Mar 14 2011

March 2011 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters



March 2011




This month we had a triple bill:

3.              “ … stop worrying and enjoy life”


In small groups we tried to come up with an ad suitable for the end of a bus,  which reflects a view on religion/spirituality that is consistent with the tenor of Sea of Faith discussions.
Last year a UK Atheist group ran big ads on buses that stated: “There is no God, so stop worrying and enjoy life”.  The Uniting Church in Canada responded with printed and on-line ads: “There probably is a God, so stop worrying and enjoy life”. This was accompanied by invitations to come along to café discussions.
A letter to local ministers said, “ Clearly as Christians we most definitely believe there is a God , but such a direct statement probably wouldn’t be heard by the questioning people the ad hopes to reach and invite along for discussion.”

A prominent UCC minister, Gretta Vosper, disagreed with the church’s ad, saying that “the relevant question is not the existence of God, but how we live together, co-existing on this fragile planet.”
What can you come up with?
Before this:
1. Arthur Templeton will have a display of his carving and give a brief explanation of it, and

We will have a brief Annual Meeting.
For AGM business, and Chairperson’s and Treasurer’s reports see below.

“Is Christianity Compassionate?”

Under this heading the latest national Sea of Faith Newsletter prints a review by ex-bishop Richard Holloway of Karen Armstrong’s recent book “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” in which she argues that compassion is “the distilled essence of the world’s religions”.


Holloway agrees with her that compassion is at the heart of Buddhism, but questions whether it is, in fact, at the heart of Christianity.   Both Christianity and Islam, he says,
“exist to secure life in the world to come for their followers, and any guidance they offer on living in this world is always with a view to its impact on the next.  This radically compromises their compassion agenda.”


After giving an example of how he himself was once severely criticised by an Anglican archbishop for his plea that the Church should show more compassion for gays, he goes on to say:
“The point at issue here is whether Christianity, as it presently understand itself, is a religion whose central value is compassion.”


In response to that, I offer you a few questions to think about:
1.            Do you think that what Holloway says about the central aim of the Church as he knows it  [in Scotland and England], is also an accurate comment on the parts of the Church you have known?
2.            On a scale where 1 =  total pre-occupation with securing life in the world to come, and 10 = a total concern for compassion here and now, how would you rate the practice [and not just the words] of the part of Church you have known?
3.            Thinking over what you think you know of Jesus,  and using the same 1 – 10 scale, how would you rate his teaching and the way he lived?


Responses or comments which I might print next month, will be very welcome.
The Ed.
Agenda for AGM  24 March 2011




Chairperson’s Report


Treasurer’s Report


Election of Committee


Members of the Committee are elected for a 3 year term and there is no set limit to the number on the Committee. The Treasurer, Web-Master and Editor are Committee members as of right.
Present Chairperson:  Marjorie Spittle
Present Treasurer:       Ruth Morgan
Web-Master:                Ian Fleming
Editor: Don Feist
Committee Members
Those retiring: Andrew Meek, Bruce Spittle, Geoff Neilson
Continuing Members: Sheila Clarke, Aelred Edmunds,
David Kitchingman, Pen Whitaker
Persons nominated: Margaret Feist,  Alan Jackson,
Frances Smithson,  Peter Wishart


General Business
The Chairperson’s Report 24 March 2011


We have had an interesting and varied programme over the past year.


The programmes have been as follows:
February:    The AGM and Peter Wishart gave an overview of the books we have in the library.
March:         Rod Mitchell reported on the Parliament of World Religions.
April:            David Kitchingman spoke on the topic “Just Enough is Plenty”
May:             Don Feist  reviewed the book “Thank God for Creation”
June:           Greg Hughson spoke on his work on the Interfaith Committee and his work as a Chaplain.
July:            Kevin Clements spoke on “Honouring the Other- The Quest for Respect, Equality and Small Goodnesses in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
August:       Aelred Edmunds led us through the  Peace Pipe Ceremony and spoke of his time with
indigenous cultures in America.
September: Bruce Spittle reviewed Lloyd Geering’s book “Such is Life”.
October:      Richard Egan  spoke on the topic “Spirituality is a Public Health Issue”.
November:  We each had the opportunity to speak about “When I was 20…..Now I”.


Our meetings each month have been well attended and it is encouraging that some new faces have appeared from time to time. An advertisement is put in the public notices of the Star each month, although only one person has come along as a result of this.


Early in the year a group of members met with students from the Capernwray Biblical Institute. The young people came mainly from overseas and an interesting time was spent exchanging views and recounting faith journeys, although the differences in culture and religious orientation presented some challenges.     In the middle of the year Graham Batts hosted a small group in his home to study the Cupitt book “The Old Creed and the New”. This provided time and opportunity for  discussion and a sharing of ideas and was considered to be very worthwhile by those who attended.


The annual national conference in Wellington was attended by three of our members. This year the conference is in Christchurch which may be more accessible to a greater number of Dunedin People.


Our library is being well looked after by Peter Wishart and several members have taken advantage of this service to extend their reading.   Thank you, Peter, for your efforts.  Peter and Don Feist have added new books to the library this year when the Committee decided to grant some funds for this purpose.


An innovation this year has been the food provided at the social time before our meetings. This was the initiative of Frances Smithson and has been much appreciated. We are grateful to Frances for the idea and for picking up and delivering the food from St Andrew’s to us each month.


I wish to thank Ian Fleming for keeping our web site up to date and running efficiently. Ian does a wonderful job but would still be interested in any offers to help with this task.


Thanks also go to Don Feist who continues to produce our newsletter each month on time and who often produces extra articles of interest. Both Don and Ian give a great deal of time to keeping us informed and getting news out there to any interested people and we are very grateful to them.


At the start of the year we did not have a Treasurer and so were delighted when Ruth Morgan offered to take on the job which she has done with efficiency and cheerfulness.

Thank you to all the people who have helped with the tea making and dish washing, setting out chairs and putting them away. Wherever help is given it contributes to the smooth running of our evenings.


The Sea of Faith Network [NZ] is an association of people who have a common interest in exploring religious thought and expression from a non -dogmatic and human- oriented standpoint. I hope that you will all continue to enjoy and benefit from this exploration in our local group, that you feel free to express your ideas and offer your own insights. I am sure we can look forward to another interesting year as we share together our journeys in faith.
Treasurer’s Report:

Financial Statement (click to enlarge)

Chair: Marjorie Spittle – Phone 481 1418 – Email: Marjorie
Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don
or: 16 Pioneer Crescent, Helensburgh, Dunedin 9010

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply