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Sunrise Conference 2010

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xmeltrut
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Sunrise Conference 2010

#1 Post by xmeltrut » August 14th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Hi all,

I'm hoping that many of us will join us for Sunrise Conference 2010. It's taking place next month in Leeds (4-5 September) and is designed to be summit for leaders of humanist groups across the country. The idea is to bring everyone together to share ideas, knowledge and experience with a series of seminars, discussions and talks taking place throughout the weekend.

The conference will have multiple streams designed for local groups and student groups with events ranging from general leadership and organisation, to finances, fundraising, marketing, recruitment and more. We also already have an extensive list of guest speakers lined up to speak at the conference.

The conference also has training for anyone wishing to volunteer as a humanist chaplain.

More information is on the website: http://www.sunriseconference.org

Registration is £15 to help us cover the costs of the conference, discounts for students and those on low income are available.
Chris

tubataxidriver
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#2 Post by tubataxidriver » August 22nd, 2010, 3:48 pm

There seems to be a big disagreement brewing between the organisers of this event and the BHA. Local BHA affiliated groups have been emailed by BHA about the event, and in particular raising concerns about the value of the "humanist chaplain" training and proposed network of such "chaplains". I have had a look at the programme, and I am sure the event will be an interesting and thought-provoking weekend. However, one of the people involved claims to be a humanist and styles themselves "Rev"! :puzzled:

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jaywhat
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#3 Post by jaywhat » August 22nd, 2010, 3:54 pm

tubataxidriver wrote:... one of the people involved claims to be a humanist and styles themselves "Rev"! :puzzled:

You meet these types all the time and this one fact makes me very dubious about what this conference is about. We came across the 'Rev' type in BHA training and they did not last long. I am not surprised the BHA is anti. This sounds like a fast track false path to making a living on the back of pretending real humanism.

xmeltrut
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#4 Post by xmeltrut » August 22nd, 2010, 5:06 pm

Ha, I think your taking the title a little too seriously. Though this isn't even the case anymore.

To be clear, the BHA is not anti-event with regards to Sunrise. The email Andrew sent round was to make it clear that the event is not run by the BHA as apparently some people had been under the illusion that it was. I'm not entirely sure why, it doesn't say or even suggest anywhere on the site that the BHA are involved, but if there was confusion I'm glad it's been cleared up.
Chris

Maria Mac
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#5 Post by Maria Mac » August 22nd, 2010, 6:37 pm

Why would a humanist to use the title, 'Rev'? Is it a joke? AFAIC, it's a barrier and very off-putting.

I'm afraid I find the Sunrise conference unappealing for the following reasons:

It's called the Sunrise conference.
It is organised by the same outfit as the conference in Birmingham I'd heard a few negative things about.
It's not organised by the BHA or any of the kindred organisations.
It's organised by a charity I'd never heard of before.
I'm not drawn by any of the speakers.

Hope it goes well anyway.

kat
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#6 Post by kat » August 22nd, 2010, 9:07 pm

>>> Why would a humanist to use the title, 'Rev'? Is it a joke? AFAIC, it's a barrier and very off-putting.

I guess it is just meant as a funny joke. I don't find it bad. Compare this:http://www.jhuger.com/
excellent web site by an "unserious" reverend.

>>> I'm afraid I find the Sunrise conference unappealing for the following reasons:
>>> It's called the Sunrise conference.

You need to explain this better.

>>> It is organised by the same outfit as the conference in Birmingham I'd heard a few negative things about.

I haven't been there, but a friend of mine has, and she said it was one of the coolest conferences she had
been to. I guess different people like different conventions. What did you hear about it?

>>> It's not organised by the BHA or any of the kindred organisations.

Oh well, the BHA also has its bad things. I like the NSS much better, they are really in the spot light.

>>> It's organised by a charity I'd never heard of before.

Did you check their web page? They seem to be pretty dynamic!

>>> I'm not drawn by any of the speakers.

