Conference 2021 – Life, Time and Eternity

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

It will take place online between Friday May 7th to Saturday May 15th 2021. There will be 7 sessions.

We are delighted to confirm that all six of our original speakers are able to attend. 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)and Islam 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.

Peter Varney – from an anthropological perspective

Peter Varney is a retired Anglican priest and a member of Norwich Local Quaker Meeting. He has Geography and Anthropology degrees from Durham University and studied Theology at Birmingham and Ibadan Universities. In Nigeria he encountered Yoruba traditions and indigenous Christianity. He first met the Iban of Borneo during RAF National Service and, after ordination to Anglican ministry, he began research focusing on the merging of Iban traditional beliefs and Christianity. His recent research has focused on Iban eschatological beliefs, which he will include in his conference talk. It can be downloaded from The Free Library: The modernization of Iban eschatology: Iban burial ritual and afterlife beliefs in contemporary Kuching, Borneo Research Bulletin. Vol 45.

Rather than cramming the conference into one weekend we are spreading it over two weekends and the Wednesday in between. We are avoiding Sundays so that people can attend their usual Sunday meetings if they wish to.

The dates are:

  • Friday 7th May – 1900 – Session 1
  • Saturday 8th May – 1030 – Session 2
  • Saturday 8th May – 1430 – Session 3
  • Wednesday 12th May – 1900 – Session 4
  • Friday 14th May – 1900 – Session 5
  • Saturday 15th May – 1030 – Session 6
  • Saturday 15th May – 1430 – Session 7

Each session will be about 1¾ hours long and will involve a talk, small group discussion in breakout rooms, and a plenary. Participants of course can choose which sessions to attend. Session 7 will be a plenary to try to summarise the whole conference.

To register your interest to participate in the conference please complete the form below

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