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Yearly Meeting in Session is going online!

Yearly Meeting in Session is going online!

The 2020 Yearly Meeting has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic as an in-person event, but an online version is currently being organized.

The sessions will run August 8-13. The schedule, further info, and everything needed to participate in the sessions will be posted to the ‘Yearly Meeting in Session‘ page as soon as they are ready.

Please bear with us as we navigate this adventure and try all kinds of new things in a short amount of time! There will be sessions in advance for those who need to be orientated to the platforms we will use.

These sessions will mostly focus on spiritual development, opportunities to socialize and connect, and social and environmental justice. There will no business sessions; the business that normally would have been Yearly Meeting 2020 is being addressed in series of Representative Meetings running this spring and summer, meetings which can be conducted online more easily. (Quakers who have an account on our business site can sign in to read Representative Meeting minutes and documents, then pass the fruit of their discernment onto their representatives. Those without accounts can request one here.)

 

Posted in: CYM 2020, News, Quaker Blog, Yearly Meeting in Session

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Canadian Quakers Condemn Systemic Racism

Canadian Quakers Condemn Systemic Racism

Canadian Quakers hear the calls in the streets and in the media for an end to racial violence and injustice. This is echoed in communities across Canada. The ongoing wounds of racism are open and laid bare. We demand better from individuals, from our leaders, and from our institutions.

Many of us have seen the horrific footage of the killing of yet another Black person – George Floyd – by a white police officer. This is not an accident or aberration. Unequal and unjust treatment of racialized people is not unique to the US, nor to the choices of individual officers. It is far-reaching and systemic.

As just one example, the office of our peace and social justice agency (Canadian Friends Service Committee) is located in Toronto – a city where policing costs more than one billion dollars a year and where “Black Torontonians are 20 times more likely than non-Black people to die in an encounter with police, according to one estimate,” as Enzo DiMatteo notes.

Alternatives are possible and needed at once. Systemic racism is far broader than policing, and is found in child welfare, housing, schools, incarceration, education, and many other places.

We name, without taking the focus off of the profound racism faced by Black people in Canada and around the world, that the experience of extreme racism is shared by Indigenous peoples and other people of colour here and elsewhere. The long-term action required to abolish racism targeted at Black people will contribute to overcoming all racism, since no one will be free from the threat of racism until all are freed from it. 

We condemn the ongoing systemic racism within Canada at all levels. Our work involves an active daily commitment toward justice. We also bear witness to the struggles of those who suffer the impacts of racism in the US and elsewhere. The sin of racism is not confined by borders. Wherever it is, it must be exposed and uprooted.

We acknowledge that Canadian Quakers are predominantly white and have work to do within ourselves. In doing this work, it is only too appealing for us to fall into the traps of guilt and self-loathing that focus our attention back on ourselves rather than on what needs to be done. This is not empowering to anyone, and it is not useful. We call upon Quakers to commit ourselves to individual and collective change that would outwardly demonstrate our belief that Black lives matter. We call on Friends to let go of the feeling that we are perfect or know best, and to give ourselves over to the ongoing work of eliminating racism in whatever form that takes.

We call upon Friends to listen, learn from, and follow the lead of Black groups, leaders, and movements such as Black Lives Matter, keeping those leaders front and centre in our hearts. We call upon Friends to speak up, even though the topic is complex and delicate. Each Black life matters. Each Black life is worthy. Each Black life is valuable.


Joint statement by Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and Canadian Friends Service Committee. Download it as a PDF.

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Epistle from Western Half-Yearly Meeting, Spring 2020

Epistle from Western Half-Yearly Meeting, Spring 2020

Many Quakers in Western Canada normally come to Sorrento, BC, in May for an intergenerational gathering – Western Half-Yearly Meeting. This year the gathering happened on-line – a first for Canadian Friends.

Here is a message from the Friends who attended.

Epistle from Spring Western Half-Yearly Meeting, 2020

As prepared by the Epistle Committee (not formally approved due to online gathering format)

For the first time in the history of Western Half-Yearly Meeting, this Spring we gathered electronically, rather than in person in Sorrento, BC, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a unique experience and we thank the Clerk, Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Council and all Friends who stepped forward to make this meeting possible. At the same time, we grieved the fact that we weren’t able to make the pilgrimage to Sorrento Centre to gather together in person.

Dozens of Friends gathered in a series of Zoom meetings and break-out sessions. While there were many familiar faces, we were also blessed by some Friends who had not attended WHYM in many years or who were attending for the first time, who probably would not have been able to join us in person. Other Friends who had less access to, or were less comfortable with, the technology may have felt excluded.

The Gathering began on Friday evening with an intergenerational activity in which small groups recalled our best memories of past gatherings and discussed our hopes for WHYM gathering. This was followed by an on-line “family night” in which Friends shared videos and performances showcasing their talents.

Many Friends gathered on Saturday and Sunday morning in worship sharing. An abbreviated Meeting for Worship for Business on Saturday was followed by a memorial meeting to remember Friends who had passed during the year.

