I would like to report to you about 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, Texas from the 9th to 12th of June 2016. I must say that this was one of the best weekends of my life and I am thankful for that, no exaggeration. 🙂
I arrived right in time at the Trinity University Campus after an 18 hour trip with three flights from Cologne to Berlin to Chicago to San Antonio. The Tex-Mex welcoming was just about to start and there was no time to rest because I wished to hug the few familiar faces I recognized and meet all the new people straight away. The food was delicious. After having nice introductory conversations with the people outside, many of us went up to the Skyline Room where we all convened every evening. With such 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!” Just as I remember from past conferences, I needed to forget for a while from where I had come from to get used to how open and lovely all the brothers and sisters that I met were and how fast we could get into the 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 about what the Urantia Book teaches us how to truly and effectively worship the Father in our life today. After that we, some young adults from the YaYA (Youth and Young Adults), the UYAI (Urantia Young Adults International) and Jeffrey Wattles made a workshop together with 30-40 people attending. Our workshop was about “Young Adult Students on the Master Teachings”. In that workshop we had three groups with three different topical questions. Angie Thurston and Sean Joe … Mahtab Tehrani, Derek Samaras and Jeffrey Wattles… And Samantha Nior, Antonio Schefer and me … 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 in 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 to us how important it can be for us to be mindful about the our own spiritual attractiveness in order to spread the gospel.
Saturday morning I entered the stage in the plenary hall to hold a short speech about our new formed tri-national association for German speaking Urantia Book readers called Urantia-DACH, and to promote the next big conference of the European Blue Club that is in Budapest Hungary from the 15th to 18th of September this year. Our topic will be “Who is Jesus?” With help of the UAI and the Urantia Foundation we managed to complete a list of great speakers and workshop-hosts who will make this event a must.
I much enjoyed the many plenary presentations that filled up the program next to the workshops. Those 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 YaYAs and the UYAI committee, where we young adults collected our ideas and discussed and suggested our plans for the future. We are in agreement that our two committees belong together in some way and that it is our task to grow and cooperate. During that meeting I once 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 some drinks. On Saturday evening we enjoyed a great concert of Bob Solone at the piano and Christina Seaborn at the violin. It was a great atmosphere to catch up with everyone whose face smiles to you “Hey, did we introduce ourselves yet?” I call it hardcore socializing when I notice that I almost had time to get in touch and converse with everyone. 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 about you is what I would call the ability to be so unconditionally enthusiastic and open-hearted. I often try to keep that in mind and bring a bit of this mentality back to my hometown.
Above and beyond, the time that I shared together with the other young readers was delightful. We understood each other so well and one could feel the “love in the air” as if we were already together for years. It is just wonderful how fast we all become brothers and sisters. We had so much fun that some of us had pain in our cheeks from laughing and smiling. At the end of the conference I had a hundred new friends and was many brothers and sisters richer. 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 fellowship with other readers. I consider that as a fact to work with because the revelation is still in its “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 to make my trip feel like a holiday. I remember last year, when I attended the UAI conference in Quebec, Canada, I was very sad that I had to hurry to my shuttle directly when the conference ended and even did not have the time to say goodbye to everyone. This time I had the pleasure to spend 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 – and I do not exaggerate with that statement. I have to mention that I do not travel here very much, such that 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 goes to Katrina Glavan-Heise from the Lone Star Association of San Antonio, to Margaret Slater Thompson from the Urantia Association International and to Anthony Finstad from the Northern Lights Society of Alaska and Urantia Book Fellowhsip for their efforts to make an attendance possible for me. 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!
Board Member and Ambassador of Urantia-DACH
Member of the Blue Club
Urantia Young Adult International Committee Member