Young Urantia Book Readers Gathering
"Getting To Know Each Other"
Chicago: July 30 - August 1, 1999

Well, the youth weekend in Chicago has ended, and we are all extremely exhausted. I thought I would write a few words about our weekend for those of you unfortunate enough to miss out. We had a great time, and everyone enjoyed each other's company (I think). There were 13 of us in total, our ages ranging from 13 to 28, mostly American (except for myself and Severin), and mostly men (again except for myself and Abby).

EnlargeWe began the weekend on Friday evening with a 'get to know each other' session. We found out how long we have been reading the Urantia Book, where we live, what we enjoy doing, how we feel about being young readers, and what it was like growing up with the teachings of the Urantia Book (most of us were second generation readers ... except Abby, Atilla, and Isaac).

EnlargeWe then went on a guided tour of the Foundation headquarters at 533 Diversey Pkwy. Seth searched the building for the secret files that he is convinced exist somewhere in 533 ... but to his disappointment they did not appear. We ended the evening in deep discussion on the roof, overlooking the streets of Chicago.

EnlargeSaturday morning (actually it was late morning by the time the Wood brothers crawled out of bed) began with breakfast followed by an interesting discussion on various topics. We were reading our favourite parts of the book, and I know Mike Mac would be very disappointed to learn that you had not read about the saber-tooth tiger on page 1098 ... quick get your book out if you don't remember that part. Whilst you have your book open, turn to page 1223 beginning right at the bottom and continuing to page 1224. This was Seth's favourite. Now that you have finished that one turn to page 1775 (this is one of my favourites) and read about Rodan of Alexandria's philosophy on life and the art of living. We got as far as the first section, "Mutual self-expression and self-understanding", when discussion took over our reading.

EnlargeWe talked for a long time about relationships, marriage, sex (everyone's favourite topic) and eventually families. It was interesting to observe that we all felt the same way about finding a partner who either reads the Urantia Book or at least one who will begin to read the book after meeting us. It is also interesting to note that all of us who were in the room (except Mike B) are currently single ... mmnnn, I wonder what this means?

EnlargeAfter wearing ourselves out with all this talk we ate some famous "Chicago-style" pizza ... thoroughly enjoyed by all. We went downtown in the afternoon and visited the Signature Room in the John Hancock building (second tallest building in Chicago). Yes, we were in the bar, but behaved ourselves and had only 1 drink each (the drinks were $8.50!!) ... and no, the underagers did not partake of alcohol, they enjoyed the Coca-Cola. There are fantastic views from this building and we took some great photos (soon to be on the website). Back at 533 we went out to dinner with the 'oldies' at an Indian restaurant. Actually, I probably should not refer to them as oldies, since they were kind enough to shout us dinner ... much appreciated by all. We had a study group back at 533 (again with the 'oldies') and read paper 101 - "The Real Nature of Religion". Have a read when you get the time, it is well worth it. This was an exhausting study group, and an exhausting paper to read and comprehend. Although, it was an extremely enjoyable and valuable experience.

EnlargeSunday morning (again a late morning for the Wood brothers ...) we basically relaxed and enjoyed each others company. No heavy discussions today. Mike B took individual photos of us all (keep an eye on the website intro's page) and we took some group photos (again stay tuned to the website). Gabe is working on updating the website as I write. The Wood brothers (except Chris) and Abby went home this afternoon and the rest of us went swimming in Lake Michigan.

EnlargeThe youth weekend was then officially over. Mike, Gabe, Severin, Chris, and myself were left at 533, and we have started planning our cross-country road trip. We will be leaving tomorrow to head to Vancouver to enjoy the conference activities. It's very exciting to be planning a trip of that distance (well for me it is anyway). I have never seen the middle of America, and I am looking forward to comparing your deserts and mountains to ours back home in Oz.

EnlargeAll in all, we had a fantastic weekend. The main aim of this weekend was to meet other young readers and spend some valuable time getting to know each other. We ended the weekend in good spirits and we now have the satisfaction of knowing that we have begun some valuable friendships. Friends who hold similar interests and believe in the same things are always hard to find ... and it is so satisfying when friendships such as these are made. I think everyone will agree that it is important that young readers should take every opportunity they have to meet other like-minded individuals and support each other in every aspect.

EnlargeI would like to thank those individuals here at the Foundation who accomodated all of us for the weekend. We appreciated your patience and your generosity. I believe a special mention must be made of Steve Baney and Kathleen Swadling (yes my Mum) who truly welcomed us into their homes, and made us feel special and loved.

I would also like to thank all of you who came to Chicago for your friendship and your support. Thankyou Abby for being my friend amongst all those men (don't worry - the drought will end soon). Thanks Mike for organising this weekend and for your inspiration and guidance. Thankyou Chris for your organising skills also ... I'm still waiting for the sound of the dolphin. Thanks to the other 3 Wood brothers, Seth, Noah and Joel (there are 6 of them in total!!) for your company and your humour (especially you Seth with your secret files!!). Thanks Gabe for all the work you are doing with the website and for making me laugh (remember not to take too much corn syrup with your pancakes next time). I enjoyed meeting you Atilla - even though it was only short - Good Luck in Finland. I wish you all the best Isaac, with your plans ... I know your path will come clear very soon. Jeremiah - it was a pleasure to meet you - you have restored my faith in American teenagers. Thankyou Clinton for your company, I wish you all the best with your artwork (I was very impressed). Thanks Mike for your company, for the use of your digital camera, and it was a pleasure to see you and Erin so happy. And Severin (last but certainly not least) - I am very glad to have finally met you - you are a delightful French gentleman.

All my love Merindi

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