December 2013

seasons greetings

Since the last News Update…

  • GRAM – Group Representatives Annual Meeting, 16th November

A well attended and very full day in London for groups throughout England. Read more on page 3.

  • 17th November, East Kent Humanists AGM

There is a reciprocal dialogue between our two groups with non-voting attendance at meetings. This is part of a cooperative spirit that has seen useful growth.


  • 23rd November, MIFA Party

Part of ongoing Dialogue is our participation with MIFA and its events. This was an enjoyable evening with entertainment, networking and excellent food. It is worth noting as something to look out for next year.

  • 3rd December, North Kent Humanist Meeting

A pleasant informal evening where the conversation drifted to thoughts for the coming year: the opportunities and difficulties; and the prevailing trends in society. These appear to fall into the following three areas:

  • changing nature of membership

‘Membership recruitment, retention, and participation; volunteer management; and fundraising are necessary elements for the survival of voluntary organizations. While falling membership dues and stagnant membership numbers continue to concern association executives, third-sector membership is still regarded as the outward manifestation of approval by a group of individuals who need a collective voice to represent their interests. When the needs of this core group of individuals are not met, associations lapse into obsolescence or cease to be.

‘In some cases, sociopolitical change brings about the eventual demise of associations — a significant shift in public policy or cultural values, for example, results in an organization’s mission being “completed,” rendering the association irrelevant or even useless. For example, the temperance unions and women suffrage associations were single-purpose groups that, upon successful achievement of their missions, were unable to redirect their efforts to complementary goals. However, the defunct members went on to join (or create) other associations, whose goals often were culturally related to those of the extinct organization.’ Journal of Association Leadership

Perhaps we need to revisit the needs • why are we here? • who for? • what are their needs?

  • working with others

Collaboration is playing a greater part in organisations and their activities. ‘Shared Agenda’, ‘Together we’re stronger’, ‘Alignment of need’ – these are phrases that are typical of this trend. North Kent Humanists are pleased to be Partners of the BHA, work in conjunction with East Kent Humanists, are affiliates of National Secular Society, members of Medway Inter Faith Action, work with Chatham Unitarian Church and support the Human Rights Office.

  • spirituality with a small ‘s’

The strongest Zeitgeist is spirituality with a small ‘s’. The numbers of people identifying as spiritual but not religious has grown significantly. Voices are raising the call to recover the baby from the bath water. There seems to be recognition of a need that is left wanting from the rejection of organised religion. The phenomenal growth of the Sunday Assembly is one of the most outward expressions of this. It chimes with our next meeting:

January 2014

from Page 1…

Objectives from GRAM:

1. To enable group representatives to share experiences, best practice, and good ideas;

2. To provide training, information, and support to groups to ensure ongoing success;

3. To update group representatives on the work of the BHA and any developments now and in the future.


10:00 Meet and mingle | Refreshments provided
10:25 Welcome
10:30 Morning Session: Group Development Workshop | David Warden and Ben Kerr
12:30 Lunch break (not provided at the venue but there are many nearby vendors or you can bring your own)
13:15 From ‘Interfaith’ to Dialogue: Representing Humanism on Local Forums and Networks | Rory Fenton
13:45 GALHA Update
14:15 Stand-Up Comedy | Martin Watts
14:30 Refreshment Break
14:45 Sunday Assemblies: The Story so Far
15:45 Campaigns Update | Pavan Dhaliwal and Richy Thompson
16:15 Award: Website of the Year
16:25 Closing Statement

Clink this link for NKH Open Folder – GRAM in Contents

Table discussion

What is a Humanist Group for?

• An alternative church? • A secularist pressure group? • A talking shop?

• A pillar of the community? • A community hub? • Humanist/atheist evangelism?

What are its functions and what can we learn from our competitors?

• A community for the non-religious? • Forum for public debate? • Library?

• Chaplaincy and counselling/pastoral services? • Ceremonies?

• Courses on human flourishing (a ‘school of life’?) • Youth group?

• Charity fundraising? • Food bank? • To counter evangelism?

• “Celebration of life”? • Choirs, singing and readings? • Socialising?

• Facilitating the teaching of Humanism in schools (eg via RE)?

• Inclusion in Remembrance services?

What ‘infrastructure’ does a Humanist group need?

• Mission statement • Aims • Constitution and membership structure

• Affiliation/partnership with BHA • Somewhere to meet • A committee

• A programme of events • Promotional leaflets • Regular newsletter or bulletin

• Website, facebook etc • A Humanist course • Trained leaders? • A building?

• A gazebo/tent? • GRAM • International links/twinning

• Links with ‘kindred spirits’ (Unitarians, liberal Jews, Quakers, atheist groups, skeptics, Fabians, science groups, green groups, student humanist groups)

• Dialogue (aka ‘interfaith’)

U3A Study Group, Exploring Humanistic Thinking: provisional programme

1 Preliminary meeting

2 Skeptics in the ancient world

Confucius Aristotle Protagoras Epicurus Socrates Lucretius – Attitudes to morality -

Agnosticism, Deism, Atheism, Theism

3 14/17th Centuries

The Renaissance – The Reformation -Galileo – The Scientific Revolution – Art & Music -


4 17/18th Centuries

The Age of Enlightenment – Utilitarianism – Jeremy Bentham – John Stuart Mill – Thomas Paine
David Hume – Rousseau – Diderot – Voltaire

5 19th/20th Centuries

Darwin – Robert G Ingersoll – Shelley – Thomas Huxley v Wilberforce – George Eliot

E M Forster

6 Emergence of Modern Humanism

Rationalist Societies – National Secular Society – British Humanist Association – Local groups

Humanism in the USA – International organisations

7 Influence of modern science

Astrophysics – Genetics – Cosmology – Neo-Darwinism

8 Humanist attitudes to moral issues, eg

abortion – assisted dying – war – genetics – general principles – the origin of moral values

9 Humanist Rites of Passage

weddings – baby namings – funerals – coming of age – gay and lesbian ceremonies

10 People’s attitudes to Humanism

census data – trends and age profiles – awareness and knowledge of attitudes of religions—

11 Humanist activities and status

religious privilege – secularity – humanist campaigns – current people of influence

parliamentary humanist group – Humanist Philosophers’ Group – REC and SACREs

12 Resumé +

the monarchy issue – the future role of religion – humanism as positive atheism?


There was so much to think about with the GRAM. It was also reassuring that our modest group was achieving so many of the goals common to us all.

Wishing Everyone a Holiday Season that is Rewarding and a New Year that is Full of Hope.

Throughout 2014