Ethical Humanist Society of The Triangle

Our calendar below is shown in reverse chronological order by month; each month will show dates in customary ascending date order.  This will provide one place for everyone to go to view current and prior calendar entries.  It also provides easier administration by the webmaster. 😀

All programs are at our customary meeting place, Extraordinary Ventures, unless otherwise noted.  We meet from 1:30-3:30 every Sunday unless otherwise noted.  All of our meetings are free, and open to the public. The months for 2014 below are shown as the most recent first.  Our programs for prior years can be viewed here.  Some of our programs are videotaped, and are available on our Youtube channel.


December 6

Professor Barbara Fredrickson will speak on “Positivity and Flourishing.”  Prof. Fredrickson is in the psychology department of UNC at Chapel Hill.  She has received numerous awards for her work in positive psychology, including being identified as the 13th most influential psychologist alive today contributing to counseling psychology.  Prof. Fredrickson has published Love 2.0 which emphasizes new ways to appreciate those small moments when we connect with others. She also has published a book titled Positivity which among other things asserts that positivity is more important than happiness.

December 13

Should we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour as  many have proposed and some municipalities have now required?  Would that work in North Carolina?  Ana Pardo of the NC Justice Center will speak to us on “The State of the North Carolina Worker.”

December 20

We will celebrate the Winter Solstice with reflections, music, prose and poetry.  We will honor the season with secular tributes to this time of year which marks the beginning of winter (longest night of the year) as well as the first inklings of spring (shorter days are on their way).

December 27

EHST loyalists and friends will have the last word on what 2015 taught us, and what we can expect for 2016.  Come join us for closing words and thoughts for the year!



November 1

Judith Vergun, PhD in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, will speak on “An Hawaiian Voyage in Education.”  While a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa she taught a class focusing on the construction of native Hawaiian sailing vessels based on information gathered from native Hawaiian peoples.  Her talk will focus on this experience and what it taught not only her students, but what she learned from them.

November 8

EHST will have its annual fall membership meeting.  We will review our accomplishments for 2015, and some of our goals for 2016.  Members of EHST are encouraged to attend, and friends/visitors are also welcome.

November 15

Lois Cavanagh-Daley will speak on “The Ethics of the Healthcare Delivery System.”  Ms. Cavanagh-Daley is an ordained interfaith minister, a lay leader at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Raleigh, and an instructor at Wake County Technical College.

November 22

EHST will celebrate its annual “Stone Soup” celebration.  Randy Best will lead us in some explorations of the story of Stone Soup, and we will then make our own soup using cooked veggies.  This is a vegetarian event, so please refrain from bringing any meats as well as fish.  Of course, we will sit down to eat our soup, and enjoy time with friends and visitors.

November 29

We will show a Ted Talk abou how mushrooms can save the world, or something almost as good.  We will have time to discuss the talk afterward.  If time allows we will also show talk which is critical of Ted Talks.  Is Ted Talks inspiring, or just full of fluff?


October 4

James Coley, an EHST member with a background in philosophy, will lead a discussion focused on Prof. Susan Wolf’s talk last Sunday.  You may view the talk via this link.

October 11

Emily Brewer, a local organizer for Moms Demand Action, will speak on the need for reform in gun laws.  Moms Demand Action supports the 2nd Amendment, but we believe common-sense solutions can help decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones every day. Whether the gun violence happens in urban Chicago, suburban Virginia, or rural Texas, we must act now on new and stronger gun laws and policies to protect our children.

October 18

Randy Best, EHST Leader, will conduct another “community day” where EHST members and visitors can share reflections and experiences of trying to live ethical lives as humanists.  Small groups are used to facilitate these reflections.

October 25

EHST will hold a book sale as a fundraiser to support its mission.  Members, friends, and visitors can bring books to donate to the society which will then be sold.  We will also provide an opportunity for those donating books to say something briefly about why they chose to donate a given book, presumably one they liked, and are willing to pass along to others.  Paperbacks are $1, and hardcovers are $2 each!


September 3
The North Carolina NAACP will hold a rally in support of the Journey for Justice from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC. The rally is in Raleigh at the Capital Building from 5:00 pm to 6:30. The walkers will be there so it is our chance to show our support of them. This event is not sponsored by EHST, but Ethical Humanism has a long history of support for civil rights, and equality for all.

September 6
We will show the documentary, “A Will for the Woods.” about the green burial movement. Clark Wang was a musician, psychiatrist, folk dancer, and EHST member was dying from lymphoma decided to make his last act a gift to the earth. This documentary is about his search, and gift. Our program will be longer today due to showing the 94 minute film.

September 13
Prof. Laura Richman, Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University, will speak on “Discrimination’s Toxic Effect on Health.”

September 18

Matthew Stewart will speak about his book “Nature’s God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic” at Eno River Unitarean Universalist church (4907 Garrett Rd, Durham) at 7 pm.  Matthew Stewart is Katherine Stewart’s husband; Katherine Stewart wrote the book “The Good News Club”.  Matthew’s book was  listed as one of the 10 best books of 2014 by the National Book Foundation.  The New Republic said the book was “an enormous ambitious philosophical history that works to redefine the very building blocks of American society…” The Orange Durham Americans United for Separation of Church and State is the sponsor of this event.

September 19
Hillsborough is to celebrate Constitution and Citizens Day from 10:00 a.m through 2:00 pm. There will be speeches from various community, religious, and nonprofit organization leaders regarding the history, and vitality of the constitution as an living document. There will be music and food, tours of the courthouse and Dickerson Chapel. EHST is a co-sponsor of this event.  Orange-Durham Americans United spearheaded this celebration.  Our own Randy Best will join the scheduled speakers which includes Mark Kleinschmidt and Gene Nichol.  (To print flyer: Constitution and Citizenship Day)

The first North Carolina Constitutional Convention was held right here in Hillsborough in July­August 1788, at which time North Carolina declined to ratify it, demanding that the amendments known today as the Bill of Rights be included to ensure individual protections and freedoms.

Another event on that day is food sorting will take place at Durham Food Bank (9 a.m.-12:00 p.m.), 2700 Angier Ave Suite A, sponsored by the Triangle Freethought Society. Please contact Chirag (  for more information.

September 20
Jerry Markatos will speak on “Palestine, Isarael and the Media.” Jerry Markatos is the founder and president of Balance and Accuracy in Journalism (BAJ) here in Chapel Hill. He has a long history of social justice activism, and he also won the NC Human Rights Award for his work.

September 27
Susan Wolf, Enda J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at UNC at Chapel Hill, will speak on “Responsibility, Moral and Otherwise.” Prof. Wolf is the Enda J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill.  You may view her talk via our Youtube channel.


August 2

We will show a Ted Talk titled “The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs To Address Now” by Gary Haugen.  Mr. Haugen is an American attorney who serves as President and CEO of International Justice Mission, a global organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world.  Afterward we will discuss the Ted Talk.

August 9

Katie Niver will speak on “The Ethics of Planting Native – Getting to the Root of the Invasive Plant Problem.”  This is the equivalent of the “buy local” and “eat local” movements.   Given the challenge of climate change on our ecosystems, we need to consider the wisdom of enhancing our local ecosystems by replenishing them with native plants rather than supplanting them with non-native, invasive plants.

Ms. Niver is a horticulturalist for Cure Nursery, a family-owned nursery in the heart of Chatham County. Her business has been in the nursery industry for over 20 years. Ms. Niver’s interest in native plants has grown from her love of the outdoors and working in her own field. She sees the effects of climate change, animal over populations and suburbanization contributing to the invasive plant crisis. “I want to do my part to educate people about the ecological damage that can occur, if people continue to be unaware of the problem.”

