Equipped to be Teachers of the Religion of Jesus –
Are You Willing? Are You Ready?
16 to 19 September, 2016
The 2016 annual conference for the Australia & New Zealand Urantia Association (ANZURA) was held at the delightful Maryknoll Retreat Conference Centre overlooking Blackmans Bay just south of Hobart. Many thanks go to our gracious hosts Julian McGarry and the Hobart study group team for providing such a well-planned event. Not only did the venue provide a stunningly beautiful natural environment, but the program itself provided for much heartfelt discussion and qualitative food for thought.
Urantia Book readers came from all around Australia and two from New Zealand. A good number of participants who haven’t been to a Urantia conference before came from Tasmania itself!
In the words of Robin Evans, one of the Tasmanian locals:
The conference was like climbing into a safe place and refueling; I had been quite separated for some years from my spiritual journey. It was good to meet some locals as well as all the regional folk from Australia and New Zealand and strike up some friendships that I have kept up with.
What to say about the conference? Well, it was great; it was big on unity and short on proselytizing so I learned a lot about other readers and their approaches to The Urantia Book. I felt immediately included though I knew no one; it was a bit like what waking up on Mansion World Number One might be, everyone knew me or was willing to.
I felt energized and invigorated by the conference and I met some wonderful people who I am having ongoing meetings with to read and share with. Thanks to everyone that attended, I hope we meet again somewhere here on Urantia…
Julian did a marvelous job orchestrating the program. He was challenged by the ANZURA board to develop a theme along the lines of Urantia Association International’s global strategy this year to base the themes of the major continental conferences on assisting students of The Urantia Book explore what it means to teach the teachings of Jesus as taught in The Urantia Book. (Continental conferences with related themes were held in San Antonio, Budapest and Bogota this year.) Julian was the right man for the job, not only because of his extensive experience as a clinical psychologist and possessing an in-depth understanding of the teachings of the The Urantia Book, but also because this subject is his passion. Each speaker rose to the challenge of presenting their various topics that Julian allocated to them.
Following is a list of the presentation titles and their presenters:
- Equipped to be Teachers of the Religion of Jesus, Julian McGarry
- The Historical Demise of the Religion of Jesus, William Wentworth
- Why the need for teachers and what does it mean to be a teacher?, Rita Schaad
- How did Jesus teach and how did he organize his disciples to teach?, Kathleen Swadling
- How does Jesus equip us to be his teachers?, Phillip Marriott
- Teaching and living the religion of Jesus, Trevor Swadling
- How can we successfully teach the religion of Jesus today?, Robert Coenraads
These presentations will gradually be published as study articles and placed on the website.
In addition to the presentations there were several other engaging events:
- A break out study session where we all read Paper 159, The Decapolis Tour
- An evening of humorous entertainment where several guys dressed up as apostles and enacted out some private dialogue concerning some of their experiences while Labouring with the Master in the Fields. In addition a modern day rendition based on Jesus’ method of dealing with “the young man who was afraid.” In this case it was an enactment of how to deal with a teenage girl who was lonely and confused after running away from home.
- An inspiring Sunday morning worship session, facilitated by Neville Twist provided us with peaceful relaxation and spiritual refreshment.
- A stimulating group discussion on Teaching the Religion of Jesus in Today’s World.
- A site seeing excursion to Kettering to experience the local countryside, ending with afternoon tea in a café with a view across the channel to Bruny Island.
- On the final day we held another group discussion about: Are we willing? Are we ready? which was followed by reflections on the conference’s highlights and future directions.
Then of course there was ANZURA’s annual geneeral meeting. The usual business matters were discussed and elections for President and Secretary were held. William Wentworth and Phillip Marriott were nominated unopposed to serve additional two-year terms as President and Secretary respectively. There was discussion about next year’s conference; the Melbourne team had previously agreed to host the 2017 conference in Victoria and a venue in Hepburn Springs has already been secured for 29th September to 2nd October 2017. There was also discussion held about holding the 2018 conference in Queensland.