Poverty, Wealth, Ecology – Special Interest Group – WHYM Sunday

Bill Curry and Dave Greenfield offered a special interest Group (SIG) on the theme of an upcoming meeting of the North American Region of the World Council of Churches in Calgary, November 7 – 11.  Dave and Bill will be attending this meeting for Canadian Yearly Meeting. It is part of a process leading to the 10th General Assembly in South Korea in 2013.  The POVERTY WEALTH ECOLOGY focus aims to “put climate justice and poverty eradication and therelationship between the two as a priority on the agenda”

Bill and Dave offered a number of quotes on the theme, asking, “How do we act now?” and “What are we doing?” The dialogue covered obstacles, responsibilities and faith dimensions of sustainability.

“Poverty, Wealth and Ecological Justice Framework Concept (from a longer document from the United Church of Canada)

[The United Church] has consistently worked ecumenically and globally on issues of economic justice, ecological justice, social justice, poverty, exclusion, corporate social responsibility, debt, ecological debt, human rights, extractive industries, water and climate change and has in recent years looked at many of the impacts of human activities through the lens
of empire.”

“The connections among many issues, previously viewed as disparate and distinct, are better understood as many facets of an ecological whole.”

and from  AGAPE Consultation: Linking poverty, wealth and ecology: Ecumenical Perspectives in Europe  –  8 – 12 November 2010 – Budapest Call for Climate Justice  – Addressing Poverty, Wealth and Ecology

“The Great Challenge calls for the Great Transition

Climate justice is a condition for the eradication of poverty and the eradication of poverty is a condition for climate justice.

Climate justice demands the primacy of democratic politics over economics and the embedding of market economies in social and cultural contexts (further developing the Social Market Economy). Therefore holistic answers to the challenges are required – from the individual person, from the economy, from states and internationally.

The time for fragmented and technocratic solutions is over. We need a Great Transition.

Call: for a global ecumenical conference to propose the framework and criteria for a new international financial and economic architecture that is based on the principles of economic, social and climate justice.”

If you’re interested in more information, please contact Bill Curry at

Western Half Yearly – Saturday October 8 – Late Afternoon and Evening

Saturday afternoon many of us listened intently to our two guests, Doug Racine and Cindy Hanson.


Doug Racine

Doug, a lawyer from Saskatoon, has done significant work with residential school victims.  He was adjudicator in the residential school claims process for 5 years.  During that time he came to view claimants as being treated as commodities.  He was moved to put his energy into representing claimants.   “Money means nothing”, he told us.  “The healing process is most important.”


Doug described to us how he uses stories to work with claimants.  He spoke of telling trust stories (to show who he is), orientation stories (to help claimants remember and acknowledge why they are in the claimant process, and respect and connection stories (to address the guilt shame and anger that inhabit those who have been victims of sexual abuse).  He confirmed what many of us have observed and believe.  Western concepts of law do not deal with justice or healing.

When asked what was hardest for him about the work, he said that it wasn’t listening to the stories, it was ensuring that his clients are kept safe through the process.  “Safe in and safe out”, he said.  He reassures clients, “You’re not leaving until you feel good about yourself”…and he contracts for follow-up contact with each client, using the services of a traumatologist if needed.

Doug spoke passionately about his work, his clients and the need for healing in the process.  Listening to him, for me, brought more hope than sadness, and led to much reflection on the nature of the debt owed to those who have been harmed.

Cindy Hanson

Cindy Hanson, an adult educator, told us about her work in Ethiopa, providing a particular type of training for agricultural aid workers.  She noted that the literacy level for women in Ethopia is 30%, that no one talks about HIV AIDS, that there is high infant mortality and that there is a lack of clean water.   Cindy had developed and delivered a training program based on adult learning principles and approaches. looking at gender and HIV AIDS, to help raise awareness and develop sensitivity for those who were working to develop agricultural capacity in rural communities.

She told us of creating with her students social maps showing water sources and uses and the related activity patterns.  The women (who do most of the agricultural work and carry the water) created a map about half the size of the room, the men a map that was about 4 times the room size.  This difference in experience apparently caused quite a bit of debate and animated discussion.

In her work in Ethiopa, Cindy observed that the effective community was one that srlf-organized around equality, mutual support and sustainability.  “Micro-stuff works”, she said, “and self-organization”.

Cindy left us with two questions:

1.  How can we use power to challenge power?

2.  How can we use privilege to disrupt privilege?

I wonder how these questions will challenge me to put my faith into practice.

