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Tues May 16: Welcoming LGBT2IQ+ Seekers and Friends

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portrait of George Fox with a rainbow filterJoin us on Tuesday May 16 for an evening of discussion and learning on welcoming seekers and Friends of all sexual orientations and gender identities in our faith community.  
 
Mylène DiPenta will facilitate, based partly on related work they do with the Valley Youth Project, a social group supporting youth around these issues.  Mylène’s concern is especially for those who, like them, find their identity or orientation marginalized in our society.  This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, queer, and many more people.  Although it is inadequate, sometimes the term “LGBT2IQ+” is used as a collective description. Anyone interested who is or has been connected to Quaker communities is welcome to join the conversation.
 
When: Tuesday, May 16, 7-9pm
Where: NSCC Kingstec Campus, Room A220, 236 Belcher St., Kentville

Topics

  • What does it take to go beyond an intention of acceptance, to an effective welcome?  What are the unintentional things that accidentally discourage LGBT2IQ+ seekers, reducing our ability to build the beloved community and weakening our solidarity with each other?
  • What are some of the barriers to the full participation of LGBT2IQ+ people in faith communities generally, and Quakers in particular?  What can we do to reduce them?
  • How can we as a faith community work toward a world without homophobia, transphobia, and related sexualized violence?
  • How can this strengthen or weaken our struggles for peace, earth-care, and transformative justice?

Your ideas, concerns, and questions are welcome.  There will be opportunities for individual reflection, small-group conversation, and whole-group discussion.  If you have never attended a Quaker meeting for worship but you are interested in this topic, please contact us — we would love to hear from you.  We can also help organize carpooling if desired.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Resources We Might Use

  1. Participant Handout
  2. Assigned Male Comics, a webcomic about gender non-conforming children by Sophie Labelle (NOTE: the facebook page is down as of May 17, 2017 due to a co-ordinated attack by white supremacists who filled it with neo-nazi imagery and death threats, and published her home address online.  You can still find Assigned Male Comics on her Tumblr page)
  3. Women and Honour: Some Notes on Lying, by Adrienne Rich
  4. Using the F-Word (Fascism), from Shifting Phases
  5. Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships, by David Richo
  6. Spiritual Destiny vs. Psychological Task, by David Richo
  7. Sex, Gender, and Mental Health: with a history of 2SLGBTQ+ social control
  8. The Lie of Entitlement, by Terrence Crowley
  9. A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, by Milton J. Bennett (see also Summary Poster)
  10. Excerpt on “Accountable Communities” from The Revolution Starts at Home (Chen, Peipzna-Samarasinha eds.)
 

Truth and Reconciliation Committee Formed

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in Announcements, News, Public Updates
The newly-formed Truth and Reconciliation Committee (currently made up of Marilyn, Mylène, and Penni) is pleased to announce that we held our first meeting in January.
 

Last summer, at Canadian Yearly Meeting‘s national gathering, Quakers across Canada were challenged by Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) to take action for “a paradigm shift, moving from colonialism to a new reality based on respect for Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights.”

 
They guide us specifically to
  • Educate Meeting members and attenders
  • Acknowledge traditional territories
  • Support local Indigenous communities
  • Support spiritually the Friends working on this issue
  • Report to CFSC annually

We have begun by educating ourselves and each other.  Two weeks ago we attended Walking With Our Sisters, the art installation commemorating missing and murdered Indigenous women that was hosted by Mount Saint Vincent University.  We are reading, watching and sharing educational resources, which we are excited to share with you in an upcoming newsletter.  We are also educating ourselves about how best to acknowledge the unceded traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki on which our Meeting is located.

We look forward to working with other individuals and organizations that share our purpose.  If you would like to learn more, receive our newsletter, or share your knowledge, please , or contact Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting.

All My Relations: A Solstice Message

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in News, Public Updates, Stories from the people of AVQM

One of our members, who was called to work with the Indigenous Rights Committee  of Canadian Friends Service Committee, writes:

“This is from  the Ennis family. Dan Ennis lives in Tobique First Nation, near Woodstock, NB. He was one of the first Indigenous elders I encountered on my journey of working with Indigenous peoples as a Quaker. One major learning for me is the explanation and implication of the term ‘all my relations’ — the term he uses to end this correspondence. As is stated here, it is a world view that recognizes ALL are connected, not just all humans, but all including the animals and the earth – water, rock,  the rest of the universe, etc.

Please feel free to pass it on – including all as is intended.”

