Online Summer School Talks this August!

‘Speaking the Truth in Love’: Having the Courage of our Convictions in a Post-Truth Age

Although this year’s in-person Hucklow Summer School has been cancelled there will still be a short programme of events on Zoom during the week when it would have taken place.

Our theme: How can we discern the difference between truth and lies, in a world which increasingly seems beset with malicious forces intent on sowing confusion by spreading disinformation, propaganda, and ‘fake news’? How can we ensure that our openness to multiple truths does not leave us vulnerable to manipulation by people of ill intent or unwilling to ‘take sides’ in matters where justice is at stake? How can we be sure enough of what’s right and wrong to stand up and speak out boldly about our moral convictions? How can we cultivate the qualities of honesty, integrity, truth-telling, and good judgement in our own everyday lives? And how might we best articulate our shared Unitarian values, and focus our collective action, in order to help bring about a better world? We’ll consider how we can summon the confidence and courage to ‘speak the truth in love’ as individuals, communities, and as a denomination.

Pre-register NOW for access to an online service celebrating Hucklow Summer School and a series of five theme talks exploring this year’s theme of ‘Speaking the Truth in Love: Having the Courage of our Convictions in a Post-Truth Age’.

These events are free of charge. To pre-register please email by Friday 21st August to sign up as places will be limited. You will recieve Zoom joining details in the days before the event.

Although this is only a fraction of the experience we would usually offer at the Nightingale Centre we are delighted that our theme speakers are willing to share their wisdom online. Talks will last for about an hour, and will be followed by a short break, then another twenty minutes or so for conversation on the theme.

Saturday 22nd August, 7pm – A Celebration of Summer School

(worship led by Kate Brady McKenna and Michael Allured)

Monday 24th August, 7pm – Talk by Louise Baumberg
Louise says: ‘My talk will take both a personal and philosophical look at truth, addressing real world dilemmas and the questions that trouble us all. Examples from my work with refugees and the issues we encounter when navigating today’s world will illustrate the following questions – How do we decide that something is true? Do we have a duty to find out the truth? How do we deal with those truths that feel unbearable? Are we obligated to tell the truth in all circumstances? The aim is to give some insight into how we can think about these sorts of problems, introduce some new perspectives, and, just possibly, suggest some answers.’

Louise Baumberg has been a Unitarian for about 17 years and is a member of Godalming Unitarians. She first attended Summer School in 2009, loved it, returned almost every year since and is now on the Summer School Panel. Continuing a career of youth work and advising young people, with a bit of English language teaching on the side, she has been fostering young refugees for nearly 3 years, works for a charity supporting young refugees and has nearly finished a masters in Refugee Care. Other interests include pottery, baking, reading, kayaking and spending far too much time on Facebook.

Tuesday 25th August, 7pm – Talk by Ann Peart
Ann says: ‘My talk starts with a survey of the different sort of truth statements, and how we can judge what might be true. I will go on to explore various aspects of feminist work on truth and knowledge, particularly in relation to power and justice. The final part of my talk will touch on the sort of communities needed for truth to flourish.’

Ann read Geography at New Hall, Cambridge, and taught in various schools before family life intervened. In her forties she retrained as a Unitarian minister, and after ministries in London and Manchester was Principal of Unitarian College, Manchester until retirement in 2009. A life-long Unitarian, she has held many voluntary positions, including presidencies of the Unitarian Women’s League, Historical Society, Ministerial Fellowship, and in 2011-12 the (British) General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, of which she became an honorary member in 2018. She has researched and written on the history of Unitarian women, and was a co-founder of the feminist Unitarian women’s group. An out lesbian, she has been active in LGBTQ, feminist, social justice and environmental causes.

Wednesday 26th August, 7pm – Talk by Stephanie Bisby
Stephanie says: ‘The truth is, in Oscar Wilde’s famous words, “rarely pure and never simple.” On the face of it, from a scientific and literal perspective, truth is what is factual, measurable, and provable, but once you scratch the surface, science shows that the truth is always a complex thing. And when it comes to human experience, fact and measurement can rarely do it justice, and so we turn to stories, poetry and metaphor to tell some of the most difficult and important truths. But how do we make sure our stories about the world avoid pitfalls such as oversimplification and an innate bias towards drama and negativity? What are the truths we most need to tell in our lives and our society, and how do we tell them in constructive ways?’

Stephanie Bisby is a ministry student with Unitarian College and a member of Upper Chapel in Sheffield. Hucklow Summer School is the highlight of her Unitarian year and she was both delighted and terrified to be asked to speak this year. Stephanie has worked in marketing, communications and office administration in the rail industry. She studied English Language and Literature at Trinity College (Oxford) and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and is a published romantic novelist and prize winning short story-writer. For this talk she will try to stick to the truth.

Thursday 27th August – 7pm – Talk by Bob Janis-Dillon
Bob says: ‘In olden times, nobody ever used to tell the truth. There was no non-fiction aisle in any of the world’s bookstores. Instead, we lived and died by stories. Come sit by the fireside and hear the tale of Jonah, a man who spent three days in the belly of a giant fish, survived, and lived to grumble about it. “Just a story”, some may say – but is there, perhaps, some larger truth buried in the belly of the whale?’

Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon is co-minister at the Merseyside Unitarian Ministry Partnership, serving Unitarian chapels in Warrington, Wigan, and Chester. He was born in Boston, USA, and previously served a Unitarian Universalist congregation in New Jersey. He received a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and English Literature from the University of Birmingham (U.K.), a Masters in Theology from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and a Graduate Certificate in spiritual direction from Moravian Seminary in Pennsylvania. He lives in Newton-le-Willows with his family.

Friday 28th August – 7pm – Talk by Linda Hart
Linda says: ‘What does it mean to speak with love to one another? To whom do we owe that love? This theme talk will explore both what is required to speak lovingly to each other and who is included in our community.’

Rev. Dr. Linda Hart is a Unitarian Universalist minister serving the Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Tacoma, Washington. She has served congregations large and small across the US, and at the Richmond and Putney Unitarian Church in London. While at Summer School in years past, she could be found in the back row knitting while listening to theme talks. She is looking forward to having quality learning time along with quality knitting time while attending Summer School from the comfort of her arm chair.