Some of them are not that well known, but that makes it interesting!

>>> Hope it goes well anyway.

Yes, I am thinking of going. It costs a bit train money, but it seems really cool! :) :smile: :D :wink:

xmeltrut
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#7 Post by xmeltrut » August 22nd, 2010, 10:09 pm

Hi Maria,

I appreciate your concerns. However I'm not sure I quite understand them, for example when you say it isn't organised by the BHA, why is this a bad thing?

I fully appreciate not having hard of some of the speakers or the charity could be off putting of course, that is just a fact of life for new organisations.

I would also be very much interested to the negative feedback you have heard regarding the Enquiry conference so we can improve on any problem issues in future events.
Chris

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#8 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » August 23rd, 2010, 12:29 am

kat wrote:
Maria wrote:It's organised by a charity I'd never heard of before.
Did you check their web page? They seem to be pretty dynamic!
Unfortunately, I am instantly repelled by the fact that the person who formed the charity named it after himself, and the website is plastered with photographs of him. If xmeltrut is Chris Worfolk, I do hope he considers changing that, because I'm sure I can't be the only one who finds it off-putting.

The Humanist Action Group does sound interesting, and I'd like to know a bit more about it. In the Yorkshire Evening Post it says that they run a soup kitchen for homeless people. To judge from Chris's blog, it's not really what I’d call a soup kitchen, or even a properly organised soup run, but rather a small group of humanists going out on the streets on Thursday nights and offering hot food and coffee to homeless people, with mixed success. See these blog entries: (March 20, 2009) Doing our bit; (March 21, 2009) The cold streets; (March 27, 2009) Chicken stew. Perhaps since then they've managed to drum up a bit more interest in their soups and stews among the homeless of Leeds, but I can’t find any details.

I don’t mean to mock. It's not that I'm not impressed by their willingness to get out and do something. But I don't detect any sense of irony in the blog entries, no self-mockery. It also strikes me as not a particularly humanist approach to doing good. For example, there doesn't seem to be any discussion of whether handing out soup is actually the best way to help homeless people. There's nothing to indicate that the group attempted to find out about "best practice" for soup runs [---][/---] things like insurance, training in basic hygiene, or how to deal with violent confrontations. It all seems to be a bit impromptu. Maybe I'm being grossly unfair, but if the whole thing is better organised than it appears to be, then they need to do a much better job of conveying that.

To Maria’s list I'd add another reason why the Sunrise Conference doesn't sound appealing to me. The programme. Workshops and brainstorming sessions on organisation and networking and leadership and public speaking and marketing and fund-raising and event planning [---][/---] it sounds like my idea of hell, whether it's professionally run or, as I'm beginning to suspect is the case, more of an amateur affair. And it's certainly not my idea of cool! :D But each to his or her own. Like Maria, I hope it goes well. And if you go, kat, I hope you enjoy it.

Emma

Nick
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#9 Post by Nick » August 23rd, 2010, 1:00 am

Hi Chris, and welcome to the forum :D

A few personal reactions to this thread, given honestly. Some you will like, some not, but I hope you find them constructive. In no particular order (but let's at least start with a positive...... :D )

I like the acceptance of low incomes, without the leftie labelling of unwaged, pensioner etc. Sounds much more inclusive, accepting, friendly and flexible.

I wonder why I have never heard of the Sunrise Conference, though you are trying to change that, I suppose.

I wonder why, in the years I have been actively supporting humanism, I have never come across you or Sunrise.

As a leading humanist forum, as I think we can justifiably describe TH when judged against the BHA or HSS, I'm disappointed that you, as one who seems to keen to promote humanism, have not particiapated in it beyond the promotion of your conference.

If the conference is for leaders of humanist groups across the country, why have you seemngly bypassed the main humanist group which alone has the strength, breadth and clout to represent such leaders? The conference and its speakers may have all sorts of valuable insights.... why not just contribute them to the BHA?

