Dear QUG supporter
Our recent Annual Conference May 5th-7th 2017
Exploring the mystery of mysticism
We were delighted that over 70 people were present at Woodbrooke again for our annual conference. The conference was very well-received.
Our five speakers explored mysticism from many different viewpoints and we were able to think deeply in our base groups about what mysticism means for us individually. On the Saturday evening some of us attended an introduction to ‘Experiment with Light’ led by Rex Ambler; others of us enjoyed listening to music and readings of a mystical nature. We also held the annual general meeting of QUG and had free time to explore the lovely Woodbrooke grounds or nearby areas of Birmingham.
All of the talks are on the QUG website http://qug.org.uk/ (except Alinda Damsma’s, which will be in the pamphlet only). A summary of the conference, written by one of its delegates, Jill Marshall, appeared in the Friend on 9th June (pp. 10-11). A pamphlet with all the talks in it will be published shortly. It will be sent to all QUG members and conference participants. It will also be available for general purchase: it will be advertised in this newsletter, on our website and inUniversalist.
One of the participants at the conference had found an excellent article on Quaker Mysticism on the website of our sister organisation in the USA: here is the link – https://universalistfriends.org/quf2000a.html.
We also recommend the book The Silent Cry – Mysticism and Resistance by Dorothee Soelle (2001, translated from the German, 1997). To quote from its back cover: ‘Dorothee Soelle is an activist who is also a mystic. She refuses to separate prayer and politics and stresses the redemptive possibilities in every human situation’.
Our website and Facebook page
The Quaker Universalist Group has recently updated our website and relaunched the companion Facebook page. The website and Facebook now allow anyone to post their ideas. All posts are moderated so it may take a short while before they become publically visible. From this foundation we hope to build progressively an on-line dynamic community reaching deep into the global world of universalist thinking and appealing to readers and contributors from all generations, all parts of the world and all faith perspectives. We particularly welcome the many seekers beyond the Society of Friends and around the world so that together we may deepen our spiritual practice, in whatever form that takes.
This year’s conference raised many questions, not all of which could be discussed at Woodbrooke. So, with the hope that we can continue the dialogue with a wider audience, albeit at a slower pace, some of the unanswered questions have been posted on the website and via Facebook. Please take a look and contribute your ideas. The more people contribute the more we can explore and learn about our own and other people’s spiritual awareness.
Our next Annual Conference April 13th– 15th 2018
Again this conference will be held in the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham. Please put the dates in your diary. Details of the topic, cost, how and when to apply, etc., will be sent to you in our newsletter, through Universalist and on our website.
QUG at Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering
This year BYM Gathering is in Warwick University (near Coventry). If you are attending or visiting the Gathering please come to see us at the following events:
· We will have a stall at the Groups Fairs. We will be present at both Tuesday 1st August and Wednesday 2nd August evenings Groups Fairs which are held between 7.00 and 9.00 p.m.
· We will be holding a special interest meeting entitled Quaker Universalism, Mysticism and Interfaith on Wednesday 2nd August between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. in room Chancellors 1.
We will talk about and discuss our May 2017 conference on mysticism. Is mysticism a common factor in all religions and can an understanding of it help us as we work together with other faiths? We will look at relevant recent QUG pamphlets, including Resolving Difference in our ways of speaking about God or the ultimate reality by Rex Ambler. There will also be a preview of our 2018 conference.
See http://www.quaker.org.uk/ym/timetable?utf8=%E2%9C%93&filter_day=2017-08-02 for more information.
If any members of QUG are at the Gathering and would like to help us at these events please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are especially looking for help on the Wednesday evening because we are holding two events at the same time.
A Hindu contribution
Our QUG Committee Elder, Andrew Cowan, draws our attention to a recent ‘excellent, timely and diplomatic’ Thought for the Day (7th June on Radio 4) – seehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055695p
This recording is time-limited so you will have to listen soon if you wish to do so. The Hindu theologian Akhandadhi Das argues that all religions have both beauty and a dark side. We all need religious literacy, especially of religions that are not our own and he explains how we should judge truth in faith, ideology and politics.
