Peace Catalyst Recognizes Religious Peacemakers at Award Dinner
Peace Catalyst recognized a variety of peacemaking religious leaders Thursday night, during the second annual Peacemakers Summit, hosted by Peace Catalyst. Catered by a local Pakistani restaurant, the event was a celebration of peacemakers faithfully serving their respective communities as artists, academics and community leaders.
The first award presented was the Legacy Award, which went to Dr. David W. Shenk, a global consultant for the Eastern Mennonites, specializing in interactions with Muslims, and co-author of several pertinent books, including A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue with Badru Kateregga. His commitment to peacemaking in the way of Jesus and his winsome, joyful manner has gained him access to over 100 countries. "Dr. Shenk loves people, models peace, and is a bold and respectful witness," Dr. Rick Love, president of Peace Catalyst said, as he introduced the man and the award.
When asked what message he had for the next generation of peacemakers, Dr. Shenk quoted Jesus: "Abide in me, and I in you; when you abide in me, you bear much fruit."
Next was the Creative Peacemaker Award, presented by Michael Ly, Northwest Regional Director of Peace Catalyst. The recipient of this year's Creative Peacemaker Award was Mario Mattei, co-founder of the up-and-coming International Guild of Visual Peacemakers. Based in Turkey, Mario implements his skill as a photographer to build bridges of peace between cultures, religions, and ethnicities. "When I would come home [from Turkey] and hear these sweeping generalizations made about Muslims it burned me up inside; it tore up my soul," Mattei said, describing how his love for peacemaking began.
The award for Peacemaking Imam went to Imam Ahmad of Tempe, Arizona, presented by Jim Mullins, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Peace Catalyst. Mullins heartily recognized the recipient of this award, affirming his faithfulness in civic engagement, passion for his faith, and his trusted position at the forefront of interfaith dialogues, city gatherings, and the formation of the Seven Resolutions, a statement made by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious leaders of the greater Phoenix area. "Humbled by the welcome and the recognition, I ask the Almighty to lead our steps to be real servants of our religions and our humanity," declared the Imam. Having grown up in an isolated environment in the country of Jordan, Ahmad received a rude awakening after obtaining his degree in Islam at the University of Jordan and moving to the U.S. In recent years, he has spent a good deal of time "jumping from church to church to synagogue" as he pursues relationships with Christians and Jews throughout Phoenix.
Finally, the award for Peacemaking Pastor went to Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., who was unable to attend the summit but whose influence is widely felt throughout the interfaith community. The award was presented by Jeff Burns, East Coast Regional Director of Peace Catalyst. Pastor Roberts and his congregation, NorthWood Church in Dallas, Texas, have befriended the Vietnamese government and are now committed to serving the country of Vietnam. As a congregation, they have also committed to bringing timely aid to the people of Afghanistan. In both cases they have partnered with the resident culture, trying to provide only the help that is specifically requested. Bob Roberts and NorthWood Church, Burns affirmed, "do these things without agenda... [believing that] as transformed disciples we must truly bless the peoples of the world." Roberts' interfaith work, both overseas and through other initiatives such as the Global Faith Forum, has garnered the respect and praise of trusted interfaith leaders such as Eboo Patel, of the Interfaith Youth Core.