Youth Secretary

So- I wouldn’t normally post something like this here. But- given that they’ve removed them from the Youth Secretary website in what seems like a pretty blatant act of censorship and I believe they need to be heard… Here we go.


Canadian Yearly Meeting Youth Secretary Final Report- CYM Annual Sessions 2013

August 21, 2013

We have been in danger of forgetting that we have been given faith communities in which to test what it is we believe we are hearing, to share our experiences and learn from each other, to give each other encouragement, courage to act when called, and wisdom to know when we are not called to act. We have been given community to comfort us when we mourn, to give us a place of rest and safety when we are afraid, challenge us when we have grown complacent or mis-stepped and celebrate us when we have been faithful.

-letter from Deborah Fisch to Toronto MM 2006. From CYM Faith and Practice


As many of you already know, I have resigned as the Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) Youth Secretary, effective August 15th, 2013. However, every year that I have been the Youth Secretary, I have presented a report on the floor of CYM sessions and feel that it is important to carry on the practice. Because it is my final report, I will not just report about the work of this year, but about the work of all 3 years as well as the reasons for my departure. I am sorry that I do not feel that I can be there to give you this report myself, as that would have been preferable. I write this report and share my concerns out of a place of loving concern and caring for the organization.

Some parts of this report may be hard for you to hear, and I ask you to keep an open heart and an open mind. Change is not always easy, both for the instigators of the change as well as for the community.

The Good

I want to commend Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting (CYFYM) for their bold act of stating what they needed and for challenging CYM to instigate change and asking for the meeting to be intentional about providing programming, nurture and spiritual support for younger friends. I believe that CYFYM’s request was spirit-led, and CYM’s brave leap in response to this leading was well-intentioned.

For many, I expect that it is mainly the positive outcomes of this decision that you are aware of- and there have been many. The Youth Secretary position was created in an open and aspirational spirit, with lots of room to see where the leading and energy took us collectively.

As the Youth Secretary, I have had the pleasure of traveling the country, meeting F/friends of all ages, from all walks and to participate in programming and worship with them. It has been such a gift. Thank you, Friends. I have also heard from many Friends who have felt supported through the creation of the position and it has been gratifying to know that even in such a short period of time, an impact from all of the hard work has been felt.

I spent part of the first couple of months in the position coming up with a 5-year vision for what the position might look like and could accomplish and I began to act upon that vision.

The first year was very focused on connecting and identifying the members of the community that the position was created to serve- a surprisingly challenging task! It was a foundational year of networking, bridging and learning.

The goal for the second year was to start to implement the learning made through the connections built in the first year, to begin to hold programming, enliven the youth presence online and to develop creative ways of connecting across the expanse of our geography so that being a younger friend was not synonymous with being an isolated friend. Things began well. In addition to these other pieces, I was helping Camp NeeKauNis start to implement the CYM “Safe Nurture of Children in our Care” draft policy during the summer of 2012 and facilitating their efforts to be more intentional in their preparations for the summer 2013 season. I was working with the Ontario Young Friends on their Fall 2012 Retreat, as well as planning for simultaneous, young adult and teen retreats across the country with a goal of practicing ways to worship and experience together through electronic means. All of this work was building towards the CYM Youth Challenge 2013.

Year three, 2013-2014, was meant to be an evaluation and reflection year, to help focus and channel the work based on everything learned from the first 2 years. Year four would be continued growth and development, while year five would be the year to really experience and share the fruits of the labour. To give you the details of the full five-year plan, you can read it online.
The Bad

One of the biggest challenges that I believe faces an organization in the creation of a new role is how to position it to be successful, while also realizing the changes that it will ask of the community. We knew as a community that by creating the Youth Secretary position we would be asking ourselves to take a huge leap of faith and to be open to deep, meaningful growth.

I believe that, with the best of intentions, CYM created a position where the spirit was ready but the organization was not. CYM was not ready to have a paid staff person who required expert supervision and program support, nor was it was ready for a position that needed us to have a structure of accountability and policies in place around our expectations for youth safety.

I need to share my concern that the Yearly Meeting nominates and allows individuals with no experience, training or knowledge to volunteer in roles of oversight and management for our paid staff people. This creates major issues. I have had a couple different iterations of my employing committee, and none of them have been appropriately trained for the tasks they were taking on. This is not a statement about the character or intentions of the individuals who have served. I believe that they all were doing so in good faith and with the best of intentions. But, having people who didn’t know their legal responsibilities for being the supervisor of a paid staff person and weren’t readily available to address or deal with situations, planning or concerns seriously hindered and undermined both the role and the work of the Youth Secretary Position.

