Retrospective on the 2024 International Conference

Come with me, I’ll take you to Urantia Association’s 12th International Conference 2024 Nature and Nurture of the Soul held from Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31, 2024, at the Maritime Conference Center in Baltimore City, USA.

A superb, comfortably appointed center, with indoor pool, 232 rooms, 55 meeting rooms and an auditorium that can accommodate over 350 people.

The name Maritime, referring to all that is nautical, has inspired more than one reader on the following quote from The Urantia Book:

The mind is your ship, the Adjuster is your pilot, the human will is the captain. The master of the mortal vessel should have the wisdom to trust the divine pilot to lead the ascending soul into the morontia havens of eternal survival. 111:1.9 (1217.4)

The two days were occupied by a very well-orchestrated program. I liked the format adopted. In the auditorium, there were four presentations a day lasting a maximum of 20 minutes, so there was no time to fall asleep. Although there were some technical glitches, a link was provided for simultaneous translation into French, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

At the end of the presentations, people headed off to discuss them in small groups (maximum of 15 people) in a room they had been designated when they registered. The exchanges and sharing, led by a facilitator, lasted around 40 minutes.

This was the second international conference I’d attended, the first having taken place in 2015 in Sherbrooke, Quebec Canada.

There were over 180 participants from 29 countries, and as it was spring break, there were 15 children/adolescents who benefited from a lovely vacation organized by readers.

I had the great privilege of being able to travel and attend this magnificent conference, thanks to my two generous benefactors, Joyce and David Anderson, who covered all my expenses. They also offered a very interesting presentation on The Destination of the Soul.

What I experienced there is hard to describe if you’ve never had the privilege of being surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, good people, with whom every conversation was simply enriching and meaningful.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try and inspire you to attend this kind of event by sharing with you the memories embedded in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul.

Having arrived a day early, I offered to help where I could. What a joy it was to work as a team with all those wonderful people who had the firm intention and a common goal: to make the conference a real success and meaningful to all participants.

My most touching moments came on Thursday, the day before the conference, when I was working at the reception desk and taking care of registrations.

When people arrived and recognized me, unaware that I’d be there, they literally threw themselves at me to give me a hug. It must be said that through my active participation in the Association, study groups, and Urantia University Institute, I have developed a whole string of virtual friendships, each as precious as the next.

It was then that I realized how much I was loved by so many people. Just thinking about it now fills my eyes with tears of gratitude.

Another memory, which I’ll call a divine synchronicity, occurred in this way:

Each time we returned to the auditorium, a reader from a different country would come to say a prayer in his or her native language. So, on the first day, Friday March 29, before the first presentation, Mamadou Doudou Diagne, my Progressive Divine Wisdom educator, was called upon to pray in his Senegalese language, Wolof.

That morning, having consulted my diary, I noted that 6 years earlier, on March 29, 2019, Moussa N’diaye had passed away.

The coincidence comes from the fact that Doudou was Moussa’s first student and spent over 50 years with him. Now Doudou continues to teach Moussa’s work on Sagesse Divine Progressive, for me and for many students around the world. Doudou was accompanied by another educator and student of Moussa’s: Amsata. I was very moved to meet them both in person.

I was delighted to see my Canadian friends Line St-Pierre, Gaetan Charland and Robert Cadieux again, who were driven by Alain Cyr, a journey lasting approximately 12 hours by car.

Throughout the conference, images of our magnificent planet Urantia scrolled across the auditorium’s giant screen, along with a few videos by talented readers. Here’s one of my favorites, created by Dipti Bhakti, a young reader who impressed me greatly, who presented it at the conference entitled The Light of the Universe.

The buffet meals were succulent and varied to suit all tastes. Our evenings were pleasantly enriched by two talented artists of international renown: Rebecca Oswald, who rapidly become my new friend and spiritual sister, and Bob Solone, who played a special request by Robert Cadieux, Smile, a song I knew but not the author: Charlie Chaplin!

All these outpourings of love, these communions of souls, brought out of the virtual to express themselves in my reality, will remain anchored in my heart for the rest of my life.

Cut off from the outside world, we lived inside an enormous globe of Divine Love. I liked to make people aware of the fact that we were probably living a foretaste of life on the mansion worlds.

Back home, I can’t help but feel grateful for the beautiful new flowers in my friendship garden and for my spiritual family, which has been renewed and expanded.

I came back with my heart at peace and my soul refreshed and anchored in the love experienced in sisterhood and brotherhood at Urantia Association’s 2024 International Conference.

Bravo to all the organizers and volunteers—it was a great success. I hope I’ve inspired you to attend the next international conference.

With all God and my love,
Francine Fortin