President’s Report—Autumn 2017
I indulge myself by reversing the order of events and bringing the latest to the fore. Last week the Canberra Study Group made the trip to Sydney to share in the Sydney Group’s regular monthly study. It was a resounding success. The Sydney group treated us Canberra dwellers as if we were already part of their group, and the level of discussion was definitely elevated above what it would likely have been if the two groups had met separately. This was a classic demonstration of the value of inter-study group association. It is an enthusiasm of mine which I am delighted to see coming to fruition.
The benefit comes not simply from having a greater number of readers at the meeting, though that in itself can intensify the discussion. It is mainly that each separate group has spent time developing its particular point of view, to a certain degree of specialisation, and then combining those specialised points of view after they have been so developed. In particular, the Canberra group has a strong scientific and philosophical tendency to be combined with the Sydney group’s humanitarian and empathetic strength, producing extension of the frames of reference of both groups.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of these visits—this is Canberra’s second visit to Sydney, and Sydney have promised to make their second visit to Canberra next year. I urge other study groups to make this effort. They will be amazed at the benefit.
Sydney has the advantage that Trevor and Kathleen Swadling have a wonderful venue at their house in Mona Vale, in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where they can accommodate us all in comfort. We stayed for two nights and it was as if the study group continued for the whole time.
I was recently heartened by the news that that the division among readers which has occasioned some difficulties in America is being actively addressed by the leaders of both UAI and the Fellowship. Positive and fruitful meetings have taken place, and progress towards healing the rift has been made. Long time readers may remember some of the difficulties to do with books, translations and outreach which were encountered at the time, and negotiations to harmonise the activities of the two groups are well under way. Patience will be required, however, as the disagreements are serious and long standing. I am confident that eventually agreement will be reached.
There was an interesting election of the International Service Board (ISB) last month where there were two candidates for a position on the ISB. All other positions were elected unopposed, but the position of Education Chair was contested by two well qualified candidates. The first ballot resulted in one of the candidates receiving a majority, but that majority was less than sixty percent of the votes cast, sixty percent being the requirement, so the ballot was declared invalid and a new one called. On the second ballot, one of the candidates did receive the necessary sixty percent because some of those in the RC who had not voted in the first ballot were prevailed upon to vote. It was interesting to me as I was on the election committee, but was unaware that the required majority was sixty percent rather than a simple majority.
This issue of Arena contains information about the International Study Day for this year, and also for the 2017 ANZURA annual conference in Melbourne which is already being planned. Make sure you keep those dates clear!
President’s Report – Winter 2017
The International Study Day is now behind us for this year, and it was the usual success. Study groups from many parts of the world read papers 98 and 99 on the same weekend and some of their reports can be found in this issue.
The next major event will be the ANZURA annual conference, to be hosted this year by the Melbourne study group at Hepburn Springs in September/October. Planning for the conference is well under way and the details are contained in the brochure at the end of this issue. While it is never too late to register, the sooner you do so the easier it makes the logistics for the hosts. The theme they have chosen—The Challenge of Survival—will be of interest to any student of the revelation and should produce some interesting discussion.
Not long ago the governing board of ANZURA was informed that the membership committee of Urantia Association International (UAI) plans to survey the entire membership to ascertain our hopes and expectations of our participation.
Because ANZURA is affiliated with UAI, any member of ANZURA is automatically a member of UAI. Normally direct contact with UAI takes place through your elected president and vice-president, together with any ANZURA members serving on the International Service Board of UAI. My understanding is that this survey will ask for your input directly. I hope most of you will feel able to respond.
I would like to add that ANZURA is purely a service organisation whose function is to assist readers of The Urantia Book in their studies and to foster the study groups they form. There is no ideological or political function, or any organised proselytization involved. Help is offered to anyone studying the book. There is no requirement or pressure to join any organisation or association. The same principles apply to UAI, and if you do not feel comfortable responding to the survey, then do not respond.
That said, your input will be valuable to UAI if you do choose to respond.
I look forward to seeing you at annual conference in September.
President’s Report – Summer 2017/18
The most important event to report on is the ANZURA annual conference which was hosted this year by the Melbourne Study Group. They found a wonderful venue in Hepburn Springs west of Melbourne where Continental House accommodated and fed us more sumptuously than we are accustomed to. Ian and Isobel Esmore managed accommodation while Bevan James acted as MC. There were attendees from all the eastern states, as well as visitors from USA and Hawaii. We very much missed the New Zealanders who were not able to make it this year.
We heard presentations from Bevan and Ian as well as Dennis D’Jong, Graeme Chapman and Jeff Wattles. Jeff was visiting from USA and gave an inspiring address. As well as being a long time reader, Jeff is a retiring Professor of philosophy, with a new book on sale now. Geri Johnson from Hawaii gave a workshop on laughter which had us in stitches! Sunday worship was conducted by Rita Schaad and Isobel.
Thank you Melbourne for a great conference. Next year it is Brisbane’s turn, and Graeme Chapman tells us he has organised the venue in Mooloolaba we had in 2012.
The ANZURA AGM was held as usual. Minutes are being circulated. Two positions on the board were up for election, Vice-President and New Zealand Representative. Neville Twist agreed in absentia to stand again for Vice-President. The position of New Zealand representative has been accepted by Matt Hall.
The board now consists of:
President William Wentworth
Vice-President Neville Twist
Secretary Phillip Marriott
Treasurer Trevor Swadling
NZ Rep Matt Hall
The new website is almost finished. Kathleen Swadling, Communications Chair of the ISB has been one of the driving forces, and the design skills of Vern Verass have also been put to good use. Kathleen will let us know when everything is complete. Try it now at https://anzura.urantia-association.org/
The Zoom meeting held by the ISB went ahead recently. Originally it had been proposed to discuss whether ANZURA could participate in the Continental Co-ordinator program envisaged by the ISB. The meeting was more of a series of progress reports by participants, with the New Zealanders explaining their recently established on-line study group and progress towards their Wellington mini-conference. The Australians gave details of the outreach efforts being made in Hobart and Sydney. Discussion of the Continental Co-ordinator position led to talk of the possibility of further presence of ANZURA at Indian book fairs which have proved quite successful in the past.
For the future, more emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging younger members to take on board positions and organisational roles. As a reader service organisation we strive to keep bureaucracy to a minimum, but some effort has to be made to keep things running. Some of us are approaching our use-by dates, and younger blood is needed.
Enjoy this issue.