On 27 July, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land received the Niwano Peace Prize for his work towards interreligious dialogue among Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Jerusalem and worldwide.
Younan is the 34th recipient of the prize. Each year The Niwano Peace Foundation of Japan recognizes an individual or organization that has dedicated service and scholarship to promoting peaceful cooperation among religions, particularly in places of difficulty.
Younan is a founding member of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, the Jonah Group, and the Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious Studies. He is currently serving the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, and the Jordanian World Interfaith Harmony Week.
World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit congratulated Younan on the award, noting that Bishop Munib Younan has consistently worked for just peace through challenging crises and conflicts.
Tveit said: “The peace prize awarded to His Grace Bishop Munib Younan is a strong and timely recognition of his service for just peace in all his ministry for his people and his church, as well as for the whole ecumenical community locally and globally. It also shows how significant he has been and still is for the interreligious dialogues for justice and peace in the Holy Land”.
“Bishop Younan has shown that the call for justice and the work for peace can go hand-in-hand, and the nonviolent, faith-based approach is the strongest possible call to find new ways towards just peace. He is accountable in all his efforts to his people living under occupation, and he is accountable to the whole Lutheran communion and the ecumenical family and our objectives to stand together and work closely together for a just peace for all”, said Tveit and concluded: “His approach and example is needed more than ever. “
Younan, former Lutheran World Federation president, accepted the award in a ceremony, offering remarks about the danger of religious extremism used for self-serving political interests.
“Today, leaders within faith traditions must confront the extremists in their midst. We do this through a witness of robust moderation, rejecting that extremism is somehow the measure of faithfulness,” he said.
Bishop Younan concluded “As a Lutheran Christian, my hope is anchored in the hope of God’s coming reconciliation of all things. This hope is present today, both for our neighbors and for our global ecology and environment. This hope does not separate us from our neighbors but calls us into ever greater concern for their well-being. From this foundation, we embrace rather than exclude, standing for common values of justice, peace, equality, living together, and accepting the other.”
Former Niwano Recipients: Brazilian Liberation Activist and Catholic Archbishop Helder P. Camara 1983, World Council of Churches General Secretary Philip Potter 1986, Swiss Catholic priest and theologian, Prof. Dr. Hans Küng 2005, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal 2008, LWF General Secretary Bishop Gunner Stalsett 2013, Nigerian Pastor and Activist The Rev. Esther Abimiku Ibanga 2015.
Bishop Younan Accepts the Niwano Peace Prize, Today (ELCHJ Press release 27 July, 2017)