Yearly Meeting Cancelled 2020

We must announce, with regret, the cancellation of our yearly gathering scheduled for Winnipeg this August. Yearly Meeting is normally where much of our business is attended to – and an opportunity for all sorts of fun socializing and spiritual enrichment.

For details about this difficult decision, please see the message below from the Clerks of Yearly Meeting. As we plan next steps together, please stay safe and supportive of one another.

For updates on how sessions will be held over Zoom in place of this years In-Session Meeting, see the following webpage:

Letter From the Clerk

Dear Friends,

On Friday, March 13th, the Canadian Yearly Meeting Committee of Clerks met electronically, as we do monthly, and after much discussion and careful discernment, and with regret, decided to cancel the sessions of Yearly Meeting in Session scheduled for this coming August.

We are well-aware that this decision will be a great disappointment for many Friends who cherish our annual gathering, but we hope that it will also seem prudent and wise. Many of our members are in the higher-risk categories (over 60 and/or with underlying conditions such as hypertension), and many make their travel plans well in advance of the CYM dates. An early decision is desirable for these Friends.

To be clear, it is not simply a matter of the existing pandemic crisis of the Covid-19 virus, although that, of course, is the prime motivator here. Some Friends may be reacting to this news with a sense that the decision was made too early, but the fact is that our YM sessions require a great deal of preparatory work, much of which is done by volunteers. To ask this of our short-handed Program Committee and then to cancel after much work has been done seemed to us unfair.

We believed it would be preferable to cancel the sessions now for the sake of the many people who work hard to make CYM the wonderful gathering that it is; then work can proceed toward a joyous gathering in 2021. As you probably know, there is already much discernment underway about changes to be made to CYM to ensure sustainability. This decision allows these discussions to be more relaxed and thorough before our next gathering.

This unexpected cancellation of sessions will necessitate some new plans: for instance, an earlier and/or extra Representative Meeting; consideration of the terms of committee members and other Friends serving YM; and designations of individuals or groups to carry forward the business of Yearly Meeting until next year. You can be sure that the Committee of Clerks will be working on these plans and will keep Friends in CYM informed as they develop.

In the Light,
Beverly Shepard and Marilyn Manzer, CYM Clerks

Representative Meeting 2020

Representative Meeting is a weekend event which carries on the business of Yearly Meeting in Session. The next Session will take place at Friends House in Toronto, February 21st-22nd 2020.

CYFYM Representatives will be attending, and individual Friends are welcome to attend as led. Let us know if you are interested and we can help you register.

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CYFYM Report 2019

Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends 2019 Report

Thank you for blessing us to share with you.

We, as Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, continue to find joy, hope, and community in the new life of our Yearly Meeting. Our new structure continues to serve our community well. Thank you for your support in this journey.

For the upcoming year, we have asked Zaley Warkentin and Wesley Weima to continue as CYFYM Representatives with the addition of Stephen Ginley (Peterborough MM). We thank Alex Wickenheiser for his service as a Representative over the past year.

We ask our Regional Contacts to continue in their roles from the previous year. They are Daniel Von Schulmann, Rebecca Wolfe-Gage, Rose Coutts, and David Summerhays, with the addition of Alex Wickenheiser (subject to consent).

Our Pre-Gathering this year brought both joys and challenges. It was felt to be both invaluable and transformative. We wish to hold another pre-gathering in 2020, and have identified the following Friends to serve in that capacity. Evelyne Russell (Toronto MM), Stephen Ginley (Peterborough MM), Caileigh Morrison (Winnipeg MM), Harmony Morris (Lethbridge WG; subject to consent) and Caroline Martindale (Hamilton MM; subject to consent) to liaise with Program Committee in her role on said committee. Stephen Ginley will liaise with fellow CYFYM Representatives.

Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting chose to name the following Young Friends to CYM committees.[1]

We name Caroline Martindale to serve as a CYFYM representative to CYM Program Committee for a term of two years.

