Would all participants of our annual conference please note that the NFN Steering Group is actively considering the risks and increasing spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus), which might well mean that the conference will have to be postponed until a later date. We hope to make a firm announcement about this on Monday 16th March.
If a postponement to an undefined date is decided upon, we will of course refund your fee straight away.
So keep well and watch this space.
Best wishes to all of you,
I think this article in ‘Friends Journal’ (USA) for a new Quaker Testimony deserves to be much more widely read, both amongst Quakers and in the wider world:
The Next Testimony
What a defence/definition of politics and democracy (and equality). George Fox, Gerrard Winstanley and John Lilburne would have thought just so.
Note also the advert there for ‘God’s Big Tent‘ – in these fractious times, can Friends in Britain offer this kind of vision – a testimony to democracy and equality?
Items which may be worth referring to before, during or after the conference. (Links in each case lead to a source for the books – but seems unreliable in Word).
‘Becoming fully human – Writings on Quakers and Christian thought’ by Michael Langford, published by Friends of the Light, 2019. https://friendsofthelight.org.uk/our-books
‘Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being’ by Paul Mason, 2019
‘The Trouble With God: Religious Humanism And The Republic Of Heaven‘ by David Boulton,
(see this post on the above books: https://nontheist-quakers.org.uk/2019/07/11/the-republic-of-heaven/ )
‘Twelve Quakers and …‘ – Quaker Quest series
‘Kindlers‘ – Series of booklets
‘Godless for God’s sake‘ edited by David Boulton (also available in Kindle).
Titles in the Quaker bookshop online section ‘Spirituality and religion’ under ‘Atheism‘. (including ‘Book of Atheist Spirituality’, ‘Religion for Atheists’ and ‘The Young Atheist’s Handbook’ – all out of stock on 5/2/2020).
‘Telling the Truth about God‘ (in ‘Quaker Quicks’) by Rhiannon Grant
‘The Guided Life‘ (in ‘Quaker Quicks’) by Craig Barnett
ALL of the above are available in the Quaker Bookshop in Friends’ House except when out of stock – we will try to see if copies can be made available over the Conference weekend.
See also these items on the NFN website: https://nontheist-quakers.org.uk/faq/#a4
AND search the website for ‘spirituality’.
Quaker Universalist Group booklets: https://qug.org.uk/pamphlets-2/ (some to buy, some for free download)
39: The Language of Spirituality by Alan York: https://qug.org.uk/pamphlets-2/pamphlet-39/
32: ‘Choosing Life: Embracing Spirituality in the 21st Century’ by Joycelin Dawes:
31: Human Beings Yearning for a Faith by Clive Sutton: https://qug.org.uk/pamphlets-2/pamphlet-31/
30: ‘A Platform of Consciousness: Spirituality without Religion’, by Adrian Cairns: https://qug.org.uk/pamphlets-2/pamphlet-30/
26: ‘The Faith of a Quaker Humanist’, by David Boulton:
With just a month to go, documents for the conference and AGM have been updated on the Conference page and we hope these will be the final updates.
Look forward to seeing you there. (And if you haven’t already booked, contact Roger now to see if he has any spaces left!)
The AGM will now be on Saturday evening (formal notice to follow) and the participants’ short presentations and QandA on Sunday morning. (The Conference page and documents have been updated to reflect this).
We now have about 40 booked places but there are still a few places and possibility of Saturday or Sunday only ‘day-tickets’ available from Roger. Please see the Conference (‘Home’) page to book.
This promises to be a very worthwhile and informative conference (but they always are!). We do however need to recruit new members to the Steering Group (as well as the Network!) and I have taken the liberty of reproducing below a lightly edited version of part of a Steering Group email from our clerk Gisela Creed:
“There will be big changes to our Steering Group (SG) this year with a number of long serving members standing down, creating vacancies, and a new clerk and newsletter editor to be appointed. The SG could therefore do with a couple of new enthusiastic members. If any of you know someone who might volunteer, please give them a strong push to come forward.”
We conduct most of the Steering Group business by email (with usually one meeting a year in addition to meeting at the Conference) so it is not too arduous and if any of you could help out, please volunteer at the AGM or in advance by email to Gisela email@example.com (Gisela is a member of West of Scotland Area Meeting and our 9 SG members are from 9 different AMs. For full details of these, see the ‘Organisation of Nontheist Friends Network‘ page.)
Attendees at the Conference this year are from a very wide range of Area Meetings (or none) across all parts of the United Kingdom.
The Quaker Universalist Group and London Quakers are co-hosting a conference on Language and Spirituality NEXT WEEKEND as follows: (from QUG newsletter)
“London Quakers – Saturday February 8th 2020
Alan York, QUG committee member and author of QUG Pamphlet 39, will be speaking to London Quakers on the topic Language, Truth and Religion. Alan will talk about ordinary language, scientific language, religious language and the possibility/impossibility of a language of the spirit.
