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How I Found the Urantia Book—WESLEY JAMES (mid-1940s)

I’ve never had the experience of finding the Urantia Book. That distinction belongs to my grandmother, Elizabeth James, and to my parents, William and Mary James. Because of their efforts the UB has always been a part of my life.

In the late 1920s my grandmother began searching for answers to religious questions that troubled and intrigued her. The answers her Bible and church background provided lacked consistency as far as she was concerned. There were even questions she was told should not be asked, because they showed a lack of faith. She studied the philosophies and attended the meetings of a number of cults and isms that were popular in Chicago in those days, from the Swedenborgians and Rosicrucians to the Silver Shirts of a Dr. Pelley.

At one of these meetings my grandmother mentioned to some people her growing concern that none of the groups she had found thus far had the answers she was looking for. These people—Mrs. Jessie Hill and Fred and Alice Leverenz—suggested she might be interested in a group they belonged to that met on Sundays at 533 Diversey Parkway in Chicago.

After meeting Dr. Sadler and learning about the purpose of the Forum, my grandmother signed the pledge and became a member. Years later as one of the Seventy she was often praised for her prodigious memory and ability to quote verbatim from the unpublished papers which later became the Urantia Book.

The change in my grandmother after she joined the Forum so intrigued my parents that my mother wrote Dr. Sadler asking if they too could become Forum members. In response, Dr. Sadler asked my grandmother if she wouldn’t like to have her entire family in the Forum, and so my mother, father, and uncle, Wesley John James, became members.

As our family grew, my parents weren’t able to attend Forum meetings regularly. My grandmother almost always came for Sunday dinner after the meeting and would share with us what had been discussed. My oldest brother and I were very young, at most in first or second grade, and it was assumed we wouldn’t understand, but I can still dimly recall parts of what was said. I can definitely remember the strange looks and laughs my brother and I got when we told the neighbors’ kids that there had once been blue, green and orange people!

Early in her association with the Forum my mother asked Dr. Lena Sadler if they should teach their children the advanced UB ideas before the book was published. Dr. Lena replied that if they didn’t, both they and the children would miss the chance of a lifetime. So, although we went to regular Sunday school and church, at home religious questions always received UB-oriented answers.

When I was 15 my grandmother asked me if I would like to become a Forum member. Coincidentally, the Sunday I signed the membership pledge and went to my first meeting, Alfred Leverenz, the son of Fred and Alice, was also attending his first meeting as a new member. While I completed reading all the papers on my own, I can’t say I understood a great deal of what I’d read. Even after my grandmother had me memorize the various orders of angels, the names and capitals of the superuniverse divisions, and the difference between “triata” and “ultimata,” the teachings still didn’t always strike me as true. I was a “UB burn-out” at a very early age!

It was after the book was published and I started attending a study group founded by Al Leverenz, that I began to acquire a fuller understanding of the teachings. It was now possible to read the book as slowly as I wished, and to talk to others in various stages of reading and understanding, and to listen to their stories of how they’d found the book. This is when I more fully began to appreciate the UB myself—not the facts, but the truths of the book.

Finding these truths has been an ongoing process. Truth expands as one’s ability to comprehend expands, until in eternity we find the Source of Truth.

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Wesley James at the 1949 Forum picnic

Edith Cook, Elizabeth James, Leone Sadler, Helen Thurman, Eva Vincent

Bill Sadler, Leone, Edith Cook, Elizabeth James