As someone who is trained and experienced in running mainly volunteer-based programs for youth (minors) I have gained an understanding of the minimum safety policies that should be in place to protect minors, volunteer staff and an organization itself. Such policies (or the lack thereof) have important ramifications for issues of responsibility and liability. CYM’s lack of policy is surprising when you realize that CYM has worked with youth for years through a committee that runs our summer camp and the youth program at our annual sessions. From a youth work perspective, these policies and structures should have already been in place at the Yearly Meeting level.

I have heard people say that Quakers don’t just simply comply with the law for the sake of complying, which I agree with. From my understanding of it, Quakers use very careful and intentional discernment to see if there is something morally lacking or distasteful in the laws, and should they find it to be true, they don’t quietly disobey; they share the concern clearly and loudly with the world. From my perspective, CYM’s lack of compliance with the basic legal standard across programs and committees is not because we are morally superior and have something more appropriate in place or that the law is seriously flawed or lacking in some way; it is out of a lack of awareness or understanding of the importance of ensuring the safety of our youth, those that work with them and our paid staff.

In fall 2012, a physical assault took place within the context of youth work and this need for policy around violence and harassment in the workplace became an urgent issue. Without appropriate policy, the Yearly Meeting was unable to deal with the issue in a timely and effective manner, exacerbating the problem and deepening the damage caused.

Knowing that there was an outstanding issue, and a lack of structure and policies in place to address it, I could not in good conscience run further programs. To do so would be irresponsible and risk the safety of our youth and the organization as a whole. This effectively stalled much of the planned work of the Youth Secretary program.

Despite this difficult situation, I continued to support the CYFYM clerks in discerning their roles and jobs within the wider CYM and CYFYM community. I also continued my work on planning for the Youth Challenge, which I trust is adding a new level of vibrancy to the CYM annual sessions this year. I started to plan – and then had to cancel – four YF and YAF events as time passed after the incident and my concerns were not addressed. In addition, I could not attend several events that I usually would have because of these strongly held concerns. You can see some of these concerns in the list of concrete steps at the bottom of this report.

How do we walk with integrity, Friends to each other, Friends to the world? A while back I heard a Friend say there are three pieces to living faithfully or living with integrity. The first is that you have to have the desire to do it. The desire is planted in you. It doesn’t even come from us really. It is planted there. So we have to ask, “What is it that is being required of me at this moment, at this time, in this place?” The second piece, she said, was that you have to test what you hear. We hear through ears that also hear a lot of other stuff. So we have to test what we believe. I believe Friends call that discernment. And then, once we have done that, she said the last step was the easy part. You have to act on it. But for me that is one of the hardest parts.”

-Deborah Fisch, 2006

from CYM Faith and Practice

The Ugly

The challenge of dealing with a concrete incident without the necessary policies and structure that would have provided guidance in such situations has been difficult. However, to realize that the organization (CYM) and those with the power to set policy or respond to a situation do not seem to understand the issues at stake or their responsibilities in terms of community safety and organizational liability was disheartening. There are very real and serious liability implications for an organization not dealing with an issue of physical assault, especially when it occurred at an event for minors.

For instance, If CYM allowed the person responsible to work/volunteer with minors again, and something happens again, it is the organization that is liable because they KNEW that there was a concern and decided to ignore the issue. Had I called the police at the time, which would have been completely understandable and has been recommended by two Human Resource consultants, this whole situation would have been out of the hands of the organization and we would have been forced to take the concern seriously. The reason we did not call at the time was not because of a lack of seriousness of the incident but because at the time we believed that the organization would provide a much more suitable response than the police would have. From my perspective, the Yearly Meeting approach has been one of unbalanced concern, based on the pre-existing relationship with the individuals involved, not based on what is most responsible, fair or reasonable.

An important community impact is that 11 of the individuals who witnessed the incident (in addition to the victim) or were directly impacted by it, continue to feel so unsafe and unprotected by the organization that none of them have participated in CYM or Camp events since. Due to the treatment they’ve received, most of them are unsure about whether they will ever feel comfortable to return to the community. Through a collective lack of timely and appropriate action, we’ve lost a number of younger friends who previously have been deeply involved in the Camp and/or CYM community.

