|Irish Methodist pastor to receive peace award|
By United Methodist News Service
Oct. 31, 2007
An Irish Methodist pastor who spent years working to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland will receive the 2007 World Methodist Peace Award.
The Rev. Harold Good, 70, will receive the award during a Dec. 8 ceremony at Knock Methodist Church in Belfast. The award is given by the World Methodist Council to individuals or groups who have made significant contributions to peace, justice and reconciliation.
A former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Good is being honored for his role in working for stability and peace in Northern Ireland, according to the Rev. George Freeman, the council’s executive director.
Good was one of two witnesses, along with Catholic Priest Alec Reid, to the de-commissioning of the Irish Republican Army’s arsenal of weapons. On Sept. 26, 2005, they verified the conclusion of John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general, that the IRA’s weapons had been destroyed.
"We have spent many long days watching the meticulous and painstaking way in which General de Chastelain went about his task of decommissioning huge amounts of explosives, arms and ammunition," Good said in a statement at the time, adding that "beyond any shadow of doubt, the arms of the IRA have now been decommissioned."
A ministry of peace
His ministry for peace began with his 1968 assignment to the Agnes Street Church in the heart of Shankill, a Protestant stronghold in Belfast. "Along with other clergy, he spent many nights on the streets, dodging bullets, helping to calm people and attempting to make the gospel of peace heard amidst sectarian hatred," the World Methodist Council noted.
Good ministered both to innocent victims of the violence and, as part-time chaplain to Her Majesty’s Prison at Crumlin Road, to paramilitary members, exhibiting "great physical and spiritual courage in his ministry."
From 1973-79, he served as director of the Corrymeel Centre for Reconciliation at Ballycastle, where he brought together vulnerable groups from both the Protestant/Unionist and the Catholic/Nationalist communities.
As part of the Methodist Church in Ireland Council on Social Responsibility, he worked actively behind the scenes for peace, initiating conversations between parties involved as well as with the Irish and British governments. "Harold’s listening and interpreting skills, as well as his honesty and patience, evolved into a high level of trust among all persons involved," the council said. "His ministry has been marked by a passion for justice."
He also became a member of the first board of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in 1999.
During his 2001-02 tenure as president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Good and Northern Ireland’s three other main church leaders engaged in talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair as part of their quest for peace.
He has been awarded the title of Officer of the most excellent Order of the British Empire.
Blessed are the peacemakers
The World Methodist Council represents 75 member churches in the Methodist/Wesleyan family around the world and annually honors individuals or groups whose contributions to peace, justice and reconciliation have been marked by courage, creativity and consistency.
The first World Methodist Peace Award recipient, in 1977, was Sadie Patterson, a trade union and peace movement activist in Northern Ireland. Other previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Boris Trajkovski, the late President of Macedonia, The Community of St. Egidio in Rome and Habitat for Humanity.
More information about the award is available at http://worldmethodistcouncil.org/content/view/43/63/ on the council’s Web site.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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