We name Rebecca Ivanoff (Yonge Street MM) to serve on the Organisation and Procedure Subcommittee. Although Rebecca recently aged out, she is a (slightly) Older Adult Friend under the care of CYFYM, to whom we have given freedom of the meeting and feel led to have her represent us in this important work.

Cameron Fraser in his role as CYM Secretary, has been invaluable in supporting the CYFYM Representatives and the Gathering Committee. Many Friends expressed thanks for his mentorship and advocacy on behalf of Young Friends and Young Adult Friends. We feel that the support of a staff person such as the CYM Secretary is crucial to CYFYM being able to hold retreats and to function in general.

CYFYM acknowledges CYM is undergoing a process of transition. Change is hard, but there is joy in transformation and in resurrection. As Young Friends we want and need CYM to be here, because we need it to survive out there. We recognize and deeply appreciate that CYM does its best to meet our needs as we bring them forward. How do we meet the needs of CYM in its process of transformation? Changing is hard. We need to be brave. We need to be brave together.

A call to monthly meetings: we want to be at home in you. Education and mentorship should start in monthly meetings. If we want to uphold everyone and lift up spiritual and non-spiritual gifts, Friends need training. There is much intergenerational learning to be had.

After much discernment we bring forward the following requests to Yearly Meeting.

  • We ask Program Committee to prioritize CYM In Session workshops on clerking, recording clerking, vocal ministry, nonviolent communication, self-empowerment and digital literacy, on a reasonable timeline.
  • We ask Delegates to take this call for Quaker education back to their monthly meetings for discernment. What area of Friends Faith and Practice does your Meeting need to foster?
  • We ask Delegates to ask their monthly meetings to consider mentored positions so Friends of all ages can develop and practice skills in these areas.
  • We ask the CYM Clerk to distribute this minute to monthly meetings on our behalf. The relevant minutes will be forwarded.

We bring these requests as starting points. We feel there are many more opportunities to be explored in the future, and we encourage Canadian Yearly Meeting to seek way forward in this direction. The kind of change Canadian Yearly Meeting needs requires both laying down and lifting up. This will be difficult and at times even painful, but we believe The Spirit will strengthen us. We believe we can be brave together.

Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting names you to the Committee of Hope. We don’t feel like we’re dying out. Be brave with us.

[1] CYFYM laid down the practice of asking for reserved slots on CYM committees. As we are led and able, we may send Young Friends serve on CYM committees, and we ask for understanding of the sporadic nature of these namings.

Donations in Memory of Isaac Miller

Hello Friends,

A message from Ellen Helmuth after New Brunswick Monthly Meeting’s meeting for worship for  business: some interest was expressed in making donations in memory of Isaac Miller, the Young Friend who passed away suddenly earlier this year.  A few options were put forwards:

  • NBMM is setting up the “Isaac Miller Memorial Fund”, which will support Quaker Youth and Quaker Youth Activities. They can accept cheques made out to “NBMM” (with a note specifying that it’s for the Memorial Fund) and sent to their Treasurer Lesley Read. Tax deductible receipts are available.

Isaac was an avid fan of skateboarding and film-making; a pair of local non-profits were suggested as well.

  • Skateboard Fredericton, Inc.
    520 Queen St.
    Fredericton, NB
    E3B 1B9
  • New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative
    Charlotte St. Arts Centre
    P.O. Box 1537
    Fredericton, NB
    E3B 4Y1

A Reflection on CYM 2010 in Winnipeg

By Ben Segel-Brown

I am a birthright Friend and have attended Quaker meeting all of my life. I attended Canadian Yearly Meeting in Winnipeg as a CFSC intern and also as a delegate of Ottawa Monthly Meeting. These dual obligations overlapped with the Young Friends programmed time, and my obligations to the Food co-op, so while constantly busy, I was also constantly missing events. This was my second time attending yearly meeting, as well as my second time as a delegate of OMM. Having multiple roles kept me engaged with CYM, but also made be somewhat of a worse delegate as I had to ask Rachel Urban Shipley to attend nominations meeting on my behalf and catch me up when I was free.

