2023 Annual Conference in Sydney

25 – 28 August 2023

We invite you to join us at the 2023 ANZURA Annual Conference that will be held 25 to 28 August at the delightful Peter Canisius House in Pymble, Sydney. (Stay tuned for information on the theme and program.)

Venue

Peter Canisius House is a retreat centre conveniently located on a five-acre site in Pymble on Sydney’s North Shore. Although it’s situated in the heart of suburbia you wouldn’t know it. As you drive into the property you might think you were out in the country. The site is steeped in history and was established by the Order of the Society of Jesus which is better known as the Jesuits. Their vision is to “Provide outstanding hospitality to our guests to share and experience a spirit of quiet and a sacred place to engage in spiritual conversations.”

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President’s Report

The radio was on in my house most days during the Christmas Season – mainly ABC Classic – and Handel’s Messiah rang out ounce again…..

Hallelujah…. The kingdom of this world;
Is become
The kingdom of our Lord – King of kings forever and ever…
And Lord of lords’……… hallelujah ……
And He shall reign forever and ever….

Never on all the worlds of this universe, in the life of any one mortal, did God ever become such a living reality as in the human experience of Jesus of Nazareth.
[Paper 196:0.3, page 2087.3]

Never on any other world among many systems and constellations – even the entire Universe of Nebadon – did transpire what happened on ours, the first and only lowly planet to have the honour of hosting Christ Michael bestowing himself in the flesh as Jesus. We are known as “the world of the cross” – the sentimental shrine of all Nebadon – we are known throughout the realm for its strife-torn past (and present) and its rebellious mortals. And this still, even after 2000 years of Adjuster indwelling in most inhabitants!

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2022 ANZURA Annual Conference Report

It is high time that man had a religious experience so personal and so sublime that it could be realized and expressed only by “feelings that lie too deep for words.” [Paper 99:5.9; page 1091.8]

Annual conferences are always the highlight of the year for ANZURA members, but this year was particularly notable because it was the first time in three years that we’ve had a face-to-face conference due to the pandemic. Comfortably accommodated at the beautiful Stewarts Bay Lodge, which is only a short walk from the Port Arthur historic site, we gathered together to focus on the ultimate personal experience – a personal and intimate relationship with the First Source and Centre of the universe of universes, our Universal Father.

Most of the conference was accessible via Zoom, which enabled visitors who were unable to attend from Australia, the United States, Canada, and Uganda. We were also delighted to be able to welcome a record contingent of our brothers and sisters from New Zealand.

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Walking the R.O.P.E – An Invitation to Intimacy with God

Julian was the main organiser of the 2022 ANZURA Conference in Tasmania and opened with this keynote address.

I would like to begin by saying that I believe this theme, this topic, is the most important one in the entire universe. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I hope that after reading the article, you will understand where I’m coming from, and maybe even agree with me. I believe it is the reason for the universe itself existing and ultimately, why we exist at all.

The Urantia Book tells us that billions of years ago, our Creator Son, Michael of Nebadon, who later incarnated on our planet as Jesus of Nazareth, was given his ‘patch of turf’ by the Universal Father on which to create his own personal universe. Moreover, he was given the mandate to bring forth millions upon millions of children for the Father, sentient mortal beings of evolutionary origin who would be capable of having a personal, intimate relationship with an indwelling  fragment of the Universal Father….our Thought Adjuster. These evolutionary, animal-origin children made from the dust of the earth would be created according to divine mandate “in the image of God” and would be required to be perfect as the Universal Father is perfect. (1:0.3, 21.3)

An extraordinary challenge, to say the least! We are further told that Michael, together with his universe consort, the Divine Minister or Universe Mother Spirit, appointed power directors and energy controllers to build a physical universe consisting of constellations, solar systems, and individual planets. (32:2.2, 358.4) Once these planets developed conditions conducive to the formation of life, Life Carriers were dispatched with the task of initiating and overseeing the evolution of living, biological systems. (58:1.1, 664.2) In collaboration with the seven adjutant mind spirits, the Life Carriers worked tirelessly to bring about animal-origin creatures having minds that were capable of interacting with absolute deity, the indwelling Father fragment. But before this could happen, these first human creatures were immediately encircuited within the protective and nurturing embrace of the Holy Spirit, the personal spirit of the Divine Minister. Nevertheless, due to the deleterious effects of the Lucifer rebellion and the Adamic default, initially only exceptional humans were indwelt by Thought Adjusters. In general, humans were not capable of experiencing personal and intimate communion with Thought Adusters. (108:2.2-3, 1187.1-2)

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The Religion of Jesus

(Presented at the 2022 ANZURA Conference in Tasmania)

The great goal of human existence is to attune to the divinity of the indwelling Adjuster; the great achievement of mortal life is the attainment of a true and understanding consecration to the eternal aims of the divine spirit who waits and works within your mind. [Paper 110:3.4, page 1206.2]

We see this very attunement and consecration be demonstrated, actually occur, in the life of Jesus, which I’d like to explore with you today.

Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it. [Paper 196:1.3, page 2090.4]

Religion is an experience. ‘Religion is an exclusively individual experience.’ (196:2.11) To understand the religion of Jesus, we have to see how it was revealed through his life and how he lived it, as it is a lived experience.

The creator of our universe bestowed himself on our planet with a twofold mission: to live the life of one of his human creatures, and to reveal God to us to help us understand him better. (128:0.2)

Jesus came to liberate us from stagnant nationalistic and spiritually impoverishing institutions, to remove the mediators between people and God, and demonstrate that religion is that relationship between the individual and God. Between you and God. He taught that “you are not alone,” you and every individual person on the planet is important, is valuable, can live on after death and potentially into eternity, in a universe that is full of other life, is friendly and supportive, and with unlimited opportunity and adventure.