August 16

Randy Best, EHST Leader, and Chris Kaman, EHST President, will review highlights from the 2015 American Ethical Union Assembly.  The American Ethical Union is the union of Ethical Culture/Humanist societies in the United States.

August 23

James Coley will speak on “Ethics as Theology for Atheism.”  In a recent New York Times article titled “Wanted: A Theology of Atheism” the author wrote that nontheistic congregations, including Ethical Culture and Humanism as well as Sunday Assembly groups, “are not pseudo-churches, but the fraternal embodiment of an intellectual tradition, a branch of moral philosophy that goes back to Socrates’ sly challenges to the moral authority of Olympus.” This suggests that the philosophical study of ethics may be interpreted for atheists and others in these congregations to serve as a counterpart to the role played by theology in traditional religious groups. James Coley will present an overview of moral philosophy – touching on meta-ethics, descriptive ethics, ethical theory and applied ethics – to develop just such an interpretation.

James Coley has a master’s degree in philosophy from UNC Chapel Hill, where he works in the medical school. He has given numerous talks to Ethical Culture and Humanist societies, and was the host of the “Ethics Matters” radio and podcast program.

August 30

James Coley will return to EHST to lead a discussion regarding his talk on 8/23 “Ethics as Theology for Atheism.”  Those who heard his talk will have a chance to address questions and concerns about his talk.   Here is the New York Times article which sparked his talk.


July 5

We are celebrating the 4th of July on July 5th with a potluck, and comments from members and visitors about what patriotism means to them.  We hope that everyone will share their thoughts on what patriotism is or should be in 2015.

Our humanist congregation is not vegetarian or vegan, nor does it follow any specific dietary program.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, or have a diet which restricts intake of wheat, gluten, or other food, please do come, and bring a dish to share.  We do ask that you write down the ingredients in your food contribution so that those on restricted diets can easily determine if they can enjoy your dish. Main dishes, side dishes, salads, dessert, or nonalcoholic beverages to share are all appropriate items to bring.  If you don’t cook, you may bring a prepared item from your favorite food store, restaurant, etc.

This is a pot-luck, so no coordination is being done here. It is true democracy from the bottom up!

July 12

Gregg Ireland, founder of Extraordinary Ventures, will speak about the mission and work of EV. EV is not only our venue, but it is a nonprofit which provides meaningful work experiences for men and women with autism and other developmental disabilities.

July 19

Peter Eisenmann is a former evangelical minister who has parted with Christianity. In his talk titled “Unborn Again!” he will tell us how and why he came to this decision. He also supports “The Clergy Project” which helps current and former religious professionals who no longer hold supernatural beliefs.  You can watch his talk on our Youtube Channel here.

July 26

Chris Kaman, President of EHST, will facilitate small group discussions on racism, and how we can work to eliminate it.   The “we” refers both to each individual, the US, and EHST itself!


June 7

In April members of EHST met for a workshop on growing the society. The workshop focused on identifying strengths and weaknesses, and brainstormed ideas for how to move forward. Several members who attended the workshop will present a summary of it, and suggest the next step(s).     All members, and interested friends should attend this program.

June 14

Prof. Fred Breidt, an NCSU Professor, will present the case for use of GMOs.  The use of GMOs is seen by many as a threat to health, and to the environment. Prof. Breidt will review the data and science behind the use of GMOs. Come to learn from him, and ask him questions during our question and answer period.

June 21

Did you know that June 21 is World Humanist Day?   Come join us in celebrating it! Michael Werner, a longtime humanist and Unitarian Universalist leader, will speak to us on “Humanism and Human Worth”.  Mr. Werner is past President of the American Humanist Asssociation, Vice President of the Fellowship of Religious Humanists, President of the Humanist Foundation Fund, a founder of SMART recovery, and adjunct faculty member of the Humanist Institute.