In early evening, Dale Dewar, told us about the work she has been doing in Iraq, providing training for obstetricians.  For about six years, she has been doing this work through Canadian Friends Service Committee, partnering with the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada and the The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.  Dale travelled to Iraq, along with a couple of other physicians to provide training in monitoring the progression of a birth.  She told us that 50% of deliveries in Iraq are Caeserean Sections, noting that is a reflection of the training currently provided to physicians.  She observed that, although many organizations send medical supplies and equipment to Iraq, there are no systems in place to support their  effective use.

Dale told us of some of her challenges in learning how local unspoken customs and practices might inhibit effective training and also spoke with hope of continued opportunities for training programs, expanding them to nursing staff.  Listening to the stories, to Dale talk about the work and what it was like to be there, to build the relationships, to take the personal risks, I felt much more connected to the work that we support through CFSC.  I was reminded again of a quote offered at Quaker Study at CYM this year.  “The manifestation of holiness is in relationships”, and I wonder how we, as such a spread out community, can grow and sustain such relationships that nurture us and provide service to others. At Meeting for Worship for Business on Sunday, Western Half Yearly committed $500 to support Dale’s next visit, planned for later this year.

We finished the evening with a few games, including “A big wind blows…” which brought laughter, raised the energy and connected us – all the generations – through play.  I was delighted to have the chance to try out some of the activities provided in the Intergenerational Took Kit provided by Friends General Conerence.

Western Half Yearly – Saturday October 8 – Afternoon Activities

Saturday was an afternoon for choices – Many were moved to attend Meeting for Worship for Flying Fox Zipline

Alex, Sam & Isaac

Some just watched –

Heidi and Finn

Kitty and Alina














Some Zipped and Flew





































Some chose quiet reading




Some spent time jamming

And some opted for the traditional balancing, introducing first-timer, Shawn, who was heard to comment…”Other churches do bake sales;  Quakers do circus.”


 More in the next post about Saturday afternoon and evening learning, reflection and play








Western Half Yearly – Saturday, October 8 – Morning

At breakfast, Saturday Morning – so great to see Friends that had arrived late the night before…and some as recently as 6:00 in the morning (Keith and Shawn of Winnipeg).


Shawn, his first time at a Quaker gathering, took time to browse the book display from Quaker Book Service (managed with care and good humour by Frank and Peter).

I spoke with Shawn a little later in the weekend and asked him about his experience of the weekend.  What had most surprised him was how welcome and included he felt.  He talked about the kindness, about the connection among generations, about the whole community caring for the children, the stories around creating change in the world.  He said it gave him hope.  I was reminded of how many times I’ve heard such descriptions from those who have just come into contact with Friends and wonder how we can continue to support and welcome in such seekers.

Worship Sharing

Gathering in small groups, most adults spent an hour reflecting & speaking from the silence about where and how we found ourselves in that time and place/space.  One group was invited to consider over the rest of the day (with a sort of mental photograph) the moments  and individuals that brought them joy.  As I sat in the silence, I was taken with how strongly drawn I am to the place I now call home, how intentional I find I need to be when traveling to be present to myself and those who are with me.  I have travelled much this year, and though being with Friends across the country delights me, challenges and supports me, still when I pause without distraction or engagement, I am called to be home again.

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

When we gathered, after some silence, the Clerk read a prayer beginning, 

When the roll was called, we noted Friends were present from Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vernon, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Vancouver Island Monthly Meetings.  We were, in total, 36 plus 3 who came for part of one day.  There were 4 teens, 2 children and 2 infants.  We noted that we missed Tom Findley when we thought of the tradition of picking high bush cranberries each fall, and some Friends declared they would carry this tradition. Friends took up the various responsibilities that would help us move smoothly through the weekend. We closed early, with silence, and gratitude for the lunch to come

Young Friends had their own activities and creative interests during this time.  Many adults were eager to spend time with babes and children, so joy was widely spread.

Being at Shekinah

As I prepare for our Western Half Yearly Gathering at the Shekinah Retreat Center, I’m pondering the Mission Statement of our Mennonite hosts,

“Shekinah is to be a setting where all who come, have opportunity to experience the presence and glory of God through discovery, reflection, interaction, community and nature.

In a practical sense this means we seek to facilitate the meaningful interaction of people with the Creator, the wholesome interaction of people with creation and the interaction of people in community.”

I find myself wondering and imagining what joyful, reflective and sacred ways we will find to be together in this space.