Below are a couple responses to the articles that were published by Gaetan Charland, the Association’s Study Group Chair in the November 2016 Tidings concerning the subject of young Urantia Book readers in study groups.
“After my return from the Budapest conference, I was contacted by one of our members asking me about the different study group models I know of, because from what this reader said in her message, it was her opinion that the younger generation is less prone to joining study groups the way that most are currently structured….
“If you are a young reader and would like to help us find answers and solutions to what I’ve mentioned here, please contact me at this address: [email protected]”
Response from Charles Smith,USA:
Hello. My name is Charles Smith, but most people call me Chuck. I have been asking myself that same question for the past few years ever since the starting of The Urantia Book study group I am a part of. It is as if young people my age, I am 34, simply don’t care about anything spiritual anymore.
I attend a United Methodist church and the same problem exists there as well. There are very few young people in church. Children, yes. Young people, say, 20 to 40, no. As a matter of fact, I know of only one other person in the church even close to my age. The same problem exists in every other church around here.
Compounding the problem is another one. Is the interest superficial? In the case of the other person I mentioned, the answer is yes. She wants to know no more about the Christian/Methodist faith than the preacher preaches about and what is taught in Sunday school. She has no interest in reading or studying the Bible for herself. Taking her as an example, if we find young people to join us in Urantia study groups, will they only be interested in what they learn at the study group? Or will they be willing to actually read The Urantia Book, the source document of our faith, and then be willing to actually study it? I personally despair of finding young people interested in such a project. First of all, The Urantia Book is 2100 pages, not a short simple read like the younger generation is used to. It takes patience and persistence in order to get through The Urantia Book once, let alone study the text as it should be studied. Add to the equation the intellectual stamina you have a very difficult problem. I’ve found that a good dictionary kept nearby is needed a lot when reading The Urantia Book. Anyway, those are my observations and concerns. Hope this helps.
Response from Indira Rodríguez, Venezuela:
Greetings! My name is Indira Rodríguez. I’m 23 years old and I’m from Venezuela. I have been a student of The Urantia Book for three years. I read with great interest the article in the November Tidings where you wrote an article about young readers.
In addition to reading for three years, I participate in a project to raise donations for Urantia Book related activities and I am currently undertaking projects in my country and city to encourage the creation of study groups and the organization to form a Urantia Association in Venezuela.
I only know one young man, apart from me in Venezuela who studies the book; he is 19 years old. But in Latin America I know more. I cannot speak for all the young people I know, but I can talk about what they themselves have talked about and about my point of view.
In October, I had the honor of participating in the Latin American Conference in Bogota, Colombia. Of all the participants, only 3 were young, of which I was the youngest. That has left me very pensive until this moment. Several people at that conference encouraged me to start work on attracting young people to The Urantia Book, which I had already thought of doing since I began reading. But I would ask myself, what about young people who are not interested in revelation?
Each country has its own customs and traditions, which also includes young people. A common factor that I would like to highlight is that there are many young people worldwide who are interested in the spiritual; the awakening of consciousness and detachment from the system in which we are immersed. I started that road when I was 16 years old.
In Venezuela there are not many study groups; in Caracas, the capital where I live there is no study group. For some months now I have been meeting with some students of the book who are working on the projects mentioned above. I have researched how study groups are handled, I have talked to people who belong to study groups, and have even participated in some virtual ones. The conclusion I have come to is that there are many young people who are not prepared to open themselves to the information contained in the fifth epochal revelation. Many young people are going through a detachment to institutionalized religions, and unfortunately because of that, many decide to abandon their faith too.
Of the young people I know who are readers of the book, the majority do not participate in study groups. Each has his or her own personal motive, but the general rule is that they have felt, to a lesser or greater degree, contempt or some kind of rejection. For my part I think that young people usually have a different dynamic than the adults, they are a different generation. Once someone told me “among young people they understand” and I think it is partly right. I do not know if I am wrong, but I think it may be a good strategy for young Urantia Book students to be encouraged to look for ways to encourage other young people to both read and attend study group meetings. Youth groups can be created where they feel comfortable and confident to express ideas and questions.
I hope my opinion can contribute something for the expansion of the fifth revelation in the world. It goes without saying that I am here to help.
With lots of love from the Caribbean