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


Reminder: Online Quaker Conversation Circle

On Saturday, February 12 there will be a 90-minute online workshop that introduces Quaker Conversation Circles from the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative. Come and learn about this exciting new way to hold deeper conversations about topics that matter to you and your group or Quaker Meeting. All are welcome – including those new to Quaker ways.

Members of CYM Education & Outreach will join with the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC, a non-affiliated group of Quakers in the U.S.) to provide mutual guidance during this session.

More on Quaker Conversation Circles

Starting in 2014, a group of dedicated American Friends at QREC began to develop online practices that make Quaker meetings come alive together, individually and corporately. The Conversation Circle tool they developed is a Quaker practice with a bit more structure and preparation than regular worship-sharing. It is an online tool that will benefit Canadian Quakers who are spread across this land, often in small- or medium-sized communities. We hope to offer you a way to build connection where you are. Conversation Circles can be used for national conversations, local Meeting, or in small groups.

Our queries are: What is a Quaker? How do we walk in the world as Friends?

Times and how to join

This first online Conversation Circle (again, on Saturday, February 12, 2022) will start at:

  • 10:30 AM PST
  • 11:30 AM MST
  • 12:30 PM CST
  • 1:30 PM EST
  • 2:30 AST
  • 3:00 NST

The workshop is 90 minutes long and there is no cost. To register, contact the clerk of E&O, Catherine Harding ().

Please join us on February 12!

Other upcoming events from Education & Outreach

This is the first session in a series. The Education & Outreach Committee has decided to focus on offering restorative Quaker practices in 2022.

For the next event, on 19 March & 2 April 2022, we are bringing Tracey Martin back online to guide us in Hope as a Practice. There is a cost for this workshop, as Woodbrooke Quaker Learning charges for tutor facilitation. 

Given that Tracey Martin is based in UK time zone, that workshop will start at 9:00 AM PST / 10:00 AM MST/ 11:00 AM CST/ 12:00 PM EST/ 1:00 PM AST/ 1:30 PM NST. The 2-part workshop runs for 2 hours each time and offers loads of experiential contact.

For more information and to join, please fill out the Hope as Practice registration form before March 12.

Also coming Spring 2022, we are working with Woodbrooke Learning Team to offer workshops practices on Diversity and Inclusion in Quaker Meetings. The dates and times are still being determined, but there will be 3 consecutive sessions of 2 hours each.

And finally, even when our events are fee-charging, we believe in barrier-free entrance to all of our offerings. For further information, contact the clerk of E&O, Catherine Harding ().

Yonge Street Half-Yearly Meeting

Yonge Street Half-Yearly Meeting will take place on Saturday, October 5 from 9 am to 5 pm. Please join us at Friends House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto.

At 2 pm, Maggie Knight will lead an exciting session on the topic “How Young Friends are promoting their spiritual growth in a secular society in 2019.” Maggie is a dynamic Young Friend from Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting who has been inspiring Friends for some years.

In 2016, Maggie presented the Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture at Canadian Yearly Meeting Session, which you can watch here:

Atlantic Friends Gathering (May 17-20)

The Atlantic Friends Gathering is an annual get together for Quakers in the Atlantic Provinces – and for anyone who would like to join us.

We meet by the ocean at Camp Geddie over the May long weekend, from Friday, May 17 to Monday noon, May 20th. There are lots of workshops and fun activities.

Please check it out at to find out about the program for AFG 2019. You can register on-line and get a reduced rate before May 10th.

The theme this year is “That of God in Everyone and Every Thing: A Call to Quakers for Environmental Action”.Atlantic Friends Gathering Poster 2019

We have 5 guest speakers, as well as our own local leaders.

The guest speakers are:

  • Cameron Fraser, Canadian Yearly Meeting Secretary
  • Judy Loo, International Biodiversity scientist
  • Verena Tan, Canadian Friends Service Committee staff
  • Joanna Bull & Meghan McMorris, Ecology Action Centre staff
  • Plus Atlantic Canada Friends with much to share on the environment

National Gathering Aug 3-11 in Barrie, ON: Save the Date!

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

There’s also lots of time for fun and games, and sessions focusing on spiritual development, social justice, and Quaker history.

In 2018, Yearly Meeting will be held August 3-11, at Georgian College, in Barrie, ON.  Stay tuned for schedule and registration details.

If you love working with kids, consider volunteering as a Child and Youth Program Leader or Co-ordinator.