend the guards who eventually escorted me to the librarian. He happily accepted the book, then showed me next door to the Universities Central Library, the headquarters of the entire Burmese university library system where I had a wonderful long talk with the lady librarian, who was a devout Buddhist. We had much in common, especially the notion of universal brotherhood. At Dagon University on the edge of Rangoon, I waited at the main gate for over an hour whilst a steady stream of guards shuttled between me and the librarian relaying message after message. Eventually she came out herself to receive the books, which she did cheerfully and good-naturedly. In another university, I walked straight in and just as I found the library, (which in this case was too small and specialized for the book) I was suddenly surrounded by 5 men who politely though purposefully marched me off the premises…
2006 In Australia
Some of us will remember Mark from the 2006 Urantia Association International Conference held at the Women’s College in Sydney. Our theme was titled “Rewards of Isolation—Small Teams in Deep Waters.” Mark gave a passionate and inspiring presentation about the nature and mission of the Urantia Revelation. One aspect of his talk made a big impression on me; he disputed the “small teams in deep waters” part of our theme title by thoroughly reversing the meaning by saying that with all the power of the universe behind us how can we call ourselves “small?” Rather he’d prefer to think of us as “large teams in little puddles!” By emphasizing the magnitude of the mission of the fifth epochal revelation with the masses of unseen celestial friends on our side working for our success, coupled with the power of our Faith in the Father, we should have more confidence and courage—and dare to go forth …in the sole company of TRUTH. [103:9.7, 1141.5]
The FreeSchools Chapter
Mark’s other “claim-to-fame” among many Urantia Book students was his pioneering work with the development of what is now known as “FreeSchools World Literacy.” Many readers who were associated with Mark came to know about his FreeSchools work in India and were inspired to support and become involved. Here’s a bit of history of the schools’ development in the early years (taken from the FreeSchools website at https://freeschools.org):
1997: In Motihari, Bihar, India, one of the poorest, most populated and backward parts of India, Sr. Mary Crescence, a Catholic nun of the order of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, needed help to fund her dream of a free evening school, using borrowed space after hours, to educate those children too poor to access formal education. Following a chance meeting in Calcutta, Englishman Mark Bloomfield, a volunteer with Mother Teresa, provided Sr. Crescence funds to start the first school. For three years, both financial and moral support came from Mark. In 2000, Australian Dr. Robert Coenraads also became involved after visiting the school with Mark. Their joint help ensured the development of two schools and a very successful model. “School-on-a-shoestring” provided basic literacy skills to impoverished but bright and enthusiastic village children. Thanks to an introduction by Mark’s Australian friend Kathleen Swadling to Canadian Sue Tennant, Mark brought the challenge to Canada to replicate the model in both Bihar and among Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand.
Visit the FreeSchools website to read the timeline up to the present day on the incredible development of this charity which is now thriving with many schools based on the original model.
Ben Bowler, who took over Marks’ FreeSchools work in Thailand wrote:
I am shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Mark Bloomfield. It was Mark’s passionate speech in Sydney at the 2006 Urantia Association conference that sent Jildou and I to Thailand to work on FreeSchools, which forever changed our trajectory in life. The month I had “training” in Fang, Thailand with Mark was some of the most amazing days I’ve had on this planet. He was a friend and a guide and was also profoundly inspiring and has changed my life as he has changed so many through his various service initiatives all over the world.
Our thoughts are with his family, Mark you old “so & so” I shall see you on the Mansion Worlds where no doubt there is much rabble to be roused. You are one-of-a-kind and I love you and miss you. Thank you for everything you have done for our planet and we shall do our utmost to continue your legacy of fulfilling the Fathers will. One of Mark’s great lines of wisdom: “Show me what you value, and I’ll tell you what you’re worth.” Peaceful travels Mark my brother.
Our heart-felt sympathy and prayers go to Mark’s family and to all those who knew him well and called him “friend” and “brother.” May his resurrection on the Mansion Worlds be joyous and compensate for the tragic manner of his premature departure from this world.
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.
Members of the International Service Board (ISB) are elected by a vote of the Representative Council (RC). The officers and committees of the ISB and the Executive Administrator plan, coordinate, and carry out the activities of Urantia Association that are international in scope and have been authorized by the Representative Council. They also serve as an information resource for the constituent associations by compiling and sharing information and experiences of other associations. Read on for the list and functions of the current ISB personnel.
International Service Board Personnel
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The number of National and Local Associations scattered throughout the world is steadily growing and collectively they undertake service activities that have the ability to inspire and motivate others; activities such as study conferences, regional gatherings, study groups, dissemination programs, educational programs, outreach projects, and the development of study aids and newsletters. These associations are the lifeblood of Urantia Association International—they function at the grass roots level where effective service and dissemination of the revelation takes place.
Share Your Stories
There are thousands of readers with unique personal stories about how they found The Urantia Book and how it has changed their lives. There are hundreds of study groups all over the world that can share stories and encourage readers to either create a study group of their own or participate in one. These stories need to be told and Tidings provides an effective platform for the sharing of such activities.
If you would like to share your stories please submit your material to the Chief Editor. Topics may include:
- How you found The Urantia Book
- Special projects such as Book Fairs, Library Placement, Outreach
- New or established study groups—how you got started—what keeps you going?
- Your annual meetings, picnics, or other social gatherings
- Send pictures
- Chief Editor: Kathleen Swadling
- Co-editors: Mark Blackham, James Woodward
- Online English Newsletter: Mark Blackham
- Spanish translator an online Spanish Newsletter: Olga Lopez
- French translator: Line St-Pierre
- French online newsletter: Alain Cyr
Submit articles to the Chief Editor and please understand that they may be subject to revision. Please limit them to approximately 1 to 1½ pages (700 to 1400 words) plus one or two photos.
For variety, we have a different image on the cover for every issue. Artists, photographers and illustrators are encouraged to submit images for possible use on the cover or direct us to a web page of your artwork.
Tidings occasionally provides news of other Urantia-related activities and events that may be of interest to our supporters and friends. Please note that any interpretations, opinions, conclusions, or artistic representations, whether stated or implied, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Urantia Association International, the National or Local Urantia Associations, or the editorial team of the Association’s Tidings.