OUR WINTER SOLSTICE MESSAGE  OF LIGHT,
LOVE, PEACE AND HAPPINESS

The Peace of Spirit

Once again it is the time when our Mosums (Grandfather) Sun stops his journey south and turns to begin his journey north. It is Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice is the point upon the Great Hoop of Life where the sacred relationship between the Great Mother, and the Great Father becomes more observable to the People. Our original instructions teach The People that we should make special observances of this natural phenomenon through ceremony and through passing on those Original Instructions, which are our Traditional Teachings. We learn through this sacred relationship about how we are to create and maintain similar sacred relationships.

Relationships that are in balance and in harmony and that are loving, equal, respectful and nurturing. Winter Solstice is when our People slow down all of our activities and sit quietly in order to be in the Present, in the Now, in the Beginning.  It is also a time for remembering and honoring our sacred oneness with all of Great Creator’s Creation and our oneness with the Love and the Peace and the Joy that is Great Creator.

The love, joy, peace and compassion which is evident at this time is ever so good for our hearts; and what is good for our hearts is good for our Earth Mother.

To all of our relatives (and we are all related) we send you strong, loving and healing energy so that today your heart, your home, your lives and your spirit are filled with love, peace, joy and forgiveness.

We send strong healing energy to our relatives who are suffering, in pain, in turmoil, or are otherwise in need of love and healing. May the sacred life force of Love bring healing and may it lift heavy hearts.

We share your love, peace, joy and laughter. Your joy and happiness lifts the hearts of Grandmother and Grandfather.

Whenever we are in ceremony you are all carried within the light of our hearts and are lovingly remembered through spirit, through light, through peace and through love.

As human beings, and as the designated protectors of the land, we have a responsibility to all living things, all of creation: the two-legged, the four-legged, those creatures that fly, all creatures that swim, all plant life, the trees, the water, the air, the land – every living thing. It is our responsibility to love, honour, respect and protect all of creation. In doing this we honour our birth rights. We also honour the Ancestors who kept our traditional teachings alive and we honour the Seventh Generation yet to come.

We conclude by recognizing, acknowledging and respecting our sacred relationship to all other living things – past, present and future. Our sacred Earth Mother requires our love and respect if she is to continue to sustain us.

From our lodge to yours we send you light, love, peace and healing.

All My Relations,

The Ennis‘s

Can You Support Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting?

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Posted on behalf of clerk Carol Bradley

Dear Friends of Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting,

What first interested you about Quakers? What do you receive from your involvement with local Quakers?

These questions came up for me in about 1990 when I moved to Wolfville. I noticed that the folks who were doing interesting and important things in the community were often also Quakers, and that drew me to attend my first meetings. I became deeply interested in the inclusive and caring approach that these folks took, and the history of Quakerism over 350 years.

I discovered Quakers weren’t too quiet: they had resisted wars, cared for displaced people, spoken to government about abuse of power – and were still doing these things locally, nationally and internationally. I found new friends, new processes and new clarity in my spiritual quest.

I became a member in 1994 and have supported Quakers with my ‘time, treasure, and talents’ since.

The Annapolis Valley Quaker meeting supports inter-church work, the Food Bank, and refugees, and plays a major role in the work of Canadian Yearly Meeting. We created a banner and hosted ‘Meet the Quakers’ at Acadia on October 2 as part of a renewed focus on outreach. We ask for your assistance in meeting our budget so we can continue our work.

Can you donate $20 this once? Every month? Every three months? $50?

Our annual budget is only $3500 but our numbers are few, and we could do more if we received more.  We are less than half way to meeting that budget for 2016. We are happy to accept cash or cheques, to Co-treasurer, Penni Burrell (please contact us for mailing details or to arrange for pickup of your donation).  Also you can find us on CanadaHelps which accepts credit cards and Paypal accounts.

We thank you for your consideration! You can keep track of our events at annapolisvalley.quaker.ca, and we are also present on Facebook.

In Friendship,

Carol Bradley, Clerk.

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in Events, Introduction to Quakerism, News, Public Updates
Meet the Quakers poster

Click for print-quality version of poster

On World Quaker Day 2016, Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting invites you to join us for an introduction to the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends.

Details

  • October 2, 2016, 3pm – 5pm
  • Manning Memorial Chapel, Acadia University Campus, 45 Acadia St., Wolfville, NS

What’s Happening?

3PM — 4PM: Introduction to unprogrammed Meeting for Worship “in the manner of Friends

4PM — 5PM: Tea, coffee and snacks; time for conversation and questions

Why Go?

Would you like to know more about how Quakers can have a service with no appointed minister? Or what it’s like to be part of a spiritual community that has a 350-year tradition of gender equality, is queer and trans positive, and works to end war, colonialism, and climate change?

Join us to talk about the role of spiritual community, and ask all those questions about religion you’ve never asked — or never gotten a satisfactory answer to. We may not have the answers, but we welcome inquiring spirits to ask those questions together.