We will also have music to add to our celebration. Gregory Blaine and Dolores Chandler will sing some songs for us.  Gregory Blaine and Dolores Chandler have been performing together as ROOTZIE for 11 years. Their repetroire is very varied so you’ll hear Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Country, Reggae during their performances. They use guitar, vocal harmonies, and light percussion when performing their music. Gregory’s musical beginnings came early singing in church and school while Dolores comes from a large singing family she being the 12TH of 13 children. You can hear and see their latest video “Rise Up Babylon” The Official Video @ reverbnation/rootzie or Youtube.

June 28

EHST member Gretchen Niver will lead us in our ongoing “community day” program series. These programs are designed to help members, friends, and visitors explore issues and questions in small group settings, enabling us to learn more about each other, and dialog on important life issues.  The topic for this program is “Intertwined Roots”  and will be about personal and family roots and how they led to us coming together here and now.

July 5

We will have our annual “4th of July” celebration today. We will have a mid afternoon potluck during our regular scheduled meeting. We will have good food for sharing, and will share our thoughts on what the 4th of July means to Ethical Humanism. Members and friends should bring food or drink (no alcohol please) to share.


May 3

Rev. Rollin Russell, and Allison Mahaley will present “A Preacher and A Teacher.”  Rev. Russell is the President of the Orange Durham Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Ms. Mahaley is a former teacher in the North Carolina school system.  They will present their concerns about Christian Fundamentalism and the undermining of public education, especially in North Carolina.

May 10

The documentary “The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today” is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning film about the legal battle which established the separation of church and state in public schools.  The case is little known to many Americans, but is a must see for anyone wishing to understand the importance of this case.  EHST will show the documentary.

May 17

EHST will celebrate “Founders Day” with a program celebrating both our local founding in 1986 by Ina Evans as well as the founding of Ethical Culture by Felix Adler in 1876 in New York City.  Ethical Culture and its modern moniker Ethical Humanism have long been providing a place for nontheists to celebrate community and work to make the world a better place.

May 24

Greg Samsa will speak on “Beyond Getting To Yes: Is There a Principled Way to Engage in Principled Negotation?”  Mr. Samsa is director of Graduate Studies of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Duke University.  He is also writes essays features on the Bahai Teachings website.

May 31

Tammy Schwerin of the Abundance Foundation will speak to EHST.  She was originally scheduled for April 5th.  (see below)


April 5

CANCELLED as of 4/5 at 11:15.  Ms. Schwerin is ill.  We wish her well!  Tami Schwerin of the Abundance Foundation will talk about the mission and work of the foundation.   The foundation works to encourage sustainable agriculture, energy, and other basic needs here in the Piedmont of North Carolina.

Apri 9

Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club, will speak in Durham at the Hayti Heratige Center at 7 pm.  The event is sponsored by the Orange-Durham Americans United, and co-sponsored by EHST.  The event is free and open to the public.

April 12

Chris Muma of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence will speak on “Wrongful Convictions – When the Justice System Is Too Blind.”   The mission of the center is to identify, investigate and advance credible claims of innocence, obtaining justice for people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, for the victims of those crimes, and for the actual perpetrators.  The center was founded in 2000, and hears claims from over 600 inmates annually.

April 19

Paulo Ribeiro, a Leader-in-Training in the American Ethical Union, will speak about his work organizing young ethical humanists and their recent trip to New Orleans to work with urban sustainable gardening.

April 26

The problem of racism continues to confront both the victims and the perpetuators (both intentional and unintentional) of racism.  EHST member and President of the society, Chris Kaman, will examine what constitutes racism, and how best we can work to eliminate or reduce its influence.


March 1

EHST member Jim Wyman will present “Reasons and Tools for Optimism.”  Ferguson, ISIS, inequality, global warming, overpopulation.  The future doesn’t always look bright.    The news media serves up enough doom and gloom to make you want to curl into the fetal position in a dark room and hope the end is swift. But there’s a flip side to all this bad news, even the worst of it. A touch of optimism leads to more optimism, which can reveal a world full of better options.   Mr. Wyman will explore just a few tools to redesign, restructure and rebuild a better world are close at hand. He will take a look at one such tool, the Business Startup, an evolving institution that is no longer the province of inventors or businessmen.

