In the last two months, the Quaker Worship Group in Whitehorse witnessed an increased interest in the Quaker tradition of seeking God and the Quaker form of worship. As a very small and very isolated group, the concern of how to build community has been raised on several occasions.

William Swainson - doing Quaker outreach Yukon style at -30 degrees (photo credit: Celia McBride)

William Swainson – doing Quaker outreach Yukon style at -30 degrees (photo credit: Celia McBride)

Within the last year, we have reframed and updated the entry in the listing of religious services in the local newspaper. We have also updated the listing on the website of the Canadian Yearly Meeting and established a dedicated email address. However, the increased interest seems to have come mostly from the relationship-building done by the individuals from our Worship Group. I have finally dared to tell others in this secularized world about my interest in the Quaker way and the decision to join the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The reactions I have witnessed have ranged from surprise to curiosity. But it is not the curiosity that has brought new people to come and experience silent worship and the warmth of community: It has consistently been the personal invitation.

A direct invitation on a different level has also contributed to the increased interest: Half a year ago, our Worship Group had to look for a new space to meet. For quite a while, we met in members’ homes, because it is most consistent with the Quaker tradition that God can be experienced anywhere – we don’t need a temple or a church. When we had to seek a public venue for our meetings for worship, we asked the United Church congregation if we could use their Upper Room. They received us with open arms, and “Quaker worship” started to show up on their facility booking schedule. Which in return yielded some curious questions about Quakerism.

It was at that point that we extended an invitation to the congregation of the Whitehorse United Church. The invitation was published in the church newsletter and announced during the service by the minister, a gesture of interdenominational collaboration that I honour very much. And to my surprise, there was instant uptake.

I am glad that we dare to let our Light shine, no matter how small our candle is and how much darkness we seem to see all around us.

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Comment by Randy Oftedahl on 12th mo. 18, 2012 at 11:24am

I moved from Dawson City in the summer of ' sorry I never visited Whitehorse worship sounds like a vibrant little community!!  Peace to you and your work in that wonderful place, the Yukon Territory. 

Comment by Othmar Ferdinand Arnold on 12th mo. 18, 2012 at 12:40pm

We would have loved to welcome you.

Comment by Zaley Warkentin on 12th mo. 21, 2012 at 12:05am

Cheers to Whitehorse! :)

Comment by Othmar Ferdinand Arnold on 12th mo. 21, 2012 at 11:55pm

Thank you Zaley. I hope you are staying warm down in Manitoba. I noticed your interest in plain dress and would be interested to hear what moves you to follow that calling? I have over the years adopted a way of clothing that is very simple, but would not qualify as plain (black Jeans and shirts by Jenny in Switzerland (

I guess we all bring our traditions. But the main criteria for me are functional not fashionable, durable and simple. I wish I had the skills to make the clothing myself like you do!

Comment by Zaley Warkentin on 12th mo. 24, 2012 at 3:57pm

I'm not sure what called me exactly, it's just always felt right to me. Since then it has helped with keeping me from shopping binges, and it is a constant reminder to myself to be accountable....if that makes sense?  :)

Comment by Othmar Ferdinand Arnold on 12th mo. 26, 2012 at 7:25pm

It certainly makes sense. It is always more rewarding to create something unique with one's own skill and hands than shopping for fashionable merchandise. Keep it up!


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