Category Archives: Conferences

2018 Conference Booking

The 2018 Conference booking details and booking form have finally made it onto the website this evening. (Not too difficult to find!)

We look forward to your bookings (at a special price before 1st January) for your weekend away at beautiful Woodbrooke in the company of Linda Murgatroyd, Harvey Gilman, David Boulton and the rest of us to discuss:
Quakers in 2032: What will our society look like?

A place for nerds in the Society of Friends?

‘Neither and therefore no’ appeals to me. The rest of this post by Rhiannon, one of our two keynote speakers at last conference I found very moving, hence experimentally re- blogging it here.

Brigid, Fox, and Buddha

One of the questions asked in this year’s Spiritual Preparation for Yearly Meeting is:

  • Do you consider yourself to be ‘spiritual’, or an activist? Do you find the distinction helpful in considering your own journey and experiences?

My answer to this is: neither, and therefore, no.

When I picture an activist, I think of people who do things for which I don’t have the time, energy, or social skills. I do little bits of activism – the kind of things which get mocked in internet articles – like signing petitions, discussing politics with friends, and donating a bit of money now and again. I very rarely go to demonstrations, I almost never hand out leaflets, I’ve never been arrested, and the ways in which I’ve changed my life to bring it into accordance with my principles are mainly invisible. I’m often practical, but I’m by no means an activist.

When…

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Discussion by Rhiannon Grant, David Boulton and others on Ministry etc.

‘Is it irresponsible to claim that spoken ministry comes from God?’
A fascinating and subtle post on Rhiannon Grant’s blog with discussion and comments by Rhiannon, David Boulton and others about where ministry in Meeting for worship comes from and perhaps the existence and nature of God/Goddess.

Brigid, Fox, and Buddha

(Extract) At the Nontheist Friends Network conference, in the questions and discussion after my talk, a friend asked about my approach to ministry. Most of the question was about how we understand ministry in meeting for worship, but along the way he raised a very interesting point – he said (and I paraphrase here, but hope that his point is clear and made in terms he would accept) that he wouldn’t want to claim that his spoken ministry came from anywhere but himself, because so much damage is done in the world by other people who claim that their instructions come from God…..

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QRB status minuted at Steering Group meeting in York

A meeting of the NFN Steering Group was held at Friargate Meeting House, York, yesterday 6th July 2017.

Further details will follow but it was minuted, amongst other items, that:

  • “7. Being a Quaker Recognised Body

Michael Wright has read to us the advantages of being a Quaker Recognised Body. We are pleased to learn that we need not restrict our membership to Quaker members and attenders. We ask Trevor to put our QRB status on our website.”

This recognition from being formerly a ‘Listed Quaker Group’ was approved by Meeting for Sufferings in April of this year.

The SG Meeting also confirmed the date and topic of next year’s annual conference and AGM at Woodbrooke as being from 9th – 11th March 2018 on ‘Quakers in 2033? Where are we heading?’
It was further agreed and minuted that the cost of the conference to participants in 2018 will be subsidised from our reserves at £199 per head to encourage attendance which we hope will exceed the 40 rooms to be provisionally booked. (The subsidy being approximately £25 per head and the net cost to participants £199).

Non-theism at QUG conference.

I came across this recording on the QUG website of Jan Arriens commenting on non-theists at the QUG conference at Woodbrooke a couple of weeks ago and thought it would be of interest here.

Jan indirectly refers to his having spoken at our conference in 2015.

If you don’t wish to listen to the whole 28 minute recording (such busy lives!) then the first 7 minutes upto a member of the audience referring to the Dalai Lama as a non-theist but not a materialist is of particular interest. (I hadn’t intended the link below to be so direct so hope QUG won’t mind and if it doesn’t work properly see the link to their website above).

Trevor Bending

Five weeks later

On 22 March (2017) I added a review of our Minute and Epistle from 2012 and said I would work through our existing articles, perhaps one every 6 days or so. Such is optimism. That was some 5 weeks ago (37 days precisely) so IF I continue at the same rate it might be 18 months, not three, to work through all the existing articles.

What is the point?  Well, I thought that reviewing our existing material might benefit me and at the same time draw in reflections and comments from others and give an appearance of something new every week (or every 5 weeks?) until something really ‘new’ was forthcoming from elsewhere.

Since that last ‘review’ there have been 4 posts, 4 comments and reports and minutes of the 2017 conference and AGM, and an April Newsletter with a report on the 2017 Conference added to the website. If you haven’t seen them yet, have a look now!

One of the posts was on a possible Facebook group and unless there are further responses, perhaps that will rest with the last comments there? Please do add your comments or replies here below or anywhere on the site that comments are allowed. If members of our Steering Group (or indeed any other members of NFN) would like to add comments, make Posts or otherwise contribute to the site, we would be pleased to see that happening.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here is a quick review of the next article up (see the Articles page from the bottom) contributed by Sarah Richards (now Siddle since her Quaker marriage a year or so ago), our Membership Secretary and Treasurer, on ‘Quaker Discernment: A non-theist view’, in May-June 2013.

Sarah, a mathematician,  makes a comparison between the reality or existence of God and that of ‘i, the square root of minus one’. Earlier in her article, Sarah says “I do not believe in any form of eternal entity which can, at will, cause unique violations of the laws of physics, chemistry and biology.”  But “I do have an open mind on whether there might be some kind of Entity of Ultimate Reality which is beyond both the space and time in which we live and our comprehension, but which might in some way provide a reason why anything exists at all: but that is another story.” (She does not believe such an entity would have any human characteristics.)

Her discussion is quite deep and considers Quaker Meeting for Worship for Business, the process of ‘discernment’, the will of God and leadings of the Spirit, concluding that ‘this confirms my suggestion of a ‘will of God’ which can exist without the need for a God to will it: a non-theist solution to the concept of Quaker Discernment.’

As I have not done justice to her discussion here, I hope you might read the original article. In general I have not put direct links to all the articles and posts referred to here, in the hope this will encourage readers to browse or search for them and thereby become more familiar with the website, the material it contains, and perhaps come across other items that interest them.

Once again, please do add your comments or replies or otherwise contribute to the site. (It just needs a small amount of effort to see how you can do that!)

Trevor Bending

News and newsletters

By an oversight (or lack of it?) the newsletters for December, January and February have only been added to the website today.

The December newsletter is near the foot of the ‘Articles’ page (with earlier newsletters) but for 2017, the January and February newsletters have been added to a separate page in the ‘Articles’ sub-menu.

I have not (as yet) put them as a sub-page to ‘News’ which currently carries ‘posts’ to the website for technical reasons. I hope some posts by other members of our steering group may appear soon.

The next newsletter will probably be ‘April’ with further reports of our March conference. In the meantime see the text of Rhiannon’s talk in the previous post.

Talk: God or whatever you call it

Talk given by Rhiannon Grant

Brigid, Fox, and Buddha

This talk was given at the Nontheist Friends Network conference at Woodbrooke, 24-26th March 2017. 

This is a talk with two halves. In the first half I want to talk about talking about God, and in the second half I want to talk about God. In the first half I’m going to ask: can we say anything about God, and if we can, what are we doing when we say things about God? In the second half I’m going to ask: what kinds of things do Quakers typically say about God, and what should we, as a community, do about talking about God.

Before I start, I want to say two things about the way I’m going to talk. Firstly, I’m going to use the word God a lot. I’m going to use the word God because it’s in the title of my talk, but also because it’s a…

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