SSIV August 18-21

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                   Scientific Symposium IV

                    August 18-21, 2017


When I found out about four years ago that a total eclipse of the sun would occur on August 21st 2017, on the 2023rd birthday of our Lord and Master, it immediately occurred to me to have a Scientific Symposium conference over the weekend prior to the Monday eclipse. There has been a rich and popular tradition of having Urantia Book inspired talks about science beginning in the 1988, SSI  in Tennessee. Oklahoma City took over the mantle and sponsored SSII and SSIII in 1989 and 1994. Berkeley Elliott spearheaded these conferences and because she would have been 100 years old on August 23, 2017, this makes this symposium special for the memory of her service.

Knowing that Susan Cook was well acquainted with how to organize a conference, I casually asked her for advice on how to create SSIV over this amazing weekend. She barely let me finish asking her for advice, before she interrupted me and immediately volunteered to be the Conference Chair. I was thrilled and knew that something really special was going to happen.

SSIV History

When you have four years to prepare for a Urantia conference, there are many things that can be dreamed of and problems to solve. Susan immediately went to work and secured a Methodist youth camp near Lawson Missouri which was nearly dead center in the path of the solar eclipse. We were thrilled and well on our way. Then in 2015, the Methodists decided to sell the camp and we were suddenly without a place to have our conference. Undeterred, Susan began looking around for new venues in the path of the eclipse. In the meantime, investors bought the camp at auction and placed it in the care of the current and past camp director, Bo Tucker, who then contacted Susan to see if we still wanted to have our conference there as promised by the Methodists. Susan of course said YES! with a thrill passed onto me that you can only imagine.

Buck Choquette, Robert Aponte, Tom Choquette, Susan Cook and I all showed up at the Wilderness Camping Retreat Center on Wednesday August 16 and began the construction of the venue that would turn out to be almost mortally paradisiacal. Huge crates of food were brought in and stored. The plenary area was prepared with seating for 100 and the sound and sight was perfected. Bedding arrangements were handled with care by Susan.

One thing that makes a Urantia conference so successful (and they all are) is the willingness of so many people to volunteer. When profits and payrolls are not included in the price of admission, volunteerism is the driver of success.

Margaret Thompson coordinated transportation to and from the airport with the inexhaustible help of Mike Wood who was in constant motion driving to and from KCI. Larry Harrison brought his 11 passenger bus to bring them in. These workhorses did amazing service in what they did. They never missed a soul.

Tom Choquette and Susan Cook ran multiple times to Costco for food supplies. Jeremy Allen also shopped with them some. Jake Thompson headed up a team of volunteers who worked their fingers to the bones quite joyfully and provided the participants with a most extraordinarily delicious meal plan for two and a half days. Jeremy Allen is a true Vegan Gourmand. Karen, Jeremy and Jake came in on Thursday and began the work of feeding more or less 50 hungry people the most tantalizing array of carne, vegetarian and vegan cuisines. No diet was left out, and the food was beyond good. It was morontial!

But it just wasn’t about the cooking and eating. Volunteers had to be recruited to do the hard unsung hero work of clean up. And clean up the volunteers did! Susan recruited volunteers to work, many times missing the plenary art and science presentations to perform the unheralded but necessary work of cleaning up. Karen Allen and Dan Casko were tireless and efficient at such a vital job. Evette was ubiquitous. Noah Wood and Steve Law were reliable. Margaret Thompson triple timed as transportation coordinator, cook and clean up artist. Shifts for clean up were well organized and efficient.

Steve Sawyer displayed his gorgeous art and Rick and Susan Lyon had their wares available which added to our financial stability and the material and spiritual  joy of patrons.


As Program Chair, I figured that I would be herding cats, but it was not so. The flow of the program was surprisingly lacking in technical difficulties (with a few minor exceptions.) With the inestimable help of Buck Choquette and Robert Aponte, we pieced together the mechanical and musical nuts and bolts to provide a media of success for all. I need to thank each of the science talk presenters and recognize their willingness to share their insights so selflessly:

Stuart R Kerr III – The Fourth Triunity and the Generation of Cosmic Energy

Sonny Schneider – Finaliter Transcendation.