Resource people will be available to speak on various topics of concern to Quakers, in keeping with our traditional testimonies:

  • Simplicity
  • Peace
  • Integrity
  • Community
  • Equality
  • Sustainability

You’re welcome to come for either part if you can’t stay for both. Bring snacks to share, or just bring yourself.

If transportation or childcare would be helpful, please contact us to make arrangements.

See or share the event on Facebook

Quakers at Acadia’s Club Extravaganza

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Mylene standing at the Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting's table during the Club Extravaganza

Mylene standing at the Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting’s table during the Club Extravaganza

Bruce Dienes and Mylene DiPenta set up a table at Acadia Student Union’s Club Extravaganza last Wednesday night. The event was well attended, and a number of people stopped by our table to chat. Our new banner was finished in time for the event — you can see it in the photos (photo credits are to Bruce, naturally…). We also have a fresh batch of information packages for new attenders. If you’re a member of attender and would like to have some on hand to give away, contact the . If you’re a seeker or newcomer and you’d like one for yourself… well, contact the !

Our display table, complete with brand new banner.

Our display table, complete with brand new banner… and snacks.

Canadian Yearly Meeting Programme is Available

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in News, Public Updates

Canadian Yearly Meeting is fast approaching, this year extending from Aug. 5-13.  The full programme is up: as always, there will be time to share the experience of Spirit in our lives, games, singing, community service, children’s activities, an LGBTQ-themed evening, a family-themed variety show, and of course Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.  As well, Special Interest and Activity Groups spring up spontaneously or can be proposed in advance by anyone who feels led to organize one. In the programme document, you’ll also find details about financial support, especially (but not only) for families and those 35 and under. To register, fill out and submit this registration form.

Featured presenters and other highlights are below; keep an eye on the CYM 2016 web page for developments.

Aug 5-6: Nurturing Our Community

Retreat: Beverly Shepard (Hamilton Monthly Meeting)

In 2017 we will have a “fallow year”, not holding Yearly Meeting sessions.  We all know how valuable the week of Yearly Meeting is for building and fostering our community from across this vast country.  What will we do when the sessions aren’t happening?  What do we do the rest of any year?  We will explore ways that community is built and fostered and how we can continue to do this even though we won’t be physically together. Bring your ideas as well as your questions! 

Aug. 7: Continuing Revelation: Quaking with Grace and Joy in Modern Times

Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture: Maggie Knight (Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting

MaggieMaggie will explore continuing revelation and the choices Quakers in Canada face as we navigate the second decade of the 21st century. How do we…

  • navigate the opportunities and challenges of new technologies?
  • support Friends of all ages as society’s understanding of consent in sexual and romantic relationships evolves?
  • approach renewal amongst Friends without feeling driven by scarcity?
  • meet the challenges of our time, including climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous communities?
  • choose how busy to be and leave the space we need for reflection and discernment?

Maggie grew up on unceded Coast Salish territory in Victoria, BC. She’s a member of Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting and has sojourned with Meetings in Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver. A third generation Quaker of British extraction… she has worked on restorative justice and Indigenous rights, and served with organizations including Canadian Friends Service Committee, Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting, CYM Determining Priorities and Envisioning Change Working Group, McGill’s undergraduate student union during the 2011-2012 Quebec student strike, Leadnow.ca, and currently RADIUS at Simon Fraser University and the interfaith Fossil Free Faith Fellowship.

Aug. 8-12: Biblical Justification and Biblical Disagreement with Friends’ Original Testimonies

Bible Study: Kate Johnson (Thousand Islands Monthly Meeting)

Drawing on a combination of her favourite scholarly Biblical research and lived experiences, Kate will discuss how the Bible justifies, encourages and challenges all of us to live out our testimonies. There will be a particular focus on how the Bible tells many stories of God using “outsiders” to do “His good will”. 

After working in corrections and mental health social work, Kate earned a Master of Divinity with a Concentration in Restorative Justice. She then served for five years as the Chaplain to a federal correctional institution on behalf of Canadian Yearly Meeting. In 2013, Kate was appointed Chaplain to Queen’s University. Her ministry there includes care for the marginalized populations on campus, encouraging equitable practices on and off campus and the fostering of effective inter-faith dialogue.

 

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AFG's 40th birthday cake

Soy milk, organic peanut butter, and sugary, chocolatey cake with frosting. It must be a Quaker potluck…

Atlantic Friends Gathering wrapped up yesterday for another year.  Annapolis Valley members and attenders were in the thick of it, as always!  Mandalas were created, generous amounts of food were shared, and activities ranged from structured workshops to naps on the beach to the ever popular “Friends and Family Night” variety show.

