News

Month: August, 2015

Who Says all You Do at CYM is Sit in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business?

After nearly three rather sedentary days at Canadian Yearly Meeting, mostly in meetings, Wednesday afternoon was a welcomed break. This was our service project time. This year we were offered a choice of two activities: tree planting or helping out at the Charlottetown Farm Centre Legacy Garden. I chose to work at the Garden.

The entire Garden covers an area of ten acres. The one-acre production area of the Garden supplies the food bank, homeless and women’s shelters with organic produce. The neighbouring acre of land is divided up into community gardens, lovingly tended by some 80 gardeners, who supplement their diet in this way. Further afield orchards are being set up.

About seven or eight adult Friends, of a wide range of ages, set off to the Garden on the 10-minute walk down the Trans-Canada trail in the mid-afternoon sun. We were then joined by some of the children participating in the children’s program.

After a short introduction to the Garden, we were shown some very long rows of beans and asked to pull out the lamb’s quarters and the mustard but ignore the other weeds. These two plants towered above the beans themselves, some being almost as tall as the smallest children, preventing the beans’ proper growth. The mustard was also rather deep-rooted and quite a tussle to pull out.

It was hard for the gardeners among us not to disobey our instructions as we were tempted to also weed out the thick growth of weeds around the base of the bean plants. When our time was up, we watered some drooping squash growing out of bales of straw and then liberally sprayed ourselves with the hose pipe to wash off the dry dusty red PEI soil.

We straggled back down the trail, late for supper, but at least feeling that we had fully earned it.

Wednesday supper  at CYM is a simple meal. This is the third CYM at which there has been a simple supper, which is part of a charitable project. The idea is that Friends are offered plain fare but pay the regular price. The money collected then goes to a charitable organization. In this case, PEI Friends chose the charity. The meal – lentil stew and an orange – was not only simple, but also tasty, especially to the famished gardeners.

 

Sheila Havard

Coldstream Monthly Meeting

 

Posted in: CYM, CYM 2015, News

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New Ways of Passing the Hat: Re-visioning of Canadian Yearly Meeting

Revitalization… So many “re” words! On Wednesday, the business meeting addressed another “re” word, referring to the Contributions[1] Committee: “reactivation.” Or it could equally well be “revive.”

A ripple of laughter went through the floor when our Clerk asked whether we wished the Contributions Committee to continue its functions. Isn’t that a given? Perhaps this was her ingenious way of focusing our attention on a matter many Friends try their best to avoid: filthy lucre, mammon or, in plain English, money. Yet, it’s simple: we can only do as much as our funds allow.

Two hundred and thirty four people donate to CYM regularly. That means that 80% of Canadian Quakers do not donate to CYM. For several years now, our Treasurer and our finance people have been hammering home to us that the current level of donations to Canadian Yearly Meeting is insufficient to sustain its present level of activity. We have tinkered with our activities. In the view of some, and much to their grief, we have even tampered with them drastically( e.g., by switching to online documents and publications). We are on the way to a spiritually rich and financially sustainable Yearly Meeting, but we are not there yet.

Thus, the question is, how can we convey the benefits of CYM to Friends across the country? Communications are key, and the fact that our Clerk is now sending regular letters to Monthly Meetings and that CYM is sending personalized thank you notes to donors is to be welcomed. In order to get the contributions process rolling again, the Clerks are to call the next Contributions Committee meeting, and the nominating Committee is to seek two more Friends to serve on it. For all who feel inclined to dismiss the call to serve on Contributions Committee, please note that its members do not knock on doors or even necessarily make soliciting phone calls. Much of their work involves devising effective methods for reaching out to Friends, in other words, communications are key.

Hence, this is an invitation to revitalize the Contributions Committee, which is so central to the work that we do on a daily basis. As Friends contributing to this committee whether it is financially or through service is essential for the sustainability of CYM. Pass on the word to your Monthly Meeting or Worship Group!
Sheila Havard

Coldstream MM

Canada

[1] “Contributions”is a polite word for donations, as in donations to CYM

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Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture by Alastair McIntosh

The highlight of the Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) on Sunday and, to many, the highlight of the entire 2015 Yearly Meeting gathering, was the Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture by Alastair McIntosh.

Alastair McIntosh has been called an ecowarrior due to his ecological activism. Elaine Bishop, our Presiding Clerk, described him as an “uncomfortable Friend.” She also compared him with an Old Testament prophet because he was bound to make us feel discomfort.

Alastair-Imaga

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh grew up in a close-knit community in Lewis, a remote island in Scotland. The theme of his talk was colonization in what we now know as the United Kingdom. He ran through a brief history of land evictions, starting with the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Irish famine in the mid-1880s, which resulted in some one million deaths. Land, originally a Divine gift, a source of community, and the very source of life, was commodified. This colonization process was continued when the native peoples of overseas lands were evicted, driven into reservations and, in the case of some tribes, exterminated. Those evicted by the British in the British Isles had no choice but to become oppressors in turn, displacing native peoples. This process represents the replacement of soul by the rational.

