Quaker call for Peace and Ecojustice set to music

“We are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole earth, in right sharing with all peoples. However few our numbers, we are called to be the salt that flavours and preserves, to be a light in the darkness of greed and destruction.”


The Kabarak call for Peace and Ecojustice, a call that was produced by participants at the world conference of Quakers in 2012, has been set to music in an enchanting collaboration by Quakers from the US and Britain. It is the culmination of a two-year consultation on global change that was facilitated by the Friends World Committee of Consultation – a group responsible for connecting Quakers around the world.

Jon Watts, who came to international attention among Quakers for the Friend Speaks My Mind song, has set and recorded the Kabarak call for Peace and Eco-justice to a stirring soundtrack. The epistle is read by Laura Wirtz, a regular contributor to the Nayler podcast series.

The process of producing the musical version of the Kabarak call for Peace and Eco-justice was a powerful process. “I had such a powerful experience composing and recording a track to go along with her reading of the [Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice], I just had to keep going,” said Jon Watts. He is now offering to set other epistles to music.

“I had high expectations of the music Jon Watts would produce and was very pleased with the result,” said Laura. “It’s clear he was as moved by the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice as I was and I’m in awe of his ability to create music from his inspiration. I’m also very pleased the project moved Jon to want to work with other pieces of Quaker writing.”

The new recording has impressed Quakers from around the world. “It strikes many chords. Lets hope it pulls a few strings!” said Sue, a Quaker from Sweden.

“The Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice is a rare and powerful articulation from Friends,” said Gretchen Castle, general secretary of FWCC. “In it we express our commitment to living in a way that honours all life. We have given voice to this spiritual imperative and we are finding ways to share this message around the world. I am grateful to Jon and Laura for recording this and sharing it out. We will each respond to the call in our own ways, in ways that move us beyond where we have been and help us move toward God’s intention for us. We do not walk this path alone. We are dancing together in the Light.”

“Let our words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, oh God,” she added.

Epistles are regularly written by Quakers at gatherings as an open letter to share among Quakers and anyone in the wider world who might be interested. The Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice is named after the venue, Kabarak University in Kenya, where the once-in-a-generation world conference of Quakers was held in 2012. Although the Kabarak call is not the epistle from the conference, it was circulated alongside the epistle and is now set to have a long lasting impact.

Jon Watts had been making hip hop songs for five years before being convinced in the Quaker faith. Since then he has explored his faith through music and his performances have struck a chord with people around the world.

Epistles are occasionally distributed in different formats to print. In 2010 Quakers at the Europe and Middle East Young Friends Spring Gathering recorded their epistle as a song.

The Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice reads:

In past times God’s Creation restored itself. Now humanity dominates, our growing population consuming more resources than nature can replace. We must change, we must become careful stewards of all life. Earthcare unites traditional Quaker testimonies: peace, equality, simplicity, love, integrity, and justice. Jesus said, “As you have done unto the least… you have done unto me”.

We are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole earth, in right sharing with all peoples. However few our numbers, we are called to be the salt that flavours and preserves, to be a light in the darkness of greed and destruction.

We have heard of the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro and glaciers of Bolivia, from which come life-giving waters. We have heard appeals from peoples of the Arctic, Asia and Pacific. We have heard of forests cut down, seasons disrupted, wildlife dying, of land hunger in Africa, of new diseases, droughts, floods, fires, famine and desperate migrations – this climatic chaos is now worsening. There are wars and rumors of war, job loss, inequality and violence. We fear our neighbors. We waste our children’s heritage

All of these are driven by our dominant economic systems – by greed not need, by worship of the market, by Mammon and Caesar.

Is this how Jesus showed us to live?

We are called to see what love can do: to love our neighbor as ourselves, to aid the widow and orphan, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to appeal to consciences and bind the wounds.

We are called to teach our children right relationship, to live in harmony with each other and all living beings in the earth, waters and sky of our Creator, who asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world?” (Job 38:4)

We are called to do justice to all and walk humbly with our God, to cooperate lovingly with all who share our hopes for the future of the earth.

We are called to be patterns and examples in a 21st century campaign for peace and ecojustice, as difficult and decisive as the 18th and 19th century drive to abolish slavery.

We dedicate ourselves to let the living waters flow through us – where we live, regionally, and in wider world fellowship. We dedicate ourselves to building the peace that passeth all understanding, to the repair of the world, opening our lives to the Light to guide us in each small step.
Bwana asifiwe. Apu Dios Awqui. Gracias Jesús. Jubilé. Salaam aleikum. Migwetch. Tikkun olam. Alleluia!

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