From the President – Autumn 2008
With the new year well under way I suppose most study groups are meeting regularly again after the holidays. Here in Towamba we’re meeting once a week and thoroughly enjoying Part III. It’s amazing how much more there is to learn after so long—it is years since I’ve read most of these papers from beginning to end. Like many of you, I suppose, I refer to parts of them when there is something I want to check up on, but rarely read a whole paper except at study group, and I discover new and different ways of looking at the information from the group discussion. I can’t emphasise enough how important study groups are in developing a balanced view of the revelation.
On the organizational front, there has been much discussion on the UAI list about our relationship with the Fellowship. This debate breaks out every now and then among North American readers, triggered this time by the UAI president having accepted an invitation to attend the Fellowship Conference this July in Los Angeles. Opinion among UAI members covers a wide range, from suggestions to amalgamate on the one hand, to refusal to acknowledge the Fellowship’s right to exist on the other. There still seems to be plenty of heat in the debate, and a quick resolution seems unlikely. Obviously, those of us who are members of both bodies would like to see co-operation at the very least, and there are some tentative signs of an improvement in the relationship. We can only hope.
Urantia Foundation has taken the fairly dramatic step of increasing the size of the Board of Trustees from five to seven, with the appointment of two long time readers as new members of the board. On your behalf, I congratulate Judy Van Cleave and Marilynn Kulieke on their appointment. As a matter of interest, I think they are the first women to serve as trustees and they will no doubt contribute a very welcome female perspective to the board’s deliberations.
Our secretary, Rita Schaad and I are in the process of signing the new license agreement between ANZURA and the Foundation over the use of the trademarks held under copyright by the Foundation. There is not really anything substantially different from the agreement signed in 1994. The same marks are covered—the name URANTIA and the concentric circles symbol—but the terms of the new agreement are slightly more relaxed, and things like email and the internet are specifically covered. They were not mentioned in the earlier agreement because their significance was simply not foreseen at the time. We expect to have the new agreement in place in the next couple of months. In the meantime the 1994 version remains in force.
Don’t forget to keep October 17-20 free for the Canberra Conference.
From the President – Winter 2008
The Changing of the Guard
Since ANZURA came into existence in 1994 there have been only a dozen or so people who have filled its positions. Every year at the AGM the positions are rotated in accordance with the constitution—the secretary becomes the treasurer, the president retires for a year, last year’s president becomes president… you know the pattern. A small group of us run and organise everything, working as a team. This is typical of the way voluntary organisations operate.
It does have its advantages. The small group get to know one another well. They understand who can do what well, who is weak in certain areas, who has the skills for specific tasks. They develop patterns of work which manage to get the job done and the sense of responsibility to see that somehow or other it is done.
And there are rewards. To be part of a small team organising a conference is stimulating, the activities themselves are exciting, and the friendships are enduring. We learn a lot about ourselves and one another and we support one another in deepening our faith. And, of course, we enjoy the sense of achievement, knowing we have contributed something to our fellow readers.
But there are disadvantages. All small groups tend to become inbred unless shaken up from time to time. The group becomes accustomed to doing things its way, and seems to lose the ability to do them any other way. It tends to reject input from those who would like to tackle new and different activities, and likes to retain the old, the proven and the familiar. They sometimes seem to others to be an impenetrable clique which wants everything its own way and resents outside interference and protects its position by presenting a unified front to any criticism.
This is classic human politics. The longer and more entrenched the small group, the greater the tension with those outside it. It makes no difference that the group sees itself as serving the whole community, that its motives are purely for unselfish service. Still the tension arises. Neither does it make any difference that the group finds itself in this position because they have been unable to find others prepared to put up their hands to serve. Still the tension persists. It may not be obvious or overt, but it is there—and if not now it will develop. It is how humans operate.
Well, fellow members, it is crunch time.
The group who brought ANZURA into existence, and have led it through its initial years is getting old. It is time to develop a succession plan. We can’t go on for ever. New blood is needed.
This is not to say that we are all suddenly going to throw in the towel and leave you without a committee. We won’t. But it is time to find other members who are prepared to give up some of their leisure time to serve their fellows.
Ideally, one or two newcomers would accept election to the board, allowing some existing members to retire, and in this way gradually the old board would be replaced. That would allow for a degree of continuity with old policy while introducing whatever new ideas are in favour. But one way or another, some new members have to be admitted to the board if ANZURA is to outlast the terms of its originators.
It would be wonderful if there were a number of people competing to fill positions on the board. But this is wishful thinking. As with most voluntary organisations, it is a struggle to find people who are prepared to serve. It is now time to find such people. You may be one of them.
Have a think about it!
From the President – Summer 2008
As we begin the new year it might be a good time to reflect on what our life really is about, and to re-dedicate ourselves to doing God’s will. Whether this is perceived as “seeking first the kingdom of heaven”, co-operating with our indwelling adjuster, pursuing the true, beautiful and good, serving our fellows, or some other interpretation, it has the same positive effect on us. We’ll be off to a good start in 2009.
The annual conference hosted by the Canberra study group was a great success. Some thirty people attended, several of whom were attending their first conference, and participated in the high quality program we have come to expect from the Canberra group. The emphasis this year was on thought adjusters.
The 2009 conference will be hosted by the Sydney study group at the Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park, North Narrabeen, 25–28 September 2009.The ANZURA AGM was held on the Sunday evening. It was decided to elect a new standing committee—The Support Committee—to assist the Board in some of its functions, and to introduce new people into the workings of the Board. It is hoped that some of those elected to this committee will be prepared to take positions on the Board in the future.
Unfortunately, the Board election held at the meeting was a mistake, as the wrong positions were declared vacant. As a result the meeting elected a new Vice President and Treasurer when these positions were already held, and failed to elect a President and Secretary whose terms had expired.
This was corrected at a meeting in November where a quorum was assembled. The Secretary will provide full details of this embarrassment.
The November meeting in Narrabeen considered the new website which Vern Verass is developing for ANZURA. Good progress has been made. It will be a most comprehensive site, in a style conforming to the main site of Urantia Association International, and will become ANZURA’s face to the world. It is hoped to launch it in March, but that date is still a little uncertain.
The meeting also considered the session of the Parliament of World Religions to be held in Melbourne on 3rd to 9th December, 2009. ANZURA will man a booth for this event, and will make a presentation to one of the workshops. Please take note of these dates, as there will be work for any members who are able to attend.