Canadian Friends gather before fallow year in 2017
On August 5–13, over 100 Canadian Friends met for this year’s Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) annual gathering at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta, situated in Treaty Six Cree territory. The event marked the 183rd gathering of Quakers in Canada, and the 61st as a united yearly meeting. CYM has over 1,400 members and attenders nationwide.
Starting on Friday, August 5, with a pre-retreat, the yearly meeting session followed with a community celebration on Saturday; the Sunderland P. Gardner lecture on Sunday evening; and a week filled with Friends’ business, special presentations, time for quiet reflection, and spiritual growth and learning for all ages.
During business sessions, discernment continued around the future structure of CYM, specifically the best use of spiritual and financial resources. Earlier this year, it was announced that due to financial constraints, CYM will not be holding its annual gathering in 2017. Instead Canadian Friends will have “a fallow year,” a time for “rest and renewal … for the nurture of the soul,” quoting a letter from CYM’s Continuing Meeting of Ministry and Counsel that was shared in May. The letter further explained that the work of CYM will go on in 2017 in committees and in session at two representative meetings and at a number of half-yearly meetings.
The Sunderland P. Gardner lecture on Sunday was titled “Continuing Revelation: Quaking with Grace and Joy in Modern Times” and given by Maggie Knight, a third generation Quaker of British extraction and a member of Vancouver Island (B.C.) Meeting. Knight, a social and climate justice activist since her teens, spoke about “transforming ourselves, transforming the Religious Society of Friends, and transforming our world,” and offered queries to consider for each section of the talk.
An evening on transgender issues was well attended, including consideration of different points of view of gender dysphoria and gender fluidity, of physical changes, and of the experience of being a parent of a trans person.
Canadian Friends also addressed their role as “treaty people,” respecting the agreements made between Canada and Indigenous Peoples on behalf of its citizens. Friends were asked to continue educating themselves on this issue in a minute prepared by the Canadian Friends Service Committee (see CFSC’s Quaker Works entry on p. 58).
A group accepted an invitation to visit nearby Maskwacis (formerly Hobbema), Alberta, the home to four Cree nations, where they learned language instruction is thriving and a local solar panel installation industry is growing. However, there is still much pain: youth suicides and gang activity were epidemic in the community last year.
Despite there being no CYM annual gathering next year, Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting will be gathering at NeeKauNis in Waubaushene, Ontario, Canada’s only Quaker summer camp, at the end of June 2017 before attending the Friends General Conference Gathering nearby in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Learn more about Canadian Yearly Meeting at quaker.ca.
Fellowship of Friends of African Descent gathers
On August 12–14, Friends of African descent, plus their families and friends, representing meetings from across the United States, attended the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent’s annual gathering at Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia, Pa. The theme of the gathering was “Recharge, Renew, Rejoice.” The fellowship is a 25-year-old Quaker organization that supports the spiritual nurture of Quakers of African descent and provides opportunities for the sharing of their concerns.
The three-day gathering explored the concerns and crises facing the African American community, including state-sanctioned violence against men, women, and children of African descent. A minute was created in response to this topic, containing four action items: create a peaceforce; establish peace centers; promote community training of the police; and advocate for disarmament of both the police and the community. Full text of the minute is available at fofad.org/2016-gathering.html.
The gathering began on Friday with a dramatic performance by Amanda Kemp that included a
historical collage of quotes from the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr.,
Assata Shakur, and autobiographical writings. She was accompanied on the violin by her
husband, Michael Jamanis.
On Saturday, Ewuare Osayande, chief diversity officer of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), led a semi-programmed meeting for worship. Osayande shared ministry that opened with a reading from Jeremiah 8:22: “Is there a balm in Gilead?,” highlighted the components needed for a just and civil society, and quoted Dr. King.
After worship there was time for memorial remembrance of ancestors, followed by discussions about scheduling a trip to Ghana next summer as part of the fellowship’s mission to uplift Quakers of African descent around the world. Participants hope to engage young Friends to go on the trip and plan to also involve the Peace, Leadership, and the Arts Camp of Chester, Pa.
The finances of the Fellowship were discussed, and a clear need was expressed for more financial support from the wider Quaker community. It was also pointed out that, as the Quaker community mirrors the larger American society in having great racial wealth disparity, how Quakers address this issue could be a model of racial justice for American society.
Two afternoon workshops were offered. Sa’ed Atshan, visiting assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, presented “From Ferguson to Bethlehem: Black Palestinian Solidarity,” examining the history of black American and Palestinian reciprocal solidarity. Fellowship member Claudia Wair shared nurturing self-care practices that can be used to soothe the body and soul during difficult times.
Saturday night’s keynote address was given by Lewis Webb Jr., a former New York City prosecutor and the Healing and Transformation Justice Program coördinator for AFSC’s New York office. Webb’s talk, “Gathering the Villagers: A Call to Action on Behalf of the Children of Mass Incarceration,” explored the plight of the children of those who have been devoured by the mass incarceration machine.
The gathering ended with meeting for worship on Sunday morning with Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia.
Learn more about the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent at fofad.org.
Broadmead joins Peabody Musician-in-Residence program
Broadmead, a Quaker-founded continuing care retirement community in Cockeysville, Md., is one of the latest host facilities to participate in the Musician-in-Residence program of nearby Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music.
As part of the program, a host facility is assigned a student musician who will provide a regular sequence of performances and/or musical instruction in exchange for free housing, meaning the artist is able to live on site to better serve that community.
In August, Harpist Peggy Houng became the first Peabody musician to be hosted by Broadmead. Houng has been studying the harp since she was eight years old and is currently enrolled in postgraduate courses at Peabody.
Houng’s current performance schedule includes hour-long afternoon practice sessions in the lounge at Broadmead on weekdays; a Tuesday evening performance in Hallowell Comprehensive Care Center; and a Thursday evening performance in Taylor Assisted Living Center. Individual visits in Hallowell can be arranged for those who would benefit from music in their room. In addition, she plays for special events, such as dinners. Houng will live on Broadmead’s campus until the end of December. Broadmead hopes to continue the program in the future.
Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., founded Broadmead as a way to serve the needs of older persons. It opened in 1979 as a private, not-for-profit organization. Broadmead continues to operate under the guidance and ownership of a Quaker-guided, not-for-profit corporation.
Learn more about Broadmead at broadmead.org and about the Peabody Institute community programs at peabody.jhu.edu/giving/inourcommunity.
Quaker Parenting Initiative goes virtual
This past spring, the Quaker Parenting Initiative went virtual. As a result of having a group of parents who were interested in the discussion series “Parenting Creatively in a Quakerly Manner,” but were scattered geographically all over the New England Yearly Meeting’s area, the initiative decided to try a virtual discussion series.
The group met virtually for two hours at a time over a period of six weeks. Despite some technical difficulties, it worked. One parent wrote, “It was helpful for me in that I could talk to other parents about real situations and get more ideas of how to handle them.” Another said, “It was nice to feel a part of a larger Quaker parenting community.”
The QPI offers meetings and schools parenting programs where the parents use Quaker beliefs, testimonies, and practices as a support to and guide for their parenting. For parents new to Quakerism, the program is designed to be a meaningful introduction to Quakerism and to putting Quakerism to practice.
Visit quakerparenting.org for descriptions of the programs and of the group’s publications.