QUG as a Quaker Recognised Body
The Society of Friends is in the process of reorganising all the ‘listed informal groups’ associated with it and who may use the name ‘Quaker’ or ‘Friend’. The Quaker Universalist Group was formally a listed informal group and we are pleased to state that now it is a ‘Quaker Recognised Body’: it was approved by Meeting for Sufferings (http://www.quaker.org.uk/our-organisation/meeting-for-sufferings) on June 3rd.
Discernment and Inner Knowing, by Joycelin Dawes
One of our pamphlet writers, Joycelin Dawes (see QUG pamphlet No. 32 – Choosing Life: Embracing Spirituality in the 21st Century –http://qug.org.uk/publications/pamphlets/ ) has just completed a book on discernment.
Its full title is Discernment and Inner Knowing – making decisions for the best. It is a study of both spiritual and secular discernment. It explores Quaker personal and corporate discernment through the eyes of Theory U, a secular framework for change, using the methods and visual map of ‘Theory U’ to shed light on Quaker practice.
The book is on sale from the Quaker Centre Bookshop, online booksellers and FeedARead (https://www.feedaread.com/books/Discernment-and-Inner-Knowing-9781786977793.aspx).
Here are three recommendations:
“This compelling book provides an original and insightful understanding of the art of discernment for the modern world in all its complexities. Joycelin Dawes explores the Quaker tradition and practice of discernment alongside modern secular leadership approaches of presencing and sensing. She offers an invaluable synthesis and makes a significant intellectual and practical contribution to the field of discernment and decision making for individuals, leaders and members of organisations. I cannot recommend it highly enough for its wisdom and insights.”
Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE. Former Chief Executive of 157 Group, The Centre for Excellence in Leadership UK.
“Joycelin Dawes’ book explores Quaker discernment in the context of ‘Theory U’, a model for understanding the flow of decision making. It helpfully illuminates Quaker discernment without turning it into an artificial or theoretical process but retaining the connection to deep spiritual experience that we as Friends are seeking and encounter when engage in discernment processes. This book will help Friends to better understand, practise and share Quaker discipline and the source from which we act.”
Simon Best, Head of Learning, Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
“What a fascinating and scholarly exploration of the nature and practice of discernment. Joycelin Dawes has carried out an exquisitely detailed investigation into the heart, head and hands of Quaker discernment; she draws on her equally forensic study of ‘Theory U’ to portray the light it can shed on both discernment theory and action. This is an exciting and timely study and of interest to anyone interested in improving collective thinking and decision-making.”
Jane Reed, Facilitator, coach and researcher.
Author of The Adventurous School: Vision, Community and
Curriculum for primary education in the twenty-first century.
Courses at Woodbrooke
Woodbrooke continues to run a wide range of courses covering all sorts of things about Quakerism, other faiths and spiritual practices. Members of QUG might be particularly interested in the five listed below, or you can search the full catalogue at: https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/learn/learn-at-woodbrooke/
Re-finding the Quality of Eternity: Jung and Shamanism
18th-21st August 2017
The Impact of Diversity of Belief on Quaker Practice : discernment, decision making, worship
25th-28th September 2017
4th-6th October 2017
The ‘Faith of’ or ‘Faith in’ Jesus : what are the issues?
1st-3rd November 2017
Woodbrooke and the Community of Interbeing: a joint event
15th-18th December 2017
Becoming a member of QUG
Becoming a member of QUG enables you to support our work at the annual cost of £12 (e-copies) or £18 (hard copies). You will receive our journal Universalistwhich comes out 3 times per year. This has articles on universalism and information on QUG activities. When you become a QUG member you will receive 2 free QUG pamphlets. Full details including an application form are on our website at http://qug.org.uk/membership/
Contacting us, questions and unsubscribing
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