Rachel and Penni telling stories and showing a slide show about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Rachel, visiting from Canadian Friends Service Committee, and local Friend Penni lead us in considering action to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Kamila on melodica, Daniel on interpretive dance, Marilyn and Jupiter watching with unbridled joy

Daniel, from Hamilton Monthly Meeting, and Annapolis Valley Quakers Kamila, Marilyn, and Jupiter commune with the Lord of the Dance during family night.

See the full slide show on the AFG website.

Quaker Ed: Roots and Fruits of Our Faith

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in News, Quaker Education

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For this month’s Quaker Education session, Friend Bruce Dienes created a workshop called “Roots and Fruits of our Quaker Faith.”  We started by creating individual statements of faith, inspired by John Woolman’s statement about his belief.  According to Woolman,

“There is a Principle which is pure, placed in the human Mind, which in different Places and Ages hath had different Names; it is, however, pure, and proceeds from God. It is deep, and inward, confined to no Forms of Religion, nor excluded from any, where the Heart stands in perfect Sincerity. In whomsoever this takes Root and grows, of what Nation soever, they become Brethren.”

We considered a number of other inspirational sources too — from Descartes to Nellie McClung.

Bruce asked us to consider if there was a root of our faith — the bottom line, the origin of other beliefs, the most basic idea we stand on. He then invited us to consider what nourishes that root, and what springs forth from it — in other words, what parts of our lives grow out of that principle.  He also provided a variety of supplies we were invited to use to manifest our own “plant” in the Quaker “garden.”  From blank paper and words and colouring pages and pipe cleaners, the components of our spiritual “ecosystem” became visible.

Think you might enjoy this workshop?  Consider joining us at AFG, where Bruce will present a version of this workshop on Saturday, May 21.

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AFG: New Session Added, Program Leaders Announced

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in Events, News

Joe Michael (guest speaker) and John Houston (facilitator) have been confirmed as presenters for AFG.  Annapolis Valley’s own Penni Burrell has also added a late-breaking additional session to Saturday’s schedule, called “You’re Quakers… STAND UP”:

“Penni Burrell will give a presentation looking at examining three steps in order to respond to the call as a Quaker to injustice we witness directly. How do we decide what, if anything we can and should do when we encounter something that is clearly contradictory to our values – such as a racist comment? This process is primarily based on the wisdom and guidance of Monica Walters-Field, and the Quaker process of eldering, as voiced most relevantly and recently by Keith Maddock.”

The full schedule and registration info are available on the AFG website

Presenters, Program Leaders, and Assistants

Joe Michaels photo

Guest Speaker:  Joe Michael

A respected Elder of the Indian Brook, Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaq nation,  Joe Michael is a retired RCMP member who worked for 25 years to advance restorative justice and healing circle principles throughout Nova Scotia. Since his retirement, Joe Michael has been active in advancing aboriginal culture and tradition as a Mi’kmaq Elder & Pipe Carrier.

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Facilitator:  John Houston

John Houston was born in 1954 and spent the first years of his life in the Canadian Arctic in Cape Dorset on Baffin Island. His early involvement in Inuktitut and Inuit culture has influenced his entire life.He served for five years as Art Advisor to the Pangnirtung Cooperative printmaking project. With his mother, the late Alma Houston, he founded the Houston North Gallery in Lunenburg,and the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society.As a film director and producer, Houston has specialized in films showcasing indigenous stories and culture.

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Guest Speaker: Rachel Singleton-Polster

Rachel grew up on Vancouver Island in a Quaker family active in Western Half Yearly Meetings and other Friends’ gatherings. Since her youth on the west coast, Rachel attended university at Mount Allison in New Brunswick, and enjoyed worshiping with Sackville Friends there. After her studies in Human Geography there, she worked for Friends at the Quaker United Nations Office in New York. Presently, Rachel serves the Canadian Friends Service Committee out of Toronto, where she assists on programs related to Indigenous Rights, Peace, and Justice.

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Carol Bradley

Carol is a member of Annapolis  Valley Friends Meeting and lives in Windsor, Nova Scotia.   She is a professional appraiser and community developer.  Her interests include sustainable community, the environment, and climate adaptation.  She is active in municipal and provincial politics. Carol enjoys pets, and arts and crafts.

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Bruce Dienes

Bruce has three areas of specialty: Computer consultation,  Photography,  and Community Psychology. Earning his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Bruce has extensive experience with community development and has worked with agencies such as Chrysalis House, Juniper House, and Apple Tree Landing Children’s Centre. He currently teaches part-time at Mt. St. Vincent University, and is a trainer of peer  counselors. He is a member of Annapolis Valley Friends Meeting.

