Urantia Brotherhood Association -- Successor to the former Urantia Brotherhood
by Seppo Kanerva, 1992
The special assignment of Urantia organizations is exclusively with the fate and destiny of the teachings of The Urantia Book, which is not to be seen as an end in itself, but a means to an end. Urantia organizations are service organizations which concern themselves exclusively with the teachings of The UrantiaBook, not with the societal and other implications of these teachings.
Knowing full well the overwhelming power of the teachings of The Urantia Book, we may state that a reader of The Urantia Book, sooner or later, begins to feel that he or she must do something.He or she will try to live the teachings, and then seek association with other readers for the purpose of sharing his or her experiences with them, learning from their experiences, and in order to do something in concert with others. He or she will be possessed by an urge to disseminate the teachingsand to convince his fellow mortals of their superiority. The desire and urge to associate with others, to disseminate the teachings and to distribute the book are so strong that nothing human can prevent them from materializing, from becoming translated into organizations, groups, distribution channels etc. And if there is nobody or no body to give guidance and direction, this urge leads to mistakes, errors, disappointments, futile attempts, and finally to confusion -- as soon as any higher number of similarly motivated people start acting in a disorganized manner. A certain amount of organization, management and guidance, hence, is necessary.
An analysis of the reasons for the failure of the past Urantia Brotherhood reveals a considerable number of factors the reappearance of which has to be prevented for the new reader organization to be viable, meaningful, lasting, Foundation supportive, self‑correcting, and in line with the guiding principles of slow growth, minimal organization and proper procedures. At least the following factors may be seen as having contributed to the failure of the former Urantia Brotherhood:
1. Attempted Churchification:
Urantia Brotherhood was confused and confounded with the brotherhood of man. This ideology was never crystallized or committed into writing, but it was mentally present. Brotherhood members had little -- when it came to the most crucial issue, nothing -- to say about the activities, management or conduct of the organization. Instead, the center, i.e. the General Council and the Executive Committee, determined the policies of the Brotherhood. Moreover, the two bodies, the Council and the Executive Committee, were dominated by a few strong‑willed individuals. The General Council was a body consisting of individuals who represented only themselves; they did not have mandates from any particular Society, study group or reader group.
Attempts were made to transform UrantiaBrotherhood into a religious and spiritual organization rather than it being a social organization with the objective of realizing and socializing the teachings of the Fifth Epochal Revelation. There existed a preconceived idea that a reader had to be or become spiritual, or she had to be nice, well-meaning, smiling, always of good cheer, loving, affected, and enthused to join in officiated activites; he or she was prescribed to be abhorrent to disagreements, disputes, or differences of opinion. He or she was also supposed to be enthused about, and to respond positively to, any -- even erroneous or censurable -- methods and measures that wer marketed as book promoting. If someone did not fit into this preconceived behavioral pattern, they were to be censured. To reject such a person became a virtue, a trait of accepted, and the only acceptable, behavior. These were the norms and standards.
2. Dislocation of priorities:
The activities of the former Brotherhood were apt to make members busy themselves more with anything but the actual reading and study of the book, living and disseminating its teachings on a person-to-person basis, and training teachers and leaders. Energy, human and material resources, were instead wasted on politics, study group control, concerns for the distribution of the book, pushing the sales figures up, concerns for the number of conference participants, in studies into the origins of the book, and finally, on plotting against and discrediting Urantia Foundation, which opposed this kind of development.
Not the teachings of The Urantia Book, but anything that was about it or around it became important. One manifestation of this was the shift of focus from the teachings of The Urantia Book to an exaggerated concern for sales and distribution of the book itself.
For some people their ego became more important than the treasure they were entrusted with helping to disseminate. This "special persons," self‑importance attitude was the underlying factor in many a strange episode, many a devious action and distorted opinion. The work of organizations is of most import, to be taken with a sense of gravity; participants themselves are to internalize the attitude that they are the unselfish "servers of all."
The UrantiaBook is an epochal revelation; one mus not impatiently, expect some immediate results already in one's own lifetime. The organization should be there, not to evangelize or attract, but to serve, to be available when needed.
