Why Study Groups Matter to the Future of the World
By Mo Siegel, President, Urantia Foundation, Boulder, Colorado, USA
In a mere 56 years, the Urantia Revelation has spread from a handful of believers in Chicago to readers throughout the world. Fifth Epochal Revelatory light now glimmers in virtually every continent on this planet. We have come a long way from selling three books in 1958 to having more than 750,000 books in circulation today. What happens from here is difficult to predict. Will the Urantia Revelation evolve in a slow and more institutionalized manner like Dalamatia, or will it capture the imagination of the world’s people as the teachings of Jesus did during the reign of Constantine 1,700 years ago?
If you review what has happened in the past 56 years and project forward, a few courses of action seem wise. Readers need to love one another; the book needs translating and distributing; the organizations need funding; and educational activities must bring understanding to a book that contains sections written at a PhD educational equivalency level. The Urantia Book project needs teachers and leaders to help others understand this wonderful book, which at times can be difficult to comprehend. Thus, there is a need for study groups, of which there are 350-450 worldwide.
The majority of people in the world have rejected weekly attendance at religious institutions. In the United States, for example, 94% of people say they believe in God, although less than 40% regularly attend church. Yet there remains a need for the socialization of religionists.
“Religion is first an inner or personal adjustment, and then it becomes a matter of social service or group adjustment. The fact of man’s gregariousness perforce determines that religious groups will come into existence. What happens in these religious groups depends very much on intelligent leadership.” (1090.10) 99:5.1 “There is a real purpose in the socialization of religion. It is the purpose of group religious activities to dramatize the loyalties of religion; to magnify the lures of truth, beauty, and goodness; to foster the attractions of supreme values; to enhance the service of unselfish fellowship; to glorify the potentials of family life; to promote religious education; to provide wise council and spiritual guidance; and to encourage group worship.” (1092.2) 99:6.2
For the Urantia Revelation to take hold on modern society, we need a new setting free from formalized religious restraints of the past. If people in the 21st century are going to talk about God, they need a more intimate space to do it. The study group is the perfect place to interact with smaller group settings that allow people to personally share their religious lives, make friends, learn more, and even receive help as they grapple with problems.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All; Let Diversity Flourish in Study Groups
In the section of The Urantia Book that explains the benefits of group religious association, its dangers are also discussed. “As religion becomes institutionalized, its power for good is curtailed, while the possibilities for evil are greatly multiplied.” (1092.3) 99:6.3 Most of the dangers described can be mitigated or eliminated when people meet in study groups, free from ecclesiastical authority and led by ordinary people dedicated to serving their fellow religionists. These local groups can use what works best for them depending on their culture and situation.
My thoughts about study groups are based on personal experience. On Tuesday nights, two Urantia Book study groups meet in our home in Boulder, Colorado. The adults meet in one room and the kids meet in another. Eighteen to twenty-eight adults and three to five kids attend the groups. Our adult meetings are emotionally uplifting, intellectually enlightening, spiritually illuminating, and always friendly. We read, talk, share, sometimes have a Remembrance supper, and always pray. When the hour and a half study group ends, we fellowship and have something to eat. We make sure that no one talks too much, and that the meetings start and end on time.
Another group meets in Boulder, Colorado every Friday night where Chris Halverson, who has his PhD in Physics, lectures for two hours. Twenty-five to thirty adults attend his class each week. Chris teaches like a college professor, and his style is completely different from the Tuesday night study group. Both groups are well attended and thriving, and we have learned a great lesson; one size doesn’t fit all!
My wife, Jennifer Siegel, teaches the kids group, and their classes are a thing of beauty. From the deepest place in my soul I pray that you impart the teachings of The Urantia Book to your children. As the folk song goes, “teach your children well.” If the United States government requires that our children and grandchildren study math, reading, and science, why shouldn’t we enlighten them with the teachings of the The Urantia Book? The kids who attend this class generally start at around age eight and graduate about age fifteen. When they leave they will have read and discussed a few hundred pages of the book. It’s reassuring to know that as the lures of computers, cell phones, instant messages, sports, dating, work, school and a hundred other distractions that occupy their time, they will forever have some knowledge of The Urantia Book. The future lies in the hands of the next generation and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to introduce them to the supernal teachings of The Urantia Book.
One Final Thought
In many respects, the closest thing to experiencing a community of believers is through meeting at a weekly study group. Study groups are such a beautiful way to share the profound teachings of The Urantia Book and to get to learn more about our brothers and sisters. No man is an island; we need each other. “Spiritual growth is mutually stimulated by intimate association with other religionists.” (1094.2) 100:0.2
Audio Urantia Book
Board Meeting Decisions
Urantia Foundation History