After this incident, I spent the next 11 months advocating for an appropriate organizational response to the situation, as well as working to instigate changes at the policy and structural level. Distressingly, this work has led to me being harassed, verbally assaulted and having my character slandered by members of the CYM community. My undergraduate degree in Business and Not-for-profit Management and extensive experience working at the policy and programming level to develop and implement youth programs was brushed aside and ignored. I was treated as if I was naïve and unskilled, which was an insult to my experience but also a betrayal of the seasoned discernment that was part of the process that led to my hiring. This is the first employment situation where I have felt that my age was considered to negate my education, training or experience.

This treatment has left me with the impression that my age allows those in power to feel that they are not accountable to me and that they see my voice and lived experience as meritless. This has been a truly disappointing experience to have, especially while working to engage and bring younger friends into the community. If I cannot garner respect, what respect can I hope for in response to engagement by other young members of our community?

As a result of my experiences this past year, it is clear to me that CYM is lacking in functional policies, appropriate structures and a trained volunteer base that can reasonably employ and support the talented staff that we recruit to do service. It is not enough to do our best. Our best has not been good enough and the damage that is done by accepting mediocrity and human error as the only possible response cripples us.

Some will argue that progress is being made. We have a new (as of July, 2012) draft policy on “Violence and Harassment in the Workplace”. However, I have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the policy and there seems to be agreement from the personnel policy committee that this policy is unusable to address the two (outstanding) formal complaints I filed under it. This gathering, you will also hear the reporting and clearness of CYM’s personnel policy committee, which is asking a lot of tough questions about how the Yearly Meeting does employment. You will hear from an ad hoc group that is looking at how the Yearly Meeting can fulfill the important pieces of work that are part of the Quaker Renewal Program while being honest about our financial situation. There is a draft policy for the Safe Nurture of Children in our Care, but the implementation sub-committee has struggled to move forward to effectively implement the policy, primarily because of opposition from one of the CYM committees that would be impacted by it.

One of the biggest issues that CYM faces is that there is no cohesive expectation for the experience or policy implementation required by CYM committees and programs. This makes it incredibly hard to be one of two staff people who work across committees and programs. We bear witness through our work and when we carry or raise concerns there is no system to address them constructively. Without a structure of accountability, there is no one who believes they have the responsibility to take hold of a situation and address it. I have advocated that without a general secretary, we need to have a system or structure that clearly delineated roles and responsibilities of the CYM clerks, CYM trustees, etc… and the system needs to have safeties in place which mean that if one of them is named in a complaint or concern, there is a suitable way to address this.

Based on the treatment that I experienced as an employee and the safety and liability concerns that I continue to hold for our community – for the youth, for CYM, for Camp NeeKauNis and for Staff – I could no longer, in good conscience, continue to work for an organization that would not support and protect the community I was working with or me as an employee. The last 11 months have been an incredibly painful journey, both personally and professionally, and I do not believe that those who hold the power between Yearly Meeting sessions are open to or able to understand what is needed or being asked of them.

I am definitely an advocate that the work of the youth secretary program needs to continue and that we need to be more aware and engaged in the running of CYM committees and how they interact with CYM-wide policy. However, I do not believe that CYM is currently in a place to be a good employer and that must first be addressed so that others do not also have similar experiences.

It is my hope that, in sharing this report, the veil of silence will be lifted and that the community as a whole will demand that the organization improves – for the sake of our employees, our youth and our community at large. We can do better, and we need to, if we hope to be a relevant faith organization doing meaningful work both in and of the world.

Sometimes we will be faithful. We will find the strength to do more than we ever thought we could in obedience to a call. Sometimes we will be unfaithful. We will say “no!” to a clear call, lacking courage, or will not even hear our call. We will stumble. That’s how we learn to say, “oops! That wasn’t right. I/We made a mistake. Let’s try again.” That’s why we call our process “experiments with truth.” We have to act with the light we have and see what happens. We also need to remember that God is merciful, present with us whether we are faithful or not.”

– Jan Hoffman, 1998

from CYM Faith and Practice

Moving Forward

I realize that a lot of what I am saying is new to most of you. For the sake of time and privacy, I have given only brief information about some of the things that I have mentioned, but I hope that I have been sufficiently clear and concise. It is my hope that you are able to take the first steps forward to move the Yearly Meeting into a more responsible and accountable place.

