Read the Epistle from Yearly Meeting 2023

The epistle from Yearly Meeting 2023 is available as a PDF, or can be read simply by scrolling down. The epistle summarizes the collective experience of our annual gathering – the first blended Yearly Meeting.

Epistle 2023 (PDF)

Loving greetings to Friends everywhere

From July 8-13, 2023, Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) met for our annual CYM-in-session as a beloved blended community. This was our first opportunity to meet in person since 2019. We gathered at Canadian Mennonite University, on Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg. Meeting in person reminded us of the joys of in-person Worship and the blessings of fellowship and connection in sharing meals and spending time together. Including other Friends online provided access and connection for many.

In addition to those friends who met in person (86 registered, 17 of them children and teens), we were joined by 66 who had registered to participate online. We are grateful for the work of Program Committee whose members met the challenge of providing programming to meet the constraints and demands of both in person and online participation. The planning took hours and the reward was great: the programmers came up with some very creative solutions. For example, online worship sharing was scheduled during meal time in Winnipeg. This gathering will provide a wonderful opportunity to learn how we can gather as a community with less need for travel and more accessibility for those who are unable or prefer not to attend in person.

The gathering opened with a greeting from Vincent Solomon, a member of the Cree Nation originally from Norway House, who serves as priest at the Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church in Winnipeg. Vince reminded us that treaties are agreements entered into by both indigenous people and settlers …that we are all treaty people. He reminded us that “the trails of all of our ancestors have been well worn to this place,” and asked: “What is it that keeps us from reaching out to each other?”

The daily Quaker Studies lectures – “Living the Testimonies” or Quaker faith in action – were presented by J. Brent Bill from his home. He asked whether our words and actions do actually match what we say we believe. Friends were asked to reflect individually on which testimonies give us the most difficulty and what further witness should arise out of Quaker experience in the world we live in today.

Richard (Dick) Preston presented the Sunderland P Gardner Lecture, “Truth and Reconciliation: a personal view from 60 years of learning Cree culture”. Our blended meeting format allowed Dick to present from his home in Ancaster, Ontario. Dick shared with Friends the story of his long career in anthropology. He spoke of his friendship with the Cree people of Waskaganish, and many of the teachings they shared with him along the way. He told us that stories represent authentic culture, containing a wealth of thought, ethics for living, and spiritual integrity. Dick emphasized that the true basis for reconciliation is respect.

As it happened the themes of all three of our speakers – Vincent Solomon, Dick Preston and Brent Bill – brought us a common message: how can we be true to our Quaker truth and witness? These queries enriched our time spent in worship throughout the week. The struggle to rise above human nature, to listen to the still, small voice within, to find unity in the guidance of the Spirit was manifest among us. We pray that our testimonies will help us to find a loving way forward in the future.

This year a special effort has been made to provide opportunities for all ages to meet in fellowship. New to the program were inter-generational community gatherings with songs and stories plus times set aside for inter-generational worship. Many activities engaged both youth and adults, for example, adults joined the children in a wet felting workshop where all splashed and soaped together. This brought fun and joy for the elders and helped the young ones feel more a part of the whole.

Our Meetings for Worship for Business involved both blessings and challenges. Due to unforeseeable circumstances, our presiding clerk was unable to serve. We were blessed by Friends willing to step in at the last moment. We were also blessed by Friends’ technical expertise that allowed those attending virtually to participate.

How to adjust our meeting practices and gatherings to this new post-pandemic world with its challenges and opportunities was a recurrent theme. We struggle to adapt our business meeting practices to balance the commitment to reduced travel with ensuring that Monthly Meetings are able to participate and feel engaged. As we plan for our next blended gathering in 2024, we are confident that with patience and generosity a way will open.

During the week, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were offered by individual Friends as well as by Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) program committees, CYM Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Counsel, CYM committees. Some SIGs were in person only, while some were blended. They included opportunities to build skills, learn about interests, and to engage in discernment. Topics included Friendly Bible study, nuclear energy, Quaker Earthcare Witness, the Alternatives to Violence Project, a game about coalition governments, peace in Ukraine and elsewhere, penal abolition, Quaker service work on indigenous right and relationships, lifting up Spirit while working on Quaker Concerns, and collecting oral histories. Canadian Friends Service Committee reviewed its mission, vision and mandate for Friends present and on line, highlighting areas of work, specific projects, and noted their new initiative which resulted in creating a staff position in Ottawa to join with other like-minded organizations to advance our concerns.

The Change and Sustainable Transformation Working Group (CAST) hosted a particularly well attended Spirit-led conversation about the relevance of Quakers in today’s world, which led to moving contributions by Friends, both in person and online, about what the Religious Society of Friends, or in one case, Society of Friends, has come to mean for them, on personal and public levels. It was clear that, while there are thoughts related to improving the way we do things, being a Friend, being among Friends, and serving as Friends are significantly valuable to everyone who spoke. We were reminded that Monthly Meetings remain at the core of who we are, what we do and how we do it. It was also affirmed that Friends continue to add much needed value to the wider world.

