This afternoon your group will explore what works and what doesn’t work when contacting readers, augmenting study groups and organizing conferences and other gatherings. You will ask why the organizations exist? How can an organization be of service to the students of The Urantia Book and to the generations following us?
On Day One we heard from the Revelators who asked us to form study groups; know the book and disseminate its teachings. We learned The Urantia Book will be a relevant spiritual guide for 1000 years for Urantia. This is only the first 100 years. We are the first 100 years – the new disciples.
On Day Two it got personal. What would Jesus do? We explored “Getting better at it,” self improvement and group understanding – teamwork. We talked about our motivations and discernment and devoting our time to the revelation.
How do we take this information out into the world? We are the new ambassadors: Training ourselves for service and personal spiritual progress. We need organizations – to organize and protect people’s contact information; to expedite events – both socially and in times of training like this week.
How can the organization be of service to the students of the book without administrative politics coming into the picture? It’s not about recruiting or membership. It’s about assisting people who read and study The Urantia Book. It’s about taking our light out into the world. When someone is willing to share administrative and organizational tasks, they step up. And it all starts at the local level.
I want to share with you my experience working to form and assist study groups free of political influence. Approximately five years ago the governing board of our local association resigned. Urantia Association of the United States (UAUS) held the organization and the database of readers in trust. James Woodward encourage a few of us to pick up the database and attempt to re-establish our local association.
In 2008 we began to contact readers. I hung a big map of my state on the wall in our dining room and used push points to locate people we knew were reading the book. I realized that some areas have study groups. I found a large area that had lots of students of the book but could not find study groups. I went to work. UAUS Gov Board helped with funds to boost us on our way.
In November of 2009 I located a tiny meeting room at a hotel in Orlando, Florida, a city central to many of the students of The Urantia Book we had identified. We invited them to a social event to bring them together and possibly get a study group going. I created invitations on my printer, wrote a little presentation, and brought refreshments. It was about bringing the people together; not about membership in an organization. That was not why we were there.
A long time study group host came to assist me. We had over 20 people in that little room. It was beautiful! People met each other for the very first time. We talked about the joys of meeting other Urantia Book readers. We encouraged them to get to know each other and exchange contact information.
Four people offered to host a study group! We helped them decide what type study groups they would like to have. Weekly or monthly? Choose a topic or read beginning-to-end? Someone’s home or a public place? Light refreshments or “Bring A Dish” dinner?
We encouraged them to offer different types of meetings to suit the needs of the students. Study group hosts had come from other cities. They shared their experiences with the group.
I concluded my presentation by briefly describing our organization and inviting anyone who wanted to stay for a business meeting. People got acquainted; exchanged contact information and a new group of friends was being established in the same way your groups were established this week.
The day was passing so I announced the business meeting. The room was still full. I called the meeting to order. I explained who we are and a little bit about contacting readers from the Urantia Association database. I reiterated that we are here as a service to the students of The Urantia Book and I offered assistance if anyone was interested in becoming involved as a member of Urantia Association.
People came forward to buy books, become members and contribute to our new effort. It was a touching and heart warming experience.
Afterwards, as folks talked and got acquainted, a woman introduced herself to me. She was excited about starting a group. She wanted to start at the beginning of the book and read straight through. Well, she did just that. Polly joined Urantia Association as an associate member. She worked with the others to establish regular study group meetings in the area. She has since added other newly found readers to their list.
A new study group was formed from readers who had not met each other before that day. At this time they have a solid weekly meeting and have a second group starting. And now that group has this big support system to help them with study groups and events. The group helped us with a little conference last year!
We ended the day with the birth of a study group and a new Urantia family. One person is now the current Secretary of our Local Association. We also came away from that one event with enough new memberships to reinstate our status as a local association of Urantia Association once again!
As a result of this event, the following January we held our elections. The UAUS President and Treasurer attended. We were proclaimed a bonafide local association of Urantia Association and we regained our charter. This all happened as a result of one event. One afternoon in Orlando. With loving direct communication with the readers this can happen anywhere.
It starts by bringing the readers together – hosting social gatherings to meet other readers; holidays celebrations – Jesus’ b’day, Christmas, Easter, book fairs, expos, etc. Assisting with outreach projects: Prison Program, library placement, Mentorships and Buddy Systems for advanced study.
Another project that works really well is to ask a study group to host a mini-conference – and help them do it – like we did in my state. Just a one-day event with a planned study topic.
Urantia Association is here for all – to help manage contact information so people stay informed about Urantia related events all over the planet. We are here as a service. Readers contact us looking for other Urantia enthusiasts. We study and play together. It’s not about recruiting.
If someone is willing and able to help with the administrative tasks of running the organization there is always an opportuntiy for them to serve. Then, it is up to us who are actively learning, wherever we are along the path, to be increasingly helpful to others as leaders and as teachers. How do we do this?
Members of our governing board created The Readers Everywhere Support Team. We plan road trips to visit individual students and study groups, inviting people to come together. In January we toured part of our state. We are planning another tour for this year.
These social gatherings attract local readers together. Our visits help empower them to reach out because they see how rewarding it can be for everyone involved. We are available if someone asks for assistance with a study group, event or acquiring books.
The Urantia Book tells us we will learn and teach all along the way and our training begins with the fifth epochal revelation. This is our home planet! Our light shines. We are the arms, hands, eyes, feet, voice for God. Our actions influence God the Supreme. Don’t be afraid to be teachers and leaders. Organizations don’t have to be intrusive. Most important is what’s in our heart – our personal relationship with the Most Highs. The Urantia Book tells us this spiritual progress is to be socialized. We are not expected my make this journey alone.
The book also tells us that we will all be living and working together – as Agondonters – learning and sharing all along the way. When we are working together, our service becomes exponential – dynamic – standing for a force far greater than the simple sum of our parts. The sharing of ideas, ideals and service to the kingdom is contagious. It spreads! . . Ah, that divine virus of love. Here we are!!
And this dynamic ambassadorship begins with study groups. What’s one of the most important lessons to be learned during our mortal career? Teamwork Say it again? Teamwork Louder! Teamwork! Yeah!
Teamwork: Showing up for study group meetings
Teamwork: Managing contact information to keep people informed
Teamwork: Putting together social events, conferences and study sessions
Teamwork: Training ourselves to take this revelation out into the world
The administrative tasks of any organization create the vehicle for communication and unity among the readers of The Urantia Book around our planet. We have a vast community of devoted students of the Revelation. We also are seeing a vast community of organizations holding us all together – weaving our service into the fabric. The new International Study Group Directory is an example of this. A community of organizations growing and striving to work together. Joining forces to the bring readers together.
How do we fill our role as a reader service organization?
How do we manage contact information?
How do we identify potential leaders and encourage these people to step up to service in the organization?
How do we help our study groups be reasonably free of problems, politics and unrelated topics?
How does the group benefit from establishing guidelines?
How do we handle awkward situations that arise? We talked about that yesterday.
These are questions we all may have asked at some time.
Find someone with a place to meet for an afternoon. Invite the Urantia readers in the area and watch the fun! It all starts at the local level. Please share your experiences with your group today so we will all have it to take back to share with your study groups and the members of your local associations.
Have fun! … we’ll see what happens.