From the President – Autumn 10
With 2010 now well underway, I reflect how 2009 was dominated by ANZURA’s effort at The Parliament of World Religions. The Sydney conference in September offered time and space for some rehearsing and positive criticism of our proposed presentations, and helped lay the groundwork for the organisational effort required.
As usual, Trevor and Kathleen Swadling played a major role, with Kathleen standing in for her daughter, Merindi, who had her first baby just as the parliament was finishing. Vern Verass put his design skills to work on the book booth and brochures made available during the parliament.
A very welcome opportunity was provided by Steve Shanahan, a well known Melbourne reader, who hosted an evening at his house in Melbourne the day before the parliament opened. Overseas visitors could thus be greeted and welcomed by ANZURA, while being fed a sumptuous meal by Steve. There were visitors from USA, Canada, Finland, Germany and possibly others, as well as Australian visitors from interstate.
Many of those present volunteered to help man the book booth at the parliament, through which a couple of hundred books were distributed to interested members of the public and parliament attendees. Some of them seemed to be experienced and accomplished personal workers, many of whom had attended previous parliaments. There was a great sense of camaraderie among those workers at the book booth, and the booth itself became a focal point for Urantia Book readers to meet one another and exchange experiences.
The workshop presentation of The Urantia Book was given by Kathleen Swadling, Nigel Nunn and myself, to a small audience of about forty or fifty people, of whom perhaps half were new to the book. The presentation seemed well received, Nigel being in particularly good form.
At the conclusion of the parliament, some of the Americans invited us to their fl at for an evening meal and farewell gathering. I think ANZURA can be proud of the way The Urantia Book presence at the parliament was handled. A lot of thought and work went into it, and the result was a thoroughly well organised effort which constituted productive outreach and great fun to be part of.
As for other matters, 2010 looks to being a quieter year than 2009. Julian McGarry is well advanced with planning for ANZURA’s annual conference in Hobart. Further information appears in this issue.
From the President – Winter 2010
As this is the last Arena before my term as president expires, I think it’s a good time to reflect a little upon the last few years of ANZURA activities.
While our membership has remained static for the last few years, our activity level has risen. Such things as the extension of our annual Study Day to international status, our hosting of the Urantia Book presence at the Parliament of World Religions, and the presence and high performance of two ANZURA members on the International Service Board of UAI spring immediately to mind. In addition, the creation of the ANZURA website provides us with a new and ex-panded window to the world. The work that has gone into these projects reflects well the dedication and persistence of those members involved, and is a credit to the small teams who brought them about. We have continued our support of the Urantia Foundation office in Sydney, and book sales from there have remained steady.
It looks as though there are big changes on the way for books, as new electronic techniques are altering read-ing habits, and consequently book distribution needs to be carefully reconsidered. The Foundation is currently developing new approaches to the dissemination of the revelation, and ANZURA will have to adapt in order to conform with the new reality, whatever it turns out to be. On page 1086:4 we are instructed that we must adapt to continuous rapid change for many centuries, and this looks like one of those changes.
Sometimes I find myself discouraged by the apparent lack of progress of the revelation in Australia. We live in an increasingly secular society which sees no need for God or spiritual truth. But the revelation encourages us to remember that “the act is ours; the consequences God’s”, and we can only press on with faith that sooner or later our countrymen will return to the fold of faith and progress
I would like to remind members that ANZURA’s funding base is still very insecure. There are less than a dozen regular financial contributors, and each year requires the treasurer to depend on ad hoc contributions to balance the budget. More fundraising efforts need to be made if the association is to service readers effectively.
If there were one wish above all others to be granted me, it would be an end to the antagonism between UAI and the Fellowship which has done so much to con-fuse the readership over the last couple of decades. The current president of UAI, Gaetan Charland, has begun positive moves towards that end, and ANZURA members who attended the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne last year will recall how well we worked with Fellowship members in presenting The Urantia Book at that event. I hope that ANZURA will continue to work positively to foster warm fraternal relations with the Fellowship.
My term as president has been blessed with a secretary and governing board who have been dedicated and efficient in disposing of the work of the association. I could not have asked for a better team with whom to serve. I hope to see you all at the annual conference in Hobart in October.
From the President – Summer 10
It is truly an honour to be writing this for the Arena as the new President of ANZURA. The terms for the former President William Wentworth and former Secretary Rita Schaad expired at the last AGM. Merindi Belarski was voted in as the new Secretary. Robert Coenraads remains the Vice President and Trevor Swadling the Treasurer. Their terms expire next year. Marion Steward remains the ANZURA Representative for New Zealand.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing President and Secretary, William and Rita for their tireless service over the last four years to ANZURA and the Urantia revelation. They will be a tough act to follow. I have always appreciated William’s worldly wisdom, his frankness and his utter devotion to the revelation. He has been a trusting and loyal friend and I have often turned to him for his council over the years; I’m sure I will continue to do so. Rita has been a wonderful Secretary working quietly behind the scenes making everything happen. She is one of the most selfless, willing and able people I know and she has agreed to continue on as ANZURA’s Administrative Assistant. The new Board looks forward to having Rita as part of the essential Support Committee.
This is the first time our new Secretary, Merindi Belarski has served on ANZURA’s Governing Board. She is also the Vice-President of the Urantia Association International, so she will bring a good international perspective to the Board as well as some excellent administrative and organisational skills. (Merindi and Vern Verass, who is the Communications Chair of the Association recently visited Chicago for some important meetings. You will read a report on their experiences in this issue.)
The conference in Tasmania was a great success thanks to Julian McGarry and his Tasmanian team. This is the first conference hosted by the Tasmanian readers and we trust that Tasmania will now be part of the rotating circle of conference destinations. You will read a report on the conference by Julian in this issue so I won’t steal his thunder by telling you all about it. However I will say that I believe the theme chosen for the conference —“Worshiping and Serving our Father; Attaining the Highest Levels of Self-realisation”—was an extremely important one. It’s the first conference I have ever been to where the entire theme focused on the subjects of worship and service and their hand-in-hand relationship as revealed in The Urantia Book. It was a great reminder for all present how this powerful aspect is at the very core of the Urantia teachings.
The Victorian readers have graciously agreed to host next year’s conference so stay tuned for the details. I hope you enjoy reading this issue of The Arena.