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Come to online Western Half-Yearly Meeting

Come to online Western Half-Yearly Meeting

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fall Western Half-Yearly Meeting will be held online on the Thanksgiving long-weekend (from Friday, October 9th to Sunday, October 11th).

Western Half-Yearly Meeting (WHYM) is a much-loved, twice-yearly gathering for Quakers in Western Canada. This online version will run instead of our in person gathering, which would otherwise have been held at Camp Valaqua near Calgary.

We encourage Friends to join us.

  • To see the updated schedule and find the Zoom link, which will be posted before October 9,  please visit viquakers.ca/whym.

No registration is required, with the important exception of those Friends who wish to participate in Worship Sharing. Friends who wish to be part of a worship sharing group must email Elizabeth Curry with their name and Monthly Meeting by October 5th at bassish@gmail.com.

Rick Juliusson, a member of Cowichan Valley Monthly Meeting currently living in Minnesota, has agreed to deliver a Saturday evening presentation titled “Say His Name: How are we using our voice and privilege in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM?”

For more regular updates, please join the WHYM facebook group at facebook.com/groups/206099916092376. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Andrew Gage, Clerk of WHYM, at whym-clerk@quaker.ca.

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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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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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Epistle from Western Half-Yearly Meeting

Epistle from Western Half-Yearly Meeting

Here is message from the Quakers who attended Western Half-Yearly Meeting (WHYM), a twice-yearly gathering for Quakers in Western Canada.

October 12–14, 2019
To Friends everywhere:

We were blessed with beautiful crisp, sunny weather to gather at Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Saskatchewan. People arrived individually and in small groups Friday and Saturday. Including three children, one Young Friend, and a few visitors, we welcomed 28 people.

The strength of our Quaker gatherings is in spiritual renewal and building community for all of us, and especially for those of us who are not affiliated with a regular Monthly Meeting. For many Friends, Western Half-Yearly Meeting is the one place they can receive support for how they live their Quaker values.

During two of the Special Interest Groups we grappled with some difficult issues. One dealt with Quaker revitalization and the vital role of Young Friends in that renewal. The absence of a Monthly Meeting in Regina is sorely missed. A new role for Prairie Monthly Meeting is being explored. A second Special Interest Group explored how we as a larger society can start the important and sometimes difficult conversations about reconciliation.

The weekend was not all seriousness, however. We enjoyed many joyful and lighthearted moments doing team-building games in the woods, participating in workshops on English Country Dancing, Quaker Chanting, and Family Night, as well as laughter and fellowship.

JoLee Sasakamoose enticed us with copious amounts of art supplies throughout the weekend and encouraged deep healing with a guided meditation and grounding exercise on Saturday evening.

(photos by JoLee Sasakamoose)

We were energized by the home cooked meals, especially the homemade cranberry sauce made from high-bush cranberries picked by the children and their helpers in honour of Tom Findlay’s practice.

Our Quaker process is a journey. Our gatherings provide spiritual nourishment and fellowship. This sustains us in our daily lives until the next gathering. For this we are truly blessed.

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Come to Western Half-Yearly Meeting (October 11-14)

Come to Western Half-Yearly Meeting (October 11-14)

The 2019 Fall gathering of Western Half-Yearly Meeting will take place on Thanksgiving weekend (October 11-14) at Camp Shekinah north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

We invite all Friends and friends of Friends to join us in this warm, intimate gathering. Please note the registration deadline of September 18!

Practical Details

Driving directions and much more information on programming, accomodation, meals, and cost are available in the pdf information file:
Infopack on Fall Western Half Yearly Meeting (PDF) – right-click or command-click to save to your computer.

Meanwhile, here are a few info highlights:

  • The usual items will all be included in the Half-Yearly Meeting schedule – worship-sharing groups, special interest groups, Meetings for Worship including business Meetings, and the phenomenal Family Night sharing of talents and fun). At Shekinah, we also have the opportunity to ride the Flying Fox zipline one afternoon – fun for all ages!A happy camper riding the Shekinah zipline
  • The theme for the Saturday evening gathering and the weekend are still being discerned. More information will be provided as this is finalized.
  • The site opens at 4 p.m. on Friday, and Friends usually try to arrive on Friday late afternoon or evening (and late into the night), with activities all day Saturday and Sunday, and depart after a short closing Meeting for Worship on Thanksgiving Monday.
  • Accommodations are bunk-room style (with various numbers of occupants per room) in a lodge, or alternatively there are camp sites for tents. Pillows, linens, sleeping bags/blankets, and towels are not provided; bring your own, or ask someone local to bring some for you.
  • The meals do not include snacks or a Friday evening meal; participants who can do so easily are asked to bring snacks to share, and those who are able are asked to help with a pot-luck meal for Friday evening.

Again, for more details, look at the Infopack on Fall Western Half Yearly Meeting. Feel free to contact registrar Elizabeth Curry (whymregistrar@gmail.com) with any questions.

Cost & Registration

The dining hall at ShekinahSite/accommodation fees are $300/adult for the entire weekend; this covers all meals. (Most dietary needs can be accommodated if advance notification is given).

Fees are collected on-site, but please fill out the registration form and send it to Registrar Elizabeth Curry at whymregistrar@gmail.com as soon as you can, or by the deadline of September 18 at the latest. This enables us to plan appropriately and to provide the site with the advance notice they require.

Registration Forms:
Fall 2019 WHYM Registration Form (EXCEL) – Use this to register purely electronically. Filling in each category should auto-populate the costs.
Fall 2019 WHYM Registration Form (PDF for printing) – If needed, print and fill out this version. You may need to right-click (Microsoft) or command-click (Mac) to save these files to your computer first.

Please send your completed registration form to Registrar Elizabeth Curry at whymregistrar@gmail.com.

We hope that you will join us at Camp Shekinah for Thanksgiving 2019!

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