January 2023

Dear QUG supporter

Our annual conference in 2023 – Friday May 12th to Sunday May 14th at Woodbrooke and online

Universalism and Creativity – how creativity expresses and enhances spirituality across the world.

We are very much looking forward to our second blended annual conference. We will be going again to the Woodbrooke Centre in Birmingham, which has been a Quaker Study Centre since 1903 (see https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/). We will also welcome people who wish to join us online.

Our topic this year is universalism and creativity. We will explore this through our speakers, through practical work and in small groups. There will also be plenty of time to socialise and (at Woodbrooke) enjoy the house and grounds.

We have six speakers and we expect all or most of them to be at Woodbrooke throughout the conference. Further details of the speakers are below, but, in brief, they are (with the title of their talks):

Helen Otter – An Introduction to Creativity and Spirituality: An Artist’s View

Philip Gross – What’s Living in the Space Between Us – Poetry, Collaboration, Listening

Jaana Erkkilä – Creativity and Nature in the Nordic Tradition

Roger HillDaoism and Creativity

David Brown – Despacho (prayer bundle) in the context of Shamanism

Charles Monkhouse – The Spirituality of Colour

The conference is from Friday May 12th at 6 p.m. to Sunday May 14th at 2 p.m. We encourage you to attend the whole conference, but rates for those who can’t come to the whole conference are on the application form.

Costs for the weekend are £250 at Woodbrooke. There are a few rooms available for two people sharing and this will cost £425. To join us online (for any part of the conference) the cost is £40.

All are welcome. You do not need to be a Quaker or a member of the Quaker Universalist Group to attend.

Application forms are available on our website https://qug.org.uk under ‘Conferences’ and we have attached the forms to this newsletter as a PDF and as an Excel file. (For those who can’t open attachments we have put a form at the end of this newsletter which you can fill in and post, or scan in and send as an email attachment.) The email address and postal address of our Conference Applications Secretary are on the form.

Further details of the speakers

Helen Otter – An Introduction to Creativity and Spirituality: An Artist’s View

Helen Otter is an artist who has exhibited in East Anglia, Gloucestershire and London, working both independently and in collaboration with other artists. With a Masters degree in Fine Art she has worked in a variety of media including paint, pencil, textiles, found objects, sound and video, producing installations and objects that reference site and context.

Philip Gross – What’s Living in the Space Between Us — Poetry, Collaboration, Listening

Philip Gross is a poet who has also written novels, libretti and radio scripts, for adults and young people. Working frequently with visual artists, dancers and musicians, he sees collaboration as the spirit at the heart of all creative life, and maybe too of spirituality. He lives in South Wales and draws on a heritage from Estonia and Cornwall.

Jaana ErkkiläCreativity and Nature in the Nordic Tradition

Jaana Erkkilä-Hill is the Vice-Rector for Research at the University of the Arts, Helsinki, and a Professor in Fine Art at the University of Lapland. She is active as an artist and her work is held in several public and private collections. She has attended Quaker meetings since her childhood and is a member of the North Finland Quaker Worship Group. She lives in Finland and in the UK.

Roger HillDaoism and Creativity

Roger’s interest in Daoism grew alongside his study of Traditional Chinese Medicine: the philosophy and the practice are inextricably linked. He was fortunate to be able to develop this learning with the distinguished Sinologist Father Claude Larre SJ. Until his retirement Roger was co-Director of the Centre for Complementary Health Studies at the University of Exeter. He is a Member of Totnes Quaker Meeting and the North Finland Quaker Worship Group

David Brown – Despacho (prayer bundle) in the context of Shamanism

David Brown is a member of Bournemouth Coastal Area Meeting and is the co-clerk and administrator of the Kindlers, and author of the Kindler book, ‘What does Love require of Us?’  He has a degree in psychology, and diplomas in counselling and spiritual coaching.  He has used shamanic techniques in both Kindler workshops and spiritual coaching.  

Charles Monkhouse – The Spirituality of Colour

Charles Monkhouse is an artist working in rural and public spaces to create permanent sculptures and temporary light works, often with the support of local communities and landscape stakeholders. His interest in colour stems from his work on LED installations, a career lecturing in colleges and universities, and a life of gallery visits and overseas travel.

Monthly meeting for worship and sharing

Our next online meeting for worship and sharing is by Zoom on Wednesday January 18th

It starts at 7.00 p.m. The Zoom will open at 6.45 p.m.

We send out reminders two days beforehand to everyone who has registered.

If you do not have the joining instructions and would like them please send an email to contact@qug.org.uk

Our next meeting for worship and sharing after this will be on Wednesday February 15th.

Universalist – February 2023

The February Universalist will shortly be sent to the printers.

We are looking for more articles for the October 2023 Universalist: articles should be sent to contact@qug.org.uk by July 31st 2023.

QUG Membership

We do encourage you to join QUG if you have not already done so. Our journal Universalist is well worth a read, as is the pamphlet we produce in the summer following our conference. E-copies of Universalist cost £12.00 per year and hard copies £18.00 per year. Hard copies of the pamphlet are sent to all members. 

Renewals for QUG membership for 2023 are due on the anniversary of when you last paid.

Full details of membership (including our bank details and a standing order form) are on our website https://qug.org.uk.

Some publications

We have become aware of some publications related to universalism.

From Kate McNally

Last year we were delighted to listen to Kate McNally at one of our Wednesday evening meetings for worship and sharing. She has now completed her book in the Quaker Quicks series, entitled A Simple Faith in a Complicated World. This will be published in July this year.

It was reviewed by Harvey Gillman in a recent copy of the Friend (13th January 2023, p. 16 – see https://thefriend.org/article/a-simple-faith-in-a-complicated-world-one-quakers-journey-through-doubt)

We would love to have our own universalist review in our October 2023 Universalist so if you are interested in writing this please reply to this email or email contact@qug.org.uk.

We have a review copy already available.

From Sharada Sugirtharajah

One of our supporters, Sharada Sugirtharajah, who has spoken at several of our Woodbrooke conferences, has edited a book which came out last year on perspectives on happiness and wellbeing across various religions and world views. Details can be found at:


Sharada has also informed us that she has edited another volume of John Hick’s work: John Hick was an important source of thinking for us when QUG was founded in the late 1970s and is the author of our Pamphlet No. 3 (See https://qug.org.uk/pamphlets-2/pamphlet-03/). For Sharada’s book please visit:


Contacting us, questions and unsubscribing

If you have any questions or wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter please reply directly or send an email to contact@qug.org.uk.

The form for the conference follows and is also attached.

QUG 2023 Annual Conference Booking Form – Universalism and Creativity 
Friday May 12th (6pm) to Sunday May 14th (2pm) 
At Woodbrooke Study Centre,1046 Bristol Road, Birmingham. B29 6LJ 
And On-line by Zoom 
Name Address  
Email Post Code  
I wish to:Stay at WoodbrookeCost£250    
Woodbrooke daily/part timeCostSee Note 6 overleaf  
Take part onlineCost£40    
Only if you wish to:    I make a donation to speakers’ expenses of:                         £  
(£20 suggested) 
Total amount paid:£  
I shall pay by: Bank Transfer to:    The Quaker Universalist Group 
Bank:   TSB        Sort Code:   30-97-35       Account:   00016421 
 Cheque payable to: The Quaker Universalist Group  
If there are two people on this form, we shall assume that you want a double room (see Note 4 overleaf). Otherwise we shall assume a single. If necessary, please comment in the box. 
Ensuite essential Mobility difficulties? Please comment  
Diet:Vegan Vegetar’n Veg’t’+fish Omnivore  
I should like to stay at Woodbrooke before/afterwards.  
Please add times and meal requirements to the comments box. 
We shall arrange this not Woodbrooke, but please pay at Woodbrooke. 
Please return this form to the Conference Applications Secretary:
Dorothy Searle               dorothys@qug.org.uk
Flat 52 Albany Park Court,      3 Westwood Road,      Southampton.                SO17 1LA.
1Bookings are accepted only on full payment.
2If you are applying from overseas and need to pay by Paypal, please email: contact@qug.org.uk
3If you need to cancel, please contact the Conference Applications Secretary
4If you are a couple sharing a room, you will be entitled to a reduction of £75 from the total amount.
5You should receive an acknowledgement of this booking. If you don’t hear from us within 2 weeks, please contact the Conference Applications Secretary.
6Daily rates at Woodbrooke:
Saturday daytime with lunch2 sessions 09.30-17.30£36
Saturday all day with lunch & dinner3 sessions 09.30-21.30£66
Whole less Saturday evening & dinner4 sessions£97
Whole conference with all lunches and dinners£127