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Maida Barton Follini

Maida is a member of Halifax Friends Meeting. Born in Connecticut, she is  a dual U.S./Canadian citizen. Receiving her Ph.D. from Clark University in Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychology,  Maida worked with deaf and blind students. Retiring from the Atlantic Provinces Resource Centre for the Hearing Impaired in Amherst, NS, she moved to Dartmouth. Her avocation is writing, and she is a member of the Evergreen Writers Group.

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Sara avMaat

Sara grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, and now lives in Lakeville, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.  She is a member of the Antigonish Worship Group of Halifax Friends Meeting. Sara is a physiotherapist who works with children and the elderly.   In 2010 she spent three months in Palestine and Israel as a volunteer accompanier. Sara is also an artist with a degree from NSCAD.

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Marie Welton

Marie was born in Ontario and moved in her teens to Vancouver.  She is an X-Ray technologist who has worked in Canada and Nigeria, as well as being a coordinator in a wide  range of volunteer bases.  She is a mother, grandmother and feminist who has been taking courses in religious studies at Dalhousie University.  Marie has been attending Halifax Friends Meeting since 1997.

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Edith Hoisington Miller

Edith lived in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and New York before moving to Canada with her husband Michael R. Miller.  Joining Quakers while living in Montreal, the Millers were among the founding members of New Brunswick Friends Meeting. As a long-time Friend, Edith has been involved with many aspects of Quakerism, helping to organize Gatherings, attending Yearly Meetings, and participating in advocacy for First Nations. Edith is a free-lance writer, with articles in Performing Arts & Entertainment,as well as other publications. She also writes poetry, and enjoys jazz and jazz dancing.

Michael R. Miller

Michael is a composer & pianist and professor emeritus of music at Mt. Allison University.  Among his many compositions are “A Mass for Peace”  and “A Peace Cantata”. Now living in Fredericton, Michael  is a member of New Brunswick Friends Meeting. Active in Quaker affairs, he has been a facilitator in the Alternatives to Violence program, helping men in prison, and has volunteered in the John Howard Society.

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Kenna Creer Manos

Kenna grew up in Vancouver, received a PhD from Dalhousie University, and then taught for four decades at the remarkable Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  She now teaches, as a volunteer, at the Friends School in Costa Rica, where she belongs to the Monteverde Monthly Meeting.  In Halifax for six months every year, she attends the Halifax Monthly meeting, and enjoys her five grandchildren, especially in the garden.  Kenna’s poetry has appeared in many Canadian and American journals.

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John Calder

John is a member of New Brunswick Friends Meeting.  He retired after many years of teaching high school English in the public schools.  John has served Friends in many roles – as Clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting; as board member of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City; and as an onsite coordinator in Pendle Hill, the Quaker study centre in Pennsylvania. John lives in Long Reach, New Brunswick.  

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Nancy Turniawan

Nancy is a community artist who works with multi-generational groups and uses natural materials to create mandalas and other forms to inspire people, and foster group cohesiveness. “My creative energy springs from the awe I experience immersed in the natural world. I enjoy nature’s materials, seasons, and light as my  inspiration.  I search for ways to integrate environmental stewardship into the materials and processes use to create art. I delight in multi-generational, collaborative art making.” 

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Ellen and Keith Helmuth

Ellen is clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting. She and her husband Keith ran a farm near Woodstock for many years. After retiring from farming, they lived in Philadelphia for ten years where Ellen was the Administrative Assistant at Friends General Conference and Keith managed a bookstore. On returning to Woodstock, NB, they have established a small publishing company, Chapel Street Editions. As clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting, Ellen has worked to ensure communication and fellowship among the 7 groups in three provinces that make up the Monthly Meeting.

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Barbara Aikman

Barbara has worked for the past 20 + years as a coordinator for adults with intellectual and mental health disabilities living in the community.  She served the Friends World Committee of Consultation (FWCC) for 10 years, and was clerk of the program committee and served on the naming committee, was on the search committee for the recent executive secretary of the section of the Americas. She  attended the World Gathering in New Zealand in 2005. Barbara has worshiped with many Meetings in the USA from all traditions. She is spiritually renewed with time in nature.

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Mylène DiPenta

“My earliest organizing work was against sexual violence and globalization. I was active for 10 years with a Halifax-based coalition mobilizing white people against white privilege and racism. These days, I teach my trade (electronics repair) to community college students in the Annapolis Valley, which is also the home of the Meeting I attend. My current passions include supporting the empowerment of rural queer and trans youth via the Valley Youth Project and building cross-issue alliances of reconciliation & solidarity. I use gender neutral pronouns (they, them). For fun, I walk away into the woods for days at a time, carrying as little as possible.”

