In January representatives of Urantia Association International and Urantia Foundation met to update each other on our current projects, discuss issues of mutual interest and to plan for the future. Many issues were discussed but two themes stand out as highlights.
First is the need for succession of leadership within both organizations. A successful community such as ours depends upon a rotation of leadership. One sign of a healthy and vibrant social organization is to have volunteer leaders rotate into decision making positions and then rotating into other capacities for a period of time. As a decentralized international group, the Association has a large pool of active leaders. This leads to a problem of perceived overabundance: some potential leaders may think to themselves, “Surely there is someone better qualified than I am, so I will not step forward to take on International responsibility.” But the number of positions needed under the Association’s umbrella is enormous. We need active and willing volunteers at the local, national, continental, and international levels. We cannot afford to deprive Local and National Associations of good leadership in order to fill International positions. The need for new and excited volunteers is large and ever-growing as we expand across the globe.
For the Foundation, the issue of succession is complex for different reasons: they need employees to staff their Central Office in Chicago. They need a rotating group of volunteers to take positions on their Expanded Board as well as within their many active committees. And then they also need a small group of specially qualified volunteers to take lifelong positions on the Board of Trustees. This blend of contributors has led to a stable yet dynamic organization for the last generation or so, but the Foundation is now facing a generational transition which will continue for the next decade or so.
It is imperative that we continue to have a steady stream of people dedicated to The Urantia Book and its teachings to step forward and lead the Association and Foundation. There are projects for all levels of experience, a vast number of interests, and a scale that spans from local communities to global impact.
A second issue which was a highlight of the meeting is the ongoing need to ensure that The Urantia Book and its teachings are well represented on their own merit and not blended with outside political, social or intellectual influences. Our community needs to “Hold the Center” and not let the Urantia teachings become overly influenced by any one cultural influence. The Urantia Book tells us that the Christian religion…
…has become so thoroughly Occidentalized that many non-European peoples very naturally look upon Christianity as a strange revelation of a strange God and for strangers. [Paper 92:6.18, page 1011.16]
We must ensure that the Urantia teachings do not fall to a similar fate.
For the first 60 years of our community we have tried to guard against this trap by keeping the teachings as our own personal religious influence and taking pains to not try to make The Urantia Book prescribed readings for all others; we have been cautious in how we share and represent the book. But with the rapid changes of the digital age we are faced with a new challenge: How do we “Hold the Center” on YouTube or Facebook or Google?
The strategy of “Holding the Center” has shifted from cautious to active. We must actively represent the true Urantia teachings on social media so that outside groups do not misrepresent them. We must actively share the true teachings of Jesus on YouTube so that others cannot successfully substitute their own false teachings and claim to represent “Urantia.” It is a new challenge that we were not fully aware of 20 years ago, and were not prepared for 10 years ago, but are now rapidly trying to address. The new challenges have forced our entire community to reexamine our guiding policies and philosophies while trying to ensure that The Urantia Book can continue to stand on its own merits in the 21st Century.
The Foundation and Association have long been great friends and true sister organizations. We will continue to work together as organizations as well as with the growing global Urantia Community to ensure that we grow and evolve together to meet the challenges of the coming decades.