3. Ars pro arte.
Art for the sake of art, organization for the sake of organization. The former Brotherhood was blessed with an oversized structure and complex procedures, which involved a great deal of work and energy just for the sake of continuing the organization and keeping its numerous bodies busy.
Now We Are About To Create A New Organization
The new organization, here tentatively called Urantia Brotherhood Association -- UBA -- will be an international Service organization, networking readers of The Urantia Book all over the world. And for the new organization to be in line with the teachings of The Urantia Book, and for it to become a feature of the general evolution of mankind, we need to set the goals for it. For the new organization to be in a better position to fufill its purposes, it is also important to understand the aspects that we have to avoid.
The negative aspects, viz. what is to be avoided and precluded:
1. Confusing Urantia Brotherhood Association with the Kingdom of Heaven, viz. structuring a new Church or sect.
2. Letting politics become the major concern within Urantia Brotherhood.
3. Exposure of readers and study groups to politics.
4. Control and manipulation of unsuspecting and sincere readers and their study groups.
5. Complex organization, inviting readers to focus their attention on something other than the teachings of the book.
6. "Special persons" attitude, ego exaltation.
7. Letting short‑term difficulties obscure future and foreseeable benefits.
8. Focusing on book sales, distribution of the book, publicity for the book; or on something other (messages, miracles, channelling) than the teachings of The Urantia Book.
9. Disloyalty to Urantia Foundation.
Positive aspects, viz. what are the needs to be accompmodated, the goals to be achieved:
1. The desire of honest, sincere readers to be of service and help, to be "the servers of all."
2. Encouragement for the formation of thousands of study groups.
3. Training of study group teachers, leaders, facilitators, hosts.
4. Education of members as it concerns the underlying principl.es of the organizational structure, about the importance of the copyright and the trademarks.
5. Minimal organization, open to natural, evolutionary growth.
6. Proper procecdures.
7. Balance between democracy and self-weilled subordination.
8. Encouragement for members to live their own personal faith, to disseminate the teachings, to be active and spiritually attractive in their daily life, within their familites, work places, churches, their business, in the community and society at large.
9. Interaction between readers, experience sharing, not only locally or nationally but internationally as well.
10. Loyalty to Urantia Foundation, the safekeeper of the Fifth Epochal Revelation.
Proposed Organization to Accommodate the Above Concerns and Opportunities
The guiding principle imbedded in the international organization of Urantia Brotherhood Association would be that of separating the study of The Urantia Book from administration and service to study groups and readers. The core an dnucleus of the new structure would consist of, at the initial stage, national Urantia Associations, loyal to Urantia Foundation.
The concerns that pertain to loyalty to Urantia Foundation, adequate knowledge about the teachings of The Urantia Book, awareness of the importance to adhere to certain principles, of the meaning of the registered marks, licensing agreement, the Declaration of Trust, the purposes and objectives of the Association can and must be addressed -- in principle -- in the uniform constitution of each Urantia Association.
A Urantia Association is a service organization catering to study groups and individual readers. Its members are devoted and loyal readers who want to serve their fellow readers and also their fellow human beings by encouraging and helping readers to form study groups, by offering help and sassistance, by training study group teachers, leaders, facilitators or hosts, all this only at request, in a benign way, without any pushiness or coercion, without any self-interest involved.
The Association can also help readers to make contact with other readers, to publish a periodical or a newsletter wherein readers can publish their articles, share their experiences, ask questions and give answers to each other. The Association can likewise, from time-to-time or on a regular basis, arrange national or regional conferences. Another very important task of the Association is that of being in unbroken contact with Urantia Foundation as well as with Urantia Associations in other countries, and to participate and assist in fundraisers for the benefit of the parent organization, Urantia Foundation.
The Association is a service organization, hence, the members do not expect the Association to serve them, on the contrary, they place, to the best of their abilities, their skills, knowledge, experience and goodwill in the service of others. While it involves a considerable work load to assume an office or committee or board membership in the Association, the urge of wielding power and politicking becomes a secondary concern, and there is a chance of it disappearing almost completely.
An Association is a democratic organization, consisting of service-mindedreaders, who convene once a year in an annual meeting, there to elect the necessary administrative body and the working committees, to adopt a budget, and to be given an account on the activities of the past year as well as to make other pertinent decisions.