A daily evening epilogue hosted by Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Counsel provided an opportunity for worshipful reflection and gratitude. Then, for those who still had the energy, there was music and song!

As we meet together we celebrate the blessings of being able to gather together in person. We have been challenged and inspired by the blended meeting. How we will continue to hold our annual gatherings given the challenges posed by time, cost, and environmental impact will be a question in the forefront in our discernment over the coming months. Learning how to be a gathered people with our new ways will be an ongoing process.

13 July 2023


Come to Canadian Yearly Meeting 2022

Canadian Yearly Meeting 2022 will be happening online from August 7-13 and registration is now open! There is no closing date for adult registration, but early registration will help with planning. If you would like to participate in the Children & Youth Program or Worship Sharing in small groups, please register before Sunday July 24th.

What is Yearly Meeting?

Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) is a gathering once a year for all Canadian Quakers. Its Business Meetings are the main decision-making body of Quakers in Canada.

Who can attend?

The gathering might be for Canadian Quakers, but Quaker visitors from outside Canada are also welcome – as are those new to the Quaker ways, or those who are just curious. There will be extra info, support, and even a buddy system available for newcomers who would like such things. (Quiet lurkers are also welcome to dip a toe in!)

What happens at Yearly Meeting?

Besides business and committee meetings, there’s also lots of time for fun and games, socializing, and sessions focusing on spiritual development, social justice, and Quaker history.

Key events and speakers are highlighted on the CYM 2022 homepage, with more info to come. Those who register get immediate access to the current detailed schedule.

What does it cost to attend?

There are considerable costs to run Yearly Meeting in Session, even as an online event. We are requesting a donation/registration fee of $50 per person, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. See the Payment for CYM 2022 page for details and payment methods.

More info

More and new information – from details of fun events and or business documents – will be posted to the  CYM 2022 site from now ’til the end of the gathering.

Stories & Reflections from Yearly Meeting in Winnipeg

To get a feel for for how Yearly Meeting in Winnipeg went, please visit our blog page of Stories & Reflections from Yearly Meeting 2019, which covers all sorts of interesting facets of the gathering.

What is Yearly Meeting? It is a gathering for Canadian Quakers, which was  held this year in Winnipeg from August 2-10. The Business Meetings at the gathering are the main decision-making body of Quakers in Canada. There was also lots of time for fun and games, socializing, music, and sessions focusing on spiritual development, social justice, and Quaker history.

That blogroll from Yearly Meeting has a reflection from each day of the gathering, but still only captures a small portion of each day’s scheduled events. With so much going on, even those who attended might learn new things about what Friends were up to at the Gathering by reading it.

Epistle from Canadian Yearly Meeting 2018

This is the epistle from Canadian Yearly Meeting 2018, which was held August 3-11, summarizing many of the most important happenings and decisions.

Epistle from Canadian Yearly Meeting 2018

 The Quaker understanding of Truth is a complex one… Friends have not traditionally believed that truth is relative, or that it changes over time or from one person to another: Rather, we have believed in continuing revelation: that God continues to reveal Truth (with a capital T) to each person individually, without intermediary. This leads to many different interpretations of Truth or different personal truths, if you will. However, although Friends believe that no one person can know the entire Truth, that does not mean that we don’t believe absolute Truth exists. The Truth we are all seeking, though it may be expressed and lived in many ways, is universal Truth.

1.28 from the CYM Faith & Practice

To Friends everywhere,

Loving greetings from Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM). More than one hundred and fifty Quakers gathered over eight days, from August 4-11, 2018, in Barrie, Ontario. This was the 184th annual gathering of Quakers in Canada, our 62nd as a united Yearly Meeting, and our first after a fallow year in 2017. We acknowledge with gratitude that our Yearly Meeting took place on the traditional territory of the Anishnaabek, Haudenosaunee, and Wyandot.

We were welcomed to this territory by Anishnaabe elder Jeff Monague, and our Quaker Study, led by Canadian Friends Service Committee’s Jennifer Preston, was on the theme of “Faith, Reconciliation, and Relationships with Indigenous Peoples.” Jennifer invited several Friends to share their experiences with reconciliation.  She also brought to bear her considerable experience working on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on an international level, and for reconciliation nationally.

Prior to the official start of Canadian Yearly Meeting, a number of Friends enjoyed a pre-Gathering retreat on “Sharing our Spiritual Journey” led by Ellen Helmuth of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting. Friends were invited to reflect on the mentors and testimonies that had formed them, and to share and write stories of their spiritual journeys.