Turning to your website, it looks as if you are trying to reinvent the wheel. The BHA already provide training for humanist celebrants. I wonder quite where we want to go with humanist 'chaplains', though I acknowledge that is an open question.

Personally, I loathe the words 'activism' and 'workshops', 'massive' and 'communities'. I have never been pleasantly surprised when confronted with those words....

You talk about 'some of the most influencial free thinking leaders across the UK'.... How come I've never heard of any of them?

In promoting the role of humanist 'chaplains', especially concerning legal weddings, any rival to the BHA I regard as a distraction. Any 'counselling' role, I regard as currently beyond our scope and mandate.

That'll do for now. Sorry to rain on your parade, but I hope that gives you guidance on how best to train your efforts in the promotion of humanism.

Maria Mac
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#10 Post by Maria Mac » August 23rd, 2010, 1:07 am

kat wrote:I guess it is just meant as a funny joke.
You guess or you know? He may well have been ordained by clicking on a link on the Church of Spiritual Humanism website. Unfortunately, because some independant humanist celebrants do in all seriousness call themselves 'Revd', as do the Spiritual Humanists and interfaith ministers, most people won't get the joke if they see the word Revd before a name. They'll just assume he's one of the those mildly delusional humanists who uses it for self-aggrandisement. :)
u need to explain this better.
Titles of conferences are should reflect their purpose or content because that's what people expect. 'Sunrise conference' wouldn't sound as creepy and cultish as it does if it was the name of a breakfast cereal manufacturer sponsoring a conference for their sales representatives but where's the link with humanism, freethought etc? When I first heard it I checked carefully in case the conference was linked to the humanist party. I'm not suggesting the organisers are a cult or any such thing but I would suggest none of them consider marketing as a career. Try grave digging instead? (Just kidding).
I haven't been there, but a friend of mine has, and she said it was one of the coolest conferences she had
been to. I guess different people like different conventions. What did you hear about it?
That it was amateurish to the point of embarrassment at times and that some of the speakers felt they'd been misled about what they were being invited to. There was also some unease expressed about some course on offer - presumably the One Life course - and the pictorial publicity for it. My informant did not use the word 'cultish' but I sensed that's the impression they got as well. Again, it's about marketing. Goodness knows some of us have spent enough time trying to disabuse people of the notion that we're some neo-pagan type religion, we know how easily people can get the wrong impression.
Oh well, the BHA also has its bad things. I like the NSS much better, they are really in the spot light.
I said "the BHA or any of the kindred organisations". The NSS one of the kindred organisations. No need to get all 'People's Front of Judea about it.' :wink:
Did you check their web page? They seem to be pretty dynamic!
And inexperienced. Given that it's a new organisation without a track record of achievement as an organisation, I'm not confident that my attendance at the conference would be a good investment of my time and money. I get the impression of a group of well-intentioned individuals, each of whom may have a wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute but I have to wonder why they've set up a separate organisation rather than working within the existing ones. I have a sense of their trying to reinvent the wheel. (Edit: I posted this before seeing Nick's post. I like how you think, Nick).

Here's the link for anyone interested. http://www.chrisworfolkfoundation.org/

(It kind of reminds me of the humanist academy.)
Some of them are not that well known, but that makes it interesting!
Are you one of the organisers, by any chance?

Maria Mac
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#11 Post by Maria Mac » August 23rd, 2010, 1:10 am

xmeltrut wrote: To be clear, the BHA is not anti-event with regards to Sunrise. The email Andrew sent round was to make it clear that the event is not run by the BHA as apparently some people had been under the illusion that it was.
The email went on to point out that the plans to set up a humanist chaplaincy network "conflicts with BHA’s own plans and current activities".
when you say it isn't organised by the BHA, why is this a bad thing?
I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm saying it doesn't inspire the same confidence because you're a new organisation. I note on your humanist chaplaincy website you say that, "Sunrise runs every September". How many have there been already? (By the way, that website needs a good proof read. My favourite was the "tenants of humanism". LOL!)

