Category: News

Quaker Response on Call to Action #48 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Dear Friends, please take the time to read through the Quaker Response on Call to Action #48 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


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Continuing Revolution: Integrity as a Radical Act – Pendle Hill Young Adult Friend conference (June 3-8, 2016)

The Continuing Revolution conference series is an annual social justice conference for young adult Quakers (18-35) every summer at Pendle Hill. The conference is a six day, intensive training-oriented program designed around one thematic issue that changes year to year. This year’s conference will be centered around the theme of integrity as a radical act. We are working with that in its most expansive capacity, with all sorts of workshops on wholeness, identity, accountability, interconnectedness, truth telling, letting our lives speak, moving from ideas to action and much much more.

Save the date: June 3-8, 2016!

A preliminary schedule is available here, and there is a poster to share with your networks and community.

Please encourage young adult Friends and seekers to apply! Though the conference is already significantly subsidized by Pendle Hill, there is some financial support available to make the conference as accessible as possible.


From Katrina McQuail, Conference Coordinator, and CYM Young Adult Friend.

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FWCC World Plenary, Pisac, Peru

Allow Christina Tellez and me, Steve Fick, to share the powerful experiences we had at the FWCC World Plenary, in Pisac, Peru, as we reflect in our blog on many aspects of the conference. The Plenary brought 350 Quakers from all around the globe, and from many languages, traditions and theologies. Although our blog is completed, those nine days will continue to affect us for many years. Click HERE to explore the blog.


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Looking back at the FWCC World Plenary, Pisac, Peru, January 19-27, 2016

Posting from Steve, February 2

Leading up to the conference, my thoughts were occupied with how I might best bring the experience of the conference back to Friends in Canada. As I settled into the conference, however, I realized the equal importance of what Christina and I were bringing to the conference–our unique perspectives as Canadians, nurtured in our own monthly and yearly meetings. Through no malice or intentional neglect, it can be easy for Canadian Quakers to sometimes be lumped together with overshadowed by the large number of American Quakers. Our presence, nonetheless, was obviously valued and constantly appreciated.

The theme of the open heart carried forward from the beginning to the end of the conference. In the spoken and sung ministry, in the silence, in the dinner conversations and the greetings on the sidewalks, love was palpable as a powerful wind blowing through us all. I left with many dear friends–old and new–from all around the globe.

bolivianI grew in my appreciation of our Quaker traditions and what it means to be a Friend, in all the various forms in which it manifests itself. As I said in a previous blog post, my own theology, which tends to be Universalist rather than Christocentric, did not move closer towards that of my Evangelical Friends, for example. In fact, many of my existing beliefs were confirmed and deepened. At the same time, I have always considered myself a devout disciple of Jesus, and I loved hearing the Biblical accounts of his revolutionary message. I am was reminded of CYM’s Consultation and Renewal recommendation about acknowledging our Christian roots and the important of making sure Christocentric Friends feel welcome, loved and heard.

My sense of God’s presence was heightened through physical grandeur of the Sacred Valley and the geniality of its people. In spite of the widespread poverty, compared to other places I have visited the indigenous Peruvians and Bolivians carry themselves with a sense of pride and beauty in manner and dress. At the same time, I was constantly reminded of the unthinkable violence and brutality of the Spanish conquest and its relentless quest to enrich the invaders and destroy any traces of the pre-existing civilizations.

The conference worked with a local outfitter to provide the opportunity to visit nearby Machu Picchu, and I am sure that trip will remain a highlight of my life. (See the images below.) wajda

If I were to single out one personal take-away from the conference, it might be the idea of developing a more vital practice of expectant listening. I had some deep conversations with Michael Wajda (see picture left) on the topic (who is now reviewing FWCC’s fundraising strategies). I would strongly recommend his short work (PH pamphlet #388) called, Expectant Listening: Finding God’s Thread of Guidance

Thank you again, Friends, for supporting Christina and me to attend the conference.








Posted in: FWCC World Plenary, News

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Spiritual smorgasbord

Posting by Steve, January 26, 2016

I have been out of Internet contact for a while. Rather than go deep in this post, I am going to go broad and give a taste of the many things I have experienced here.

