There are true believers among us.
Under dim lights cast over brick and stained glass, they teach the uninitiated about benevolent UFOs, governments which hide the truth, and a radical new era expected to come.
They sit in a darkened church twice-weekly to meditate on a world in turmoil, transmitting energy for our salvation.
The all-encompassing beliefs held by Share International followers – who await further instruction after the death of their spiritualist leader – may seem entirely off-kilter.
But for the dozen, long-dedicated members in Wellington, their commitment to the obscure religion is said to answer unsatisfiable questions.
One recent evening, Share members Sophia and Michael hosted a monthly presentation on UFOs and crop circles at Newtown’s Trinity Union Church.
Members of Share sought only to give first names for privacy reasons.
“We understand,” begins Sophia, a counsellor with long black hair that flows into draped clothing, as she waves her hand at the pull-down screen.
“We are told,” says Michael, a graphic designer with tidily cropped hair and practical black leather shoes, as he cycles through Powerpoint slides on a laptop.
The information laid out might be controversial to many, Michael tells the group of seven. “Just keep an open mind.”
Tonight’s audience includes four young women, two who are clearly here for amusement.
There is a tall Australian woman who has seen two UFOs, and wearing the cheese-cutter hat is local UFO researcher Tim Mills.
Mills would later describe Share’s views as “subjective”.
Michael starts by explaining we are visited by space brothers and sisters who have guided humans through the passage of time.
Hollywood’s alien annihilators are disinformation, and governments know of their presence, but there’s a lot of pressure not to disclose.
“It seems they have been watching from afar, and actually helping with our evolutionary growth.”
It’s easy to get lost in the weave of myths and historical artifacts held up as evidence – Atlantis, Alexander the Great and Louis XIV are mentioned – but there are recent displays of benevolent grace referenced.
A UFO flotilla is claimed to have surveyed the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, and “we’re told” they are working to soak up radiation in our ocean.
“If it wasn’t for their tireless activity, we would actually be a lot more sick than we are.”
Earthquake lightning, a mysterious phenomenon reported after the Kaikōura quake, is considered another example of their work.
“I wonder if the space brothers were out here in Wellington, the fact no-one died…,” Sophia says.
Equally misunderstood is the nature of matter, and the seven “etheric planes” these cosmic beings traverse.
UFOs draw people into the room, but it’s just part of the picture. Members of Share anticipate the emergence of a messianic figure called Maitreya, who will guide humanity into a golden era.
Maitreya – who is said to have walked out of the Himalayas in the 1970 and now lives with the “Asian community” in London – has taken many forms in recent decades.
He’s said to have performed miracles in Nairobi, spoken on United States cable television, and had a hand in the birth of a white Kiwi in the Wairarapa.
There’s more to come and little room to say it, but it boils down to this: the United Nations.
The international body will be reformed and remedy growing inequality, environmental degradation and suffering.
“We’re so divided,” Michael says near the presentation’s end.
Share International member Wendy, a care worker, found herself seized by the group’s beliefs after attending a talk by London-based mystic Benjamin Creme in 1990.
“It’s like I realised something.”
Creme built on existing esoteric spiritualism, prophesied in books and at speaking events (reportedly five times in New Zealand) and claimed to have a personal spirit in his ear, guiding this work.
Where some religious outfits create opulent lives through their follower’s contributions, it appears members in New Zealand give Share little more than time.
There are costs to hire halls, produce materials for display at the Newtown Fair, and some members travel internationally for conferences.
After four decades of forecasting the arrival of Maitreya, Creme died in 2016 and with it went Share’s connection to the greater cosmic plan.
But there remains work to be done. Wellington’s dozen adherents met in late May as they have for two decades, to hold a “transmission meditation” session.
The meditation is simple: two hours spent in the dark, focussing of the mind’s attention on the centre of the brow.
“Nothing” happens during these session, Michael says. There’s no messages received from space brothers or sisters, no travelling the cosmos.
The practice is for receiving energy from other spiritual planes, transforming and channelling it to parts of the world where it’s needed.
And, for a group of spiritual outliers who see so much wrong with this world, this is considered a service.
“Maybe I’m just doing a small part to help the world, but yet I’m doing something worthwhile,” says Steven, a kindergarten teacher.