Canadian Yearly Meeting Education & Outreach Committee
Announces Online Courses for Fall 2016
“Introduction to Quakers and Friends’ Ways” and “Uh-Oh Was That a Leading?”
Facilitator: David Summerhays (Montreal Monthly Meeting)
Friends across Canada are invited to participate in online courses that will begin in September.
Introduction to Quakers and Friends’ Ways — This course will address the early history of Friends, the history of Friends in Canada, the experiential nature of Quaker faith, the role of the Meeting in Quaker life, Quaker testimonies and their origin, and how our Quaker community nurtures how we live, work, worship, and transact business. This course was previously offered in 2012 and 2015.
Uh-Oh Was That a Leading? — This course will explore the concept of leadings through readings and discussion on how Friends have understood leadings throughout history. Together course participants will attempt to discern what is and what is not a leading. We will also discuss how to explain Quakerism to newcomers. This course was previously offered in the spring of 2016.
How it will work
Participants for each course will meet once a week for six weeks using either video conferencing or audio conferencing technology. If you are a unfamiliar with conferencing technology, don’t worry, the facilitator and the Education and Outreach Committee are committed to making participation in these courses as easy as possible for everyone.
Both of the courses will include worship, active exercises, reflections from readings, and the application to one’s own life of what is learned.
How to Sign Up
The courses are free of charge and open to members and attenders of meetings and worship groups in Canada. To indicate your interest, please send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, September 12th. Later registrations will be considered if there is space.
We plan to begin both of these courses the week of September 19th at either 12:30pm, 2:30pm, or 6:30 pm on either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Note that these times apply to the Eastern Time Zone. Please alter the times for your time zone.
Please include the following information in your e-mail:
City, Town or Location and Province
E-mail & Telephone number
Meeting or Worship Group
Which of the time slots (if any) will work for you.
O wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then ye will be a praise to the Lord, and anything that is, or hath been, or may be amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb’s dominion; and that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. – Isaac Penington’s Letter to Friends in Amersham, May 1667
Loving Greetings to Friends everywhere,
Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends met for the 183rd annual gathering of Quakers in Canada, our 61st as a united Yearly Meeting, on the beautiful Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta in Camrose, situated in Treaty 6 territory.
During the week, the themes of grief and nurture arose in many programs and events. Many of us are saddened by the loss of CYM-in-Session for 2017 because we love CYM-in-Session for its blend of corporate decision-making and spiritual grounding. Our pre-gathering retreat explored how we may nurture our community during the upcoming fallow year in which we will not meet in person. We also grieved the deaths of several strong and spiritually grounded Friends. We shared our grief throughout the week, but most particularly during our Memorial Meeting and our session on the “Experience of the Spirit in my Life.” These experiences of sadness remind us of the need to care for ourselves and others.
The Sunderland P. Gardner lecture explored the topic “Continuing Revelation: Quaking with Grace and Joy in Modern Times.” It challenged us to consider how an inward condition of exhaustion can contaminate our ability to manifest the love that underlies our witness to each other and the world. This was echoed in our Bible study, which was an exploration of the Bible and how it relates to Friends’ testimonies. It reminded us that in overburdening ourselves we do violence to ourselves, and that this flies in the face of our peace testimony. When we take on too much, we deny ourselves the opportunity to practice communal discernment and experience the joy that can come from it.
We struggled to find ways to save our strength in order to dare greatly when the Spirit demands it. This condition of exhaustion was echoed by Clerks and others who serve our Yearly Meeting, and suggests that CYM-in-Session and its associated events and bodies, while beloved, can harm the people who serve them. Our faith in each other is high, but our expectations of each other are sometimes higher than we consent to or can sustain. We were made aware of the ways that Clerks and people serving in other positions were being immobilized and sometimes pushed away by the labour involved. Just as we must take responsibility for the effects of our consumer habits on the Earth, we must mitigate the effect of what we take from the people who serve CYM.
We were moved by Friends who exhibited courage in revealing truths about their experiences living as the Other in our society. During our LGBTQ evening Friends challenged us to imagine experiencing gender dysphoria and gender fluidity. Our community is deepened when we have the courage to be vulnerable together.
We delighted in the presence of Young Friends and welcomed their involvement in the wider meeting, although they were few in number. We carry an ongoing concern about the importance of caring for Young Adult Friends, understanding their priorities, and making sure those priorities are reflected in our processes. We responded joyously to their request that we support them in fostering their community and strengthening their connection to the larger CYM community. Friends expressed appreciation for the rich children’s programming, which included daily worship.
We were encouraged to build harmonious relationships with our environment and surrounding communities. Friends participated in a service project to protect the local watershed, and nurtured our relations with the Maskwacis First Nation through mutual visits.
We were also urged to communicate our faith openly. This year’s session brought a means to do so: there was much excitement about the minute from Canadian Friends Service Committee detailing how we can take action in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the cultural genocide experienced by Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
Despite our sense of loss, we are facing a new future and stumbling, with God’s grace, toward healing. Our commitment to hiring a senior staff person and the newly-accepted personnel policy bring us relief at having learned from our past mistakes as well as gratitude for the sometimes difficult work of the Friends who serve our blessed community. Many of us are finding a quiet joy in clerkship and committee membership. We are looking directly at difficult issues that would be convenient to avoid and are willing to address issues of financial and human sustainability. This shows a level of courage and care that can help us live up to the patterns and examples of our spiritual ancestors over the centuries.
This week in Camrose (August 6 – 13, 2016) held a great diversity of experiences for Canadian Young Friends’ Yearly Meting (CYFYM); deep conversations, shared laughter, gathered meetings for business, and involvement in rich Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) programming made this gathering an impactful experience. Our session also included challenges that brought us together and helped us to follow leadings of the Spirit. A significant outcome of the week was our discernment to give CYFYM a hiatus, which we enter into with some sorrow but also expectancy for future leadings.
