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How I Found the Urantia Book—C. BARRIE BEDELL (mid-1940s)


World War II was raging, rationing was in effect, and citizens of all ages were pouring all available money into savings bonds and stamps to support the war effort. Signs and posters and radio announcements barraged us with warnings to keep mum about defense activities: “Loose lips sink ships.” Everyone was aware of the subversive “fifth column,” spies and espionage agents working for the Nazis.

I was in my early teens, a mediocre high school student, obsessed with sports, and reasonably well informed on the progress of the war. At some point—I don’t remember exactly when—I noticed that my folks, Clyde and Florence Bedell, would disappear like clockwork every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening. I began to question them, “Where are you going?”

“Oh, the Forum,” was the usual reply. On Wednesday nights the answer would be, “The Seventy.”

“What is the Forum? the Seventy?” I would press them. “What do you do?”

The typical response was maddeningly vague, not at all satisfying to an inquisitive teen: “We read and talk about a variety of subjects.”

“Like what?” I would demand.

“We really can’t say.”

I began to harbor doubts that soon turned to suspicion. Something was terribly wrong. Then one blustery winter night I watched them depart in blizzard conditions. I began to think the unthinkable, that perhaps my parents were involved in something sinister. I came to the terrifying conclusion that they were involved in the Nazi fifth column.

I was greatly relieved when a few weeks later, on my fourteenth birthday, my parents announced: “Now we can tell you what we’ve been doing every Sunday and every Wednesday evening.” They took me to 533 Diversey Parkway and introduced me to Dr. William Sadler, who told me about the Urantia Papers and invited me to attend the Forum. I was excited about what I was soon to experience and, as all who had joined before me, I took an oath of secrecy. It was a pivotal day in my life, for which I will forever be profoundly grateful.

Frequently on Saturdays I went to 533 where I would sit in a small, dark anteroom on the ground floor and read papers one at a time— typewritten manuscripts, each page pasted onto heavier stock, each paper supplied in a kraft envelope handed to me by Christy. Later, typeset galley proofs replaced the typewritten pages. My favorites were “Life Establishment on Urantia,” “Government on a Neighboring Planet,” and the Adam and Eve saga.

I also regularly attended Sunday meetings upstairs (except when away at school), always greeted by Wilfred and Anna Kellogg. Papers were read by Dr. Sadler or his son, Bill. During breaks I hung out at O’Connells Coffee Shop across the street with somewhat older members Tom and Carolyn Kendall, Nola Evans, Al Leverenz, Phil Copenhaver, Donna and Harry Rowley, and others. My brother Jeff started attending the Forum in 1951 when he was 13 or 14.

Disturbing as it was for a while, I am proud my folks honored their vow of secrecy, as did all but one or two Forum members from the very beginning till the day of publication in October, 1955.

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533 Diversey Parkway