Western Half Yearly Meeting, Spring 2011

One week into the Youth Secretary position, I had the privilege of attending Western Half Yearly Meeting in Sorrento, BC. Before hand I spent a day visiting some Young Adult Friends (YAFs) who were not going to be there, out on Mayne Island and in Vancouver. It was a fabulous opportunity to see some YAFs on the West Coast and experience just how frustrating it must be for many Friends to get from where they are living to where there are other Friends or Meetings; though as someone who doesn’t get to go on many ferry rides, I found them quite soothing if a bit constraining.

My drive up to Sorrento with 3 Friends from Vancouver Monthly Meeting was full of good conversation and insights as we drove further and further up into the mountains. I love hearing about how different Meetings function and what activities they do which make them unique. The Strawberry Social that Vancouver Monthly Meeting holds sounds super engaging and fun!

WHYM provided me with the great opportunity to meet with a number of Young Friends, YAFs and Friends of all ages, with whom I had engaging conversation about ideas and hopes for what the position of Youth Secretary might provide to Canadian Yearly Meeting and Quakers across Canada.

Introductions were done by family groups, which gave me a better understanding of the connections and relationships within the community. It was also remarkable the number of children 5 and under! I loved listening to the sounds of them finding joy together in the centre of our worship. I think I am better able to understand the need for “critical mass” gatherings of Friends. So many of us are isolated Friends in one way or another, even if we are geographically near other Quakers.

I hadn’t initially understood why it was so important that Western Half Yearly be held over a long weekend, but as I met people and discovered the distances that they traveled to get there, it made much more sense. Western Half Yearly Meeting serves such a large geographical distance that it wouldn’t be realistic to expect people to come if it were only a day or overnight gathering.

I was especially taken with one YAF’s button “Love is a Verb”. I think it is vitally important to Quakers as we live our Faith that we not forget the action part. I am interested in how I can do this more in my own life.

Western Half Yearly Meeting was full of many inter-generational activities. Balancing is a huge part of the Gathering, and for those of you interested in making balancing a part of your gatherings, please check out the Resources for Meetings page where I have posted the Stevenson’s guide to Balancing.

Young Friend activities included doing a work project at the Sorrento Centre’s farm. It is becoming an annual event where the Quaker’s help them plant over 500 tomato plants each spring! There was also a bonfire down at the beach with marshmallows and hotdogs which was great fun despite the sprinklings of rain. And the family night had fabulous intergenerational participation and tons of talent! I hope to post some recordings of these talented presentations soon!

First Youth Secretary for CYM!

Katrina McQuailIt is with great pleasure that the Youth Secretary Committee announces the appointment of Katrina McQuail as CYM Youth Secretary. Her position will take effect May 9, 2011.

Katrina is a member of Kitchener Area MM and grew up in the Lucknow Worship Group. She now lives in Guelph, ON where there is a lively YF presence. She has had considerable experience working with youth within Friends General Conference. She coordinates the High School program at FGC’s Annual Gathering, serves on the Executive Committee and also serves on the Transforming Sub-Committee (previously Youth Ministries Committee).

Katrina has been involved in organizing retreats for YF at Camp Neekaunis for many years and attended the World Gathering of YF as a CYM representative in 2005. She has attended CYM sessions whenever possible and has served the YF community there as a recording clerk, program person, listener and representative to HMAC. She is a 2006 Business and Non Profit Management (minor in French) graduate of Earlham College where she interacted with Friends from the FUM and EFI traditions from both Indiana and Western YMs. After graduating she worked as assistant to the President of the College. Katrina also served on the Editorial Board for the Quaker Youth publication Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices.

Though Katrina is involved and passionate about Quakerism and Quaker youth, her interests are diverse and eclectic. She is also excited about social justice, community, and all aspects of food. Katrina has worked in higher education, as an organic farmer, as a cook, and with social change organizations, governments and businesses. With a focused interest in sustainability and building stronger communities, she keeps herself busy by volunteering, traveling, running youth programs, cooking, baking, and helping on her family’s farm. When she can find the time, she likes activities from scuba diving to quilting and she is rarely found without a cup of tea. For the past two years Katrina has been working the land and caring for the animals with her parents on their farm near Lake Huron.

The position of Youth Secretary (YS) was first envisaged by the Consultation and Renewal working group (CnR) and a committee of adult Friends and Young Friends nominated by Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting ( CYFYM) has worked on the vision and eventual job description for this position. They saw the key responsibilities as being Spiritual Vitality, a Communication Resource and an Information Resource; all aspects which Katrina is well able and qualified to fill.  The committee also saw the role of support from Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups as being vital to the success of this position.

Katrina is enthusiastic about connecting with YFs & YAFs across the country and having  a strong relationship with CYFYM. She sees keeping YFs engaged and feeling supported by their spiritual community as a way of ensuring the future of the Religious Society of Friends in Canada, while also nurturing YFs’ individual growth and development. She invites Friends of all ages to get in touch with thoughts, ideas and hopes for ways in which she can best serve the community.