Category: WHYM

Reflections from WHYM

A view of the Timber Lodge at Shekinah Retreat Centre. Photo Credit: David Cheatley.

A view of the Timber Lodge at Shekinah Retreat Centre. Photo Credit: David Cheatley.

On Thanksgiving weekend, a group of about forty Friends gathered at Shekinah, near Saskatoon.

In addition to Friends from Western Canada, we were excited to welcome a visiting Evangelical Quaker pastor from Burundi. She is the Coordinator of the Friends Women’s Association (FWA) in Burundi, and she spoke on Saturday evening about the country’s recent history and the work of the FWA.*

On Friday, as people arrived, we gathered downstairs and ate the delicious food generously supplied by members of Saskatoon and Prairie Monthly Meetings. We enjoyed an activity in which we paired up and drew our partners without looking at the paper – a challenging but ultimately amusing task! We then learned interesting facts about our partners and wrote them side by side with the portraits.

At Saturday’s Meeting for Worship for Business, we heard the joyful news that two Friends had become engaged that morning.

Saturday was a beautiful warm day, perfect for the popular Flying Fox zip line. Friends young and old put on helmets, hooked up their harnesses, and flew across the small valley and back. More cautious Friends watched and cheered.

Later on Saturday afternoon, we were able to choose between two Special Interest Groups: Quakers in a re-tribalized world; or the feasibility of continuing to meet at Shekinah.

Saturday evening was clear, providing an amazing view of the stars that can only be found in the country. Coyotes yipped as we gathered to watch a white aurora borealis veil the northern sky.

On Sunday afternoon, our guest from Burundi offered a SIG that expanded on her Saturday evening talk.

Family Night took place Sunday evening in the building’s cozy chapel. The acts included poetry, storytelling, music, and an adorable animal skit from our youngest Friends.

Monday morning, after a short Meeting for Worship, we sang a familiar old song that concludes many such gatherings, and then the new-to-us song we learned from our guest from Burundi during Family Night.


In Friendship,

Mark Stanley.



*Her name has been omitted for privacy purposes.


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2015 Fall Half-Yearly Meeting: October 9-11, 2015- Shekinah Retreat Centre.

Fall Half-Yearly Meeting will be held in Saskatchewan  on October 9th – 11th, 2015.

Hello Friends!

The 2015 Fall WHYM form is here!

All you have to do is input your numbers and it will add up your total – fancy, right? Just send it on back to me with your info and with any questions you might have. If the link does not work for you, let me know and I can send this in a different format for you.


A view of the Timber Lodge at Shekinah Retreat Centre. Photo Credit: David Cheatley.

A view of the Timber Lodge at Shekinah Retreat                Centre. Photo Credit: David Cheatley.

Shekinah Retreat Centre is in the North Saskatchewan River valley and thus is chalk full of opportunities for gorgeous walks, outdoor silence, autumn smells and incredible prairie skies (who remembers that year that the northern lights filled the sky?). In addition to the geographical certainty of beauty, we will gather in fun, silence, business and food – sometimes all at the same time!

Saskatoon Meeting has generously offered to provide sandwich fixings for the Friday night arrival meal and will be leading an intergenerational activity that night to get things shakin’ (quakin’?!). We are honoured to welcome visiting friend Parfaite Ntahuba from Friends Women’s Association in Burundi who is involved with the project “Caring for HIV Positive People.” She will be giving us a presentation on Saturday night.

Though it is now very short notice, please consider joining Friends for a wonderful gathering of gratitude on Thanksgiving weekend.

Please let me know if you have any questions,


PS. If you have Friends in your meeting who are not online and would like details or who are planning on coming, they are welcome to phone me with their information.

Share our Facebook event.


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Poverty, Wealth, Ecology – Special Interest Group – WHYM Sunday

Bill Curry and Dave Greenfield offered a special interest Group (SIG) on the theme of an upcoming meeting of the North American Region of the World Council of Churches in Calgary, November 7 – 11.  Dave and Bill will be attending this meeting for Canadian Yearly Meeting. It is part of a process leading to the 10th General Assembly in South Korea in 2013.  The POVERTY WEALTH ECOLOGY focus aims to “put climate justice and poverty eradication and therelationship between the two as a priority on the agenda”

Bill and Dave offered a number of quotes on the theme, asking, “How do we act now?” and “What are we doing?” The dialogue covered obstacles, responsibilities and faith dimensions of sustainability.

“Poverty, Wealth and Ecological Justice Framework Concept (from a longer document from the United Church of Canada)

[The United Church] has consistently worked ecumenically and globally on issues of economic justice, ecological justice, social justice, poverty, exclusion, corporate social responsibility, debt, ecological debt, human rights, extractive industries, water and climate change and has in recent years looked at many of the impacts of human activities through the lens
of empire.”

“The connections among many issues, previously viewed as disparate and distinct, are better understood as many facets of an ecological whole.”

and from  AGAPE Consultation: Linking poverty, wealth and ecology: Ecumenical Perspectives in Europe  –  8 – 12 November 2010 – Budapest Call for Climate Justice  – Addressing Poverty, Wealth and Ecology

“The Great Challenge calls for the Great Transition

Climate justice is a condition for the eradication of poverty and the eradication of poverty is a condition for climate justice.

