The Outreach Committee was busy working, as well as learning in 2015. Our great challenge is how to get the word out to as many people as possible with the funds and volunteers we have available to us. Our most common method of reaching people has been to book a booth at an expo and spend a weekend talking to passers-by about the Urantia Book, selling as many copies as we can.
I have noticed a trend toward there being too many expos causing the market to be saturated and lower event attendance. When our expo costs range from $500 to $1,000 and we sell 30 or more books, we see that as a fair return, though expensive per book distributed. In 2015 we attended events that had book sales ranging from 12 to 70 though the average has been dropping a little each year. I feel it is important to find ways to avoid paying the high booth fees and also reduce high travel costs, which eat up nearly half of our yearly budget. In 2016 we are shifting toward doing more street ministry, local events and outreach to Theological students. We are coordinating traveling “Spirit Tours” with the UCPNW, a group of readers living in the Pacific Northwest. The Spirit Tours will bring the UB to selected communities while engaging local readers’ help with our tour activities.
We are beginning to work with seminaries to distribute books to students. We have made positive connections with several seminaries that have agreed to make Urantia books available to their ministerial students. Theological schools send reps to events like the UUA Conference and Wild Goose Festival where many ministerial prospects attend.
We were busy in 2015 attending expos in Denver, Omaha, Spokane, Coeur d’ Alene, Columbus, Vancouver, Portland, San Mateo, Minneapolis and Atlanta. We attended UFO events in Phoenix and Laughlin NV and we attended the Unitarian Universalists Assembly in Portland and The Green Festival Expo in Portland. Our regular outreach in Portland has paid off as they have added study groups to handle the new readers. We see the value in returning to the same event if there is interest. Good relations are created over time with regular attendees as well as with our booth volunteers. Many hundreds of books went out and thousands of spirit centered conversations happened that changed countless lives thanks to these dedicated people.
Lynn Goodwin and I attend the bulk of the outreach events, setting up tables, hanging banners and manning booths for long hours that are worth the effort in the end. Dave Tucker, our newest committee member, has been perfecting his Good Cheer Dave YouTube videos that you can find on Facebook. He has a growing following of people who are enjoying his messages.
Donna Hanna has been continuing to do campus outreach at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Donna says: “We set up on a picnic table in the “free speech zone” near the library. Introducing the Urantia Book is a labor of love but do not expect that the love is always reciprocated. To most students you are invisible. Occasionally a sincere truth seeker will present challenging questions about God, faith, and religion while most students hustle along without a look. If someone expresses interest in reading the Urantia Book it often leads to a mutually uplifting conversation. And if they sign up for the mailing list, then we give them a copy.”
“Sometimes folks from other tables will come by to examine this big blue book. The Christian table is an example of kindred spirits coming together. The host is a young evangelical who gives out pamphlets and a nice Jesus bracelet. We got off to a good start with a friendly talk about Jesus and things we have in common. We parted with me wearing the bracelet and him reading selected excerpts and wanting to know more. The effort is a form of seed sowing. The rewards are spiritual and soul expanding. And at the end of the day, we realize every time we go out some good comes from it.”
Andrea Barnes is a person of many talents who busies herself with managing Urantia Facebook pages and many other outreach activities including working with the Education Committee to host events. Paula Thompson does great outreach work through internet radio and holds down the fort at the Fellowship office with Jo Ann Weidman.
This year Paula, Pamela Chaddock and I will be attending the Wild Goose Festival. We’ll have a table set up in the Justice tent. We are hoping to have a speaking spot this year and we’re looking forward to this event that is very popular with the Emergent Christians. This spring we are booked at the UFOCON in Phoenix, and expos in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Portland, We have many many more events lined up as the year progresses. Feel free to contact us if you have an idea for outreach in your area and we will help in any way we can.
One of many memorable moments was at the Green Festival Expo. It was the first year and the attendance was not so great but I was impressed by the high quality of the booths. On the first morning a girl eight years old came by and after looking over the UB started asking questions. After a bit she said she would like to read the book and asked how to get a copy. After an interaction with her mother, who also had a booth at the event, she walked away with her own book. She came by a couple hours later to inform me she had decided on a plan of how she would read the book. Later she came by the booth to show her friend the book and other literature. They both thumbed through the book and talked about it. The last time she came by she said she had been reading the Ghost Cults paper and found it very interesting. I was left wondering what this young lady’s life will be like if she keeps reading the book. Not too many of us can say we read the UB when we were 8.
Outreach Chair 2016
“As the days pass, every true believer becomes more skillful in alluring his fellows into the
love of eternal truth. Are you more resourceful in revealing goodness to humanity today than
you were yesterday? Are you a better righteousness recommender this year than you were
The Teachings of Jesus, 156:5.15 (1740.2)
2 thoughts on “Outreach Committee Report 2016”
Thomas, thank you for this update on the activities of the Outreach Committee. It presents me with some food for thought on how to set about evangelising the area I live in. In my part of the world it’s just not enough just to place a book. As I am slowly but surely finalising the Afrikaans translation, in the interim I find it constructive to present an interested person with a copy of a specific paper and then to take it from there.
Once again, thanks for the update 🙂
I am curious where you live and what the Afrikaans translation is about. Are you in South Africa?
It is true that placing a book does not work in all places. Many just want some of the basic concepts of goodness and faith in an eternal future. My work has targeted those who have the education and ability to read the UB, but very interested in efforts to grow a universal UB based religion that has mass appeal.
All the best in your work,