In 2011, the late Tim Pownall on behalf of the PACIS project in faith-based diplomacy accepted the 2011 Peacemaker Award given each year by the Association for Conflict Resolution. The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) is an organization committed to awareness of conflict resolution in the public. ACR’s vision is that “All people know their choices for conflict resolution.”
As part of its mission to empower individuals by giving them choices for quality conflict resolution, each year the ACR presents the Peacemaker Award to recognize an individual or organization’s significant and sustained contribution to the cause of peace. Since 2001, this award has recognized efforts to help resolve ethnic, religious, or civil conflicts around the globe by the effective employment of various conflict resolution approaches.
In presenting this award each year, ACR notes that the purpose of conflict resolution is to “bring peace to troubled relationships, whether domestic, organizational, environmental, or international.” ACR presented the Peacemaker Award to Tim Pownall and the PACIS Project in FaithBased Diplomacy of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University in recognition of its effort to resolve troubled relationships in the Middle East. Tim Pownall is founding director of the PACIS project with Rev. Brian Cox of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy and Michael Zacharia.
On a recent trip to the Middle East with the PACIS project, Tim Pownall met with the Secretary General of the Muslim Brotherhood. When asked why someone from the West wanted to meet with a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood, Pownall responded, “Politics has made enemies of us. Yet my faith says that I am supposed to love you. And I can’t love you without knowing you.’”
In employing faith-based diplomacy, the PACIS project seeks to use faith as a portal and a vehicle towards a deeper conversation. By examining sacred texts, one’s peace tradition is often remarkably similar to the peace tradition of one’s enemy. Only through recognizing that all are created equal in the eyes of God can both sides begin to employ practical problem solving.
True transformation does not begin with pieces of paper embodying a peace agreement between government official. Tim Pownall noted, “People are not prepared to live together in peace because the idea of faith-based diplomacy and faith-based Abrahamic reconciliation has not been socialized in their respective societies.” The PACIS project with its strategic partners initiates and facilitates this conversation to begin to create lasting peace.