Five Days at 533 W Diversey Parkway
By Angela Thurston, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Chicago, Illinois, was the birthplace of the fifth epochal revelation in the 1930s. At 533 W Diversey Parkway―what is now Urantia Foundation―the members of the Forum asked questions for almost two decades―questions that were answered and compiled into what we now know as The Urantia Book.
For five full days in late July, the Urantia Book Fellowship's Youth and Young Adult Committee hosted a conference at this historic site. More than 35 young adults, aged 14 to 35, attended this conference, prior to the Summer Study Session held at Techny Towers. It was the highest attendance for an event so far in the YaYA Committee's short history. This large turnout is an exciting sign of the younger generation’s galvanizing to build a strong and supportive community.
We spent the week engaged in a variety of activities, including workshops, discussion groups, daily worship, community meals, service projects at the Foundation and a local homeless mission, documentation for an introduction to The Urantia Book video project, an in-depth spiritual survey, a study group with local readers, a Urantia Book history lesson and tour of Urantia Foundation, exploration of Chicago, and socializing in the historic, recently renovated 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. We were treated to a potluck and social with Urantia Book readers whose families have been studying the book for four generations!
The most valuable outcome of our experience in Chicago, as with all YaYA events so far, was the face time we shared, which allowed us to form and develop relationships that will help build our individual and collective visions for the future. In this regard, the group felt keenly aware of a need that has yet to be fulfilled. 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 about building a community center or centers, places where Urantia Book readers and non-readers alike could take classes, hold study groups, receive leadership and ministry training, have worship services, participate in meanings and values programs based on The Urantia Book, find resources for families, and get support for healthy living across generations. Many younger 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, so mark your calendars for the next one in Santa Cruz, California, November 2-4. We also know that 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 Jay Peregrine, Joanne Strobel, Tamara Strumfeld, and Mike Wood for graciously hosting us at 533 W Diversey Parkway. 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 for sharing Chicago's historic role in the Urantia 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.
Youth and Young Adult (YaYA) at 533 W Diversey Parkway
YaYA at a luncheon for Chicago readers held at Marilynn and David Kulieke's house
Audio Urantia Book
Board Meeting Decisions
Urantia Foundation History