Conference 2021 – Life, Time and Eternity

The 2021 QUG annual conference is the postponed 2020 conference ‘ LIFE, TIME AND ETERNITY

It will take place from Friday May 14th to Sunday May 16th 2021.

We have now decided definitely to proceed with our annual conference in 2021. We have two options and we will decide on which one to take up early in 2021. Whichever we adopt the dates will be the same – May 14th to 16th – so please keep these free if you are interested in attending.

The two options will be:

  1. We hold a ‘blended’ conference, with some willing to go to Woodbrooke in person, but others joining online.

Speakers will either come in person or present their talk online (either live, or recorded).

  1. We hold a conference that is entirely online. We could have pre-recorded or live talks online over the weekend. We could have discussions – in plenary or in breakout rooms. We would use Zoom or similar software.

We are delighted to confirm that all five of our original speakers are still able to attend in some way or another. They are:

Philip Young – from a Christian perspective

Rev. Philip Young is a retired priest in the Church of England and helps out at his local church. He is a member of the Franciscan Third Order. He is also a Quaker and a pacifist.

He has enjoyed living in East Anglia since 1980. He loves gardening, sailing and swimming in the North Sea, every day if he can. He writes poetry. He has run the London Marathon five times for Water Aid and once to raise money for the rebuilding of St. Thomas’ Church Hall in Norwich where he was Vicar from 2007 to 2012. Before moving to Felixstowe in Suffolk five years ago he was the Environmental Officer for the Diocese of Norwich. He is developing a website which can be found at

Philip believes that Love is God and God is Love and that Love transforms the individual and the world.

Sharada Sugirtharajah – from a Hindu perspective

Dr. Sharada Sugirtharajah is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. Sharada’s research focuses on representations of Hinduism in colonial and postcolonial writings. She also has research interests in Modern Hindu Thought, Religious Pluralism, Interreligious Relations, Hinduism in Diaspora, and Women’s issues. Sharada is engaged in freelance work and has led sessions for students, counsellors, social workers, nurses, clergy and multi-faith groups. She has acted as a consultant to various Religious Education projects and is on the International Editorial Board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Sharada edited and wrote two essays in the book Religious Pluralism and the Modern World: An Ongoing Engagement with John Hick (2012)and also wrote Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective (2003). We are delighted to welcome back Sharada, who was a speaker at the QUG’s 2012 and 2017 conferences.

Murray Corke – from a Zen Buddhist perspective

Dr. Murray Corke is a veterinary surgeon, conservationist and advocate for animal welfare. He is a clinical teacher at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. He is also a Zen Buddhist. He learned to meditate with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1984, before encountering the teaching and practice of Thich Nhat Hanh on a retreat in south Devon in 1992. He then spent time on a number of retreats at Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery in south-west France. The Cambridge Sangha (Buddhist community), which started in 1993, has been his major support and source of learning over the years. He has been active in the Community of Interbeing since it was formed to promote the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh and the practice of mindfulness in Britain, leading courses and retreats throughout the country.

Arif Hussain – from a Muslim perspective

Shaykh Arif Hussain was born in Uganda, but moved to the UK at the age of 8. The Shaykh studied at Madrassah Syed Al-Khoei, London, and graduated with Honours in 1988. He then went to Iran for further Arabic and Islamic Studies. Later Shaykh Arif returned to the UK to establish the Al-Mahdi Institute in Birmingham, an important Shi’i Islamic Seminary. He is Co-director of CIMS (Centre for Intra Muslim Studies) and an active contributor to Interfaith dialogue. He has written many academic articles on various Islamic topics, and books including 289 Sayings of Imam Ali (2017), Islam and God-Centricity: A Theological Basis for Human Liberation (2017)andIslam and God-Centricity: Reassessing Fundamental Theological Assumptions (2019).

Julian Barbour – from a scientific perspective

Dr. Julian Barbour is a British physicist with research interests in quantum gravity and the history of science. He has written several books and papers, most notably his 1999 book The End of Time, which puts forward the view that time, as we perceive it, does not exist as anything other than an illusion, and that a number of problems in physical theory arise from assuming that it does exist. He argues that we have no evidence of the past other than our memory of it, and no evidence of the future other than our belief in it.

In addition, our QUG Committee member, Peter Varney, will help to draw the conference themes together at the end of the conference and add an anthropological perspective.

Peter Varney is a retired Anglican priest and a member of Norwich Local Quaker Meeting. He has geography and anthropology degrees form Durham and studied theology at Birmingham and Ibadan universities.

The QUG Committee next meets on January 9th 2021 so we hope to have more definite news soon after that date. We will keep this website updated.