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Marilyn Manzer

With an M.A. from McGill U. and a Bachelor of Music Education from Acadia U. plus decades of experience in performing, teaching and organizing music productions, Marilyn has made notable contributions to the musical arts in Nova Scotia. Along side of her music career, she has taken leadership roles in the Religious Society of Friends, serving as Recording Clerk for Canadian Yearly Meeting, and giving the Sunderland P. Gardener Lecture at the 2011 CYM. Marilyn is a member of Annapolis Valley Friends Meeting.

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Penni Burrell

Penni was born in Toronto and has lived in a wide variety of locations. Engaging with social justice issues as a social worker and community member. She moved to Nova Scotia 12 years ago, and considers the Annapolis Valley to be her long sought ‘home’. Her interest in social action sprang from her white parents’ example as they testified against racism. Penni finds following Spirit through Quakerism allows her to follow social justice in an authentic manner that she has found missing with many other groups. For six years Penni was a member of the Quaker Indigenous Rights Committee, engaging with Wabanaki regional events. She represents Quakers nationally on KAIROS’ national Indigenous Rights Circle. Locally she is a member of the Community Health Board, focusing on food security/local hunger.

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Mel Earley

Mel, who was born and raised in Ireland, emigrated to Canada in 1975. He was in the marine insurance business before retiring in 2009.  Mel has gone on extensive volunteer expeditions with Habitat for Humanity, building houses in Latin America & Ethiopia, and taking a leadership position supervising groups of volunteers.  He has also visited Palestine as a volunteer accompanier. Mel is a member of Halifax Friends Meeting, and has served as Halifax’s delegate to Canadian Yearly Meeting and Representative Meeting, as well as being a member of CYM committees.

Come for the weekend, or for the day.
See you at AFG May 20-23

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We have arranged a full program including guest speakers, and members from our three Atlantic Friends Meetings.  Interspersed with programmed sessions are meal breaks, stretch breaks and longer free times. Sunday evening will be a cheerful noisy talent show for young and old. Enjoy sessions at your own choice, or enjoy your own communing with nature or Friends. Please feel free to enjoy the Weekend in your own way!

Location and Dates

Camp Geddie: a Church camp near Merigomish, NS
about 18 kms from exit 27 of Hwy 104.
Victoria Day Weekend, May 20 to 23, 2016
Friday Evening – Monday at Noon

Directions, details and registration at http://atlantic.quaker.ca/afg

Hope to see you there!

 

Quakers, Dr. King, and How I Changed My Mind

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in News, Quakers in the Media, Stories from the people of AVQM

Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking against the Vietnam War, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota (27 April 1967)

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last January brought the usual celebratory stories to the media.  How did we get here, and why do those celebratory articles sit alongside reports of backlash against Muslims and unarmed African Americans being killed by police?  As we celebrate Dr. King’s achievements, grieve his assassination at the age of 39, and inspire ourselves to act, I offer you a story about how he changed my thinking 48 years after his death.

 

“We do no honor to Brother Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by forgetting how much he was hated during his life. Through the propaganda machine of public memory it is far easier to engage in self-congratulation about Dr. King the patriot and hero, than to own how many of us who embrace his memory at present may very well have considered him a scourge if we were one of his contemporaries.” (Indomitable – Chauncey DeVega)

 

At the the 1963 March on Washington, Dr. King gave the speech widely remembered as “I Have a Dream,” indicting discrimination against African Americans, and advocating freedom and equality for all.  A few months earlier, a poll by Gallup had shown that 54% of respondents who were familiar with King held a positive or neutral opinion of him.

The speech and the man are praised by people all over the political spectrum today.  So you could be forgiven for thinking that “I Have a Dream” rallied public opinion to Dr. King’s cause.  I did.  I was wrong.

Two years later, a repeat poll showed positive opinions had gone from 54% to 49%, and in 1966 it was 32%. 

32%.

Let us never forget that sometimes we change our minds for the worse.

Dr. King’s life offers a deep well from which white progressives like me can learn.  For example, when a white American appeals to poor and working class whites about how unfairly they are treated, he runs for President. When an African-American appeals to people of all colours about interfering in the business of why they are poor, he gets shot.

But that’s a lesson for another day.

The lesson I want to focus on today is about those polls. Can we be sure the polls were unbiased?  Of course not.  But as a group, white people are likely to have been well represented.   As early as 1963, no public figure included in the poll ranked lower than Dr. King except Khrushchev.

