Our conference this year in August was held earlier than usual due to a mistake with booking reservations after Covid. Actually, it turned out to be a perfect time of the year. The springtime weather had already come to the gardens of the venue in Pymble – the Peter Canisius House, and we spent our morning teas in the lovely surrounds of this former Jesuit College.
There were 27 of us, made up of Urantia Book readers from all over Australia and New Zealand. In our conference folders we found a newly fashioned catalogue for the secondary works products we purchased last year. They were displayed on a large table close to the tearoom so our little ‘shop’, with many interesting publications, was very well supported – all proceeds from sales go to ANZURA. (See the full conference report further in this issue.)
The AGM on Sunday was held with members present, and some other non-members were welcome to attend also. Our business was efficiently dealt with, and elections were held for a new Vice President and Treasurer. Our Secretary, Merindi Belarski beamed in via Zoom! The new board consists now of:
President – Rita Schaad
Vice President – Pre McGee (replaced Ian Campbell)
Secretary – Merindi Swadling
Treasurer – Robert Coenraads (replaced Daniel Swadling)
New Zealand Representative – Marion Steward
We welcome Pre and Robert to the board and look forward to working with you both. Many thanks go to Ian Campbell from New Zealand and Daniel Swadling from Sydney who had served their two terms on the board for four years. And we give another big thank you to the Swadling brothers, Daniel and Andrew who worked on the conference theme and program and planned the execution of this conference, which was packed with stimulating presentations, inspiring conversations and even a fun-filled quiz night. May we all meet again next year!
Our next conference will be held in Victoria next year 4 – 7 October 2024. We are lucky to have secured a booking at the Edmund Rice Centre in Amberley, Lower Plenty, Melbourne. We held a conference there back in 2007. Members of the Melbourne Study Group have graciously volunteered to be our hosts and have already begun the organization of this event. See further details in this Arena.
I’d like to share with you a few of my recent musings on what it means to be qualified to ‘have and opinion’.
With all the current upheavals in the world, I have searched on YouTube and read articles to find some ideas of how to understand what is going on. There are more opinions out there than I need to digest my queries; some of the presenters I trust more than others. I tend to go by my gut-level feeling with these influential people – if the content is qualitative, and if my understanding and experiences match up, then I am ready to come to a conclusion about a particular issue I want clarification for. A great help in forming my own opinions is to find some background – look for historical events that go back beyond my living years and consult the archives. Of course, this might lead me down a ‘rabbit hole’ where I come out another end altogether. But all this searching for truth and the right attitude is part of our living experience.
Doesn’t it say in The Urantia Book, that religion is not only about the right way of living but also about a way of thinking? This is so important to bear in mind when recognising ‘religion’ – the way we relate to the Spirit within ourselves and in others.
Another measure to bear in mind when making decisions is this quote from the book:
The soul that survives time and emerges into eternity must make a living and personal choice between good and evil as they are determined by the true values of the spiritual standards established by the divine spirit which the Father in heaven has sent to dwell within the heart of man. 132:2.2 (1457.5) emphasis mine
It is surely acceptable to orient ourselves on the wisdom of individuals who have experience in a particular field and who we consider to be qualified to have an opinion about a certain matter. We trust them and can make up our own minds about it – for the time being at least. It’s like important scaffolding, without which we cannot build anything or go forward.
I believe we need to get involved in the current issues, engage in mental work, and grapple with the difficult problems we are facing, just as we demand it from those who are in leadership positions who are making decisions for our benefit.
The third part of The Urantia Book gives us that vast historical story of our planet and its inhabitants. The evolution over millions of years is just mindboggling when we consider the myriads of minute details the Life Carriers have fostered and watched over. There must have been many disappointments and mistakes in their experiments that they had to acknowledge. The human race made sure there were plenty of upheavals and skirmishes amongst each other that perhaps would have made them scratch their heads about us.
These reflections on our evolution are a way for us to compare and gage our progress in the plan to live peaceably with each other. The scaffolding for this plan to live in peace has been dismantled over and over again, and one wonders if we’ll ever succeed in building that permanent structure, we seem to have an inner template for.
As Urantia Book readers, we learn to trust the opinions and promises of those who ‘know whereof they speak’ in order to find the priorities in our daily lives amongst the turbulence around us. We hope and trust that our opinions – ‘forged between the hammer and anvil’ do matter in the scheme of things, and the great think-tank of the Cosmic Mind offers ideas to those that search for better ways of solving today’s problems. And we hope and trust that we will get there – to a time of ‘Light and Life’ as is promised for this blue sphere while we do our part in the here and now! And personally, we do the same when contemplating what comes after we’ve closed our eyes down here. The promise has been given for increased and ongoing growth, wonder, and awe by learning and understanding ever more of what there is in our cosmic home.
Let us confidently trust and depend on the words spoken on high, while we cheerfully put our shoulders to the wheel, get dusty along the way, and dare to venture out to have and share our opinions! When speaking our Truth, let us be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves’.