Thirty-eight years ago last week, on April 30, 1973, a group of people gathered at the site of a restored Shaker village near Harrodsburg, Ky. It was there that the Shakertown Pledge was written.
The Shakers, as most of you may know, were members of a religious sect that was similar to the Quakers in some ways; the group was most active between 1750 and 1850.
The Shakertown Pledge itself was a response to the unequal distribution of global wealth and resources, and called for group action by Christians to rectify the problem.
Here is the Shakertown Pledge in its entirety:
Recognizing that Earth and the fullness thereof is a gift from our gracious God, and that we are called to cherish, nurture and provide loving stewardship for Earth’s resources, and recognizing that life itself is a gift, and a call to responsibility, joy and celebration, I make the following declarations:
1. I declare myself a world citizen.
2. I commit myself to lead an ecologically sound life.
3. I commit myself to lead a life of creative simplicity and to share my personal wealth with the world’s poor.
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4. I commit myself to join with others in the reshaping of institutions in order to bring about a more just global society in which all people have full access to the needed resources for their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth.
5. I commit myself to occupational accountability, and so doing I will seek to avoid the creation of products which cause harm to others.
6. I affirm the gift of my body and commit myself to its proper nourishment and physical well-being.
7. I commit myself to examine continually my relations with others and to attempt to relate honestly, morally and lovingly to those around me.
8. I commit myself to personal renewal through prayer, meditation and study.
9. I commit myself to responsible participation in a community of faith.
I encourage everyone to consider carefully the content of the Shakertown Pledge. Further, I invite you to not just think about it but to go on and make the pledge.
I first became aware of the pledge when I read Adam Daniel Finnerty’s book, “No More Plastic Jesus: Global Justice and Christian Lifestyle in the Late 1970s,” making the pledge then and renewing it a few days ago.
Making the Shakertown Pledge now may not have a great influence upon the world in the years ahead, but it will have some impact.
And it will also make a difference, a positive difference, in the lives of all who make, and live up to, the commitments contained in it.
Leroy Seat was a missionary to Japan from 1966-2004 and is both professor emeritus of Seinan Gakuin University and pastor emeritus of Fukuoka International Church. This column appeared previously on his blog.