The meeting will be in Friends House, Euston Road, on the afternoon of Saturday February 8th 2020 from 2.00 to 4.30 p.m. It is open to all and there is no charge, though donations will be welcome. The meeting is jointly organised by London Quakers and QUG, and QUG literature will be on sale.”
(Alan attended the NFN conference at Woodbrooke last year. Another QUG pamphlet relevant to our upcoming NFN conference is David Boulton’s ‘Faith of a Quaker Humanist‘ from 1997).
For Friends in London, this might be useful preparation for our own NFN conference at Friends’ House on ‘Dimensions of Spirituality’, 28-29 March.
It is also likely that some NFN members, (after attending our conference!), might be interested in this years’ QUG conference at Woodbrooke on ‘Life, Time and Eternity’:
QUG 2020 Annual Conference
LIFE, TIME AND ETERNITY
Friday May 8th (6 p.m.) – Sunday May 10th (2 p.m.) 2020
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.
The three speakers at our Conference at Friends’ House 28-29 March are Gill Pennington (former spirituality tutor at Woodbrooke), Dinah Livingstone (editor of ‘Sofia’ magazine for the Sea of Faith) and Andrew Copson (chief executive of Humanists UK).
For further details of these speakers see the 2020 Conference page
I am considering putting up a **bibliography of useful readings on spirituality for the Conference but in the meantime, think these two posts about Humanism on ‘Canadian Atheist’ interviewing Andrew Copson (see above) and the President of Humanists UK, Alice Roberts, would be of considerable interest to those attending or thinking about attending the conference. (We haven’t sold out yet but places are limited!): (click on the headings to go to the full interviews)
Interview with Professor Alice Roberts – President, Humanists UK & President, British Science Association
Extensive Interview with Andrew James William Copson – President, Humanists International & Chief Executive, Humanists UK
Don’t forget that the NFN AGM will also take place on the Sunday morning 9.30am! For those unable to attend the whole weekend, ‘day tickets’ for Saturday (including evening meal) and Sunday (including lunch) are available from Roger on request (again, see the Conference page for booking details).
** If you have any suggestions for books or reading (including blog posts) of relevance to our theme of ‘Spirituality’, please let me know on our Contact page.
We have three first class keynote speakers, but we are keen to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the agenda.
So we are arranging a special session (Saturday 7.30pm) in which attendees are invited to offer a short talk or presentation, up to 10 minutes, sharing their own understanding and experience of “spirit” and “spirituality”.
Offers, please, to firstname.lastname@example.org preferably with a title and a brief indication of subject matter.
Whether you find spirituality in prayer and meditation, in worship, or silence, or music, or nature, or human endeavour, share it with us. That’s the spirit!
Our clerk, Gisela, has confirmed, contrary to my comment yesterday:
I have today (7 January) confirmed with the Penn club that they still have plenty of accommodation, concession rates for people attending the conference are £81 for standard room and I think £75 for budget room.
The Penn Club are offering a special discount to Friends attending the conference. Book before January 31st to avail of the discount. To book call The Penn Club on 020 7636 4718 or email: email@example.com and quote non-theist conference. Space is limited and subject to availability. https://pennclub.co.uk/
For other options, see the previous post and comments. Now really is the time to book!
The (more or less final) programme for the 2020 NFN Conference at Friends’ House is now available on the website (Please see the Home/Conference page).
We also have a December Newsletter (this version is very slightly different from the two emailed to members a week or so ago) which has a few additional details about the conference. Please note in particular the point about emailing David Boulton if you would like to express an interest in sharing your own understanding or experience of “spirit” and “spirituality”, or giving a brief account of your own spiritual journey, at the Conference.
There is an article about nontheism and correspondence in The Friend, an article by Piers Maddox about being ‘A humanistic Quaker’, and an article about our good Friend (and NFN member) John Lynes preparing to defend himself at his trial after his arrest during the Extinction Rebellion blockade at Dover Docks in the summer.
Please note too that we really would like some new members on the Steering Group if NFN is to continue in something like its present form or organise further conferences.
Now (at just £50!) is the time to book for the conference (28-29 March 2020) – or maybe it would make a nice Christmas present! (Quakers don’t do that do they?).
The Conference fee includes Saturday evening dinner and Sunday lunch but not accommodation in London if that is required:
The Penn Club are offering a special discount to Friends attending the conference. Book before January 31st to avail of the discount. To book call The Penn Club on 020 7636 4718 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and quote non-theist conference. Space is limited and subject to availability. (I think booking before Christmas would be highly advisable TB)
(Our clerk, Gisela, negotiated this to Penn Club members’ rates and believes a single starts around £85, including a very good breakfast.)
Gisela also recommends the Bedford (single £102, double £138) and the Tavistock (single £91, double £117) Hotels, both within 10 minutes walking distance from Friends House and often used by Friends’ committees. (See https://www.imperialhotels.co.uk) They do give discounts for group bookings of more than 10 people. So if anyone feels able to take that in hand, you are welcome!
(There are cheaper, or more expensive, options but it would be as well to book soon).