Urantia Foundation may choose to ask an Association to assist the Foundation in the implementation of specified programmes. Study groups are not a part of the Urantia Association structure, they are independent, self-governing groups, with full freedom to choose their working methods and their own ways of reading and studying the book. They may freely choose to ask for help from the Association. The Association, however, may take the initiative to form a study group or encourage someone to take such an initiative. But once the group has been formed, the Association has no intention of interfering in its affairs; the Association provides service only upon request. The Association may consider if it can afford, for example, to provide the study groups with its publications or even copies of The Urantia Book itself.
Individual readers. The Association may maintain a mailing list consisting of people whom it knows to be interested in The Urantia Book or who right away have requested such a service. Mailing list readers are invited to participate in, and attend, Association-arranged conferences and meetings (formal meetings excluded), and occasionally, if not regularly, the Association may choose to send its newsletter or other information to the whole of the mailing list. The Association should include Friends of Urantia Foundation in its mailing list, if the Foundation finds such an inclusion proper and justified.
Flexible and minimal organization. At the initial stage there will be just a few national Urantia Associations. With the number of readers growing in any given region, they may choose first to form a non‑licensed association of readers or students (without the right to use the marks Urantia or the Concentric-Circles Symbol, and of course, without this association belonging to the formal international organization of Urantia Brotherhood Association. Along with the growth of awareness, with ever more people realizing the need for for organized and formalized manners of working together and with the Fouindation, this association or group may, in due course of tieme, decide to apply for a license and adopt a constitution of a Urantia Association thereby becoming another Urantia Association.
In the course of time, the members of a given national Urantia Association may conclude that their association has grown out of proportion, that it would be easier for them to split up into two regional associations (each perhaps covering one half of the national territory). And as the nubmer of members in each association keeps growing, sooner or later they may choose to spolit up one more time, and so on. Int he geographically or demographically larger countries, it may happen that already at the inital stage, for the sake of convenience, there will be more than one Association. Some time in the future, there may be a Urantia Association first in each state, province, or department of a federal formation; then much later, in each city, town and community.
As soon as there exist several associatoins within the same national territory, these association may find it profitable to act together in some issues, for example, in convening and staging a national conference, or an international one, or to organize teacher training or to call artists together or simply for the purpose of producing a high‑quality national periodical and to achieve this, they may set up an ad hoc committee. But for the sake of keeping the organizational structure uncomplicated, simple and minimal, there need not be any formal organizational structuring for that purpose. The formation of such a committee is sometihing the respoective associations may agree upon among themselves.
Urantia Brotherhood Association is an international networking body uniting the national Urantia Associations. For the purpose of keeping politics as much as possible away from the whole complex of Urantia Associations, Urantia Brotherhood Association needs to be an international service organization without any elected bodies. Urantia Brotherhood Association would consist of national and regional Urantia Associations, which enjoy full freedom and democaracy within a constitutionally determined framework. The international centre itself, though, should be an affiliate of Urantia Foundation only.
Urantia Brotherhood Association would serve national associations by providing teacher training, possibly bypublishing an international newsletter/periodical, by arranging continental and worldwide conferences and reader get-togethers.
While this presentation covers only the proposed international Urantia Brotherhood Association, it refrains from discussing, in detail, other aspects, other structures and entities of the whole movement. But as a whole, there would be a non‑intrusive, benign, service-minded movement offering various degrees of reader involvement (and non‑involvement):
Inclusion in national Urantia Association mailing list: The reader is exclusively a recipient, he or she is not required to do anything. He (she) receives information on developments, events, conferences, opportunities for book studies etc. from the national Urantia Association, and is offered to pledge funding; he (she) is invited to take part in studies, to get in touch with other readers through meeting or conference participation.
Inclusion in Urantia Foundation mailing list: The reader is exclusively a recipient, with no requirements laid upon him. He or she receives information on the activities of the Foundation, and is asked to pledge funding.
Participation in the Friends of Urantia Foundation: The reader declares voluntarily to support Urantia Foundation. He (she) is included in the Foundation mailing list.
Membership in a local -- autonomous and independent -- Study Group: Of his or her free will, the reader joins a study group and pledges to honour the procedures of that group.