Climate justice demands the primacy of democratic politics over economics and the embedding of market economies in social and cultural contexts (further developing the Social Market Economy). Therefore holistic answers to the challenges are required – from the individual person, from the economy, from states and internationally.

The time for fragmented and technocratic solutions is over. We need a Great Transition.

Call: for a global ecumenical conference to propose the framework and criteria for a new international financial and economic architecture that is based on the principles of economic, social and climate justice.”

If you’re interested in more information, please contact Bill Curry at

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Western Half Yearly – Saturday October 8 – Late Afternoon and Evening

Saturday afternoon many of us listened intently to our two guests, Doug Racine and Cindy Hanson.


Doug Racine

Doug, a lawyer from Saskatoon, has done significant work with residential school victims.  He was adjudicator in the residential school claims process for 5 years.  During that time he came to view claimants as being treated as commodities.  He was moved to put his energy into representing claimants.   “Money means nothing”, he told us.  “The healing process is most important.”


Doug described to us how he uses stories to work with claimants.  He spoke of telling trust stories (to show who he is), orientation stories (to help claimants remember and acknowledge why they are in the claimant process, and respect and connection stories (to address the guilt shame and anger that inhabit those who have been victims of sexual abuse).  He confirmed what many of us have observed and believe.  Western concepts of law do not deal with justice or healing.

When asked what was hardest for him about the work, he said that it wasn’t listening to the stories, it was ensuring that his clients are kept safe through the process.  “Safe in and safe out”, he said.  He reassures clients, “You’re not leaving until you feel good about yourself”…and he contracts for follow-up contact with each client, using the services of a traumatologist if needed.

Doug spoke passionately about his work, his clients and the need for healing in the process.  Listening to him, for me, brought more hope than sadness, and led to much reflection on the nature of the debt owed to those who have been harmed.

Cindy Hanson

Cindy Hanson, an adult educator, told us about her work in Ethiopa, providing a particular type of training for agricultural aid workers.  She noted that the literacy level for women in Ethopia is 30%, that no one talks about HIV AIDS, that there is high infant mortality and that there is a lack of clean water.   Cindy had developed and delivered a training program based on adult learning principles and approaches. looking at gender and HIV AIDS, to help raise awareness and develop sensitivity for those who were working to develop agricultural capacity in rural communities.

She told us of creating with her students social maps showing water sources and uses and the related activity patterns.  The women (who do most of the agricultural work and carry the water) created a map about half the size of the room, the men a map that was about 4 times the room size.  This difference in experience apparently caused quite a bit of debate and animated discussion.

In her work in Ethiopa, Cindy observed that the effective community was one that srlf-organized around equality, mutual support and sustainability.  “Micro-stuff works”, she said, “and self-organization”.

Cindy left us with two questions:

1.  How can we use power to challenge power?

2.  How can we use privilege to disrupt privilege?

I wonder how these questions will challenge me to put my faith into practice.

In early evening, Dale Dewar, told us about the work she has been doing in Iraq, providing training for obstetricians.  For about six years, she has been doing this work through Canadian Friends Service Committee, partnering with the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada and the The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.  Dale travelled to Iraq, along with a couple of other physicians to provide training in monitoring the progression of a birth.  She told us that 50% of deliveries in Iraq are Caeserean Sections, noting that is a reflection of the training currently provided to physicians.  She observed that, although many organizations send medical supplies and equipment to Iraq, there are no systems in place to support their  effective use.

Dale told us of some of her challenges in learning how local unspoken customs and practices might inhibit effective training and also spoke with hope of continued opportunities for training programs, expanding them to nursing staff.  Listening to the stories, to Dale talk about the work and what it was like to be there, to build the relationships, to take the personal risks, I felt much more connected to the work that we support through CFSC.  I was reminded again of a quote offered at Quaker Study at CYM this year.  “The manifestation of holiness is in relationships”, and I wonder how we, as such a spread out community, can grow and sustain such relationships that nurture us and provide service to others. At Meeting for Worship for Business on Sunday, Western Half Yearly committed $500 to support Dale’s next visit, planned for later this year.

We finished the evening with a few games, including “A big wind blows…” which brought laughter, raised the energy and connected us – all the generations – through play.  I was delighted to have the chance to try out some of the activities provided in the Intergenerational Took Kit provided by Friends General Conerence.

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Western Half Yearly – Saturday October 8 – Afternoon Activities

Saturday was an afternoon for choices – Many were moved to attend Meeting for Worship for Flying Fox Zipline

Alex, Sam & Isaac

Some just watched –

Heidi and Finn

Kitty and Alina














Some Zipped and Flew





































Some chose quiet reading




Some spent time jamming

And some opted for the traditional balancing, introducing first-timer, Shawn, who was heard to comment…”Other churches do bake sales;  Quakers do circus.”


 More in the next post about Saturday afternoon and evening learning, reflection and play








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