Each morning we have a plenary worship, led by a different part of the world. The sermon given by Churchill, from Kenya, was especially moving. He spoke about creating connection by overcoming individualism and opening up space in our hearts, our homes, our churches, our communities and our countries. He brought to life passages in the Bible, and told contemporary stories. One of the most moving for me was about a bus of Christians and Muslims that was hijacked by Boca Haram, the Islamist terror group responsible for so many massacres of non-Muslims. When the gunmen tried to separate the Christians from the Muslims, the Muslims refused, saying the gunmen could either murder everyone on the bus, or none at all. And the gunmen retreated.

flowered_gate_fwccI attended a variety of workshops and consultations. The consultation I chose, which continued for four sessions, was about how we create active, vital Quaker communities. I only attended the first, because I needed time to work on this blog. But it was much richer than I expected.

A Quaker historian living in Germany outlined a research project she is undertaking about the untold story of the remarkably large number of Jews who were saved and then assisted by Quakers, in spite of Quakers’ relatively small numbers.

Another workshop outlined the sometimes-violent modern history of Kenya and the work of Quakers to build the structures necessary to foster a peaceful civil society. It again struck me that our pantheon of Quaker “saints” does not include those who are doing work in Africa and other places that is as courageous, spirit-filled, and inspiring as John Woolman or anyone else. We really need to learn about and acknowledge this broader Quaker history, for these are our brothers and sisters, acting out the peace testimony and circumstances that are more challenging than we can imagine.

I have heard great things about the Bible study, led by Janet Ross from Britain, who was my co-leader of our home group in Kenya. But I have chosen to attend the early-morning silent worship, which has been very rich. One man spoke about a recent report by Oxfam that 1% of the world’s people now own 50% of the wealth. He compared the story of Nicodemus, one of the 1%, who came to Jesus secretly to be taught, and the story of the unclean woman who touched Jesus’ robe, one of the 99%. He compared this to people in the gathering including people like himself, who might be part of the 1%, with the others from poorer parts of the world, who are part of the 99%. And referring back to the comment of Simon Lamb in our opening session, he said that the poor and disadvantaged, coming from chaotic and sometimes desperate circumstances, often embrace the Truth with a revolutionary gusto. Whereas for those in comfortable and advantages circumstances, the Truth can come over a longer period of time as a gentle, transformative rain. But the end product in both cases is inner peace.

breakfast_clubThe conversation I had with three others at the first breakfast was so wonderful that we agreed to form a “breakfast club,” and we have been meeting to eat together and talk every morning. It’s my second “home group.” (We have offered “open spaces” to several others, especially if they bring us mangoes.)

As it turns out, three of us have some sort of geology background, and a discussion with a dear Nepalese Friend of the recent earthquake that wreaked such havoc on the lives of him and his people, got us started talking about the plate tectonics, the origin of the universe, natural catastrophes and apocalyptic beliefs. It was a very animated discussion. I referred back to my exchange about the origin of mountains with the Peruvian pastor. (See previous post.) I picked up my coffee cup and said that when I see with my own eyes that it is purple, part of my faithfulness is honouring that truth. When I see the evidence about plate tectonics, I simply cannot ignore it. If it conflicts with my religious beliefs, then I need to figure out how to integrate those two systems of thought.

Our Nepalese Friend responded to this discussion by saying that Jesus exhorted us to become like children again, and that to him this meant maintaining a simple, strong faith in the words of God as revealed in the Bible. To get confused by all these other ideas would only distract him from the central purpose of his life to be loving and peaceful in the name of Jesus. We all walked away to the rest of our day not having changed each other’s beliefs, but certainly understanding each other a bit better. In other words, being in unity not in our heads, but in our hearts.

Regarding business, FWCC, like so many service-related organizations, is struggling financially. It is the Europe and Middle East Section that contributes about half the funds, and funds from the US are projected to decline. We considered the frequency of the plenary gathering, which are hugely expensive, and made changes to the constitution that are related to this frequency (every ten years minimum, hopefully between six and eight years), and how to govern the organization in a way that is appropriate to its shrinking resources of time, money and staff. We have hired Michael Wajda to review our fundraising practices and make recommendations.

A lot of time was spent drafting recommendations on how individuals and Meetings can help combat climate changes. I will pass these on to Meetings as soon as I receive them.cornelius_and_friends



Posted in: FWCC World Plenary, News

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