I fully appreciate not having heard of some of the speakers or the charity could be off putting of course, that is just a fact of life for new organisations.
I didn't say I hadn't heard of them, I said I wasn't drawn by them. The website doesn't even say what they're going to speak about at the conference but provides a couple of lines about each of them, making most of them sound averagely interesting, at best.
I would also be very much interested to the negative feedback you have heard regarding the Enquiry conference so we can improve on any problem issues in future events.
See my answer to Kat.

Maria Mac
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#12 Post by Maria Mac » August 23rd, 2010, 1:13 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Unfortunately, I am instantly repelled by the fact that the person who formed the charity named it after himself, and the website is plastered with photographs of him. If xmeltrut is Chris Worfolk, I do hope he considers changing that, because I'm sure I can't be the only one who finds it off-putting.
Yeah, I thought this but was too polite to say so. :wink:

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getreal
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#13 Post by getreal » August 23rd, 2010, 1:30 am

I know nothing about humanism, but I do know a bit about charities. The content and layout of the site made me very uncomfortable. Naming a charity after yourself appears rather self-aggrandising, something I would have thought was pretty obvious. The numerous pictures of Chris just adds to this. Was there a particular reason why this is?
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

xmeltrut
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#14 Post by xmeltrut » August 23rd, 2010, 8:17 am

Emma, with regards to HAG, you're right, it's not a big kitchen run out of specially build premises, it's about humanists just going onto the street and doing good. This was the idea behind it, we wanted to create a zero barrier entry for humanists to get involved in charity work. There are large established charities already out there if people want to get involved, but what we noticed was that people simply didn't so we wanted to make it more accessible. So you're right, it's not a huge operation - but it isn't designed to be.

Nick, to answer your questions, CWF was only founded a year ago and this is the first time we're run Sunrise. This isn't to say we're new to humanism, I'm really pleased so many experienced humanists have become involved in our projects, but it's the first time the organisation and conference have existed formally, hence why you won't have heard of it.

With regards to the BHA involvement, their hands are somewhat tied at the moment. I'm sure they are looking to work together as a constructive relationship as much as we are, however until their review board decides what the BHA actually thinks of the idea of chaplaincy they can't really do anything.

I think chaplains are very much a distinct role to celebrants, chaplains will not be trained to fulfil any of the roles that celebrants currently provide (though I take it you're aware a BHA trained celebrant can't legally marry anyone anyway?). Chaplaincy isn't counseling, it's existential guidance.

As the conference is about running and organising conferences, it's more about the people behind the organisations rather than the "atheist celebs" if you will, hence why you may not have heard of many of them.

Maria, we're definitely not the BHA, though I would have thought we would fall under the definition of a kindred organisation. We are a humanist organisation after all. We might disagree with the BHA on quite a few points but no where near as much as the NSS disagree with them.

Obviously we haven't been working at this since 1967 as the BHA have, but as I've said, I'm really proud about how much experience we have managed to bring into the organisation in such a short space of time.

I do agree that the website needs sorting out.
Chris

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jaywhat
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#15 Post by jaywhat » August 23rd, 2010, 8:57 am

Re 'chicken stew' one's mind boggles.
Tough if you are a veggie as well as being on the street and pretty dangerous anyway if you do not want to catch anything.

lewist
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#16 Post by lewist » August 23rd, 2010, 9:43 am

Yep, I too wonder about naming a foundation after yourself. However, I sometimes attend the Highland Humanist Group, and I happened to look at the pictures on the Chris Worfolk website. I found myself reflecting on the difference between the people in the picture on the website and those I meet at Highland Humanists. The difference? About 40 years. These are young Humanists. They may not get everything right first time but they represent part of the future of Humanism and possibly are to be encouraged rather than criticised.