I joyfully participated in a worship-sharing group, which was a wonderful open experience. It was a refreshing experience to hear what people really felt about their families, F/friends, and issues that are on their minds. It felt awkward at first hearing such personal thoughts, but it was a great experience to have people speak so honestly.

One issue discussed at the worship-sharing was the Peaceful Energy Minute considered within a special interest group I had attended. I found that I and two other participants had completely different perspectives on the productiveness and nature of the working group.

The Peaceful Energy Minute, which Ottawa Monthly Meeting discussed (then John Dixon reported on) arose out of the Uranium Working Group’s research into the harmful environmental and health impacts of Uranium mining as well the link between civilian nuclear fission use and military fission use. These points were demonstrated by their research are generally agreed upon. Unfortunately, the minute that the working group brought to CYM last year essentially called for a ban on nuclear power which conflicted with many Friends’ view that stopping Global Warming is our highest priority and that as a transition power source nuclear power is essential to the phase-out of fossil fuel use. This Peaceful Energy Minute was rejected last year.

My impression of the peaceful energy minute was that there was no unity (within the SIG or within CYM), either on the statement or its underlying ideas. I had felt the SIG was hurtful, frustrating, and unproductive. Surprisingly, a fellow member of my worship sharing group felt that the SIG was revealing, healing, and had done much to improve communication and move towards consensus on the underlying issues. I learned that conflict and breaches of procedure can be interpreted very differently by those who attend it. A similar contrast of perspectives arose when the Uranium Working Group was thanked by CYM, in lieu of approving any minute as no minute was approved by the SIG. One member, who had expressed his opinions passionately but politely at the SIG, spoke asking for a condemnation of Nuclear Fission. When the clerk rejected discussing the ideas as it had already be rejected at the SIG the member’s comments turned personal and accusatory against the clerk who was forced to discipline him. Likewise, many sympathised with the member for speaking what he was passionately led to say, and felt that the Friends spoke their mind quite contrary to my impression of the incident.

At the Peaceful Energy SIG I attended where the Peaceful Energy Minute was discussed, rather than bringing forward last year’s minute, which had been presented to CYM, the working group began by presenting a minute from Saskatoon Monthly Meeting, which few attendees had read.  This minute did not incorporate the concerns of many meetings and I questioned the suitability of using it as the working text for the minute. I found this SIG very frustrating, because being inspired by the previous day’s presentation organised by the working group (by Rick McCutcheon on the viability and necessity of sustainable energy) and frustrated by the presentation of last year’s rejected text, I had written my own version of the minute. I had also scrabbled to have it edited and deemed acceptable by each member of the committee and a variety of people with identified interests in it, which I and another Friend managed just as the SIG began. The SIG then proceeded to identify the same issues that had been raised in consultation with MMs, which I had read and attempted to address in my version, but many of which had not been addressed in Saskatoon MM’s minute. There was high tension and speaking out of turn over accusations relating to MMs refusal to host presentations from the uranium working group on the basis that they were not open to feedback and attempted to force their ideas upon MMs, rather than attempt to understand people’s objections. If this was healing or hurtful was apparently up to interpretation.

There were however many clearly wonderful experiences at CYM, for instance the shedding of tears and expressions of joy when a minute from Quakers Fostering Justice was approved almost without modification. In the ministry of one Friend, “This is why I became a Quaker!”  It was also a very energising experience being surrounded by people passionate about the same social issues I’m passionate about.

The little time I got to spend with Young Friends was also amazing: we learnt some swing dancing, we had our annual actually-helpful-and-somewhat-relevant sex talk, we sang as we walked together, and we played Wink with only minor injuries.

During the Tar Sands SIG I presented my findings on the oil sands leases, which was one piece of work I had done as an intern for CFSC. This SIG was entirely different from the Peaceful Energy SIG as it was run as an information session informing people about the issues, before proceeding to seeking an agreement on a statement on which there was already a strong underlying consensus. This statement, which proposed that Friends work with KAIROS on the tar sands, summarised feedback from MMs, and accepted Rachael Singleton-Polster and my reports on the oil sands.

CYM was a great and productive experience overall and I am very thankful for the support of CFSC and Ottawa Monthly meeting.