A Decimal Seminar

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Janelle Mazza
Janelle Mazza
Sherry Layton
Sherry Layton
Cristina Seaborn
Cristina Seaborn
Barbara Newsom
Barbara Newsom
Marvin Gawryn
Marvin Gawryn

By Jeff Wattles, Stowe, Ohio, United States

Editor’s note: “Urantia is a decimal planet, a life-experiment world.”

The decimal seminar, conducted by Jeff Wattles, was an experiment. It tested whether a method of experiential education, which had shown dramatic results in the classroom, could be adapted to a four-day gathering. The result was a resounding yes.

Twelve students of The Urantia Book gathered at Urantia Foundation on May 30-June 2, 2013, after having been invited to prepare for the seminar by doing an experiential project. This seminar focused on spiritual truths of cosmic power. Participants were invited (1) to identify a personal growth need, (2) to select a relevant quotation of spiritual truth from The Urantia Book, (3) to apply that teaching in their lives for several weeks, and (4) to give a presentation of the fruits of their labors at the seminar.

Participants were David Fabe, Marvin Garwyn, Sherry Layton, Janelle Mazza, Bill Martin, Bill Page, Barbara Newsom, Margie Ray, Cristina Seaborn, Eija Seppänen-Bolotinski, Evette Twyford, and Jeff Wattles. They responded to the project assignment in a variety of ways. Eight presentations were given, and the effect was truly inspiring. We heard stories of personal transformation in connection with projects that had been going on for years, stories of struggle and work in progress, and stories of the power of truth and love in challenging situations.

The presentations were interwoven with brief studies of five projects highlighted in The Urantia Book:

  1. becoming like God,
  2. constructing a new philosophy of living in truth, beauty, and goodness,
  3. proclaiming Jesus’ gospel,
  4. uniting the families of the professed followers of Jesus, and
  5. revealing advanced truth.

One of Jeff’s dreams for the seminar was to launch teamwork on these projects, and such teamwork was a natural fit for some of the group.

Janelle Mazza led off with a presentation on the Fatherhood of God. Her experience of growing up without the presence of her earthly father left her with negative attitudes. But when she started her spiritual quest, she met many men who were living spiritual values. Today, as a new reader of The Urantia Book, with a charming, sensitive, and gentle manner, with eloquence buttressed by her intelligence, and with a gift for leadership, she expressed unforgettably her wholehearted commitment to the Father’s will.

The other young adult, David Fabe, studied in the Great Books program at St. John’s College and just graduated from the renowned New School in Manhattan with concentrations in writing and philosophy. David gave a presentation on his experience of having dedicated his life to “the great hope of Urantia,” which “lies in the possibility of a new revelation of Jesus with a new and enlarged presentation of his saving message which would spiritually unite in loving service the numerous families of his present-day professed followers.” (2086.2) 195:10.16 David’s experience has taught him to begin his interactions with people without introducing The Urantia Book. “The world needs to see Jesus living again on earth in the experience of spirit-born mortals who effectively reveal the Master to all men.” (2084.1) 195:10.1 David, Jeff, and Barbara Newsom began their “teamwork” on that great hope.

Barbara’s project and presentation focused on love. She discussed her ministry activities in the Episcopal Church, including a time at a hospital when she led her fellow church members in prayer for a church member who was at the point of death. The patient had been prescribed an overdose of pain medication, which critically depressed respiration. As the group prayed, everyone felt the presence of God. The priest had been delayed, but by the time he arrived, the patient had almost completely recovered.

Bill Page’s project focused on the concept of the friendly universe, using this saying of Jesus: “I am absolutely assured that the entire universe is friendly to me—this all-powerful truth I insist on believing with a wholehearted trust in spite of all appearances to the contrary.” (1469.3) 133:1.4 Last year Bill lost his wife to cancer. With two days to live, she asked, “Why me? I never did anything bad to anybody.” Bill has been developing an ever-fuller answer to that question ever since. Bill is addressing his own difficulty in loving people who behave badly, realizing that we can help make the planet friendlier.

Then Margie Ray told the group about the awesome transformation in her life that happened when she took up the habit of starting every day with this prayer: “Father, I love you. It is my will to do your will. Show me the way. Please make me a good servant of your will today.” In the past four years, she has been frequently experiencing spiritually effective interactions with people she meets. Even though she is involved in many complex projects, she never experiences life as hectic; time always makes gracious room for what needs to be done. Margie will retire from her career as a university scientist after this year, and then she will pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy. She and Jeff began “teamwork” on constructing the new philosophy of living in truth, beauty, and goodness.

Eija Seppänen-Bolotinski, who has been the co-leader of Jeff’s internet Gospel School since its beginning, gave a presentation on the spiritual meaning of work. She is a psychiatrist and works in a setting where she is prohibited from sharing her religious beliefs. Even so, she told us that she experiences the beauty of silently expressing spirituality in working with clients. 

Sherry Layton’s presentation on love in personal ministry won the prize for effective communication. She used slides and vignettes that touched us profoundly. She began “teamwork” with Jeff on the project of becoming Godlike.

There is much more to tell, but this is enough to give evidence that the decimal seminar was another one of those gatherings in which human efforts are complemented by superhuman ministry.

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