A Meredith Sprunger Story

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Saskia Raevouri
Meredith and Irene Sprunger
Meredith and Irene Sprunger

By Saskia Raevouri, Holland

Dr. Meredith Sprunger was the president of Urantia Brotherhood when I got involved with the Urantia movement in 1977. His printed pamphlets describing The Urantia Book were mailed out to new readers by "headquarters"; so to me he was a big name. As I was never able to attend Urantia conferences, I did not become acquainted with Meredith until 2000 when he contacted me with his "How I Found The Urantia Book" story for the revised version of HIFTUB. We exchanged a few emails, but I didn't meet him in person until 2006, when my partner Matthew Block and I visited him and Irene in their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

During that visit Meredith mentioned that he had abridged the entire Urantia Book, and I offered to turn it into a book for him if he sent it to me in Word format. I heard no more about it and assumed we had simply had a polite exchange. Then, sometime late in 2006, I received an email from Meredith with a large Word attachment and the message, "Here it is!"

Upon reading over Meredith's abridgment, Matthew and I found that we needed to collaborate with him, carefully going through the book paper by paper, before committing his work to print. For almost a year we corresponded regularly. Starting with the Foreword, we studied and discussed each paper together, section by section, helping Meredith fine-tune what he had written. On his end Meredith also consulted with a fellow reader/minister named Merlyn Cox; so we became a team of four. In most cases they agreed with our suggestions, but when Meredith insisted on keeping his original statements, we deferred to his judgment, as it was, after all, his book, not ours.

During this time Meredith's wife, Irene, became ill and passed away. So we suspended the work until he was ready to continue. I am certain that having The Abridged Urantia Papers project to work on helped Meredith immensely in coping with the loss of Irene after so many years of partnership. Since our emails also included personal issues from time to time, we got to know Meredith on several levels, but mainly as a man with truly spiritual qualities and a devoted servant of the Urantia Revelation. We felt honored to have the opportunity for such a private, in-depth "study group" with such a long-time student of The Urantia Book.

Because Meredith was already in his early nineties at the time, we felt somewhat rushed to print his book. We printed a quick version for the Fellowship’s international conference in 2008. Since then we have reformatted the book, and it is now available both in the Amazon Kindle store and via Amazon's print-on-demand service.

By now Meredith will have settled in on the mansion worlds, reunited with his loved ones and familiarized himself with his surroundings. We look forward to seeing him again when our time comes.

Below is Meredith’s story of how he found The Urantia Book.

Edith E. Cook, Irene and Meredith Sprunger
Edith E. Cook, Irene and Meredith Sprunger
at the 1960 Urantia picnic

How I Found The Urantia Book (1955)

MY SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE began at the age of four when I recall saying to myself, “There is something about life that I do not understand, but I’m going to find out.” During the years that followed, my life was shaped by a series of peak experiences that led me through academic majors in philosophy and theology preparatory to ordination as a minister in the United Church of Christ.

After years of developing sermons and papers formulating my own spiritual experience that was centered in the religion of Jesus rather than the religion about Jesus, I realized that a new spiritual approach was needed in mainline Christian theology. I tentatively outlined a couple of books which needed to be written, and after some procrastination, I finally committed myself to the discipline of writing these books. Shortly after making this decision, The Urantia Book was placed in my hands.

In December of 1955 my wife Irene and I had stopped in to visit our friends, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Brueseke, in South Bend, Indiana. In addition to his pastoral activities, Ed served as chairman of a theological commission in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (later united with the Congregational Christian denomination to become the United Church of Christ). During the course of the visit Ed picked up a big blue book and handed it to me, saying, “Judge Louis Hammerschmidt (a member of his congregation) gave me this book. Some businessmen think this is a new Bible.”

I looked at the table of contents and read chapter headings like “The Messenger Hosts of Space,” written by One High in Authority, and “The Corps of the Finality,” authored by a Divine Counselor and One Without Name and Number! As I handed the book back to Ed, we had a hearty laugh about businessmen thinking they had a new Bible. I assumed that that would be the last I would see of the book.

At the time I was vice-president of the Indiana-Michigan Conference and Judge Hammerschmidt was the layperson on our conference board. In January I picked up the judge to attend a board meeting in Jackson, Michigan. During the trip Hammerschmidt brought up the topic of spiritualism, which he did not accept, and was a bit surprised that I had made a study of it. After a pause he turned to me and said, “Say, I’ve got a book that I would like to have you read and tell me what you think of it.” I knew he was referring to The Urantia Book, but to avoid hurting his feelings I replied, “Okay, Judge. Send it to me.”

When the book arrived I set it aside, not wanting to waste my time reading what appeared to be either esoteric nonsense or some elaborate system of theosophy. Periodically, I would read a bit in it here and there but I was not impressed. That summer I took it along on vacation but things didn’t get boring enough for me to look at the book. In September I realized that I would be in a meeting with Hammerschmidt in October and I had to read something and tell him what I thought about it.

Looking over the table of contents, I saw it had a section on the life and teachings of Jesus. I thought that with my theological training I could make short work of this section. As I started reading I did not find what I’d expected to find—something likeThe Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi. The story of the early life of Jesus was more believable than the accounts one finds in the apocryphal stories of the boyhood of Jesus. It was something that might reasonably have happened.

As I proceeded to that aspect of the life of Jesus covered by the New Testament I was even more impressed. Some of the traditional theological problems were handled by the events of the story in a way that made more sense than anything I had ever read. I found The Urantia Book’s narrative to be solidly rooted in the New Testament realities. There were times when I read with tears streaming down my face. When I finished reading “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” I was theologically and spiritually inspired. Whoever had produced a life of Jesus of this quality, I thought, must have something significant to say in the rest of the book.

Thus motivated, I started with the Foreword and read the entire book. I discovered that the first three quarters of the book was even more amazing and profound than “The Life and Teachings of Jesus”! The teachings of The Urantia Book resonated and harmonized with my experience and highest thinking. The substance of the two books I had planned to write was expressed far better here than I could have possibly done. If this is not an authentic picture of spiritual reality, I said to myself, it is the way it ought to be! Science, philosophy, and religion were integrated more effectively in The Urantia Book than in any other philosophical or theological system known to me. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the most inspiring and authentic picture of spiritual reality available to humankind.

I gave copies of The Urantia Book to around a dozen of my colleagues and all of them except one—who admitted that he hadn’t read it—confirmed my evaluation of its high quality.

Our clergy group spent several years interviewing the people connected with the publication of the book and researching events associated with its origin. Since then I have devoted myself to sharing The Urantia Book with college students and the clergy of mainline Christianity.

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