Reflections of 2018 Conference, QLD

The 2018 ANZURA conference was held between the 5th to the 8th October at the Alexandra Headland Conference Centre, Queensland, Australia. The venue was set among the peaceful Queensland bushland and offered a lovely background chorus of native bird calls.

One of things I cherish when in the company of readers of The Urantia Book is that I’m able to talk about anything book related and experience understanding, recognition and further discussion on the topic. I know I won’t agree with everyone on everything and remind myself that what matters is “unity not uniformity”.

Friday afternoon and the attendees arrived, greeted by Graeme C, the organiser of this conference, assisted by Rita Schaad. There were many new faces and old friends from the 1988 international conference in Robertson, NSW.

It’s always really interesting to be presented with different perspectives and other thoughts of other readers, and the presentations on Saturday were no exception. The conference theme was “God Does Not Play Dice”. “God is not a cosmic accident; neither is he a universe experimenter… the Universal Father sees the end from the beginning, and his divine plan and eternal purpose actually embrace and comprehend all the experiments and all the adventures of all his subordinates.”

[…] God is not a cosmic accident; neither is he a universe experimenter. […] but the Universal Father sees the end from the beginning, and his divine plan and eternal purpose actually embrace and comprehend all the experiments and all the adventures of all his subordinates in every world, system, and constellation in every universe of his vast domains. [Paper 2:1.4, page 34.3]

The presentations were on Saturday and are available in more detail elsewhere in this edition of Arena. The topics were as follows:

  1. Graeme C, “An introduction to the theme and an account of gaps in scientific understanding that provide for the possibility of many exciting, cosmic ‘God-like’ phenomena”.
  2. Robert Coenraads, “A pictorial history of Urantia with emphasis on the under-explained, potentially guided, aspects of biological evolution.
  3. Dylan Roberts, presented the findings of his Urantia Book Reader’s survey from earlier this year. Dylan had requested readers to submit 300 words describing what they think is the main message The Urantia Book.
  4. Susan Hemmingsen, “How Important are the Warnings about Race Improvement in The Urantia Book?”.
  5. Neil Francey gave an update on some of his Urantia Book educational projects and derivative works. Previous publications from Neil have appeared in previous editions of Arena.
  6. Julian McGarry gave a talk, “Proclaiming the Religion of Jesus”, outlining the work he is doing reaching out to peoples of other faiths. It was heart-warming to know how harmonious this has been to date. Julian is organising a larger gathering in January next year in Hobart, Tasmania.

Much laughter accompanied the light hearted game of “guess who I am” on Saturday night. Three people at a time sat with a cardboard crown on which was written a personality from The Urantia Book, and by asking questions, the three had to guess who they were.

Robert’s daughter Francesca turned 21 around conference time, and Robert had put together a slideshow showing her attendance at many conferences over the years. It was fascinating to watch her growth over this time, and to witness the lovely young woman she has become. Supper that night included birthday cake.

On Sunday morning we broke away into smaller study groups and studied one of the “Jesus Papers” from Part 4. The smaller groups gave the opportunity both to get to know others, and to hear varied viewpoints.

This was followed by the AGM and the resignation of William Wentworth who has given his time and talents for the past 3 decades as president and other positions on ANZURA’s Governing Board.  Julian McGarry was voted in as new president.

It is so refreshing to talk with other readers, find out how they were first introduced to The Urantia Book, and how their life experiences have been coloured by their knowledge and understanding of the Fifth Epochal Revelation.

The conference was wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know other readers in a relaxed and congenial atmosphere. Graeme needs to be congratulated for the organisation of this conference, and Rita Schaad was a lovely hostess, making sure everyone had everything they needed in a gracious and friendly way.