Gallup poll results: 1963-1966

So it’s especially infuriating to learn what happened when, after that 1966 poll, in the face of overwhelming and worsening public disapproval, Dr. King gave another famous speech. Called “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break Silence,” it marked a culmination of 2 years in which Dr. King began publicly speaking out against the Vietnam War and the policies that created it.  In that speech, he weaves together the anti-poverty initiatives that were cut to help fund the war, the resulting financial necessity that pushed the poorest people into the most dangerous military roles, the racism toward African-Americans and Vietnamese, and the bitterly ironic fact that all this was justified in the name of defending freedom.

[T]he war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.

True compassion … comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.

[C]ommunism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. “

Reclaim MLK Poster, Movement for Black Lives campaign

From the Movement for Black Lives

Because there’s a lesson to learn here, for those of us who are white anti-racist allies, and it’s not exactly about Dr. King but about ourselves and our forebears.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

In response to that message, “King became persona non grata almost overnight. He was savaged from every side as an ingrate, a traitor, an enemy of the state”,   Obery M. Hendricks wrote last week. Dr. King was called too “radical”, dismissed as a “communist”, and accused of having “diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country, and to his people.”  Not only by the 68% of people who, Gallup tells us, already hated or dismissed him, but by individual progressives  and the white liberal media who had previously supported him.

Sidebar.

About two years ago, I was supported by my Meeting to attend a seminar at Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation.  Between sessions, two or three times I found myself engrossed in conversation with the Friends in Residence.  They had both been active in the Civil Rights Movements of the 50s and 60s; they were engaged politically, intellectually, and spiritually; and they took time to sit with different people at every meal.  I remember being taken aback at how easily and deeply a group of strangers at a lunch table engaged in thought-provoking conversations about racism, Quakerism, and political strategy.  Pendle Hill is a special place, I thought to myself.

That was only part of the truth.

Barely a month later, the Pendle Hill newsletter announced that one of those Friends had died, mentioning his role as a leader in the civil rights movement.  Feeling grateful to have had a chance to meet and learn from this remarkable man, I did a quick Google search to see if I could learn any more about him.

I learning something, alright. The Vincent Harding I remembered from the lunch table wrote the speech called “Beyond Vietnam.”

I sat down hard, feeling my own perceptions shift under my feet.   Had I missed an opportunity?  Could I have listened and learned more carefully?  Why did I think more highly of him for being a famous speech writer that I didn’t know about, than for being a mentor whose effectiveness I had seen with my own eyes? In hindsight, I don’t think I fumbled my opportunity, and it’s his work that amazed me, not his celebrity.  Well, ok, I am a little star struck!  But I’m getting over it. 

Harding and his partner Al-Josie Aldrich Harding invited all of us into what felt like an urgent, yet contemplative, attention.  The setting at Pendle Hill helped.  All I missed was the opportunity to be nervous and awestruck.  I doubt that the Hardings would have appreciated taking any precious minutes away from planning fundamental social change, to squander them on fawning.  I owe thanks to my Meeting as well, for helping me cultivate that contemplative immediacy as a habit.  I do wish I had asked Harding how he decided that the time and place were right — to do and say things that people were not ready to hear.

But that’s the lesson for a different story.

The lesson I’m trying to learn from this story is about who gets lionized, and why.  Who gets dismissed or demeaned, and why.  It’s possible that as we did in 1963, 1967, and many other times, we’re still today both lionizing and dismissing Dr. King — for the wrong reasons. In keeping with my attempts to learn Quaker ways, I bring you my lessons in the form of queries.

  1. Who today is attacked as Dr. King was — for being too radical, too strident, too alienating, too soon?  How can we resist participating in these attacks without romanticizing away the radicalism that inspires the backlash?
  2. Whom do we praise today, after having left them to struggle alone in the past, in order to put ourselves on the right side of history?  Are we open about our change of heart, so that we and others can learn from it?
  3. Who from the past do we claim as our spiritual and ethical predecessors?  Are we willing to see them whole, or do we need to oversimplify them for our own comfort?
  4. Who from the present do we aspire to emulate?  Are we willing to hear them out when they are unfairly accused of extremism?  What about when they are accurately accused of extremism?
  5. What are we not doing because we fear people are not ready to hear?  How do we decide whether to go ahead anyway?  And how do we care for ourselves during times of backlash?

Hendricks writes of Dr. King’s spiritual practice: “From a biblical perspective, [we must] judge whether policies and laws and cultural practices treat the people’s needs as holy.”

Do we treat the people’s needs as holy? For that idea to have integrity, “the people” has to include ourselves, our attackers, and our historically distorted heroes.

Portrait of Dr. Vincent Harding

In Memoriam: Dr. Vincent Harding

Good Friday: Walk With the World

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in Events, News

Cross, shroud, and crown of thorns

The Wolfville Area Inter-Church Council sends us this update about an upcoming event.