To give a sense of my background to those who may not be familiar with it, my undergraduate degree in Business and Not-for-profit management has provided me with a very clear understanding of reasonable expectations for organizational responsibility and employment structures. Over the years I’ve done a number of organizational structure analyses and policy reviews which have given me a greater understanding of how successful organizations are structured. I have spent years working with youth, especially teenagers, at the policy creation as well as the program development level. I’ve done extensive policy work, specifically during the time of switching over to doing background (vulnerable sector) checks, obtaining references and meeting recommendations for those interested in working with youth. I have also developed policies to protect staff from potential over-extension and to provide basic program expectations. I have also done crisis intervention training and emotional support classes. I am experienced in developing engaging programming meant to provide opportunities for growth and deepening of spiritual connection for young friends. My experience is primarily from working with Friends General Conference and Earlham College.

As I’ve advocated for the CYM to respond to this incident of assault as well as the harm done by taking so long to respond, I have consulted widely with trained professionals. I strongly believe in utilizing the truth and knowledge of a broad group to test beliefs and come to a more complete response. My consultations have included conversations with leaders in various Quaker organizations that specialize and focus in youth work and outreach, clinical psychologists, caseworkers for Family and Children Services, Quaker peers, human resource consultants, volunteer management consultants and many others. Combined, they have all given me incredibly useful advice that continues to indicate that as an organization we are not doing enough to protect either the community at large or the organization. They have offered their services to consult with the Yearly Meeting to help resolve the issues and concerns that I have raised, and to my knowledge, all offers have been rebuffed and ignored.

I hope that my report has been helpful to you in understanding the complex issues and concerns that I hold and the reasons that I felt it was unsafe for me to continue to work for CYM. To help give an idea of what I believe could be helpful, I’ve made a list of concrete steps that I think CYM should take, with reflection and intention, to move us to a better place for both employment and youth work. By no means is this list all-encompassing, nor should it be considered outside of our spirit-led practice of group discernment and expectant waiting.

Because many of my concerns are specific to a Camp NeeKauNis context, I want to reassure you that I have no personal agenda against Camp NeeKauNis. Camp has been an incredibly dear place to me since I was a teen. It is a place where many of my close friendships formed and it allowed me to understand what it meant to serve my faith community. However, I’ve been raised to believe that one of the most difficult and truest forms of love is to hold those that we hold dearest (both individuals and organizations) to account and to challenge them to be the best that they can be.

Concrete steps:

  1. Finish the Safe Nurture of Children in our Care policy, so that it is no longer a draft. There should be clear steps for implementation, including a training package and stated follow up steps for CYM committees and programs that do not meet these expectations. This should be completed by someone with appropriate training and qualifications.
  2. Complete a full review of how CYM does employment, performed by someone with qualifications and expertise in the field. Recommendations for moving forward, both taking into account the Yearly Meeting financial situation as well as the priorities the Yearly Meeting has in terms of religious education, Quaker practice, process education and intergenerational work. This recommendation would include Human Resource needs, policy needs and a cross-committee implementation strategy.
  3. I would like to see an official follow-up with the victim and witnesses of the physical incident. They should be asked specifically why they are not attending CYM annual session and Camp NeeKauNis this summer. I would also like them to be asked what they would need to feel safe attending a Canadian Quaker event, especially if the perpetrator was going to be present. The creation of policies for moving forward does not resolve or fix the issues arising from what happened in September. I would ask that someone who has professional skills and training, preferably from outside the Quaker community do this follow-up. This could be considered an evaluation on how the situation was handled. As an organization, I believe we have fallen into the trap of being focused on the needs of the perpetrator over the needs of the victim(s).
  4. A full CYM level review of Camp NeeKauNis.
  1. Firstly, CYM needs to determine what the overarching organizational vision and intention for the use and service of Camp NeeKauNis is. Camp is a CYM asset that happens to be a physical property in Ontario. How is it serving the goals and needs of the Yearly Meeting Community? Is it serving the needs? In my work and travels I have heard a very clear feeling that Camp does not serve the community as a whole. This needs to be addressed.
  2. Secondly, I believe CYM needs to evaluate the Camp Committee structure and decide what would be the best system of governance. There is a need to determine whether the large supervisory committee serves the overarching purpose and governance needs and how it is held accountable to following the mandate and policies as set out by CYM.
  3. Thirdly, I believe that interviews should be conducted with as many Camp staff members (including resident friends and lifeguards) and volunteers from the past 5 years as possible. Based on a number of conversations that I have had with individuals who have served the Camp community, where they have raised very serious concerns about the way Camp does things, I believe that an evaluation of the staff experience and concerns would help the wider body understand what has up until now been happening behind closed doors. I believe that many are afraid to speak out about their experiences because of back-lash from some in our community or think that nothing would be done to address their concerns. Those conducting the review should not be part of the Camp community.

