Pastor-Couple to Receive World Methodist Peace Award

Pastor Hugh Johnson and his wife Shirliann will receive the 2014 World Methodist Peace Award during the meeting of the Switzerland-France-North Africa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Gillian Kingston, Vice-President for the World Methodist Council, will present the award  to the couple during a special presentation at the Freien Christengemeinde (Free Christian Church) on Friday evening, 19 June 2015, in Aarau, Switzerland.

Hugh and Shirliann Johnson

Hugh and Shirliann Johnson

About Hugh and Shirliann Johnson 

Hugh Johnson and Shirliann have dedicated their lives to the United Methodist Church for more than 40 years – 1963 up to 2005 – working in Algeria. They will now be honored for their service in North Africa with the WMC Peace Prize. The couple operated under a simple slogan: The church must be where the plight of the people is at its greatest. They learned Arabic, Kabyle and French, sharing the local life with the Algerian people – in the time of the Revolutionary War and the subsequent turmoil as well as in later years of serious unrest.

Confrontation and simultaneous reconciliation

Hugh Johnson was repeatedly confronted with great difficulties and experienced several life-threatening situations. Nevertheless, he always stood strong in his faith and was a pillar in the faith community.

Hugh Johnson regularly spoke on Algerian radio programs. The fact that he often was in discussion with Muslim representatives further aided efforts at reconciliation and mutual understanding in the communities he served. He was also an intermediary who repeatedly approached Muslim people and met them with appreciation.

In the desert west of Algeria, Shirliann Johnson helped to organize humanitarian aid to Sahrawis living in refugee camps. In addition, she trained young women in building and conducting kindergarten classes to assist and uplift children and families who had to leave their homes due to armed conflicts.

The World Methodist Council is an association of 80 Methodist churches in the Methodist-Wesleyan tradition with 80 million members worldwide. It gives the Peace Award to those exhibiting “courage, creativity and consistency” to pass on the Good News, and work toward peace and reconciliation.

2014 Peace Award Booklet

Invitation and program of the award ceremony (in German)

This story originally appeared at http://www.emk-schweiz.ch and has been translated and adapted from the original German text. It has been reprinted with permission.