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The Study Group Symposium

James Woodward
James Woodward
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The Study Group Symposium

By James Woodward, Study Group Symposium 2014 Committee, Placerville, California, United States

Editor’s Note: Urantia Foundation is sponsoring this event along with

In the Publication Mandate (, the human associates who worked to bring the fifth epochal revelation to our world were advised to create thousands of study groups. Since we are far from that goal, the current status and prevailing models of study groups ought to attract our attention.

The Urantia Book offers a personal spiritual message for each individual as well as a coherent blueprint for progressive social evolution. Urantia Book students gain enhanced appreciation and a deeper understanding of these advanced teachings by studying with others, exploring rich content, and sharing personal insights. An informal group is the best way to incorporate study and comprehension of a new revelation with the art of living—blending the teachings into our everyday life experiences.

Are Urantia Book study groups destined to be more than a periodic meeting where people read and socialize? Could they offer greater value to the inner progress of the individual and thence to our world?

A recent survey of Urantia Book readers brought unwelcome news: Only twenty-six percent have attended a study group, and the percentage of groups to readers is quite low. Is our study-group culture failing to flourish because it reflects the cultures that so many of us were raised with? Today’s secular society does not encourage daily prayer, meditation, and worship practices, although the new revelation does. The post-modern model of religion is trending secular, and we know this is a planetary problem. We may enjoy a weekly church attendance, and we may engage in personal and private spiritual practices, but how many of us celebrate religious activities in our study groups? The Chief of Urantia Midwayers offers some direction:

But prayer need not always be individual. Group or congregational praying is very effective in that it is highly socializing in its repercussions. When a group engages in community prayer for moral enhancement and spiritual uplift, such devotions are reactive upon the individuals composing the groups; they are all made better because of participation.” (998.5) 91:5.2

Could there be an unrealized role for Urantia Book study groups, something that has not yet evolved beyond reading and discussion? Of course it takes deep study to understand deep new teachings, but can study groups help to establish the Father’s will in the hearts and minds of mortals? Could study groups become dynamic centers of spiritual enthusiasm, reflecting the wise guidelines for true religious living outlined in The Urantia Book? What if they modeled the open-armed friendliness of Jesus and were willing to serve all sincere truth seekers?

Urantia Association International was created to foster the in-depth study of The Urantia Book. Following the success of 2011’s Leadership Symposium, Urantia Association is now preparing a Study Group Symposium. Please join us in Madison, Wisconsin, June 11–15, as we explore the workings of what makes a study group thrive, and how we can make them more attractive and inspiring to our troubled world.

Come and learn new strategies for welcoming and retaining Urantia Book students, as well as proven facilitation methods. You will have the opportunity to discourse with experienced study-group leaders, as we share our discoveries in the art of living the teachings of The Urantia Book. The program will feature engaging sessions designed for those who are serious about expanding study groups to new levels of service.

To register: