As Pastor Walter closes his eyes and raises his hands, hundreds follow. Music erupts throughout the church, mixing in crescendo with rising voices and clapping. The 20-person choir joins in, bringing the Sunday service to an apogee.
This is not an unusual sight here in Nairobi, Kenya. Christian churches in these parts have a penchant for boisterous services. But the approximately 700 people filling this two-story church are Quakers, known in the West mostly as vehement peace activists who worship in silence. Not here, says Pastor Simon Khaemba, who preaches alongside Pastor Walter at the Friends International Centre. “We’re noisy Quakers.”
A short walk from the main church is a separate nondescript building, void of color or decoration. Inside, six people sit in a semi-circle in complete silence with their heads bowed, either reading the Bible or praying. As Pastor Walter’s service echoes and bumps in the background, the group remains like this for over an hour. The six, half of whom are foreigners, are also Quakers.