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The Ultimate Human Experience

(Presented at the 2022 ANZURA Conference in Tasmania)

Coming through customs the other day, the custom’s officer asked me if I had any criminal convictions? “What, is it still a requirement to enter Australia” I replied? “Trying to be a smart arse, are we?” “No, not at all officer” I replied. “It’s just that I’ll be staying at Port Arthur, and I wanted to make doubly sure.” ☺

Apologies for there being no power point presentation, white boards, charts etc. I’m afraid you are just going to have to listen to me ramble on for the next 20 minutes or so – so let’s get on with it.

Before we get underway, I’d like to start with a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. QE2 was an amazing woman. To me she was an exemplar of service to her subjects around the world. Something about her that most people overlook is the fact that she was a deeply religious person. She had a deep personal faith in God. She was after all the head of the Church of England and this was a role she took very seriously. Her life was devoted to service and bringing people together. What a privilege it was living under her reign and the consistency, devotion, and loyalty she brought to our lives during 70 years of turbulence, upheaval, and constant change. In a BBC radio presentation recently, they spoke about how she was so impressed with the evangelist Billy Graham when he held crusades in Britain back in the 1960’s & 70’s, that she invited him for an audience at Buckingham palace. Two great people of faith who left an indelible impression on our world for good, and for God himself.  

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New Zealand Corner

Musings on Christmas in New Zealand

The annual celebration of Christmas is here upon us once more, and students of The Urantia Book are possibly asking themselves that perennial question generated by the knowledge that the actual date of the birth of Jesus is August 21st, not December 25th – ‘what should we do about Christmas?

In New Zealand, Christmas for Christian families/communities continues to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for most of the non-religious people (48.6% of the population as declared at the 2018 census) it is a public holiday with a special emphasis on the family. The way that people celebrate this event for the most part has very little to do with the birth of Jesus – lights, Christmas trees, gifts, decorations around the home and garden, special food at various times of the day, Christmas crackers – but for many people these aspects represent ‘Christmas’. 

There have been occasional moves over the years to de-winterfy the celebration here – my daughter learned a song at primary school called “Christmas at the Beach”, but the Northern Hemisphere traditions retain their strong hold on the celebrations here, and so fake snow still abounds in shop windows, along with all the other songs that stem from Christmas observed in the heart of winter.

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God’s CD Collection

The vastness of the master universe is almost beyond measure, yet the revelators describe it as within a boundary. Does infinity then extend beyond that dimension, out into a fathomless darkness? Could there be other master universes located beyond the power, communication, and travel capabilities of the one presented to us?

Such musings are in good company, as on numerous occasions in the quotations below, the revelators say effectively (as on page 642): ‘We do not know, but we speculate much concerning these and related matters.’

The ideas expressed here are purely speculative. They have no basis in revelation and are merely a personal observation. These concepts in no way compare with the scholarly astronomical research and deductions being made by professional analysts of the Urantia revelation. [My thanks to Nigel Nunn for his invaluable interest and comments about this article.]

View article in PDF here (opens in a new tab)

Also on the ANZURA website under Topical Index/Study Aids you can find an excellent description, with diagrams, for the Master Universe. (Or you can click on this link to go straight to it: An Artist’s Conception of the Master Universe)

Faith Trust in the Goodness of God

Jeff and Mahtab gave this presentation at the 2022 annual conference in Tasmania via ‘zoom in’ from overseas to joyfully offer their team-presentation

Jeff: Hi, Mahtab, good to see you. What have you been up to lately?

Mahtab: Oh, the religion of personal experience.

Jeff: Cool! Could you tell me about it a little?

Mahtab: Sure—after you answer the same question. What have you been doing?

Jeff: Same thing, what do you know! The religion of personal experience. I like the conference title and the phrase, “intimacy with God.” For me, the religion of personal experience involves times when I’m wrestling with the intimate details of my personal growth struggles. But I’m also writing about this religion of the spirit as we find it in Jesus and his gospel.

Mahtab: Tell me more.

Jeff: Sure—but—would you be willing to start?

Mahtab: OK.

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Religion of Mind and Spirit

My goal for this presentation was first to summarise Jesus’ teachings about the Religions of the Mind and Spirit and then explore religious and spiritual beliefs and practices in the world today – necessarily from my own perspective. While I was preparing the presentation, I had two very meaningful interactions that strongly influenced my thinking about this topic. 

I was discussing spirituality with some friends and one of them, Julie, shared how she used to be a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, and recalled lining up to meet the Maharishi Yogi when he visited Auckland. She vividly remembered the jolt of spiritual energy she experienced when she touched his feet. Many years later, with very little religious life, she was attending a Catholic funeral, and was minding the grandchild of one of her friends. The child was taken up to the altar during the Mass and at the exact same moment that the priest put his hand on the child’s head to bless her, Julie felt exactly the same jolt of spiritual energy, which seemed to come out of nowhere. 

The second experience I had was at the place I work, which is a state funded tertiary institute. It is our practice in New Zealand to welcome new students in our Maori meeting house, with a traditional welcome ceremony, which is conducted almost entirely in the Maori language. At the end of this ceremony, the Maori in charge explained to the students, who were all from other countries and studying English with us, that although the students had not understood anything that had been said, that didn’t matter, because they weren’t talking to them, they were talking to the spirits of their ancestors and inviting them to feel at home in the meeting house and the institute. Many students commented afterwards on how much comfort this gave them. 

These were two examples of spiritual experiences/beliefs, quite distinct from religious beliefs, which strongly influenced the focus of my presentation.  It is very much an unfolding journey which each of us must walk individually.

Click on this ‘Read More’ link to view a PDF of Power Point presentation: