Friday, May 13, 2016

Quakerism's Future and Kenya

Kenya currently has one-third of the world's Quakers, and their share is increasing as the number of Quakers in the west continues to decline.  This article discusses the success of Quakerism in Kenya.  Interestingly, the author links the success of Quakerism in Kenya to innovations in worship.  Quakers in the west are known for low-key religious meetings that are dominated by long periods of meditation.  Kenyan Quakers, however, have incorporated many of the exciting features of innovative Christianity, such as musical bands, dancing, and lots of exuberance.

Two lessons stand out.  Firsts, the low-key Quakerism, though preferred by some, is not the most successful in the religious marketplace.  Second, when a religious group adapts, it can thrive.

Some critics may argue that this exuberant form of Kenyan Quakerism is not real Quakerism, but I think this is a matter of perspective.  What seems true from the historical record is that religious groups that do not adapt eventually die out.  If real Quakerism is dying, then perhaps this young upstart is its best chance for any form of Quakerism to continue to be relevant in the world.

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