David Neufer – The Absolute Pattern

Larry Geis – Conscious Dying in Loved Ones

John Lange – Urantia Perspective on Health Care Reform

Mike Woods – Water DNA and the Magic that Binds Them

Philip Calibrese – Faith Helpers

Tom and Patricia Strawser – Spiritual Engineering – The Harmony of God and Science

Larry Johnson – Ultimations and the Internal Electron Geometry

Aprilhelen Morgan and Todd Scarborough – Perfecting the Human Trinity

One signature beauty of how this program would fulfill our souls with comfort and unity, was to have Artisans perform their art or music between each presentation or at least every 20-25 minutes. The mix of science and art verified the unity of God as consisting in all things. I recognize them now:

K Brendi Poppell (the first person I called to be a part of this conference)

Steve Sawyer

Robert Aponte

Christina Seaborn

Buck Choquette

Olga (never caught her last name)

Bill Graham

Bob  Solone

What superlative can I use to indicate how beautiful this was? The balance separated but also unified the strong spirit of truth realization that, “Even now you should learn to water the garden of your heart as well as to seek for the dry sands of knowledge” (48:6.32) 

We got both!!

There was a volunteer duty that I was not sure was going to fly, but fly it did. The Urantia Corps of Worship Conductors (UCWC) organized and provided worship in the morning and before meals. Bobbie Dreier lead the team unselfishly. There were even 6 people who got up at 4:00 am on Monday morning to celebrate noon in Israel which was the actual birthday time of Jesus’ birth.

Special recognition must go to Antonio Schefer who was involved with the planning of this conference from the beginning. He spread the word through social media quite efficiently and took on the task of video recording all the presentations. Hopefully the fruits of his video labor will come out soon and we can all enjoy the fruits of his unselfish labor.

Only one night were we able even partially to enjoy the night sky as the weather was not cooperative. Nevertheless, on Saturday night we enjoyed gazing with powerful telescopes at Andromeda, Sagittarius and other night sky notables. Dawn Grant gave us this instruction. She is employed by the Wilderness Camp and is an amateur astronomer.

Sunday Night Banquet

There were more people who showed up on Sunday to either spend the night or come in from distant hotels to enjoy our banquet and to be around for the eclipse on Monday. Our remembrance banquet was special as we hosted over 60 souls to eat a delicious rack of lamb or to enjoy Jeremy’s tasty and nutritious vegan meal.

Once we were through eating and the volunteer cleaning staff had about finished, we had a remembrance in the dining hall. Many touching remembrances were heard by all, reinforcing the presence of Jesus and inspiring us to carry out his great proclamation to carry this gospel into all the world.

We moved upstairs and began the plenary appreciation of the significance of Jesus” birth and bestowal. Bill Allen began with a lovely rendition of “Birthday Party of the King.” Steve Sawyer and Tom Choquette were the speakers, variously giving their interpretations of the Master’s life. Of course as she had many times throughout the days of the conference, Brendi Poppell delivered another of her wonderful remembrance poems about Jesus and his teachings. Bill Graham, Robert Aponte and Christina Seaborn backed Dan up. I sang a song entitled “Behold the Man.” The evening basically concluded with a concert with an encore by Bob Solone and Christina Seaborn playing several songs, but especially in my mind, “Here Comes the Sun.”


Weather was always in the back of my mind in hopes that we would have a beautiful clear day to bring in Jesus’ birthday with such a cosmic event. Usually, the temperature in August will hover around the upper 90’s and be clear. If you had told me four years ago that on August 21, 2017 that there would be three large thunderstorms on that day beginning at 8 am in the morning, I probably would have begun looking for another clear venue to see the eclipse. Chances of success would be very low.