Why is this important? Because Camp is a Yearly Meeting asset and should be serving the concerns and needs of the Yearly Meeting. Many of those serving on Camp Committee have no relationship with or concern for the Yearly Meeting. This makes it hard for them to see or consider the larger CYM picture.

In terms of moving forward with my own relationship with the Yearly Meeting, I do not know what would be helpful for the organization or safe for me, but I am open to trying to continue a dialogue, especially if I can provide further insight or clarity in terms of the concerns that I have mentioned here. I ask that if someone is going to contact me, that they do so as an invitation to conversation and not a demand for answers, and that they can understand if it takes me some time to respond. My trust with the organization has been broken and that permeates out into the relationships that I have with individuals associated. This saddens me, but needs to be named, as it is a reality of my experience.

I thank you for your careful consideration of this report and am holding the yearly meeting and our community in my heart as you continue to meet this week.

Katrina McQuail



Canadian Yearly Meeting Youth Secretary Final Report- CYFYM Annual Sessions 2013

Katrina McQuail

August 18, 2013

Dear Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting,

I’ve been holding you in my heart and prayers as this week of the Youth Challenge has begun. It is a very odd feeling to not be present to ensure that all of the work and preparation that I’ve under taken for the last year are complete and successful. It is also a sad feeling wanting to see most of you, but under different circumstances, and know that I do not feel safe at Yearly Meeting because of the concerns and issues that I have with Canadian Yearly Meeting. I am especially thankful to those who have picked up the work to ensure that the Youth Challenge could go on and hope that you will forgive them for any minor blips in the programming that come from last minute hand-over.

I hope that you have an amazing week together; building, deepening and growing both as a faith community but also as individuals. I look forward to reading the CYFYM epistle and continuing to maintain personal relationships with many of you, separate from the CYM community.

I am writing a final report for both CYFYM as well as CYM. Initially I thought they would be the same report, but I’ve realized as I’ve been sitting in discernment and writing, that there are some parts that will be the same and others that will be different. Perhaps part of the reason for that is that you aren’t just my constituent community, you are also my peer group.


First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the time to dream, to inspire and to demand that Canadian Yearly Meeting be more intentional about the outreach, support and programming that it provides for their younger friends. I believe that your leading to create the position was true and that the organization was not ready. Do not be discouraged or deterred from continuing to push CYM to grow and challenge themselves to change and move into the 21st century as a vibrant spiritual faith community. There is risk inherent in change, and know that the change is worth the risk. Put yourselves out there- participate in CYM business meeting, let your voices be heard. You are not the future of Quakerism, you are the present of it and CYM needs you to make yourselves heard.

I want to help you understand why I felt the need to quit working for Canadian Yearly Meeting. It has nothing to do with a change of heart or belief in the need for there to be intentional youth programming at the Yearly Meeting level or my own personal needs to move on to follow another leading. It is sadly, very much an organizational structural issue.

As some of you may know, I have a degree in Business and Not For Profit Management and extensive experience both doing the policy work as well as the program work for youth programming. I believe it seemed to the Youth Secretary Hiring Committee like a perfect combination for someone who was being hired, and I think it had the potential to be.

There were logistical and structural issues to the position from the start, issues around remuneration for the work, travel expectations, oversight of the position, reporting, etc… Simply put, the Yearly Meeting had created a new position that was homeless and created an employing committee with limited human resource experience or knowledge to oversee or support it. Initially this was a “minor inconvenience”, as my father would say, but not a problem. Unfortunately we often don’t realize how problematic lacks of structure or policies are until we need them, which is what happened.

It is hard to explain the complexity of the whole situation, but basically, an incident occurred which meant that there was an immediate, real situation that needed to be dealt with, and we had no policies, structure or precedent to appropriately deal with it. Ideally this would have been broken down into 2 response areas.

