WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL STATEMENT ON NASSAR FAMILY

The World Methodist Council (WMC) condemns the recent attack on the Nassar family by 15 masked men from Nahaleen, an Arab village. Last week, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) and their staff were violently assaulted by settlers while accompanying Palestinian farmers planting “trees for peace” near Burin, east of Nablus in the West Bank.

On Friday, 28 January, the Nassar Family recipients of the World Methodist Peace Award for their work with the globally recognized Tent of Nations project hosted on their 100-acre farm were victims of an attack. The Nassar brothers Daud and Daher required medical attention at the local hospital and are recuperating at home.

The WMC condemns all acts of violence and stands in solidarity with the Nassar family and all Palestinians who experience systemic violence, discrimination, and land expropriation.

For the past 70 years, the WMC has issued declarations and resolutions to bring about peace in this troubled region. We reaffirm our commitment to work with all parties to secure a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

Issued by the WMC General Secretary,

Ivan Abrahams

WMC Names Recipients for 2020 and 2021 Peace Awards

Bishop John K. Yambasu

Recipients of the World Methodist Peace Award for 2020 and 2021 are announced by World Methodist Council General Secretary Ivan Abrahams. “This Award is given annually by the World Methodist Council to individuals or organizations who have contributed significantly to peace, justice and reconciliation,” Bishop Abrahams said, “and it is a privilege to announce these two outstanding individuals for their untiring efforts.”

The recipients were chosen at the Council’s Steering Committee meeting held in August. The Committee did not choose a recipient last year, so both the 2020 and 2021 recipients were named this year as the Committee met virtually.

Both men have boldly worked for peace and  in their respective areas of the world but have also been instrumental in inspiring others to work for peace globally.

The late Bishop John K. Yambasu, the 2020 Peace Award recipient, was chosen for being a courageous peacemaker in his home country of Sierra Leone and across the United Methodist connection for many years. He provided critical leadership during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak and the 2017 mud landslide, both of which killed thousands of his fellow citizens. He was known for choosing to speak truth, even in difficult situations, while at the same time living peaceably with all people and was a role model to the United Methodists in Africa and across the connection, his nomination stated.

Bishop Yambasu grew up in poverty and is quoted as having said, “I know through and through what poverty is. I have slept with it and I have woken to it. Countless times, I went to bed without food. I have not only experienced poverty, but for almost ten years I had to wrestle with it. Today in Sierra Leone, I live side by side with poverty and misery.” He then said, “I am totally fed up!…We need to embrace each other” Red and yellow, black and white, poor and rich, have and have-nots, gay or straight, bisexual or homosexual, polygamists, we all need to engage each other… We need to torment God with our prayers and give us sleepless nights until we can look at each other in the face and say, ‘We are brothers and we are sisters’.”

The Bishop was creative in thought and action and
was consistent throughout his life. He served the
people around him as the focus of his call to ministry. He was a leader in the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign, the Ebola crisis, and COVID-19 pandemic. He was a teacher to young people, founder of the Child Rescue Center, and shortly before his death in an automobile accident, was elected Chancellor of Africa University.

His nominees said that Bishop Yambasu was a man of peace: peace for those living with illness, peace for children struggling in poverty, peace across nations and continents. He exemplified the best in Christian peacemaking.

The Rev. Olav Pärnamets of Estonia was named to receive the 2021 Peace Award. His contribution to world peace began with Europe in the second half of the 20th century. The tiny Baltic country of Estonia enjoyed less than a quarter of a century as a free republic during the first half of the 20th century. Still, during that time, the Methodist Church planted roots and grew. Born in 1937, Rev. Pärnamets spent most of his childhood and adult ministry under the strict and oppressive control of the Soviet Union, his nominees explain. Yet, this man served as a pastor and district superintendent, displaying great courage when the government of Estonia oppressed those who even participated in religious activity. Worship, theological study and evangelical activities were suppressed with the threat of punishment. But he traveled the world to share about the faithfulness of the people called Methodists in this Baltic country.

One of Rev. Pärnamets greatest strengths is creativity. With little to no money and Big Brother watching, he led by faith, and his unique ability to bring together people from different cultures, nations and backgrounds is evident in the vital Estonian church.

“Whether challenged to abandon God for the state as a child, to give up his Bible while conscripted in the military, or faced with needs and not enough resources, Rev. Pärnamets has always leaned on God’s grace,” said his nomination. His actions as a child, a youth worker, a deacon, pastor, superintendent and ecumenical leader are evidence of his life-long peace efforts. His vision of a Baltic Mission Center became a reality through the generosity and friendship of people he influenced worldwide. There is a Baltic Theological Seminar that equips and sends clergy all over Europe. More than 90 percent of todays’ clergy in Estonia were educated there. Retiring in 2014, Rev. Pärnnamets remains active.

“The Peace Award is the highest honor of the World Methodist Council,” Bishop Abrahams explains. The criteria for the Peace Award are courage, creativity and consistency in one’s witness to peace, justice and reconciliation.

Previous recipients of the award include, among others, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat, Nelson Mandela, Boris Trajkovsky (Macedonia), Father Elias Chacour, The Community of St. Egidio (Rome) and the Grandmothers of the Plaza De Mayo (Argentina).

More information on the 2020 and 2021 Peace Award recipients will be available when the public presentations are made. The dates for the presentations will be announced when available.

Rev. Olav Pärnamets

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa invites you

The Executive Committee of the Limpopo Synod of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa has the
pleasure of inviting you to the Inaugural Rev. Dr. Stanley Mogoba Lecture. 

Dr. Mogoba is the recipient of the 1996 World Methodist Council Peace Award and has spent many years serving the Council.

General Secretary Ivan Abrahams will also be speaking during this lecture. You can join this momentous event by going to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa website (https://methodist.org.za/) and watching the live stream. 

2019 World Methodist Peace Award Recipient

Dr. Laney reminded those gathered in his honor that “peacemaking is not possible if we demonize the other” and that “we have to move in peace, stage by stage.”