An Inner Approach

By Richard Omura

I read with interest Teuvo’s latest article on fundraising. The bottom line is the Fellowship doesn’t have enough money for its many programs. The membership is not growing and the conferences attendance have dropped 50% over a span of over a decade.

It made me think. We know that the money is out there. It’s just not being offered to the Fellowship. Why? Well, people will pony up for what they think is worth the money. Logic says that since we’re not getting the money, we’re not doing anything that warrants the money. But, we were once. What changed?

My personal observation is that the conferences are not as free and fun as it was before. There is more of a “churchy” feel about the movement. Is it morphing from a social group to a social/religious group to a religious group? I hope not, after all we are a group of societies, not churches. Before, I used to think of a Urantia conference as like a festival, a more spiritual Burning Man or Rainbow Gathering, a place where free thought was encouraged, no doctrine was pushed, self-government was the rule, and fun was had by all, or at least the majority. It was new and suited for young bodies and minds. As we got older, we got more structured in our personal lives and that reflected in the way we have conferences and gatherings. As time passes, it’s becoming an organization of senior citizens having conferences made for senior citizens. How can the number of members not decrease? And with less members, we get less funding. So, it would appear that the fix is to generate more interest and more readers, especially the younger ones.

So I think it was a good idea to have the younger UB readers form groups and I think we’re seeing the gradual shift into a Fellowship that is composed more and more of the new and younger generation. The younger readers must step up but it’s difficult because there aren’t that many in numbers. So the older readers can’t quite retire from the movement yet. We must keep young. By using the ideas in the UB as well as the various new medical advances and spiritual techniques we have available, we can re-invigorate our bodies, minds and souls so that we don’t become the dull, stodgy, passive couch potato that is no fun to be around. Our bodies will slowly go but lets try to  keep our minds sharp and our spirit alive! Or at the least, we have to keep out of the ways of youth. Let them discover their own values, their own path to God and their own music, and heed what they are saying:

No more destination, No more pain,

Well, he said, “One thing before I graduate

Never let fear decide your fate.”

I say ya kill your heroes

And fly, fly, baby don’t cry

No need to worry cuz everyone will die

Every day we just go, go baby don’t go

Don’t you worry

We just love you more than you know.

– AWOL Nation

Yes, kill your heroes. Forget the scripture. Burn all your books. Kill the Buddha if you see him on your path. (Not literally of course. The meaning is: your relationship with the Source is the prime directive.)

The important thing is to keep the Urantia community youthful, energetic and exciting to be a part of. The youth must bring back that energy that once made the Urantia culture a vibrant and exciting venue for spiritual expression. Have gatherings that you truly enjoy!

Do you enjoy sitting around listening to lectures? Do you like churchy gatherings where people are singing religious hymns? (Ugh! Not for me!)  Do you find Urantia gatherings truly interesting and can’t wait for the next one? If not, how can you make it more attractive and fulfilling? Because if you don’t enjoy the program and find it truly exciting, why would other people your own age want to join you?

I know it may be an uphill battle because many of the older readers are entrenched in their ways; as they get older they want staid, boring gatherings where they don’t have to exert much physical or mental energy. They want to teach younger people their values and get them away from the frivolous partying and having fun. They may even get overly sanctimonious and intolerant. Just what we need to turn creative people off. It is understandable that some of the older readers want to shepherd the younger readers into learning what they have learned. It helps those younger readers who need to learn by rote. But the truly creative and imaginative youths who will become the new leaders should experience the truths for themselves. They may need to make mistakes, the price of experiential learning, and for this they need a wide open environment, where they can explore life at will. Older readers, let them be!

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

-Bob Dylan

But no worries. Like I said, reach within. Relax. Since money is short and membership is down, it may be time to shift the focus from outreach to inreach. Lets get our act together first, individually and collectively. Apply the teachings of the UB to our daily lives. Experience spiritual connection, don’t just read about it. Do the inner work. Learn to identify your soul and allow it to make decisions in your life. Remember, all action derives from the existential center –the First Source. Once you learn to connect regularly with the center,  you will intuitively know what actions to take. When you have embodied your highest self, good things will come about naturally without being forced. Jesus said be whole and righteous and live a truth-coordinated life. That does not necessarily mean living like a saint or adhering strictly to the text in the scripture of your choice. It means to find truth, beauty and goodness in your own hearts and express that love to others – through music, the arts, writing, drama, sports, business, politics, healthful living and personal relationships. And the best way to find truth, beauty and goodness in yourself is by going within and connecting to the divine spirit regularly. Get inspired! Be of good cheer! Make life interesting!