1. Respond to the actual incident in an effective and timely manner. AND

2. Create policies, delineate or create organizational structures / a hierarchy of accountability.

Myself and others who have a deeper understanding of organizational responsibility, especially in the area of working with a vulnerable population (minors), understand the importance of these pieces. Unfortunately because we allow volunteers without adequate training or experience to make important decisions that have consequences for the organization as a whole, this continue to block CYM from moving forward (or moving at a glacially slow pace) to be in a place where it can provide consistent, high quality, safe programming, especially for youth but for friends of all ages.

There has been as secondary issue that grew out of the original incident, which is the Yearly Meetings lack of ability to support and defend staff or to address issues of harassment and bullying when staff raises the concerns.

By speaking out about my concerns regarding how Canadian Yearly Meeting does (not) do Youth Safety work and is lacking of staff support structures, I became the target of vicious attacks by a couple people, especially folks involved with Camp NeeKauNis community. I also became the recipient of non-malicious but still inappropriate and unacceptable behavior that came from my own employing committee and the clerk level of Canadian Yearly Meeting. If you subscribe to the belief that people’s actions are either rooted in love or fear, I have to assume that they are acting out of a place of fear.

I have spent the last 11 months trying to work with the Yearly Meeting to appropriately address the incident that precipitated everything, to address the issues and concerns around organizational structure, to help them understand their responsibilities and obligations to staff, and to create a consistent baseline expectation about what CYM (and its committees) do to ensure the safety of the youth as well as those who work with them. It has been an incredibly painful journey both personally and professionally, and I do not believe that those who hold the power between Yearly Meeting sessions are open or able to understand what is needed or being asked of them.

Some will argue that progress is being made. We have a new (as of July) draft policy on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace. However, I raised concerns about effectiveness of the policy and having now filed two (outstanding) complaints, there seems to be agreement from the personnel policy committee that the policy is un-useable. You will also hear the reporting and clearness of CYM’s personnel policy committee, which is asking a lot of tough questions about how the Yearly Meeting does employment. You will also hear from an ad-hoc group that is looking at how the Yearly Meeting can fulfill the important pieces of work that are part of the Quaker Renewal Program while being honest about our financial situation. There is a draft policy for Safe Nurture of Children in our Care, but the implementation sub-committee has struggled to move forward to effectively implement the policy. One of the biggest issues that CYM faces is that there is no cohesive expectation or consistency across CYM committees and programs. This makes it incredibly hard to be one of 2 staff people that works across committees and programs because we bear witness to and our lived experience of these situations leads us carry and raise concerns.

I have spent the last 11 months so actively engaged in trying to help the organization to get to a place that I could safely do the core work of the Youth Secretary position, with such limited results that I ultimately had to decide what I needed to do for myself, regardless of the continued concern and love I carry for younger friends in Canadian Yearly Meeting. I spent a significant portion of my time working to advocate for appropriate policies, adequate structures and clear lines of accountability and communication, so that I would be able to continue to move forward in organizing events and activities to bring together and connect younger friends to each other and the wider Quaker community. But, there was not enough understanding at the organizational level about what was needed and why which meant that I could not, in good conscience host events or retreats because of the safety issues and concerns that I still hold.

I fear that the organization continues to put itself in unsafe situations, both for the organization, but also for the community, and I could not continue to work for an organization that does not even know what it does not know. It put me in an unsafe positional professionally and also created liability issues that I was unwilling to take on given that I am in opposition to the way the organization is doing things. I also have not had the questions regarding physical safety addressed in a way that made me feel that I could safely be at CYM annual sessions, or that as a staff person I would have the support of the organization if something happened. To not trust the organization that you work for, which is also your faith community, and has also been a major part of your social community is at minimum a sad realization, and for me, it has been a tragedy.

I followed my leading to do the work of the Youth Secretary because I wanted to believe that a community that was so well known for its social justice and intentional community engagement by the wider community would be able to take that and focus it internally for younger friends. It is my hope that this can at some point still happen, but I believe there is extensive work that needs to be done at the organizational level both in terms of policy and structure but also in terms of coming back to our Quaker groundedness and for many older friends (especially those in clerking or committee roles) to learn Quaker process and practices.

I am sorry not to be there with you all, to support you in the coming together, following our business practice and in having the opportunity to connect that our vast geography does not frequently allow. However, I am with you in spirit, holding the community, regardless of my inability to be physically present.

As always,




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