Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting Epistle 2015

This year at CYM there were a lot of conversations about communication and how we share our message. With this in mind, Young Friends also experimented with different modes of communication when writing our epistle. This year’s epistle was collaboratively written through a game sort of like ‘broken telephone.’ We each reflected on something we had experienced at yearly meeting and wrote a sentence about it at the top of a page. The paper was passed in a circle and the next person drew and illustration of the sentence. The original sentence was then folded over so that only the illustration was visible and it was passed again. The next person wrote a caption for what they saw in the illustration, folded over the illustration so that only their caption was visible and passed it on. The paper continued to be folded and passed around the circle until we reached the end of the page. We hope you enjoy our collaborative epistle, and the adventures that sprang from our reflections on this week.Learning Quaker process (5)

Chair dance party (6)

Mum, can we use the kitchen to bake a cake (2)

A late night walk (4)

A late night walk (4 ending)We sat through 2 business meetings (1)

Swipe right to hold in the light (3)

Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting Epistle 2014

After the abundant youth presence because of the Youth Challenge at last year’s CYM, this year had a comparably small and intimate YF/YAF community. Throughout the week, many Young Adult Friends were involved with CYM business. We became reacquainted on Sunday over word games and multigenerational activities. That night we had the privilege to attend the SPG lecture with the keynote speakers Bill Curry and Dale Dewar. The topic was war as a societal disease and how we might diagnose and treat it. Many Young Friends emerged with an interesting new perspective. We anticipate that this lecture may influence our discussions at the upcoming Youth and Militarization Conference being organized by E&O. We then ate cake.
The theme of thought-provoking lectures continued on Monday with Mark Birch’s quaker study on simplicity. These lectures continued throughout the week. After an intellectually-stimulating beginning of the week, we dropped our thinking hats in favor of jumping socks and traveled to a trampoline park, where we played trampoline dodgeball and volleyball. We then ate leftover cake. We ended the evening with our first CYFYM business meeting, which was vastly improved by a veritable cornucopia of delicious snacks.
The business continued through Tuesday, with a productive threshing session on fostering our Young Adult Friend community. Several ideas arose, including using social networking to connect Young Friends in between gatherings, the prospect of a Quaker book club, and even a suggestion that we might look into the possibility of establishing a permanent Quaker gathering place in Western Canada. We then ate cake.
Wednesday was highlighted by a discussion on LGBTQ issues that lead into a multigenerational dance party. Young Friends made creative use of recycling bins as props in interpretive dance. We then ate cake.
On Thursday, Bill and Dale gave their famous talk to the Young Adult Friends. This was in no way eclipsed by our evening activity. We were offered the incredible opportunity by Richard Reed Parry (son of Caroline Balderston Parry) to not only go see Arcade Fire in concert, but to also dance with them through the crowd to their stage in ridiculous costumes, and then go back stage after to meet the band. Their performance was phenomenal, and the night of dancing proved to be the highlight of our week for many of the Young Friends in attendance. We regrettably missed the cake that followed the CFSC talk that night, but several Young Friends were able to scrounge for leftovers.
Those of us who were led to go to business meeting on Friday morning were only slightly less alert than normal, as we slowly readjusted to regular volumes of noise. Several Quaker youth donned piratey hats and traveled to the local museum where we played a pirate role playing game beside a real 15th century ship. That evening, we enjoyed a family night full of music, stories, and poetry. We then ate cake. Afterwards, we retired for our final business meeting which carried us early into the following day. Later that morning, the first and only meeting of the youth epistle committee adjourned.

Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting Epistle 2013

“I saw there was an Ocean of darkness and Death, but an infinite Ocean of Light and Love which flowed over the Ocean of Darkness.”
– George Fox

This year’s Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting was significantly aided by Canadian Yearly Meeting’s generous funding to help Young Friends get to Kemptville for the Youth Challenge. The week was both intensely rewarding and difficult.

Friends of all ages started arriving in Kemptville, Ontario on Friday. There was an inter-generational mixer on Saturday evening. Sunday started with a welcoming meeting for worship for business, and we spent most of the day getting to know each other. Caroline Balderston Parry gave the annual Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture in the evening. We appreciated the interactive elements of the speech. Her ministries provided guidance through some of the difficulties over the week as we dealt with being in the “I don’t know” place.

Family Night. Photo credit: Bruce Dienes.

Monday through Friday, there was a variety of programming for Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. Rick Townsend ran the teen programme in the afternoons. We appreciate Rick’s help and his awesome beard and apologize for dropping him in a trust exercise. YFs and YAFs were brought together in morning workshops. On Monday and Tuesday, Evalyn Parry ran a well-attended and well-received songwriting workshop on responding creatively to outrage. We wrote songs on everything from a lack of skate parks to gender roles. Thursday and Friday, Janet Ross ran a workshop on privilege and power. On all four days, a workshop on communication was given by Tony and Fran McQuail. Those of us who attended learned about reflective listening, conflict resolution, and firm but loving looks.

After the morning programming, many YFs and YAFs attended Ben Pink Dandelion’s Quaker Study sessions. We are so glad that they were scheduled later in the day than usual. It was great to learn about Quaker history, faith and practice in a way that was accessible to us. Afternoons consisted of Special Interest Groups and Special Action Groups, the most popular being the SIG for Sloth, which was much needed.

Photo credit: Bruce Diennes.
Photo credit: Bruce Dienes.

On Monday evening, there was an LGBTQ2A panel and discussion. We talked about generational differences in perceptions around and attitudes towards sexuality. This event was followed by our first Meeting for Worship for Business which was hard for everyone as we heard the Youth Secretary’s final report. We were up until 2 in the morning sharing intense feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, but mostly love. Katrina McQuail was deeply missed.

Tuesday evening consisted of a huge inter-generational frisbee game followed by Games Night.

On Wednesday, the regular youth programme was interrupted to let us attend CYM M4W4B as the Youth Secretary report was read. We spent the afternoon giving back to the Kemptville community by volunteering at the youth center. We were so productive–we even accidentally did some work for the neighbours! We had a complicated simple meal which was much more satisfying than any of the simple complicated meals we had become accustomed to. At that night’s Meeting for Worship for Business, we invited more seasoned Friends to come hold us in the Light. Grayden Laing and Stephen Robins attended Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel as CYFYM representatives. We finished on time (a record!) which meant we could have a dance party followed by a late night dip.

Thursday afternoon, Deborah Fisch clerked a Meeting for Worship Sharing set up by Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Counsel in regard to the Youth Secretary’s report. Many of us attended and were thankful for the caring way in which Deborah facilitated emotional sharing that lead us to a greater understanding and acceptance of what Katrina had written in her report to us. After supper, there was singing in the laundry room, and our penultimate M4W4B. We finished the evening with a riveting game of wink.

Family Night. Photo credit: Bruce Diennes.
Family Night. Photo credit: Bruce Dienes.

Friday was very relaxed. We continued with the programming, then had a final meeting for business with spillover from the night before. After business meeting, Ben Pink Dandelion joined us for an intimate discussion where we were encouraged to ‘ask a Quaker anything’. Family Night was a fitting end to the week with many members of the community participating in balancing as well as sharing music and poetry. The rest of the night was filled with revelry and songs, enjoying each others’ company. We watched movies as we had no-one to read us bedtime stories.

Saturday morning’s exhaustion was balanced by the exhilaration of epistle writing. We would like to thank everyone for upholding us this week in times both joyous and trying. We all feel truly blessed to have been a part of this CYM. 

Stephen Robins, Misia Robins, Christopher Abbott, Lucy Miller and Jesse Zavitz served as the 2013 CYFYM Epistle Committee.