(1726.2) 155:1.5 “…The extent to which you have to go with your message to the people is, in a way, the measure of your failure to live the whole or righteous life, the truth-co-ordinated life.”

Youthful Urantia Book readers, your numbers may be small but you have the benefit of the many good works from older readers. It is getting time for you to take over. It is important to note and remember the history of our social/spiritual culture so as not to repeat the same mistakes, but each generation must have its own energy, its own values, its own art and vision and it’s own way of brightening the light within so that it can shine out.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

Spread the word ❤

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3 thoughts on “An Inner Approach”

  1. The Fellowship’s numbers are not down, they’re up. We’ve added more members in the last two years than in the previous ten years. We created a new standing committee for the first time in our 57 year history, specifically for young people and they have their own budget. They may not have as much money in that budget as they would like but it’s more than anyone else is giving them to do their meaningful projects. At IC’11 and at IC’14 young people have had and will have a prominent role in program and the entire event. Angie Thurston is the chair of IC’14, in Amherst MA. She’s in her mid-twenties. We’ve added both Angie and Teuvo to our governing body, the General Council. Angie is probably the youngest person ever to be elected to the Council.

    We have more money now than in our history, so it’s understandable that we would struggle to manage it in the best ways possible and make the most of it. We want to support this younger generation for many years to come, and the young people coming after them and so on. If we really want this Urantia movement to thrive we need to all get behind it. We have to create a culture of giving because many hands really do make light work.

    As for conference attendance, yes it’s down. But there are many factors that contribute to that. The movement is aging and that does require consideration. Older people can afford to attend, but they require special consideration for comfort and mobility. It would be unfair to them if we decided to camp out in a field somewhere. Young people can’t seem to afford the kind of accommodations that the older people have to have. They would love to camp out in a field and keep it affordable. The Fellowship has laid out thousands of dollars in youth scholarships for the last two International Conferences not to mention all the funds we’ve extended to support Truthseekers, the YaYA Invitational Conferences and other mini-conferences.

    Also consider that we used to have one group, the Brotherhood/Fellowship, doing conferences. Now we have The Fellowship, the UAI, the United Urantia Family, the YaYAs, the Teaching Mission, as well local societies and reader groups all doing conferences, mini-conferences and retreats. That’s not a bad thing but it does dilute attendance at the bigger events. The economy is certainly another factor.

    As for churchy, I’m not sure what you mean. Churchy because we worship together once a year at a conference? Like we ever get that chance at any other time? We don’t have a single church or even a building or a center of activity in 57 years. We don’t have ministers, or tithes or songs or traditions. Churchy? We might do better if we did take a page from churches. They seem to get more accomplished than we do.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Paula, and the tremendous work you’ve been doing for the Fellowship. To clarify, I used the word “churchy” to describe a general feeling. Maybe I’m getting it from the trend to accept the book as scripture, making it a religion of authority rather than of experience. Also, I noticed the “big brother” attitude at IC11 of controlling the behavior of conference attendees by not making alcohol available. It’s understandable and I was not against it at that time, but after going to the conference, there was something uncomfortable and divisive about it.

      I think the Fellowship has done a great job getting the youth to step up except for one glaring instance. At IC11, the youth picked the workshops that would be presented, at least that’s what I was told. But most of them didn’t attend the conference, being away at youth activities. It didn’t make any sense to me. I think the youth should be more integrated into the community instead of separating them. Just my opinion.

      1. I agree with you, Richard. I think it’s good to keep younger readers involved with the larger community. We should not be segregated from each other.

        For years Mae Lee has worked by my side at the conference stores. When she was 9, she ran the credit card machine and worked as hard as any volunteer at IC’05. I asked her if she wanted to go to the “kid’s program” and she had absolutely no desire to leave the store. She felt like being of service was a much more interesting way to spend her time there. Our beautiful community lavished her with praise for her service and she fell in love with us. Wow! She loves being with us and how cool is that? We are intelligent, amazing, loving, positive and kind. Why wouldn’t she love us?

        We make a mistake to think that all young people just want to get away from us. Some love being with us and being of service and some want to study and learn about the revelation. What could be wrong with that?

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