25th to 28th September 2009
Happy are the Peacemakers
Religion – the Property of the Human Race
This year’s ANZURA conference was held at the Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park on the shores of the beautiful Narrabeen Lagoon on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The members of the Sydney Study Group hosted the conference and readers came from Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, Newcastle and the Central Coast.
When the study group members met to plan the program for the conference there was a preliminary discussion on the upcoming Parliament of the World’s Religions that is being held in Melbourne in December. As many of us are involved in the Parliament and plan to attend, it only seemed fitting that the conference program be designed to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the interaction with other religionists. As a consequence the conference theme evolved from our many discussions about religion and the human race.
Naturally enough, with a topic that related to so many facets of our personal spiritual journeys as well as the social evolution of religion, the members of the Sydney study group became very inspired with many ideas for the program. We decided to allocate short presentation time slots to allow members to present the diversity of their ideas and viewpoints. We weren’t disappointed with this approach. Not only did it give the presenters a unique opportunity to delve into an in depth study of their topic and to exercise their presentation abilities, it also kept the conference attendees engaged and interested and left them with loads to discuss and ponder.
We ended up with the following presentation themes and presenters: Defining Religion in The Urantia Book – Daniel Swadling, The Blue Print of Happiness – Bernie Belarski, Getting to Know God – Julian Martin, Social Repercussions of Religion – Robyn Hromek, Religion – the Property of the Human Race – Trevor Swadling, Spiritual Unity and Cultural Diversity – Robert Coenraads. In addition Nigel Nunn and William Wentworth gave a joint presentation titled Peacemakers and Pioneers which was designed to be a practice run of the workshop they intend to give at the Parliament in December.
As well as the presentations there were break out study groups where we all read Paper 101, The Real Nature of Religion; a panel discussion based around a list of questions set out by the facilitator Merindi Belarski; a Sunday morning worship session beautifully orchestrated by Rita Schaad; a stroll along Little Narrabeen beach and a hike up to the headland where the ocean views were breathtaking and invigorating and the conversations were choc-a-bloc with meaning and value; fun times in the evenings with music and some creative games designed by Robyn Hromek; an hilarious fundraising auction conducted by Julian Martin; and closing discussions on outreach opportunities and general wrap up of the weekend’s activities.
Then of course we can never hold a conference without making time for ANZURA’s AGM. The usual business matters were discussed and elections for Vice President and Treasurer were held. Robert Coenraads and Trevor Swadling were re-elected to these positions respectively. William Wentworth continues as President and Rita Schaad as Secretary. Marion Steward replaced Neville Twist as the New Zealand Representative. Julian McGarry from Hobart offered to host next year’s conference in Tasmania. This offer was greeted with much enthusiasm; it will be the first time an ANZURA conference is held in Tasmania. We wish Julian all the best with this new venture and will give him and his Tassie team as much support as they’ll need. Stay tuned for further details on the 2010 ANZURA conference in Tasmania.