But this was our fate. An early morning thunderstorm lasted until about 11:30 am.  We all rushed out to the viewing field and set up our blankets and chairs. Mostly cloudy skies prevailed, but intermittently the sun would creep out of the cloudy shadows and show the face of a reluctant sun. By 11:45 am the partial eclipse was well underway. Periodically the sun would creep through the curtains of cloudy obstruction and thrill all of us with whoops of joy as we pressed our eclipse glasses to our eyes and viewed with rapt attention at the amazing event unfolding before our darkened eyes. Shouts of “Happy birthday Jesus!” and songs like “Please Don’t Take our Sunshine Away.” enveloped us all. When the sun periodically dipped behind the clouds our minds were in anxious anticipation and hopes that we would, again, be fortunate sons and daughters.

AND WE WERE!! Beginning at 1:08 pm on a warm August day, amidst the high humidity cushion between two huge storms, we gazed for two minutes and thirty eight seconds at the most amazing totality in awe inspiring rapture. Whoops and screams of joy abounded as if we had just won a championship football game in the last second, or hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs to win the game.

Once the diamond ring reappeared as totality finished its complete shadow and as we were cheering and hugging each other in rapt joy, a strange series of thundering booming occurred for several seconds making us all wonder what in the world it could be. Firecrackers? Thunder? Sonic booms? First, no firecrackers would have been allowed in the camp. Rule that out. Thunder and lightning storms were distant and well before and after the time of totality. Rule that out. Was a military or NASA jet on a scientific mission following the eclipse at sonic boom speeds? Possible, but local media would have been alerted to this, as faster than the speed of sound air travel is basically forbidden over the continental US. OR was the little known and poorly understood phenomenon known as “infrasound” responsible? I can’t explain it here, but here is a link to read about it:

This is a rare occurrence, and we all were privy not only to a visual optical experience but also to an auditory or hearing manifestation as well. Todd Scarborough is pursuing the science of this event and our group may have an opportunity to testify about the veracity of the phenomenon.

We hugged and kissed and said our goodbyes as we were forced to leave the field because of the next approaching thunderstorm. This one lasted all afternoon. Another huge storm arose that night causing major deadly flooding in parts of Kansas City.

I am scientifically minded, so I could never believe that the powers that be could have been responsible for allowing us to see totality. After all, “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” But we all were secretly hoping that the Master Force Organizers would grant us this birthday wish of clear skies for our Master’s birthday. If they did, we’ll hear about it on Mansonia.

SSIV Destiny

We presented the idea that SSV should happen along the eclipse line of 2024 when a total eclipse of the sun will occur extending from before Mexico to beyond Canada on April 8th 2024 which happens on a Monday, and is also the day before the resurrection of Jesus, “the time of the tomb.” What a great time to have a SSV before such a religiously significant event. Coincidentally, April 8th in the Western hemisphere is actually April 9th in Palestine which is the actual date of Jesus’ resurrection. This is a significant date for Urantia Book believers exclusively. Many are thinking of where our next SSV should be. Stay tuned.


A handful of believers spent the night on Monday night. A study group on the evening of Jesus’ birthday studied paper 196 on the Faith of Jesus. It was a great remembrance.

Would we have done things differently? The answer to this question is always yes, but when your expectations are exceeded a thousand fold, how can it be better? If you were not there and are reading this, I am sure you wish you were. The fellowship and socialization was divine, the venue was favorable, the scientific presentations were enlightening, the art was vivifying, the food was marvelous, the presence of Jesus was palpable, and of course the eclipse was spectacular.

Thank you is not even enough to say to everyone involved with making this a most successful conference. I am on my knees to the devotion and work put in by all the volunteers.

I know this is long, but I had to write it to document not only the great traditions of Scientific Symposium’s, but to hold on to the memories so vital to self satisfaction and attainment. As Rodan says:

(160:4.12) Train your memory to hold in sacred trust the strength-giving and worth-while episodes of life, which you can recall at will for your pleasure and edification. Thus build up for yourself and in yourself reserve galleries of beauty, goodness, and artistic grandeur. But the noblest of all memories are the treasured recollections of the great moments of a superb friendship. And all of these memory treasures radiate their most precious and exalting influences under the releasing touch of spiritual worship.

So it has been, so shall it be, and so it is,

Tom Allen,

Program Chair, SSIV