Special Interest Groups on Saturday and Sunday allowed Friends to explore how to make CYM more sustainable, how to meet from a distance when Friends have different levels of access to and comfort with technology, how to discuss climate change and the appropriate ways to define anti-semitism.

Saturday ended with an open meeting of Meeting of Ministry and Council, followed by an evening session with staff from the Canadian Friends Service Committee.

On Sunday morning, Meeting for Worship was the largest of the Zoom meetings, with 75 Friends joining from over 60 devices.

Through the weekend, Friends, and especially Young Friends, were able to meet in smaller groups or one-on-one using an online platform called Discord, which was new to many of us. Despite the struggles (for some) of the new software, Friends persevered and enjoyed chatting, singing in the evening and playing games.

These online meetings brought to mind Jesus’ teaching, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there.” While we look forward to worshipping together in person, some Friends were surprised by how strongly we experienced the Spirit among us. Many of us experienced deep, spiritual connections, despite being separated by distance and despite some technical challenges. However, others felt that the lack of personal contact was a barrier to reach the depth that we can in person.

Electronic communications, and how to navigate them as Friends, brought with it unique questions – as when one Friend asked if a typo could be a gleaning. A global Zoom outage at the start of a session that prevented Friends from hearing one another prompts a query: Can we wait expectantly in the silence when faced with technical challenges beyond our control?

The Epistle Committee itself felt the limitations of an electronic gathering, in working across time zones and with the distractions that came from not being gathered together at the retreat centre. In addition, the shortened electronic gathering schedule did not provide for a time for the formal approval of this epistle. We offer it in any case as a summary of the first gathering of its kind.

We are uncertain about when and how requirements of social distancing will ease and when it may be possible for us to meet in person again. This raises the possibility that this will not be our last electronic gathering, or that some future WHYMs will have a combination of in person and electronic aspects. While this gathering was not the same as in past years and we missed the camaraderie and intimacy of being physically together, we found that there were still important opportunities for spiritual nurture.

While we could not meet in person, we are grateful that this year’s electronic gathering has provided spiritual nurture and grounded us so that we can go out into the world and continue to do God’s work during these strange and often difficult times.

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Canadian Friend New Issue, Submissions for the Next

Canadian Friend New Issue, Submissions for the Next

The spring issue of The Canadian Friend, our national journal, is now out. Those who are subscribers to the magazine should have already received a copy, but is also available electronically:
The Canadian Friend – Spring 2020 (Screen-friendly, Colour PDF)
The Canadian Friend – Spring 2020 (Print-friendly, B&W PDF)

This issue includes articles on Quaker utopian William Penn, Quaker involvement with capitalism and anarchism, news from around the Canadian Quaker family, and a lot more. (Everything in it was submitted before the coronapocalypse began, but your Friendly neighbourhood editor did sneak a late-night meditation in.) You can see the full Table of Contents here.

Next Issue

The next issue has been rescheduled to come out during the time Yearly Meeting normally would have happened, around August 10. To connect with Friends in writing, please submit pieces by the due date of June 12. (Extensions are usually possible by asking the editor nicely). 

Please submit articles between 500-1200 words long. (Unusual topics or word-lengths are possible, but also best discussed with the editor before submitting.) Submissions on any topic of potential interest to Canadian Friends are welcome.  Reflections and stories on isolation, new ways of connecting, and whatever concerns and comforts you are particularly welcome for this issue.

Photos, artwork, humour, and interesting quotations are also warmly welcomed as submissions.

Looking ahead, the due date for the autumn issue is September 22.

Send submissions to The Canadian Friend‘s editor, Timothy Kitz, at editor@quaker.ca or c/o CYM Office, 91A Fourth Ave., Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1S 2L1.

For inspiration, or to take a trip down memory lane, The Canadian Friend back issues are available online.  If your library is missing one, you can even download back issues and print them.

Subscriptions

All members and regular attenders of the Monthly Meetings of CYM are entitled to receive a copy of The Canadian Friend. Donations to defray costs of producing the magazine are gratefully welcomed.

The annual individual subscription rate for Canada is $20, $30 for US addresses, and $40 for all other countries.

To be added to the subscription list of The Canadian Friend, contact the CYM Office.

Advertising

The Canadian Friend also accepts advertising! For rates and details, contact the editor (editor@quaker.ca, again). Please note that and the committees and bodies of Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) do not pay for black and white ads.

Posted in: News, Quaker Blog, The Canadian Friend

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Western Half-Yearly Meeting is happening on-line!

Western Half-Yearly Meeting is happening on-line!

This spring’s Western Half-Yearly Meeting will still take place – on-line, through Zoom, from May 15-17.

Western Half-Yearly Meeting (WHYM) is a much-loved, twice-yearly gathering for Quakers in Western Canada. We warmly invite new and seasoned people to join us for this experiment in gathering online.

Planned activities include worship sharing, an on-line Family Night (AKA talent night or open mic), and a chance to hear about and get involved with Canadian Quaker social justice work for Indigenous Rights, Peace, and Criminal Justice. The full schedule is below.

To receive the Zoom meeting ID and password, please check viquakers.ca/whym or the  Facebook group for Western Half-Yearly Meeting.

