The Jerusalem Marketplace Experience

Dec 16, 2014 – The Jerusalem Marketplace has been a central experience for children of all ages and stages during International Conferences sponsored by the Urantia Book Fellowship for the past 30 years The marketplace was developed so our conference community could experience daily life in the time of Jesus – the dress, the characters, the activities, and the atmosphere of a marketplace 2000 years ago. We wanted to explore the fourth revelation in costume while we gathered to share the fifth revelation as a community.
Leaders of the Fellowship knew that a safe place must be provided for children while parents attended the international conferences. And in this safe place, our children needed an opportunity to grow together, to learn about Jesus, and to nurture friendships they might carry with them into the future. We needed a big tent!
During the most well attended Jerusalem Marketplace, there were 80 between the ages of 4 and 16 and the marketplace came alive with children participating in basket weaving, wool dying, coin making, brick making, jewelry making, and carpentry using the tools Jesus used long ago. Children dressed in costumes as soon as they entered the tent, portraying the character they desired to become and the marketplace came alive with dancers, soldiers, priests blowing the ram’s horn, sellers hawking their wares, and even a tax collector!
Everyone who entered was given “gold”, small stones painted gold, and a drawstring bag worn around the neck or waist to safe-keep their treasure. And of course there were robbers and the jail was always in use. We were entertained with very creative stories hour by hour as the children and the youth acted out their chosen roles. The adults were invited to come into the tent as teachers and leaders, including our beloved master, Jesus. Drummers drummed, belly dancers danced, soldiers dueled, merchants sold their handmade wares and the modern world was left behind.

Jerusalem Marketplace 2014

{The pictures on the Family Life website are from the International Conference of 2014 at Amherst University, Mass. Gratitude goes to the Family Life Committee for promoting the value of the Jerusalem Marketplace and to the Fellowship for providing the funding for the two essentials – a perfect size tent and hay bales. And to Rachel Graham who was the “mistress of the marketplace” for her constant work setting up the tent and providing help to the kids as they “lived” together in the times of Jesus. And to the other young adults who helped bring the marketplace to life: Jesse O'Connor for building the strong jail, Jonathan Zoba and Jeff Wattles for becoming Jesus, and Devon who impersonated Melchizedek and told stories, and to all the strong backs who moved the hay bales around. We also want to thank Mike Milagos and his wife for providing so many wonderful props, and musicians Keith Malley and Laura Rohrsen}

The 2014 Jerusalem Marketplace tent was erected on a perfect spot under the trees. The tent was a highlight of the conference for the kids and young adults, offering not only a beautiful setting for the marketplace each morning, but for the afternoon values program coordinated by Miranda Clendening, and for the TruthSeekers and YaYA’s in the evening. Many young adults were at home in the tent with the torches lit, sitting around hay bales, talking, studying, playing music until the wee hours of the morning. There was even a Thought Adjuster ceremony conducted by Linda and Bob Buselli with 6 children who were of the age to have received their Thought Adjusters. Truly, the future of the revelation was gathered under this tent.
As in past years, all we needed was an open sided tent, a few hay bales, costumes, simple activity centers, kids and participating adults for the Jerusalem Marketplace to come alive. When the kids arrived, they went right to the costume corner hung with curtains for privacy and changed into their chosen characters. They emerged as soldiers, apothecary workers, pottery makers, money changers, tax collectors, and a priest who blew the shofar, the ram’s horn, every so often. Several vied for the position of the “mayor” – the one who called meetings together or commanded the soldiers to go look for a robber. A money changer handed out gold stones which the participants carried in a bag hung around their waists. The kids bought snacks with their gold and paid the tax collector every so often.
With a few rules and a bit of training, the soldiers entered into battle with their swords. Fortunately there was no blood drawn but plenty of energy as they crossed swords with eagerness. They went to battle a number of times and followed the rules quite well. Meanwhile, when someone stole gold and the soldiers found the robber, he or she was escorted to Jesse’s strong jail which was much like a jail with a lock on the outside and soldiers on guard.
There were peaceful times when all swords were put up and we sat in a circle to hear stories presented by the teachers who visited. We enjoyed a short time of prayer and meditation until the energy built up again and had to be let loose. Jesus’s feet were washed by a repentant robber and another young participant washed the feet of two visiting women who paid a gold token for the service.
As you can see, some participants were washing the gourds in the “well” while others were making potions of herbs or grinding corn. All in all, the 2014 Jerusalem marketplace was a success, especially due to the participation of the young adults, one of our primary goals.

Jerusalem Marketplace Future

The purpose of the Jerusalem Marketplace 2014:
1. To inspire the young adults to take over the Jerusalem Marketplace as a service project and provide a rich experiential environment for children, their own and those of their peers;
2. To engage children on a visceral level with hands-on activities in order to learn more about the times of Jesus;
3. To experience Jesus through the stories about his life, and the visits by “Jesus”;
4. To imagine the reality of the rigorous times the Master lived in – very dangerous times;
5. To just have plain FUN under a big tent together as a community.
And now a word to the Young Adults: “Go forth and multiply!” If there is to be another Jerusalem Marketplace we need more children.
The hope of the Family Life Committee is for the next generation to get excited about providing a Jerusalem Marketplace for their children some day. Our goal was to provide an inspiration for the future and a simple model the young adults can follow. Thank you to all who made this goal a reality at IC14.

Respectfully submitted:
The Family Life Committee
Janet Graham
Sara Blackstock
Richard Daunt
Miranda Clendening
Angie Thurston
Tony Finstad

Pictures here: