June 2023

Dear QUG supporter

QUG Committee

At our recent annual general meeting three of our committee members stood down, Laurie Burrow, Helen Osborn and Dorothy Searle. We thank them for all the work they have done for us over the years.

We are pleased that we have recruited some people to attend the committee meetings as observers with a view to maybe joining later and taking on responsibilities. But we need more! Several of us have been on the committee for a long time and/or are getting quite old. If anyone who has been to QUG activities would like to help us in planning the future please enquire further by responding to this email or emailing contact@qug.org.uk.

All committee meetings are by Zoom.

QUG Annual Conference 2024 – April 19th – 21st 2024 at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and online.  

We are delighted to announce that our 2024 conference will be at High Leigh – see https://www.cct.org.uk/high-leigh/high-leigh-conference-centre. High Leigh is a large conference centre, usually with several conferences on at the same time, but each conference using separate facilities. Several QUG members have stayed there and speak highly of the venue. It will be a blended conference to enable those who cannot come in person to join in.

The working title for the conference is The future of religion worldwide: What will happen? Does it matter? What can we do about it?

We are busy making detailed plans and we will keep you informed of progress. Please put the dates in your diary.

One aspect we have to sort out well in advance is the technology. All the equipment to facilitate a blended conference will be at High Leigh and their resident technician will go through how we should use it before the conference, but we will have no one present all the time to act as our technician. So – we would be happy to pay the fees and travel expenses of a person who both wants to come to the conference and would be happy to act as our resident technician as their contribution to it. If you are interested in doing this, please reply to this email or send an email to contact@qug.org.uk.

Our recent conference in 2023 at Woodbrooke – Universalism and Creativity – how creativity expresses and enhances spirituality across the world.

Our recent conference at Woodbrooke was well-received and we are delighted with the positive feedback we have had. Thank you to Daniel Flynn for writing the excellent article in the Friend of June 8th / 9th (see https://thefriend.org/article/universal-appeal-daniel-clarke-flynn-attends-the-quaker-universalist-confer).

We are in the process of writing the pamphlet based on the conference and putting the talks on our website – but this will take time. We will let you know when these are available. 

Quaker Arts Network

The Quakers Arts Network (QAN) is a longstanding Quaker Recognized Body (and newly registered charity) with the aim to encourage the use of the arts for Quaker spiritual nurture, witness and outreach.

For the past ten years this network, including website (https://quakerarts.net/), newsletter (https://mailchi.mp/16e6ae47a1f5/march-2023-newsletter) and social media channels (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1784256575214187) (https://www.instagram.com/quakerarts/), has developed and nurtured a growing community of Friends interested in the arts, supported their individual creative endeavours and organised collaborative projects amongst them.

Of particular note has been the Loving Earth Project

(http://lovingearth-project.uk/) whose individually made textile panels expressing Quaker concerns for the environment have been exhibited around the world, including in the Houses of Parliament.

Recently QAN, in honour of the 400th anniversary of George Fox’s birth, has begun a collaboration with the Children’s and Young People’s Committee of Quaker Life to launch a new project Fox@400. While still early days, you can find an outline of the project (http://quakerarts.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Movie-handout.pdf) as well as a sample video, George Fox Poem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIY3ufp0zCE) and Video Making Tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4XQZaoRu6o)

QAN warmly welcomes all those interested to join our network (simply send an email introducing yourself to quakerarts@gmail.com), collaborate on projects and work together to support Quaker witness and outreach thorough the arts.

Monthly meeting for worship and sharing

Our meetings for worship and sharing continue by Zoom on the third Wednesday of each month.

At our last meeting on June 21st we had a wonderful session listening to three Friends from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who described their Quaker witness in this challenging country. 

The next meeting is on July 19th and we are delighted to welcome Howard Grace from Newbury Meeting. Howard was born in Newbury in 1940. After studying physics at university in the 1960s he worked in a voluntary capacity for 14 years, mostly overseas, with the NGO  ‘Initiatives of Change’. This included four years in South Africa during apartheid times. In 1979, he fell foul of the security police there, and after beating a hasty retreat to the UK trained as a teacher at the age of forty. He spent 15 years teaching mathematics in a comprehensive school. Following that, he founded and led a programme conducting workshops in hundreds of Sixth Forms around the UK on issues related to purpose in life and motivation. In 2010 Howard and his Dutch wife Maria changed their spiritual home to the Quakers. He frequently writes in the Friend and is also the executive producer of the award winning film Beyond Forgiving. The theme is taken from his recent eBooklet: Our Shared Humanity. Some inclusive spiritual perspectives. Link: <https://sites.google.com/view/oursharedhumanity/home> .

The meetings start at 7.00 p.m. The Zoom will open at 6.45 p.m.

We send out reminders two or three 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

Paganism and Sufism

Following our recent conference we have two Quakers who are keen to meet others through Zoom to share a common interest. One is interested in Paganism, the other in Sufism.

If you would like to join them and are happy for your email to be passed on to them, please reply to this email, stating which one you have an interest in (or both!).

Universalist – October 2023

If you are a QUG member you will receive the conference pamphlet when it is complete, hopefully in July.

We would like to receive more articles for the October 2023 Universalist, so if you would like to write a prose piece, a poem or a review of a book, film, play etc. please get writing!

We welcome a wide range of articles, as long as they have a universalist theme, welcoming the statement that ‘spiritual awareness is accessible to everyone of any religion or none’.

Articles should be sent to contact@qug.org.uk by July 31st 2023 at the latest.  

QUG Membership

We have welcomed several new members in the last month or two and we would love to have some more, so 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

Book reviews

We are looking for more people to help us to review books to be published in our journal Universalist. If you would be interested in doing this please email contact@qug.org.uk.  We will then send you details of books we have been offered for review. If you volunteer we will then ask the publisher to send you a copy – some are only sent as pdfs. Peter Varney is the reviews editor; he asks that reviews reflect a universalist approach, whether as found in the book or in your review of it.

Cessation of funding for the Inter Faith Network

We have received a message from the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR) that the government abruptly stopped its funding of the Inter Faith Network from April. Many of our readers are involved in interfaith work and will be concerned at this change by the government. You may wish to take action. Please see https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/the-inter-faith-network-for-the-uk-vital-and-at-risk for more details.

Quaker roles

There are many roles within the Society of Friends, both in Britain and worldwide, where those with universalist views can make an important contribution.

For anyone attached to a Quaker Meeting there is a wonderful number of opportunities available. These range from representing Britain Yearly Meeting at European and other Yearly Meetings to Quaker Housing Trust to Eldership at Britain Yearly Meeting.

Quaker Service Interest Forms are a good starting point: 

https://www.quaker.org.uk/documents/serving-with-quakers-guidance-and-form-final. They are held centrally, and confidentially, for members of the Central Nominations Committee’s use when searching for people to undertake a particular role or service.

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