The Urantia Book Study Group Directory (UBSGD) recently surpassed the largest number of listings added in any single year since 2011. A total of 68 new groups were added in 2019. This is more than double the number of new groups added in 2018. The Study Group Directory continues to grow as readers from more than 55 countries have found the Directory and added their study group information. At the end of 2019, the Directory had a total of 463 study groups.
Origins and Development
In 2010, at Urantia Foundation, the leadership of Urantia Association International and The Urantia Book Fellowship met formally for the first time to promote unity among our organizations. Following this event, the organization’s information technology developers held a meeting to encourage the sharing of information. During this meeting, Urantia Foundation suggested the need for a central online source for study group contact information; a place where students of The Urantia Book could easily find study groups in their area, and for study groups to find new members to grow their ranks. It was suggested this should be a progressive joint project. The result was the creation of the Urantia Book Study Group Portal. Today that portal is known as the Urantia Book Study Group Directory: UrantiaStudyGroup.org.
Scott Brooks built the original Directory. The first governing group for this project had a team of three people from each of the three organizations. This team developed and unanimously agreed to the functionality and the criteria for listing study groups in the Directory.
Later, after all the elements of the Directory were in place, a new charter and a new organizational structure reduced the administrative team to five; one member representing each organization, a Directory team chairman and the website administrator. The Directory is supported financially by the three organizations and each organization appoints its own representative to the Directory team.
Managing the Directory
Today the UBSGD team consists of Tamara Strumfeld (Urantia Foundation), Jackie Koury (Urantia Book Fellowship), Rick Lyon (Urantia Association International), Bill Beasley (Directory Chairman), and Scott Brooks (website administrator).
One of the most important functions of the administrative team is to ensure every study group in the Directory is contacted at least once a year by automated email, personal email, or a telephone call from a team member. This contact is to confirm that every study group listed in the Directory is still active and their information is correct. If we are unable to contact a group within two years it is deemed inactive and removed from the Directory. As with any database, keeping the information current is a big job.
The team also handles any complaints about groups not complying with the posted criteria for listing a group in the Directory. It is rare but we have removed groups whose activity violates the Terms of Agreement, which must be accepted before the new study group is posted online. This is done to ensure that the quality of the groups listed and recommended by the three organizations is up to the highest standards possible.
In the fall of 2019, the Directory team presented two online webinars about the Directory. The first was to the Urantia Association International Education Committee which was attended by 20 people, and the second was to the Urantia Association Study Group Committee, attended by 36 Spanish-speaking study group hosts. During the three months after these presentations, 25 new groups joined the Directory. Leaders from the Spanish community pledged to spread the word about the Directory and encourage study group hosts to list their groups.
If you would like us to do a presentation at your event or online meeting, contact the Directory team at: [email protected]
Study Group Listings
In 2018, the Directory functionality was updated to include the ability to list virtual online study groups. Most virtual groups that meet online use Zoom or Skype. This update has been well received and contributed significantly to the growth of the number of groups available for contact.
Virtual groups enable those in areas with few Urantia Book students to study with others, even if they are in other countries. The Directory can also help you find study groups to visit when traveling. Study groups can use the Directory to find a “sister” group to share study online. The Directory is the best tool available for connecting people to study groups locally or around the world.
To list a study group in the Directory you must ensure your study group is:
- focused on the study of The Urantia Book
- open to all readers
- apolitical in nature
- free from any activities that may distract students from the teachings of The Urantia Book.
Study groups are autonomous gatherings of Urantia Book students; meaning that the group itself is unaffiliated with any organization, though the organizations that sponsor the Directory foster and support them and groups are often attended by members of several Urantia organizations or non-members.
The number of study group listings in the Directory has grown from only 4 in 2010 to a total of 463 as of January 2020! Of the 463 study groups in the Directory today, about three-fourths of them meet in person and one-fourth are virtual groups. A few are both in person and virtual. In December, the first study group in China was listed! The Directory has active study groups listed in 56 countries. The top ten countries are: USA, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Columbia, France, Venezuela and New Zealand.
Since its inception, the Directory has been multi-lingual, displaying all information in any of the supported languages. The top five languages used in the Directory are English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German.
All fifty states in the United States are represented by 227 in-person groups and 46 virtual groups. Outside of the United States, there are 162 in-person groups and 84 virtual groups listed. Some groups are both in-person and virtual. Within a few constantly changing percentage points these are active confirmed study groups!
We encourage all study group hosts to list your group in the UBSGD at: www.UrantiaStudyGroup.org. There are, of course, many study groups in existence around the world not listed in the Directory. Listing your group will help you find new members and, in turn, this will help students of The Urantia Book find study group families and help grow the number of study groups available. The value of hosting or participating in a group setting is invaluable!
Only study group hosts can list their group or update their information at any time. The Directory team does not add any groups although we always stand ready to assist anyone to activate a listing or keep their information current. Join the growing list of teachers and leaders hosting study groups in service to this revelation! Explore the Directory website to discover its many easy-to-use functions, helpful information, and resources. Each organization has posted a study group guide to help you create a study group or enhance the group you have. For more information you may contact the Directory team at: [email protected]
In Joyful Service,
UBSGD Admin Team