March 8

The struggle for healthcare reform goes back decades.  Canada is often cited as an example of how healthcare should be done in the US.  However, in the 1950s both the US and Canadian system were almost identical.  What happened to make them diverge?  We will show a brief video (approximately 30 minutes) about how the Canadian system diverged from the US system, and will engage in a discussion about that change, and what may lie ahead for healthcare in the U.S.

March 15

We are delighted to show a documentary “A Knock At The Door” and meet the filmmaker, Gregg McPherson, and Paulette Terwilliger, the subject of the film which focuses on the experience of Ms. Terwilliger and her mother who fled Paris to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews after Paris became occupied territory.  We will show the film, and have ample time for questions and answers by the Ms. Terwilliger and Mr. McPherson.  Note that our expanded time will run from 1:30-4:30.

March 22

Club Nova is a local nonprofit service organization which serves Orange County citizens living with mental illness.  Club Nova provides a holistic, caring environment which promotes the rehabilitation and reintegration of those whom it serves, focusing on their strengths and potential rather than their illness.  A representative from Club Nova will speak to us about their program.

March 29

EHST will have a “community day” which will provide a chance for members and friends to build our humanist community through song, discussion, and reflection.  EHST member, Jan Broughton, will lead this program.



February 1

EHST Leader Randy Best will speak on Ethical Humanism (aka Ethical Culture).  He will define it, review some of its history, and indicate where it is going in the future.  This is a good refresher for members, and a great introduction for visitors who want to know more.

February 8

Marshall Brain will speak about his new book How God Works.  Marshall Brain is best known for his book How Stuff Works.  He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, the Dr. Oz Show, CNN, MSNBC, and Modern Marvels.  He also teaches the Engineering Entrepeneurs Program at NCSU.  He also speaks regularly at the Secular Together Sundays sponsored by the Triangle Freethought Society.  He lives in Cary, NC.

February 15

EHST will celebrate Darwin Day with a talk by Nichelle Reed, a PhD student at Duke University in evolutionary anthropology.  She will talk about what evolutionary anthropology is, and  how Darwin’s theories influence that field.

February 22

EHST member, Delores Eaton, will speak on “The Selma to Montgomery Protest: The Catalyst That Recalled the Past to Project A Future With Justice.”  The talk will be about the experiences that she and her late husband, the Rev. Herbert Eaton, had during the early 1960s in the struggle for civil rights in Montgomery, Alabama.   Rev. Eaton succeeded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  The Rev. and Mrs. Eaton were at the center of many of the civil rights struggles we take for granted today.


January 4

Randy Best, EHST Leader, will speak on “Bringing Humanism to North Carolina Prisons.”  The talk will focus on his relationship with a prisoner in the NC Department of Corrections who has been reaching out for the last 2 years to have humanism included in allowed “religions” by the prison system.   By so doing, the system would allow him to hold meetings where prisoners of like mind could attend and share their interest in and support of humanism.  The American Humanist Association has recently taken the lead on this effort!

January 11

Local musicians, Helen Wolfson and Eric Thomas, will provide a music based program which will explore how music can be inspirational for humanists as well as express the joys and sorrows of the human condition.

January 18

EHST will have a community day program today, one of several during the year.  We will be focusing on activities which will help our members and our friends build our ethical humanist community.  This will include small group discussions, and music, and possibly singing.

January 25

EHST will hold its annual business meeting.  The board will present its budget for 2015, and slate of officers for 2015.  Members are highly encouraged to attend, and friends and visitors are welcome as well.  Only members can vote, however.

The Bellwether Book group will meet at 3:30 at the Chapel Hill Public Library (meeting room D) to discuss the book: What’s God Got To Do With It? Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk, and the Separation of Church and State by Tim Page. The meeting is open to the public.

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