What Canst Thou Say is an independant periodical published by Quakers about mystical experiences within the Religious Society of Friends. The first issue was published in October of 1994 by Jean Roberts and Jim Flory, and was accompanied by a cover letter which read,

“This is an invitation for you to become a participating member in a new newsletter. If we get a positive response from you and the others receiving this mailing the newsletter will become a reality, if not we will lay it to rest with no regrets. It is like launching a kite: Jean and Jim will run down the beach to get it airborne, but lacking the breeze of contributions of your articles, responses, questions, and quotes it will not fly.”


Initial response was enough to keep the periodical afloat, and interest built up over time. In May of 1997 responsibility for the circular was taken over by Marcelle Martin, Carol Roth, and Patricia McBee. With the new leadership "What Canst Thou Say" took on a new format, with each issue having a theme for contributions to help focus the newsletter beyond simply a forum for sharing mystical experiences. Additional members joined the staff shortly there after, including some professional designers who helped to formalize the layout of the periodical. The team grew again in 1999 when Linda Lee, Mariellen Gilpin, Roena Oesting, and Lissa Field joined the staff, all members of the Urbana-Champaign Quaker Meeting. The increased staff allowed the periodical to keep better track of subscribers, and renewal information.

In 2001 subscriptions had increased to the point that they could no longer be handled as a small private affair, and were moved to facilities at Earlham College.

After moving some of the facilities for the periodical to Earlham College, the staff underwent expansion, and the layout was again redone, resulting in the current look and feel of "What Canst Thou Say". Currently the circular is edited by Mariellen Gilpin, and managed by members of the Religious Society of Friends mainly in the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.


"What Canst Thou Say" is currently distributed both electronically, via PDF], and via mail subscriptions. "What Canst Thou Say" functions as a forum for the readers on the various topics, and does not employ full time writers. Instead they solicit contributions from their subscribers on topics up to four issues in advance, and then select the pieces they feel best fit their publication. A team of staff editors regularly contributes to the periodical in the form of queries, information on future issues, and submissions of their own.

Other ProjectsEdit

Most recently the staff of WCTS has arranged for the publication of a book entitled "Discovering God as a Companion". Published in February of 2007, the volume contains stories, poems, and thoughts from sixty five separate authors, mostly drawn from previous issues of the periodical itself. The book can be seen as something of an anthology of the last ten years of WCTS, and was published to celebrate the ten years during which WCTS has been published in the modern format.

Publication HistoryEdit

Publications of What Canst Thou Say
Issue Publication Date Theme and Title
#54 May 2007 Unseen Hands
#53 February 2007 Spirituality in the Workplace
#52 November 2006 Evil
#51 August 2006 Jesus
#50 May 2006 Changed by Grace
#49 February 2006 Touched by the Spirit
#48 November 2005 God's Humor
#47 August 2005 Seeing
#46 May 2005 Spiritual Emergence(y)
#45 February 2005 Loving God With Our Whole Being
#44 November 2004 Darkness
#43 August 2004 Knowings
#42 May 2004 Guidance
#41 February 2004 Open and Tender
#40 November 2003 Spiritual Healing
#39 August 2003 Celebration and Transformation
#38 May 2003 Birth and Rebirth
#37 February 2003 Death and Dying
#36 November 2002 Spiritual Metaphors
#35 August 2002 God's Marvelous Workarounds
#34 May 2002 The Arts and the Spirit
#33 February 2002 Spiritual Experience and the Outward Life
#32 November 2001 Kundalini Energy
#31 August 2001 Forgiving
#30 May 2001 Solitude
#29 February 2001 Experiencing the Spirit in Quaker Business Process
#28 November 2000 Visions and Voices
#27 August 2000 Called to Intercessory Prayer
#26 May 2000 Traditions that Feed My Soul
#25 February 2000 Wholeness in the Midst of Brokenness
#24 November 1999 Our Mystical Experiences in Childhood
#23 August 1999 Speaking Out About Our Mystical Experiences
#22 May 1999 Dreams
#21 February 1999 Nature
#20 November 1998 Mentors, Mentoring
#19 August 1998 Discernment
#18 May 1998 Healing
#17 February 1998 Deepening Worship and Ministry
#16 November 1997 Support for the Journey
#15 August 1997 Letting Your Life Speak
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