I would like to report on my experience of the 2016 US National Conference (UAUS) and Summer Study Session (Urantia Book Fellowship) that took place at the Trinity University in San Antonio.
I arrived right on time at the Trinity University Campus after an 18-hour trip with three flights from Cologne to Berlin, Berlin to Chicago and Chicago to San Antonio. The Tex-Mex welcoming was just about to start and there was no time to rest as I wished to hug the few people I knew and meet all these new ones directly. After having nice introduction conversations, many of us went up to the Skyline Room, where we all met every evening. Having a wonderful view of the Skyline of San Antonio, this was my first moment thinking, “Yes, now the German guy is in Texas! Feels nice!” And, as I remembered it from other conferences, I just needed to forget for a while where I came from so I could get used to how open and lovely all these brothers and sisters are, and how quickly we get into that feeling of brotherhood.
After the first plenary presentation on Friday with Carolyn Prentice about “The Master Teacher: Exploring how Jesus taught,” I attended James Woodward’s workshop on “Worship: What’s Rest Got To Do With It?” James gave us a good summary on what The Urantia Book teaches about how to worship the Father truly and effectively in our everyday life. After that we, some of the young adults from the YAYA (Youth and Young Adults) and the UYAI (Urantia Young Adults International) groups, along with Jeffrey Wattles, conducted a workshop together with 30-40 people attending. Our workshop was about “Young Adult Students on the Master’s Teachings.” In that workshop we had three groups with three different topical questions. We repeated this workshop on Saturday. In our group we discussed the opportunities of holding an online study group, and shared our experiences with the other participants. Everyone was very excited about how well we young adult readers interact and what our plans are, as the YAYA and the UYAI Committees will work together in future. I would like to thank everyone who took this chance to encourage us younger readers in our activities and offered support for our future plans. The last workshop I attended on Friday was Derek Samaras’ about “The Attractive Personality of Jesus.” In two hours he presented how important it can be for us to be mindful about our own attractiveness in order to spread the gospel.
I really enjoyed the many plenary presentations that complimented the workshops in the program. The ones I enjoyed most were David Kulieke’s “Jesus, The Master Learner and Teacher” on Sunday and Jeffrey Wattles’ “What We Can Learn from Jesus if We Aspire to Become Teachers in his Gospel Movement? The Unity of Jesus’ Person, Message and Methods” on Saturday. On Sunday we had a joint meeting of the YAYA and UYAI committees where we young adults collected our ideas and discussed our plans for the future. We are of one accord in that our two committees belong together in some way and that it is our task to grow and cooperate. During that meeting I became emotional when I noticed how much I love and how much I will miss them all when I am back in Germany. This is my international spiritual family.
We finished every evening in the Skyline room with music and socializing. On Saturday evening we enjoyed a great concert given by Bob Solone on piano and Christina Seaborn on violin. It was a great atmosphere in which to catch up with everyone and those with smiling faces who say to you, “Hey, we haven’t been introduced yet?” I call it hardcore socializing when I notice that I had time to converse with nearly everyone present. I loved all those beautiful people and it seemed as if many of them had a special interest in my person, because I was the only guy from Germany there. I did not know that the Americans have so much love for us Germans. That was a precious experience for me. I learned that I really love the Americans too. I like the natural spirituality that connects everyone with another. And the most special thing I noticed is what I would call the ability to be so unconditionally enthusiastic and open-hearted. I often thought of keeping that in mind and taking a bit of this mentality back to my hometown. The time that I shared with the other young readers was especially delightful. We understood each other so well and one could feel the “love in the air” as if we had known each other for years. It is so wonderful how fast we all became brothers and sisters. We had so much fun, that some of us had pain in their cheeks from laughing and smiling. At the end of the conference I felt richer for having a hundred new friends and many more brothers and sisters. For me, to meet all those lovely people, was the most special thing about this trip to Texas, because here in Germany it is very hard to get in touch and get to know and love other readers. I consider that as a fact that needs working on because the revelation is still in the “kindergarten” here. There is much to do in Germany…
I was very lucky that I had the opportunity to stay a few days longer in Texas after the conference, which made my trip feel like a holiday. I remember last year, when I attended the Association’s international conference in Quebec, Canada, I was very sad catch my shuttle as soon as the conference ended; I didn’t even have the time to say goodbye to everyone. But this time I had the pleasure of spending one evening and two more days with others to explore the cities of San Antonio and Austin and have fun together. I will keep this experience in my mind as one of the greatest weekends of my life. To point out that I do not exaggerate with that statement, I have to mention that I have not done very much traveling in my life as yet so have not seen very much of the world, therefore Texas and the USA in general was a very special experience for me. But no experience is greater than to share unconditional love. I love you all! Thank you so much!
Special thanks go to the Lone Star Urantia Association of San Antonio, the Northern Lights Society of Alaska, and Urantia Association for their efforts to make my attendance possible. Without their help I would not have been there. I am looking forward to the next opportunity to meet you all again.
Love to you!
Alexander H, Cologne,
Board Member and Ambassador of Urantia-DACH
Urantia Young Adult International committee member