For an experimental period (pending feedback or comments) we will make the homepage direct to News (posts) (here!)
Our April 2020 newsletter which David Parlett sent out to NFN members on 15 April is now on the website with messages from our clerk Gisela, new membership secretary Roger, Marcus Aurelius (apparently, although it might be Andrew Copson of Humanists UK or even David Boulton), myself as designated webperson, David Parlett and Helen Johnson of Croydon Local Meeting about all sorts of interesting issues. (and so far I haven’t mentioned coronavirus).
(PS not providing a link to the newsletter is a deliberate ploy to assist you in exploring the website – lots of interesting stuff including newsletters from 2013 to the present – now, where could it be? Tip – try the drop-down menus above or the menu on the mobile version of the website).
A minute from our clerk (9 April 2020):
The NFN Steering group sends heartfelt, loving greetings to all its members and friends during these difficult times.
As you know we have postponed our annual conference and the AGM until better days , and we hope that those of you who were going to attend will have the opportunity at a future date to join with us. The Steering Group will continue unchanged for the time being, except that Roger Warren Evans will take over responsibility for membership from David Parlett.
To simplify administration, membership will be rolled over until the future AGM and free membership will be offered to any new applicants meanwhile.
We wanted to reassure you that the Steering Group is in good spirits. During these uncertain times we will do our best to stay in touch mainly through our website, by telephone and email. We welcome all your thoughts, reflections, suggestions and questions and are looking forward to a lively exchange of thoughts and experience. Trevor Bending invites us all warmly to contribute to the website.
With your moral support we will keep the network ticking over for now.
Stay safe and well,
Gisela Creed, clerk
The Steering group: Gisela Creed (clerk), Piers Maddox,( treasurer), Trevor Bending, (website), David Parlett, (newsletter), Roger Warren Evans, (membership), David Boulton, Sarah Siddle, Keith Ryecroft, Tim Regan
As not everyone is signed up for comments, I thought I’d ‘upgrade’ this comment from 21 March to a post.
One of our speakers at the cancelled conference was to have been Andrew Copson, CEO of Humanists UK. He posted this on their website and emailed it to anyone signed up to their website. Although almost everything is about coronavirus at present, I thought his remarks were worth drawing attention to.
Near the bottom of his article, he quotes Marcus Aurelius ‘Peer deeply into yourself. There is a source of strength that will spring up within you, if only you look.’ and comments: “His words are not revelation or fancy. They are based on solid observation of the human capacity for resilience and courage in a crisis.”
I wonder if Quakers, even non-theist ones, might have a slightly different explanation?
The Steering Group of the Nontheist Friends Network (NFN) has been closely monitoring the situation with the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and reviewing the advice issued by Government and Public Health. It now seems likely that the situation will worsen in the next few weeks.
So, after careful consideration, and with deep regret, we have decided it is in the best interest of our participants , the keynote speakers and all who are near to us to cancel our conference, which was to be held 28-29 March 2020 at Friends House, London : “That’s the Spirit”, and postpone it to more certain times later or the following year, to be agreed.
This is not an easy decision for us to take but we feel it is the responsible thing to do now. We are disappointed not to meet you and engage with our subject of the different dimensions of spirituality. The decision will have some financial consequences for us, but we hope that by postponing , we are able to lessen the impact. We are upholding all those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and are hopeful we can forge virtual connections with many of you over the coming weeks, especially at a time when it will be important to come together while being encouraged to stay apart.
We hope that this announcement gives you time to cancel any accommodation and travel bookings . Your fees will be refunded at the earliest opportunity and we will stay in touch regarding a new conference date.
Clerk, NFN, 16/03/2020
Latest update here.
PS. Roger Warren-Evans will be contacting all participants with refund information shortly but it may take him a little time to work through the over 40 bookings received.
As Gisela indicates, it is hoped to hold the conference eventually, either much later this year or possibly next. Information about the AGM (which is also POSTPONED!) will follow in due course.
Being ‘hopeful we can forge virtual connections with many of you over the coming weeks’ is in part an idea that in the absence of the conference, and perhaps being at home, we might all make use of the website to communicate our thoughts about the conference theme, the coronavirus and the new circumstances we all now find ourselves in. If you would like to send us your thoughts or start a conversation, please use the Comment/Leave a reply box below or at the foot of any relevant page or post.
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:
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.