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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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Full booking details and application forms are now on the website.
Good without God is the ambiguous part-title to this interesting editorial article on atheism and religion in the Guardian 15/7/19 (The Guardian view on atheism):
Not sure if they mean it’s good to be without God or you can be good without God or? There appears to be an implicit sense of concern in the article and I wonder if Quakers, nontheist or otherwise, have the answers?
I note that, for Britain, citing the British Social Attitudes Survey: “Even among the over-75s, only a third identify as Anglican. More than half of British people now say that they have no religion; about two-fifths are Christians of one sort of another; 9% are Muslims.”
The NFN Newsletter for May 2019, previously emailed to members and those on our mailing list has now been added to the website for reference. (see under ‘Articles – Newsletters’ above).
BYM 2019, 24-27 May, Friends’ House, Euston, London
We have booked to hold a special interest meeting on Sunday 26/05/19, 12.30-13.30, William Penn room 2, (the room holds 40-50 people)
Title: Unity, Diversity, Boundaries, the case for an inclusive Society of Friends, open to all.
(Further exploration of our Conference theme).
The meeting will be in the shape of a forum with a short introduction by David Parlett and an informal panel discussion.
We have also booked a space to take part in the special interest (Groups’) fair on the same day, Sunday 26th May evening from 5.45 , members of the SG need to be available to man this stall!