I need your help...

Today I am going to ask for your help - financial help - with our peace-making through music project.  As some know, our jazz ensemble is heading to Istanbul, Turkey on June 13th for 10 days of people-to-people diplomacy.  To date, through playing a lot of local gigs and a ton of hard work by band leader Andy Kelly, we've raised enough to cover our air fare and ground transportation ($8K.) Now we're working on the necessary funds to lodge the band while in Turkey and will need between $2-7K.

Let me be clear about why I am asking you to help out in this way at this time because even $10-20 would be a blessing.  I believe that we are living in a time when compassion and creative, direct action by ordinary people can make a huge difference in the world.  Already we are seeing this in what has been called "the Arab Spring" for democracy and human rights. Bold and inventive people are standing up for what is just and right and dictators are crumbling.  Not all at once, to be sure, but like Sam Cooke sang, "a change is coming..."
For most of my adult life I have sought out ways to be an ally of this change through music making and people-to-people diplomacy.  With Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement I learned the importance of singing together as a way of building both solidarity and courage.  I saw this from the side lines with the Freedom Movement of MLK in the 60s, but experienced and shared it in the 70s with the farm workers.  Same with the music making of artists like Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Holly Near, Si Kahn, John McCutcheon, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, Gil Scott-Herron, U2 and Bruce Springsteen: these singers practiced their craft in such a way that the soul was fortified while community was created. 

So, in every church I've served over the last 30 years, I've found a way to do three things:

+ create a musical group that performs not only in worship but also in the wider community on behalf of peace and justice concerns; in this way, soul work moves beyond the walls of the church.

+ create a space where local musicians - regardless of their spirituality - can gather to sing and play and help ordinary people experience the power and joy of group singing; this has taken shape and form in our annual Thanksgiving Eve gigs, but also in our Good Friday encounters, too.

+ create a way in Sunday worship to integrate the songs of our everyday experience with sacred liturgy; U2's "Beautiful Day" - Springsteen's "My City of Ruins" - Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" - and Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" are but the most obvious examples of how there really is NO difference between the secular and the sacred. 
And I have made a point of blending music in all of my peace-making work outside of the US, too.  In Costa Rica, it was the freedom songs of the civil rights movement; in Soviet Russia, it was the sacred songs of Christmas and Easter; in East Germany it was the folk music of Woody Guthrie; and now in the up-coming trip to a Muslim nation it will be American jazz.  The hour is crucial, it seems to me, for Americans to find creative ways of building relationships with those in Islam.  Too many Americans are too ignorant and fear-filled to let the status quo remain unchallenged.  Too many politicians are too arrogant to let their fear-mongering and posturing go unquestioned.

So with humility and not a little uncertainty, we are going to Turkey:  to put our values into practice, to live out our deepest faith commitments and to see what it means to build peace through music in a Muslim land.  If you have any interest in this project - if it touches your heart in any way - if you sense that something outrageous and gentle is needed amidst the hatred and war...

... please go to our secure websitehttp://sistercityjazz.bbnow.org/index.php - and share a gift?


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