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Preparing For My First International Conference

Geoff Theiss
Geoff Theiss
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Preparing For My First International Conference

By Geoff Theiss, Livermore, California, United States

I know these newsletters go out to thousands of Urantia Book readers around the world―dedicated, casual, or otherwise. I have the utmost of confidence, that regardless of our geographical location and manifold beliefs, each of us strives daily in our own ways to grow Godward. But besides this intuitive feeling of our soul fraternity, there is a part of me that craves to know each of you as individuals before I even get to the purpose of this article. How do I share with complete strangers my utmost and sincerest excitement for a summer conference without knowing who you are?

Then it dawned on me. As I scratched down the first scribble of an outline, I experienced an “A Ha! Moment”: the journey is my destination! The reason why it is so hard to "know" my audience and couch this piece is exactly why I have to write it. We need an opportunity to get to know each other as brothers and sisters: to know each other's sincere motivations, to celebrate our cosmic family, to share our personal experiences with God in a safe and loving environment, to rejoice in worship, and to exchange with one another the wisdom that we have gained from our personal experience with The Urantia Book.It is my great privilege to invite you to the Urantia Book Fellowship's International Conference, July 23-27, in Amherst, MA (IC'14). The conference theme is, “Grow Godward,” and the setting is the historic and pastoral Pioneer Valley. My experience with this part of the country comes from my work with the Fellowship's Youth and Young Adult (YaYA) Committee, which put on a conference for young adults in Massachusetts last spring. Now every member of the YaYA Committee is highly involved in planning IC'14.

This conference will bring exciting new programs and will help us all to get to know about 500 of our siblings of all ages from around the world. The conference will feature a first-ever, Urantia-oriented YouTube film festival, the premiere of the Joshua Ben Joseph Project, and the first live performance of “The Story of Ruth,” a children's musical that explores Jesus' life through the eyes of his beloved little sister. In addition to these creative works, and so many other unmentioned artistic and musical contributions, the conference will feature seven themed tracks comprising over 40 workshops which will allow conference goers to tailor their conference experience to their interests. The tracks include: “Study the Book,” “Serve with Love,” “ Live the Teachings,” “ Seek Truth,” “Bring the Family,” “Grow Personally,” and “Engage the World.”

Being part of the planning committee for this conference, I can share that there is a palpable sense of excitement for this year's conference. There had been some trepidation that historical averages of international conference attendance have declined over the last decade. But that anxiety has lessened. Not only is the registration up from recent conferences at this point, but single hotel rooms are already sold out. And if that isn't enough, the most exciting fact of this conference is the amazing coordination and collaboration of the Urantia Book Fellowship, Truthbook, and Urantia Foundation to bring together the Urantia community just for that purpose: community.

So, with sincerest excitement, I encourage you to visit and take a look at what we have planned for this summer. It is your presence that matters, together with sharing with so many others an opportunity to understand what it means to be true, beautiful, and good citizens in this universe. Thank you in advance for making my first international conference the best one yet.