Chicago, Illinois was the birthplace of the Fifth Epochal Revelation in the 1930’s. At 533 Diversey Parkway–what is now Urantia Foundation–the original Forum members asked questions over a period of years that were answered in what we now know as The Urantia Book.
For five full days in late July, 2012, the Fellowship’s Youth and Young Adult Committee hosted a conference at this historic site. More than 35 young adults ages 14-35 attended throughout the week, building to the Summer Study Session held at Techny Towers directly thereafter. It was the highest attendance for an event so far in the YaYA Committee’s short history, which was an exciting sign of our generation galvanizing as we work to build a strong and supportive spiritual community.
The week was spent engaged in a variety of activities that included: workshops, discussion groups, daily worship, community meals, service projects at the Foundation and a local homeless mission, documentation for a UB introduction video project, an in-depth spiritual survey, a study group with local readers, a Urantia Book history lesson and tour of the Foundation, exploring Chicago, and socializing in the historic, lovingly restored building at 533. We were also privileged to be hosted by First Society at an intergenerational gathering at the home of Marilynn and David Kulieke, where we were treated to a potluck and social with Urantia Book readers whose families had been studying the Book for up to four generations!
The most valuable outcome of our experience in Chicago, as with all YaYA events so far, was the face time we shared, allowing us to form and develop relationships that help build toward our individual and collective visions for the future. In this area, the group felt keenly aware of a need that has yet to be filled. We were all impressed by the extraordinary spiritual ambition of those present, and the remarkable projects that so many are spearheading on their own. But we still feel we are missing a way to stay connected, and to actively support each other in our endeavors. There was a lot of talk of building a community center or centers, places where Urantia Book readers and non-readers alike can go to take classes, hold study groups, receive leadership and ministry training, have worship services, participate in UB-based meanings and values programs, find resources for families, and get support for healthy living across generations. Many younger generation readers are involved in farming, sustainability, and working with the land, which came up repeatedly as a service to provide to the community.
The YaYA Committee is committed to holding regular youth and young adult conferences–mark your calendars for the next one in Santa Cruz, California November 2-4!–but we also know this is not enough. Our generation craves places to gather and call home, and communities of Urantia Book readers to support us in living the teachings. We crave teachers and leaders and ways to train them, even as we work toward becoming those teachers and leaders ourselves. We crave living traditions–not the static rituals of evolutionary religion, but rather the regular expressions of dynamic, loving fellowship. We crave the opportunity to share this revelation with our peers and to grapple with our challenges together. This is what we are working to build, and with each conference, we meet more people who are committed to doing that work.
We are deeply grateful to Urantia Foundation–especially Tamara Strumfeld, Mike Wood, Jay Peregrine, and Joanne Strobel–for graciously hosting us at 533 Diversey. We are grateful to Jennifer Siegel for providing delicious meals throughout the conference. We thank Marilynn and David Kulieke, Cece Forrester, John Hales, Carolyn Kendall, and all the members of First Society for organizing an intergenerational gathering and sharing Chicago’s historic role in the revelation. Finally, as always, we are indebted to The Urantia Book Fellowship for sponsoring our Committee’s work.
We recognize there is much to be done, and we are excited to see our efforts bear fruit in the years to come.