There is a very real and important question being asked more often these days: Will The Urantia Book Fellowship stay alive? And more importantly, will it transform into a dynamic force for the dissemination of the Revelation and the fostering of the spiritual and social transformation of our planet? What do I think? Keep reading…
I’ve been around The Urantia Book Fellowship for a while now. When I began to read The UB for myself and look and listen more into the happenings of The Fellowship, I observed that this organization was almost devoid of youth participation. When I sat in on my first General Council meeting, it hardly took an hour before I saw why. People seemed hardened in their opinions and there wasn’t the spirit of brotherhood you would expect from followers of Jesus.
So I spent my 20s chasing my dreams and reading The UB and about three years ago, I felt called to take a place by my father’s side (Thomas Orjala) as a General Councilor. I couldn’t imagine standing by while the largest social organization focused on the Fifth Epochal Revelation struggled so obviously to find its way. I desired to bring my passion to the table and take a stand for what I felt in my heart was a clear and spirit-led vision for the future.
Fast forward to today.
The improvement I have seen inside The Fellowship over the last few years has given me real hope. The last three General Council meetings have been ‘special’ in that they have resolved some major conflicts and produced resolutions with a new feeling of group progress (at least to me).
I now experience a feeling that when we get together, magic happens! We just don’t do it enough. General Councilors only spend about six days a year together and that just isn’t enough time. Also, there are some real challenges remaining that need to be creatively addressed.
This is a Triennial Delegate Assembly (TDA) year. The generation that should be taking over (40-60) is largely is missing. The following generation (youth 20-40) are very few in number and questioning if the state of The Fellowship is currently the right framework for bringing the Gospel to the world. We question where it is best to dedicate our energies.
Some of the main concern is that large organizations are so slow to change! The Fellowship is not currently flexible and adaptable to keeping up with the current progress of the world. We desire and celebrate the group process but we also see that working in smaller groups and teams might be more effective to accomplish our individual and collective goals.
Another reality is that Fellowship societies are shrinking with no current plan for how to change this trend. Conference attendance is steadily declining as well.
Right now my generation (20-40) is being asked to take over officer positions. To take the lead in our committees and communities and take on much responsibility for the future of The Fellowship and its activities. Personally, I only desire to do this if we can start to change the culture inside The Fellowship and really define who we are and where we are going.
I want to see us all open our minds even wider and dream even bigger. I want to see us trust each other and use the Revelation as our guide. Maybe this change will take strong leadership, maybe it will take time.
There is a tendency to fall into the traps of what I would call a conservative ideology, that is, the desire to keep things the way they have been, maintaining an over-weighted culture of study, and ignoring or downplaying the need for change. Rather, we should prioritize living the teachings of The UB, being messengers of the Gospel, and evangelizing in all ways all the time.
The next few years need to be about how we reinvent the way we do conferences: to be more about individuals’ personal health and spiritual life and community, instead of ‘in depth study’ and lectures.
I feel that we will need to streamline the leadership by shrinking the size of the General Council to 12-20 members, the size of a normal board for a non-profit. We should support training for councilors in programs like Landmark Education (which even IBM has used to help train its employees), Toastmasters, and other personal development programs.
Finally, we should transform the purpose of The Fellowship. We can still support committees but we must focus all our additional efforts on crowdsourcing kingdom building, meaning we select and support people and groups the world around to create and accomplish their own personal projects.
Will The Fellowship survive if these things don’t happen? Yes, it probably will. But the important question is: Will the next cohort of leaders see that the future health of this organization is going to be built on the changes and transformations of the next generation? The digital age is calling us to reinvent ourselves and be willing to trust in what is possible.
So the time has never been so important to get new blood inside The Fellowship leadership body. There is great momentum toward addressing all of the issues I pointed out and it will take new, strong leadership to make it happen! This is a call to all who are so inspired by this Revelation that they find their purpose in transforming themselves and this organization into what it must become to succeed. Get involved in your society and get involved in this year’s TDA. Will you hear this call to serve? The universe sure hopes so.
Committed to progress forged in loving conflict,
* For a response by Avi Dogim, click HERE