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Inderjit Bhogal Receives the World Methodist Peace Award

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Inderjit Bhogal received the World Methodist Council Peace Award 2018 in Victoria Hall, Sheffield. Over 500 people gathered physically and online in celebration. It was poignant that Inderjit received the award in the very building where in 1980 he was received into full connexion as a Presbyter.

The annual award is given to individuals or groups "who have made significant contributions to peace, reconciliation and justice" recognising the courage, creativity and consistency of the recipients.

Inderjit, President of the Methodist Conference 2000, has been a tireless supporter of refugees and has worked to foster interfaith relations and multicultural communities, peace and reconciliation throughout his Christian discipleship, lay and ordained.

One of the peace-related movements initiated by Inderjit was City of Sanctuary, a grassroots network and movement to build cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety for asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable people. Inderjit held the role of President of the Methodist Peace Fellowship, and is currently Honorary President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Week of Prayer for World Peace.

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council presented Inderjit with the award. The previous recipient of the award in Britain (1987) was Bert Bissell MBE leader of the Young Men's Bible Class in Vicar Street Methodist Church, Dudley. They are the only two recipients whose home has been in the same Church.

The citation reads that Inderjit received the award for "courage in challenging churches, governments, and organisations in the United Kingdom to reform and show willingness to treat all persons as worthy of justice, leading y example, and facing danger in spite of sustained criticism and opposition; creativity in finding ways to build cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety for asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable people; consistency in giving lifelong effort towards peace and reconciliation and a sustaining commitment to interfaith relations and understanding".

Due to Covid restrictions, the celebration was delayed from March 2020 until March 2022. During the Service the congregation heard from President of the British Methodist Conference Revd Sonia Hicks, the Revd Michaela Youngson Assistant Secretary of The British Methodist Church Conference, Mrs Gillian Kingston Vice President of The World Methodist Council, as well as from Revd Dr Harold Good President of the Methodist Church in Ireland 2001, Sister Eluned Williams Vice President of the Methodist Conference 2000, Revd Novette Headley Secretary of the Belonging Together Ministers Group, Revd Gillian Newton District Chair Sheffield, and Revd Jonathan Haigh on behalf of Victoria Hall and Sheffield.

Commendations were also given by Professor Anthony Reddie, Academic Theologian, Bishop Trevor Williams, Former Leader of Corrymeela Community, Mr Norman Richardson, Northern Ireland, Retired Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council (Burngreave Ward) and Councillor Gail Smith, the Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Food was prepared and served to over 200 guests by refugees in Sheffield known to Inderjit through the Sheffield City of Sanctuary, and Open Kitchen.

Upon receiving the award Inderjit thanked everyone present for their contribution to peace making and said "I only stand here because you have taken on the vision I have shared in interfaith relationships, City of Sanctuary, and walking with homeless and rootless people. It was wonderful so many people could get together to share in this celebration especially after the last two years of Covid restrictions. I'm deeply honoured to receive this award. It is humbling to be listed alongside other remarkable recipients of the award. My whole life has been inspired by people around the world who have held up the witness to peace-making, challenging war, violence and killing. I am more persuaded than ever that non-violent resolution of conflict is the way forward at all levels and in all human relations. The most challenging issue facing human beings is how to live with those who are different from you."

Inderjit closed his acceptance speech with the following words addressed particularly to the World Methodist Council.

"I want to work with you, and similar bodies to call leaders of nations, and all faiths and ideologies to come together and work with each other:

  • to build a world without war, a world where we "learn war no more"
  • to build a world without weapons of war, non-nuclear, where we learn together to resolve conflict with the art of nonviolence, and invest in instruments of healing not harming, and foster reconciliation
  • to build a world that learns the art of sanctuary, which is warm welcome, protective hospitality and safety, especially with the most vulnerable

"I assure you of my support, but let us encourage the participation of younger people. Do not under estimate their courage and creativity. After all I was only 11 when I started out.

"We all must maintain the witness and voice for justice and peace.

"We will not rely on the resolve and resilience of one person for World Peace. We will not allow the ego and idiocy of one person to deny World Peace."

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