The theme for World Quaker Day 2023 was Living the Spirit of Ubuntu: Responding with Hope to God’s Call to Cherish Creation and one-another.
Quakers in every section held special gatherings on the theme, or built it in to their planned services or meetings. Many explored the word ubuntu as related to Christianity, sang songs from the World Quaker Songbook or held climate justice vigils.
Many Quaker Meetings and Friends Churches showed the video made about ubuntu by Southern Africa Yearly Meeting.
Others engaged with the many writings about ubuntu shared this year in Quaker publications, including Among Friends, Australian Friend, Aotearoa Friends Newsletter, Friends Journal, Friends World News, Lettre des Amis, Quake (Britain), The Advocate, The Friend, Quakers in the Netherlands newsletter and Western Friend as well as, of course, the magazine of Quakers in Southern Africa.
A series of online and hybrid events took place through the day, joined by Friends across different countries:
Friends Online Recognised Meeting in Australia held an unprogrammed meeting for worship followed by contributions from Friends in different countries.
The FWCC Africa Section held an event at Friends Theological College in Kenya, joined by Friends from across the continent through a livestream.
The Europe and Middle East Section of FWCC held a semi-programmed online meeting for worship, considering the word ubuntu.
Pendle Hill in the USA, held a sharing session on the theme of ubuntu following hybrid morning worship.
The BlackQuaker Project hosted a conversation with Hal Weaver and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, preceded by music from the World Quaker Songbook .
The FWCC Section of the Americas held a bilingual (English/Spanish) online worship and worship-sharing service.
We have also been receiving reports about the many local events which took place:
In Brisbane, Australia: Friends stood at the entry to the meeting house holding placards for World Quaker Day and peace. The meeting itself welcomed Friends online from South Korea and Aotearoa/New Zealand.
In Bhopal, India, Friends sang songs and shared on the subject of oneness and interdependence inspired by 1 Corinthian 12, followed by a World Quaker Day cake!
The Bohol Worship Group (Philippines) started World Quaker Day with a zoom meet up with Whanganui (New Zealand) Friends sharing quotes, queries and thoughts, followed by a feeding program for children.
In Kibimba, Burundi, Eglise Evangelique des Amis du Burundi received the presidential family at one of their gatherings.
The Quaker Community in Southern Africa published an ‘ubuntu prayer’ and distributed it through Southern Africa Quaker News.
In South Kivu, DRC: Organisation de Paix pour les Opportunités du Développement ( OPOD) sent greetings and joined the international online Meeting for Worship organised by the Europe and Middle East Section.
In Velasco, Cuba: Friends shared the same order of service, songs and queries as Friends in Portland, Durham, choosing songs from the World Quaker songbook, and exploring ubuntu through open worship.
At West Chester Friends Meeting, USA, the youth made ‘ubuntu bracelets’ as they discussed and learnt about the word. Worship that morning included vocal ministry that celebrated how we care for and bless one another in our worshipping community and also in the world around us.
At Westfield Monthly Meeting young people also made ubuntu bracelets, and also performed a short play on the theme. Afterwards the whole meeting shared food and enjoyed ice cream from a specially hired truck!
Also in the USA, Wilmington Friends sponsored a screening of the movie ‘Friendly Persuasion’ in their local movie theater followed by discussion and potluck
In Britain, Oxford Quakers held all age worship, including a reading from the picture book ‘I am you’ by Refiloe Moahloli, Friends House Meeting in London held a session about ubuntu for children and young people, and at Winchmore Hill Quakers, fourteen Friends met to share food and hear from one Friend why he is a Quaker. He shared several passages from George Fox’s Journal, which was a joy to hear.
In Italy, the Florence Worship group met, and welcomed newcomers.
In Ukraine, Friends of Kyiv shared the World Quaker Day prayer (below) on their Facebook page.
Please keep sending your reports to [email protected]
World Quaker Day Prayer
Even when we feel overwhelmed
By the fear of tomorrow
The uncertainty of this degenerating world
And the cruelty of human beings.
The refuge is in you, God.
Forgive our offenses,
Restore our soul,
We glorify your name
We preserve the love of our neighbors
We are because they are
We are because you are
We are because your spirit guides us
Everyone is invited to consider the below queries, and send reflections to [email protected], some of which may be included in the World Plenary meeting study guide.
1. How would you express the concept of ubuntu in the language or culture you are most familiar with?
2.What would the effects be if our global Quaker community were to follow the precepts of ubuntu more closely, and how can we go about this?
3. How can churches and communities work for changes in the governments, economic and political structures to embrace the principle of ubuntu?
4. As the climate crisis accelerates, what could the application of the principles and practices of ubuntu mean for us?
5. From where does hope come?