We’ll share some recent news, and then explain an issue we’d like your feedback on.

First, the news:

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the upgraded website. Hats off, again, to Terry Findlay for setting this up. Over time, we’ll continue to add to and enhance what’s offered.

Some pieces have been added to the Members’ Projects site – featuring paintings by Jane Penfield, writing by Paul Martin, and blogs/websites by David Kuntz and JD Stillwater. We encourage you to check these out.

Aron Gamman is giving leadership to an experiment for a local get-together in Ohio and nearby states. We look forward to that development, and hope it will serve as an experiment for other opportunities for RNA members to meet in-person.

On the communications front, I had an excellent meeting with Jennifer Morgan, head of theDeep Time Journey Network. Their mission is to foster community among groups exploring a science-based evolutionary perspective. They post resources about Big History and environmental concerns, and they support teaching the Epic of Evolution to children – at Montessori schools and other venues. Along with involvement at DTJ, Jennifer is now a member of RNA, and we’re looking forward to ongoing conversation.

The issue has to do with money.  We’ve never made any effort to raise money, and so far we don’t really need much, since we are almost entirely an internet community.  Nonetheless people have wanted to donate, and money has come in.  Our by-laws provide two funds for donors to choose between, one an Operations Fund which we need to spend each year, and the other an Endowment Fund (meaning the gifts specified to this fund never get spent, though the income siphons off into the Operations Fund).  There is currently about $3000 in each fund.

So the question is, what do we do with the money we need to spend this year?  At the end of the summer we officers will need to make a proposal to the Board of Directors about how to spend it.  In the future there are things we might do (conferences, etc.) that could cost money, but we have been brainstorming smaller projects that might grow in the future, and powerfully advance our mission.

So far we’ve come up with 3 different ideas for this year, but we don’t begin to think these are the only ideas or even the best ideas.  What we’d like to do is to list them in hopes of getting your mental juices flowing, so you can give more ideas or comment on these, so we will be in a position to fashion our proposal this summer.  Here are our ideas so far:

1. Scholarships to summer “nature camps” for youngsters.  We have our eye on an international program of summer camps with scholarships of around $150/youngster, and we’re thinking our support might be an exciting contribution to society and advance our mission.

2. Give an annual prize for the best new poetry with a religious naturalist theme.

3. A summer intern to help on various projects (we have a short list of such projects, and you may have other ideas).

With these as examples, we’d like to hear what you would like to see RNA do or support.  What ideas do you have for spending money, and what thoughts do you have about the whole matter of money as it intersects with our low-key approach?

Finally, I’m happy to report that we’ve passed the 300 member mark, and we celebrate the fact that the 300th member was Jerald Robertson.  Jerald supplied huge energies to the development of the religious naturalist perspective at an earlier stage, and we’ve been wanting him to join us – a development partly hampered by his being busy as mayor of his town.

Welcome Jerry and ALL of our new members.

With warm regards,

Ursula Goodenough, President

Religious Naturalist Association