The Australia & New Zealand Urantia Association (ANZURA) was first chartered as a National Association in 1994 and was one of the pioneer non-American associations to join the then new Urantia Association International that has always supported and worked closely with Urantia Foundation. (Many of ANZURA’s founding members had been members-at-large of the former Urantia Brotherhood.)
Since the Covid pandemic stimulated the explosion of Zoom internet conferencing technology, many readers who were previously unable to experience a study group now have the opportunity to reap the benefits of studying and socialising with fellow readers. Needless to say, study group attendance has grown rapidly in the last couple of years.
Conferences and Regional Events
Ever since 1981, ANZURA has been holding an annual conference. Each year we rotate the venue for the conference by holding it at different locations where there are readers. This gives us great variety as readers in each location are given the opportunity to host the meeting and prepare the program, which helps in the development of teachers and leaders. This also means there are a different mix of readers at each conference as the rotation system allows those readers who do not usually travel long distances to conferences to experience the value of studying and socializing with fellow readers without the need to travel. These experiences also help to stimulate the growth and development of study groups. Currently, we rotate the conferences between the local regions of Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, and Sydney.
In addition to the conferences, ANZURA also arranges an annual “Study Day.” We set a date, usually in May or June, and decide on a paper to read from The Urantia Book (usually something relating to the theme of the annual conference.) We liaise with the local study group hosts to arrange a daylong meeting and social in their region on the chosen date, then we promote the event via a mailout to everyone on our mailing list giving them the contact details of all the hosts so they may contact the one nearest to them directly if they wish to attend the meeting. In this way, we have groups meeting on the same day reading the same paper! This event gives people who may not attend study groups regularly an opportunity to meet with readers in their local areas and experience the value of a study group.
Another opportunity for readers to get together is, of course, the Jesus birthday celebrations. These gatherings are usually arranged at the local level.
ANZURA keeps a small supply of Urantia Books in stock (which is replenished as needed) to either sell to readers or to donate to individuals who wish to use them for local outreach programs, such as promoting the book at expos or local markets, placing books in public and prison libraries, and donating to prisoners or people without means. In May of this year, a Body Mind and Spirit-type event is scheduled in Adelaide, South Australia. A reader in Adelaide has organised to set up a booth to promote the book there and a couple of other readers have volunteered to assist him.
Most readers (especially new readers) are interested in study aids and secondary works produced by individuals who have a good grasp of the Urantia teachings. Therefore, ANZURA maintains a resource library of such items that are made available at conferences and on the website. (Many of our products have been purchased from ‘Cosmic Creations’ in the United States.)
Many of our readers volunteer to work on projects or serve on committees at the international level of Urantia Association International. Over the years, several of our members have served on the International Service Board (ISB) or have been on committees that report to the ISB. Whoever is President or Vice President of ANZURA automatically serves on the international Representative Council of Urantia Association.
There has been a core of dedicated volunteers who have played key roles in keeping ANZURA running over the last 30 years. I am particularly grateful to Kathleen and Trevor Swadling, Rita Schaad, Neville Twist, Ian Campbell, Marion Steward, Andrew Swadling, Daniel Swadling, Merindi Swadling, Regina Williamson, William Wentworth, Nigel Nunn, Julian McGarry and Vern Verass.