Alastair has worked with the poor in a disadvantaged area of Glasgow, an area he considers parallel to an Indian reservation. In the 1990s, he successfully defended Lewis and Eigg against gigantic development projects. In the latter case, he and his fellow campaigners were instrumental in averting the stripping of a mountain to build a vast network of roads in England. To achieve this result, Alastair worked with a group of activists to create a great stir in the media, with headlines along the lines of “God’s mountain desecrated.” Alastair’s negotiations with and protests against  Lafarge, a  French industrial company specializing on construction materials and  planning the project, resulted in him working for 10 years with the company, on a range of issues related to environmental sustainability. His expenses were paid but he did not receive a salary.

For Alastair, the revolution to reverse colonization involves three stages:

–          Remembering (i.e., past pain and grievances)

–          Re-visioning how the future could be

–          Reclaiming (what was lost)

In closing, Alastair had a recommendation for the Canadian Yearly Meeting, which is currently at the stage of re-visioning its own future. He recounted the story of a wise old lady in Papua New Guinea. Finding Alastair and his colleagues sprawled out on the tropical beach, she exhorted them: “Don’t be lazy! Sit up! Our lives are short! We have only so much time to do what God has called us to do.”

 

Sheila Havard,

Coldstream MM

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Reflections on Tuesday’s Meeting for Worship with attention to Business

I attended a Special Interest group focused on equipping Friends for serving as recording clerks. Ruth Pincoe was unable to lead it, as planned; yet, she made herself available in case we needed answers to questions our facilitators were unable to address.
It was a humid hot day so I was glad to be indoors for this session. M any of the attendees were notable recording clerks themselves. We started the session by introducing ourselves. Then, we shared our fears and uncertainties about the position, and I must say we were gifted with able facilitators, who took us through the resources Ruth had prepared.

These resources included

  • “Clerking with Attention to Recording ” compiled by Ruth Pincoe, with an accompanying “Selective Annotated Bibliography”
  • “Spiritual Responsibility in the Meeting for Business” by Patricia Loring of Hartford Monthly Meeting, and
  • “Quaker Business Method: the practice of group discernment” from Australia Yearly Meeting.

Some of the topics covered include  decision making methods, how to set and revise agendas, working as part of a clerking team, keeping the sense of worship, how to prepare a Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, useful phrases and strategies for composing accurate minutes. The session also provided us with the opportunity to share real-life examples from our local meetings, and we were encouraged to look at the situations with fresh eyes while exploring solutions.

All the practical details had many of us scribbling madly. We aimed to capture useful methods, understandings and traditions developed to meet the requirements of local circumstances while removing barriers to business. Key to this process is focusing on the spiritual life of the meeting rather than gripping onto day to day mundane concerns.

The last portion of the session was spent roll-playing in a George Faux meeting for worship for Business. Tough concerns needed to be presented clearly, a worship meeting had to be facilitated, and a minute had to be composed. Neither scenarios were light, fluffy pitches aimed at the sweet spot on the bat; instead, they were complex issues tangled into deadlines, historic tender scars, and globalized issues visiting in an immediate sense; in one case, literally, on the front steps of the meeting house.

The clerking volunteer teams handled friends putting on their very worst behaviour while joyfully coaching and framing commentary as it was offered throughout by the facilitators. Members of the George Faux meeting had side conversations, meandered off topic, brought long winded historic metaphors to say what could have been said more simply, and had already been said repeatedly before. Clerks patiently gathered up the sense of the meeting in order to compose a minute after doing the tender discernment, using clarifying questions and redirecting/prompting the conversation, as required in real life situations. Reflective conversation yielded rich insights and supper put an end to a session the participants were caught up in, the most fearful coming out as the most astoundingly competent under such able guidance.

I hope they offer this session every year so that each meeting can access this incredible resource.  It would also be great to have those partaking in M4W4B sit in the clerks chair and see what is required of their Friends working to serve them in their discernment process.

 

Keith,

Winnipeg MM

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CYM Quaker Study – Monday

Quaker studies is being given in 2015  by Deborah Fisch of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and Associate Secretary of Ministries for Friends General Conference

Today’s presentation was the first of a five-part series.

If anybody can get you fired up with the joy of attending Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, Deborah Fisch can. As she has said on a previous occasion, Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business builds community. Rather than being a dreary chore, it enables Friends to get to know each other on a deeper level. What a shame that so many Friends do not heed the admonition of the Advices and Queries and believe business meeting does not concern them.

Her presentation was not without its lighter moments. Bored with business meeting wordsmithing, some children in her Meeting composed a ditty to the tune of What shall we do with a Drunken Sailor? Part of it goes like this:

Hot air up she rises

Hot air up she rises

Move the comma one word over

Move the comma one word over


Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business has many functions:

        To help each other be faithful

    To help others in need

          To enable us to discern what our gifts are
          To give us space to practise them

      And more…

      We await tomorrow with anticipation.

      Sheila Havard
      Coldstream MM

      Posted in: CYM, CYM 2015, News, Quaker Blog

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