Over thirty Young Friends and Young Adult Friends (ages 13-35) also gathered before CYM at Camp NeeKauNis, a Quaker camp which has been operating for over seven decades. They spent time playing, swimming, singing, getting to know each other, and discerning how best to support our Young Friends/Young Adult Friends community, given that Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting has been on hiatus as an official body since 2016.

Young Friends and Young Adult Friends (YFs and YAFs) continued their discernment process during CYM. They decided to revive Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting and provisionally to replace the previous clerk structure with a team of Youth Representatives and a separate organizing committee for the next Youth Gathering. This, we hope, will provide a more sustainable leadership structure.

After this revival was reported to CYM Thursday morning, there was an extended period of worship during our Meeting for Business. Young Friends and Young Adult Friends were held in the Light while they used a worship-sharing format to respond to the following query: “How can and do Quakers across Canada welcome and nourish Young Friends and Young Adult Friends, recognizing them as valued community members?” It was a powerful opportunity to hold and listen to YFs/YAFs as they shared joys and challenges about being integrated into the broader Quaker community. Older Friends were encouraged to keep listening to YFs/YAFs in support of their growth and blossoming.

A highlight of this year’s programming was Arthur Larrabee’s Sunderland P. Gardner lecture on “Making Room for Spirit.” Arthur, a visitor from Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, drew on spiritual insights from various religious traditions, as well as personal (often humorous) anecdotes, to explain how we might remove barriers to Spirit in our lives by dissolving attachment, practicing patience, ‘dying’ into fear, and embracing paradox.

With two years having elapsed since we last gathered, the list of Friends who have died since our last Yearly Meeting was very long. The Memorial Meeting was beautiful and moving, and we are truly grateful for the grace of God evident in the lives of these Friends.

During our business sessions, we celebrated the formation of Atlantic Half Yearly Meeting, moved forward in defining a process for creating Advices and Queries specific to the Canadian context, and asked the Clerk of CYM to write a letter to the Pope commending him for adding his support to the many voices demanding abolition of the death penalty.

We learned that Canadian Yearly Meeting shares in the honours conveyed by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, having become a partner organization of the recipient, the International Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in 2012. The name “Religious Society of Friends, Canada” is recorded with others on the commemorative stone marker in Oslo, Norway.

A report by Nominating Committee of the challenges in filling CYM positions led to a discussion of Friends’ individual strengths and weaknesses, and Friends were encouraged to engage in discernment rooted in getting to know each other better and being willing to try new and unfamiliar things. One position which was not filled was that of “Carbon Coordinator;” later we were delighted to learn that a small group of Friends has agreed to have their names put forward together as a team for this position to help us understand how to reduce our environmental footprint.

A wide and varied bouquet of Special Interest Groups was offered throughout the week on topics such as restorative justice, Friendly outreach, couples’ enrichment, experiences with cancer, tools for spiritual discernment, electronic surveillance, death and dying, environmental concerns, principles of Quaker Faith, the “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign to end Israeli military detention of Palestinian children, lessons from Britain Yearly Meeting, the erosion of democracy in the US, and more.

We enjoyed the contributions of several visitors: Gloria Thompson from Friends World Committee for Consultation (and Manhattan Monthly Meeting), Anne Pomeroy from Friends General Conference (and New York Yearly Meeting), Hugh O’Farrell Walsh from Ireland Yearly Meeting (who was a particular joy to YFs/YAFs), and the family of Binwa and Etienne Paul Mungombe, from the evangelical United Friends Churches in Canada (UFC). UFC invited Friends in Canadian Yearly Meeting to its general conference August 25-26.

A thread ran through the way we welcomed Evangelical Francophone Friends, engaged in a week-long reflection on right relations with Indigenous peoples, and really listened to Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. We realize that God is calling us to widen our circle and to challenge the barriers we unconsciously have placed on our welcome.

Great joy and fellowship was shared during CYM’s visit to Camp NeeKauNis, Family Night, and in all the nooks and crannies that Friends creatively found in our very full schedule. Though we may have come to CYM as individuals, we left as family.

Register for CYM Gathering (Aug 3-11)

Yearly Meeting Session, Barrie, ON

It’s time to reconnect with your Quaker family! Come to Georgian College, host of our annual Gathering, to be with Friends of all ages and stages of involvement from across the country!

Visit for all the details, or see the material in The Canadian Friend, winter 2018 edition.

Deadlines: Early registration is by June 30 and final registration is by July 14.

A few highlights to look forward to:

  • Pre-YM Retreat
    ‘Sharing our Spiritual Journeys,’ led by Ellen Helmuth
    Aug 3
  • SPG Lecture
    ‘Making Room for Spirit,’ presented by Arthur Larrabee
  • Quaker Study
    ‘Reconciliation, faith, and relationships with Indigenous Peoples’
  • Young Friends’ Gathering
    at Camp NeeKauNis, Aug 2-4

All this information as a poster:
CYM 2018 Announcement Poster