“The cross of Jesus’ crucifixion is a [world-wide] symbol of human suffering. Traditionally, Christians have gathered on Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus. This year, all of the partners in the Wolfville Area Inter-Church Council (including all local congregations and L’Arche Homefires), will act to remember the suffering that exists all around us, and to pray for compassion. Those within and beyond the community of faith are invited to Walk with the World. As we move together, we will stop at familiar local sites such as Wolfville School, the Food Bank, the Methadone Clinic, the Post Office, the Anvil Pub, the RCMP/Fire Department and Town offices, and the L’Arche Hall, offering words of hope and healing.

The Walk with the World will begin at the Acadia Chapel at 11:00 a.m. and conclude at St. John’s Anglican Church, 164 Main Street. Our WAICC Good Friday Worship will begin at St. John’s at 1:00 p.m.

ALL ARE WELCOME”

Bruce Dienes will offer a reading on behalf of the Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting.

May 20-23 2016: Atlantic Friends Gathering

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in Events, News

Save the dates of the May long weekend — Friends from the Atlantic provinces and beyond will meet once again for a weekend of shared company and spiritual renewal.

Where?

Atlantic Friends Gathering is an annual event linking members and attenders of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from across Atlantic Canada.  We gather at Camp Geddie, a Presbyterian Church camp on Nova Scotia’s North Shore. The spacious grounds, with nature trails and a spectacular beach on the Northumberland Strait provide a natural setting for renewal of our individual and group spirit. 

What?

This year the themes include “Sharing the Spirit in Our Lives” and “Actions to Assist Healing Between First Nations and Settlers.”  The programme is not finalized yet, but previous years have included film screenings, nature walks, discussions on spiritual and social justice topics, games, storytelling, dancing, and of course Meeting for Worship. As in previous years, there are no compulsory activities — and there may be kayaks and canoes available to borrow. The healing atmosphere of being in a welcome nature retreat offers an opportunity to open ourselves up to whatever we feel lead us.

 

Top 5 Reasons You Should Attend Atlantic Friends Gathering

  1. There are activities and events for people of all ages.  “Just Being” is also an activity.
  2. You can propose your own discussion or action group, about faith, action, service, or other topics
  3. You can stay for an afternoon or the whole weekend
  4. This event is especially well-suited for those who are new to Quakers; there are lots of opportunities to ask questions, learn from experienced Friends, participate in Meeting for Worship, or just enjoy the spirit and the place. 
  5. This event is especially well-suited for those who are experienced with Quakers: co-create the programme by bringing your knowledge to a discussion, meet others who share your concerns, and maybe even be the person a newcomer is looking for.

More Info

Contact for more info or to propose a Special Interest Group.  You can also check last year’s AFG website to see example activities and registration details.  Signup for email notification (at right) to get this year’s info as soon as it’s published.

Announcements Coming Soon About…

  • Registration
  • Cost (but a sliding scale will be available)

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in News, Quakers in the Media

Our letter to the Chronicle Herald was published last week.  Full text is below, or read it on the Chronicle Herald website.

“Quakers are appalled at the bigotry and discrimination targeting Muslims in Canada. Canadians must stand against the deeply divisive and harmful political rhetoric driving growing hostility. We ask our politicians and news media to take firm stands against Islamophobia, hate, racism, division and inequity.

Like Christians and Jews, most Muslims live by creeds that honour peace, love and commitment to God and to creation. We support their right to wear clothing they feel is appropriate, including the hijab, burka or nijab. When human rights, such as the right to religious expression, are denied for any Canadians, rights are made vulnerable for all.

A truly tiny number of individuals claiming to be motivated by Islam have acted or planned to act violently in this country. Individuals acting violently have also claimed Christianity, Judaism and Sikhism to be motives. We condemn all expressions of violence, as well as its roots in exclusion, injustice and inequality. Quakers support services for all Canadians, such as adequate housing, employment opportunities and culturally safe mental and other health services. Such services foster healthy and peaceful communities.

While the state must ensure our security, we join with others in profoundly questioning Canadian actions that appear to disproportionately impact Muislims, indigenous people and people of colour. These include increasing surveillance, extrajudicial renditions, security certificates and closing the space for legitimate forms of dissent. We are deeply concerned by the flawed “Anti-Terrorism Act” Bill C-51 and changes to Canadian citizenship (increasingly restricted through Bill C-24).

Countless people of all (and no particular) faiths work for justice and peace and against the marginalization of Muslims or other Canadians. Quakers work with them to put our faith into action.

Barbara Aikman, clerk, Annapolis Valley Religious Society of Friends”