In my present condition I can't consider going to the Sunrise Conference; perhaps I wouldn't anyway but best wishes to those attending.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#17 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » August 23rd, 2010, 1:07 pm

xmeltrut wrote:Emma, with regards to HAG, you're right, it's not a big kitchen run out of specially build premises, it's about humanists just going onto the street and doing good. This was the idea behind it, we wanted to create a zero barrier entry for humanists to get involved in charity work. There are large established charities already out there if people want to get involved, but what we noticed was that people simply didn't so we wanted to make it more accessible. So you're right, it's not a huge operation - but it isn't designed to be.
I wasn't criticising it, Chris, for being small-scale. Perhaps that's all that's needed in Leeds. What I'm uncomfortable with is its being referred to as a humanist soup kitchen (although admittedly that was by the YEP, not by you). That, it seems to me, is a little bit like a referring to a flat to which a humanist regularly invites a couple of elderly neighbours over for a cup of tea and a rock bun as a humanist drop-in centre. If you do want to present it as a humanist soup run, and certainly if you want David Cameron to come and join you for an evening, then I think you at least need to demonstrate that it is properly organised, that everyone is adequately trained, that you've done all you can to ensure that you don't inadvertently poison or scald someone. And ideally, because you're humanists, you need to show some evidence that it is doing good, and not simply making you feel good.

I'm not saying this because I think it's a bad idea. I don't know whether it is or not, but I'm genuinely interested. And it would be interesting to know more. Do you just keep the soup and coffee warm in thermos flasks, or do you have some special equipment? How do you transport it? And what did you do this last winter? Were there people sleeping rough in Leeds when there was heavy snow? If so, did you offer them any other help? If not, where were they? Are the people you are feeding all street homeless? Do you know what proportion of homeless people in Leeds actually are sleeping rough? If this is the sort of thing that you're going to talk about at the Sunshine Conference, then it could be fascinating.

There was a big debate about soup runs in London a few years ago, with Westminster City Council (boo! hiss!) leading a campaign against them. Westminster City Council actually tried to ban soup runs in the borough, claiming that it encouraged rough sleeping. I don't buy all of their arguments, but it isn't just Tory councils that have concerns. John Bird, the founder of Big Issue magazine, also believes that soup runs keep people on the streets, and thinks it's "barbaric" to feed people on the streets (see "Do soup kitchens help the homeless?", BBC News, 23 December 2007). And homelessness charity St Mungo's states that "it remains our opinion that soup runs, rather than offering a solution to street homelessness, exacerbate and prolong it". And Thames Reach Bondway (a secular homelessness charity) stopped its own soup run when it "became clear to us that the soup run was keeping people on the street rather than helping people get off the street" (Inside Housing, 10 June 2008). Other charities strongly disagree, of course. Shelter has published a briefing examining the arguments. (I haven't read it properly yet, but it seems pretty balanced and fair.) Don't you think that a humanist operation aimed at helping the street homeless should engage with and contribute to this debate?

Emma

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#18 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » August 23rd, 2010, 1:14 pm

lewist wrote:These are young Humanists. They may not get everything right first time but they represent part of the future of Humanism and possibly are to be encouraged rather than criticised.
I agree that they should be encouraged. But if they're young Humanists, wouldn't they welcome criticism, if it's genuinely intended to be constructive?

Emma

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Val
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#19 Post by Val » August 23rd, 2010, 9:00 pm

My very first reaction to the email on 14th August was "What sort of people do they think we are that we can drop everything and arrangh to attend a conference of this sort with only 3 weeks notice" I went off them at that point and nothing I read subsequently made me feel any interest in an organisation I had never heard of before, despite 10 years membership of BHA and NSS.

lewist
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Re: Sunrise Conference 2010

#20 Post by lewist » August 24th, 2010, 4:10 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
lewist wrote:These are young Humanists. They may not get everything right first time but they represent part of the future of Humanism and possibly are to be encouraged rather than criticised.
I agree that they should be encouraged. But if they're young Humanists, wouldn't they welcome criticism, if it's genuinely intended to be constructive?

Emma
I hope so, Emma. :)
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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