Some of our daily smiles this week have come from memes in the Daily Quacker, CYM’s daily home-made news bulletin. These memes were composed of an image of George Fox with a short comment or joke written over top. We’ve created a few memes to reflect some of the experiences we’ve had here in Camrose.
Although CYFYM will be taking a hiatus, there are also things we are looking forward to…
We enjoyed the presence of young friends who accompanied us for short visits during the week, bringing new energy and connections…
This year we were excited to have young friends join us who we had seen in the children’s program in previous years. For example…
When some young friends arrived at the airport they waited for their carpool van to show up and it turned out to be a lot better…
Meme 5: “Few in number- extra potent”
Although there may have been few of us this year…
We heard from young friends about Quaker events in the world…
If you couldn’t find someone throughout the week there was usually a reliable explanation…
This week held powerful moments in which we were able to come to unity on difficult discernment…
We enjoyed singing with (F)riends in the evenings and despite our best attempts to engage local staff…
We shared a week with many wonderful moments to carry home with us….
Wednesday is a special day at CYM. That’s when Friends are invited to help with a local service project and then partake of the simple evening meal, with the cafeteria’s savings on the meal going to a local charity, usually the charity organizing the service project.
This year we got a chance to take part in a Battle River watershed project designed to alert the public to the need to keep hazardous waste out of storm drains and hence out of the river. The Battle River was apparently the scene of many a battle between the Blackfoot and the Cree in past centuries.
As an alternative, thanks to Canadian Friends Service Committee, Friends had the opportunity to visit Maskwacis, a 45 minute drive from Camrose. The community, with a total population of 13,000, consists of four First Nations. We visited the Samson and Montana First Nations.
We parked “downtown” within sight of the pawn shop, Lucky Dollar Food store and the bingo hall, and then entered the Samson Cree Nation Administration Building, where we exchanged introductions.
Jennifer Preston, of Canadian Friends Service Committee, gives tobacco to Chief Kurt Buffalo.
We visitors were presented with some information sheets and a gift of braided sweet grass. When you are united like a braid, you are strong, we were told.
In contrast to the warm welcome was the grief evident in the community: a long hug given to a woman who had just lost her husband, the wake going on for a youth who had died by suicide… To strengthen their sense of identity and reconnect with their past community leaders are encouraging a revival of the Maskwacis Cree language. In the local museum, where we were reminded of the near-extermination of the buffalo in the late 1800s and consequent threat to the Plains Indian way of life, we were shown an app to teach the local language, developed with the help of our guide.
Brian Lightning demonstrates a Maskwacis Cree language learning app that is in development. One is already available for download, the other will be available soon.
Unemployment is high in the community and the Band Council is a major employer. The literature we were given soberly stated: “Death by suicide has reached epidemic proportions within the Maskwacis community. The rate of suicide for aboriginals is 2.1 times greater than the national average.” As many children are in care, the community is creating an agency to try to reintegrate some of those in foster homes.
After the museum visit, we drove to the Montana First Nation, which is accessed by an extremely rutted gravel road. The first person we saw was a young man in a black T-shirt with the words “solar training” on the back. Our guide led us up to the roof of the long building containing a gym, where we were shown six rows of solar panels. These low-maintenance panels have halved electricity costs. A federal grant was obtained for their construction and now, with a new Alberta government, the province has chipped in. This is not just an environmentally friendly job-creation project, but also a training strategy. It is the biggest First Nations solar project in Western Canada and justifiably a source of great pride to the 1000-strong Montana First Nation.
Montana Cree Nation Green Energy Solar Power Project, explained by Councilor Brad Rabbit. The project has greatly reduced the Montana Cree Administration Building’s energy bill and has employed about 20 community members, some as trainers for others wishing to do solar projects.
Our hosts had yet more visits in store for us. Once we were reunited with a carload of Friends who had gone astray on the way back from Montana First Nation, some of us indulged in tea and bannock, while others hastened back to campus – one driver picking up a speed ticket on the way – where the cafeteria were eager to serve us our simple supper and quit for the day.
High school of the Ermineskin Cree Nation.
Although not a typical service project, the visit to Maskwacis was an eye opener to us all. Several community members commented that they were rarely visited and remarked on the distorted perceptions about them circulated in the general public. A big thank you to CFSC for organizing this educational tour and to our First Nations hosts for opening up to us about their problems and their achievements.
We hope that you are having wonderful annual sessions.
We are writing to invite you all to FGC Gathering, July 2-8, 2017 at Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York. This Gathering is being planned by a number of Canadian and New York Yearly Meeting F/friends – and if you would like to be involved in the planning, please be in touch. The next in person planning meeting will be held in Toronto in late September. Please contact katrina@fgcGathering2017.org for more information and to express your interest. The theme for Gathering 2017 is “Ripples start where spirit moves”. There will be all of the usual gathering activities such as having wonderful workshops; interest groups; field trips; junior gathering groups; high school program; young adult activities; pre gathering retreats for business, young adults and friends of Colour; as well as the various centers, camping and cooperative cooking. 2017 will also be the 100th anniversary celebration of American Friends Service Committee and the 50th celebration of Right Sharing of World Resources. We are excited that Canadian Young Friends are planning a weekend retreat to coincide with a group of them being able to then travel together to the Gathering, and hope that adults from Canadian Yearly Meeting will feel drawn to join us as well! There are limited scholarships for first time attenders, as well as work grants for a variety of service opportunities such as leading workshops, and working with the Jr gathering or high school programs. For the best chance of receiving scholarship money, be sure to apply during early registration in April.
If you have any questions, ideas or need more information, please get in touch.