I would like to tell you what was done in our local association, the Urantia Association of Quebec, with study groups and leadership in mind.
I’d like to start by saying that the values underlying the actions of our Association are the spirit of “service”, “love” and “brotherhood.” Membership in our Association is voluntary and it provides the same opportunities to “non-members” as to “members”.
We have over 16 study groups registered in our database. And that number is still growing.
Sometimes two or three study groups join together to make readings in an enlarged group. These meetings are very stimulating. They offer us an opportunity to socialize at a larger scale.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the International Association for creating the International Study Group Directory, a web portal dedicated to study groups. It greatly facilitates the task of recruiting solitary readers in addition to facilitating the creation of links between study groups.
From a leadership perspective, the greatest achievement of our local association is to have favored the emergence of several study groups and the organization of more than three one day workshop/conferences per year. We give these public lectures and discussion panels, around a specific theme. Those who organize these special days are usually recruited from the students in a study group. The preparation time can vary between two to six months.
These “Workshop/Conferences” usually last all day. Before noon three or four people make a presentation. In the afternoon, discussion tables are led by the same presenters and we have some discussion questions prepared in advance. These workshops are very popular and well attended. The presentations also serve as a means of dissemination because the door is open to the public.
Unlike the study groups in which we express our ideas between us, during our preparation for these Workshops/Conferences we have to manifest these same ideas. We have to engage ourselves in the group. We have to make decisions in the group. The work requires one to adjust to others and create a balance in the human relationships.
We cannot hide the fact that we all, individually, have to adjust ourselves in relation to the teachings of “The Urantia Book”, and it’s only a beginning. Teamwork is the best field to implement the adjustments to these new values. Guided by “The Urantia Book”, it can only give good results.
I’d like to expand on the three levels of activities in these “Workshop/Conference”:
- Group preparation,
- Public presentation,
- Discussion workshop.
It is here that we see leadership wake up and manifest among the participants. We saw during the symposium difference types of leadership. To me, a leader is someone who promotes the emergence of potentials in others. Sometimes, simple and otherwise unknown persons can emerge, if the timing is right.
Presentation to an Audience
The person experiments in a controlled environment. Often, these presentations are made by people who have never spoken in public before. Feeling themselves in trust in a group of friends, they will use this opportunity to go beyond their limits. During these activities we often experience the awakening of otherwise untapped potentials and qualities.
In the Discussion Workshops
The presenter/facilitator can experiment in a controlled environment. The facilitator has to seize opportunities to awaken the potentials in others and has to create a balance between the forces presented.
In our local association, we have two approaches for creating incentives for new “one day Workshop/Conferences”:
- The centralized approach, and
- The decentralized approach.
In the centralized approach, the place we use to make our presentations is currently in the south and center of our region; more precisely halfway between four cities crosswise. Presenters are selected from students in study groups in these regions. These “one day Workshop/Conferences” are always organized by the board of our local association. We thus reach a larger population base and we also have a greater choice of resources to give our conferences.
In the decentralized approach, the Association strongly encourages the creation of regional teams composed of local study group members for organizing and giving a local “Workshop/Conferences”. This allows members and other people who travel to attend, to visit these areas and meet with readers in their own environment. If we want to encourage the emergence of new leaders, it is preferable to decentralize these “Workshop/Conferences”. But this is not always easy to do. The territory is large and it requires a greater investment of time and effort. Currently the study groups in the regions are not numerous and are less organized. There can even be study groups not yet known to us. Recently, we found a group of isolated readers in one area far from major centers. Currently we are subtly working to encourage them in creating their own study group.
A help document for the preparation of “One day Workshop/Conference” was created to ease the burden on those wishing to engage in this type of activity for the first time. For members of a study group, these Workshop/Conferences are an ideal place to express their creativity and enhance their learning. On a larger scale, it encourages the emergence of leaders and teachers.
We should not forget the post “Workshop”. Encouraged by their successes, the presenters/facilitators may want to go even further. They have acquired a taste for self-transcendence. There are still a lot of new structures to create locally. But this time, people will want to invest in higher structures such as the local association, national or international.
To maximize the success of a project, it’s preferable to give it a direction. It may be pertinent to create a framing structure to encourage the emergence and execution of these new projects.
We can assume that one day everyone will discoveri leadership qualities n themselves — somewhere into eternity. For some, maybe it’s already done. For others, maybe it will be tomorrow; maybe it will happen on the mansion worlds. Each will bring their contribution to the emergence of the Supreme. Of course, all this takes time. The more people involved, the more the potentials for accomplishment increases.
Sometimes, a small participation in a study group — can go a long way.