Organizers for this virtual gathering were inspired by this (slightly adapted) reading:

Quakers speak of their worship times as Meeting: we do not say we are going to church, or service, or communion, but are going to, or being in Meeting. Quakers in a Meeting for Worship, large or small, short or long [virtual or in person] are first of all meeting each other – members of our community, visitors, and new people. Then friends turn inwards to meet ourselves – our thoughts, feelings, prayers, hopes, and concerns. And in the silence, each of us tries to open ourselves to meeting God, the Light, the Promptings of Love and Truth.
— Mary Walton (1997) as quoted in: A Self Study Pamphlet on Canadian Faith and Practice by Marjory Reitsma-Street (2017).

Schedule for Western Half-Yearly Meeting

(Details for each event below)

Friday May 15th

7:30-9:30 MDT
Intergenerational activity followed by Family Night gathering

Saturday May 16th

9:00-10:00 MDT
Worship Sharing Groups

10:30-12:15 MDT
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

1:00-2:00 MDT
Memorial Meeting

2:00-3:30 MDT
Special Interest Groups (to be confirmed)
4:00-6:00 MDT
Meeting of Ministry & Counsel (including Monthly Meeting M&C members)

7:30-9:00 MDT
Gathering: Canadian Friends Service Committee (Keira Mann, CFSC)

Sunday May 17th

9:00-10:00 MDT
Worship Sharing Groups

10:30-11:30 MDT
Meeting for Worship (with children present)

2:00-3:30 MDT
Special Interest Groups (to be confirmed)

Event Details for Western Half-Yearly Meeting

 
Intergenerational/Family Night Gathering
  • Date: Fri, May 15th  
  • Time: 1 – 2 hrs, 6:30 PDT, 7:30 MDT/CST, 8:30 CDT
  • Immediately following the intergenerational activity, there will be a family night event where Friends who wish to may share a song, skit, or poem etc. for everyone to enjoy.  Acts may be submitted as a pre-recorded video or presented live. In order to sign up to perform and for more details, please email Whym-clerk@quaker.ca.
 
Worship Sharing Groups
  • Date: Sat, May 16 and Sunday May 17
  • Time: 1 hour, 8 PDT, 9 MDT/CST, 10 CDT
  • Small groups will gather together (virtually) to sit in Worship and for deep sharing for 1 hour. Each group will have a facilitator and there may be a suggested focus. Anyone wishing to participate must register in advance by emailing Whym-clerk@quaker.ca, by May 11 so that groups can be planned. 
 
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
  • Date: Sat, May 16
  • Time: 2 hours, 9:30 PDT, 10:30 MDT/CST, 11:30 CDT
  • Please join us as we conduct our business in the manner of Friends. We have limited the agenda so that we can complete the business in one meeting.
 
Memorial Meeting
  • Date: Sat  May 16
  • Time: 1 hour, 12 PDT, 1 MDT/CST, 2 CDT
  • As is our practice, the lives of those whose names have been brought forward to be remembered, will be celebrated.  Please let the clerk (whym-clerk@quaker.ca) know of those in your Meeting who have died in the past year and any of those who you would like to be included in the WHYM memorial.  So far we know of Michael Phillips, who passed away Dec 25, 2019 and who for many years was an ardent participant at Western Half Yearly Meeting, and Dottie Ross, long active in Argenta.
 
Special Interest Groups
  • Date: Sat, May 16 and Sun, May 17
  • Time: 1 hour, 1 PDT, 2 MDT/CST, 3 CDT
  • These will only occur if people with a topic in mind, who are willing to lead such groups, come forward (email the clerk at whym-clerk@quaker.ca). 
 
Open Ministry & Council Meeting
  • Date: Sat  May 16
  • Time: 2 hours, 3 PDT, 4 MDT/CST, 5 CDT
  • This is open to all Monthly Meeting Ministry & Council members. The agenda will be discerned by those present.
 
Gathering: Canadian Friends Service Committee – Keira Mann
  • Date: Sat  May 16
  • Time: 1.5 hours, 6:30 PDT, 7:30 MDT/CST, 8:30 CDT
  • Join Canadian Friends Service Committee’s assistant coordinator, Keira Mann, to learn more about CFSC. Keira will also be introducing some videos of CFSC’s three program coordinators giving updates on their work, what’s coming next, and how Friends can get involved. Jennifer Preston, Matthew Legge, and Nancy Russell will tell you all about their respective work in Indigenous Rights, Peace, and Criminal Justice.
 
Meeting for Worship
  • Date: Sunday May 17
  • 9:15 PDT, 10:15 MDT/CST, 11:15 CDT – Gathering and settling into silent worship – all mikes will be muted. 
  • 9:30/10:30/11:30 – Meeting for Worship.  As is our practice, all are welcome, including children and babies.  Details around muting and unmuting of mikes are still being discerned.
  • 10:30/11:30/12:30  – After-thoughts in the manner of worship sharing, for those who wish to stay.
  • 11/12/1 (15 minutes) –  Fellowship/chatting (another online experiment) for those who wish to stay. 

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