Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi. © Albin Hillert/WCC

Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi. © Albin Hillert/WCC

Interreligious trust and respect has proven a key challenge in communities worldwide, not least in contexts where the need for successful peacebuilding is dire. Therefore, 11 August marked an important day in the history of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland, as it saw the first students receive their Certificate in Advanced Studies (CAS) in Interreligious Studies diplomas. In connection with that same ceremony, Bossey professor Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi was awarded the annual “Inter-knowing Prize” by the Muslim non-profit organization the Inter-knowing Foundation. Behind the award is Lawrence’s positive and sincere commitment to interreligious and inter-human dialogue.

Says Lawrence, who joined the Ecumenical Institute in 2012 on secondment from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Vatican, and holds the position of professor of Ecumenical Biblical Hermeneutics: “It was a big surprise. I was not expecting anything of the sort. To me, as a Roman Catholic priest, receiving this award is a reminder that in our little worlds and in little ways, there are opportunities to realize the goals of the Second Vatican Council. The award itself is not as important as what it evokes – the need to do the little we can for a brighter tomorrow.”

“Seeing how we have just completed this first CAS in Interreligious Studies, this award further strengthens our belief that it is essential to build bridges, strengthen trust and explore respectful collaborations, not only among Christians but also with people of other faiths,” Lawrence adds, and continues, “In the future, I hope that at Bossey we can continue to build on what has been achieved so far with the three so-called Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I also hope we can explore new ways to integrate or create other courses on the relations with other religions.”

“I am grateful to the Inter-knowing Foundation. And I am grateful to both the Pontifical Council that sent me to Bossey and the World Council of Churches,” Lawrence concludes.

The Inter-knowing Foundation, or Fondation de l’Entre-connaissance, Genève, was created in 1999 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. As a non-profit organization, it aims to build bridges between the Muslim community and the rest of the world, working to strengthen knowledge and understanding between different cultures and peoples. The annual Inter-knowing Prize, or Prix de l’Entre-Connaissance, is one of the foundation’s initiatives in this direction.

“I think this prize is a great acknowledgment of what our colleague, the Ecumenical Institute, and the World Council of Churches is doing in the area of building trust and understanding among religions,” concludes Fr Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC associate general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute.

Young people reflect on interreligious studies (WCC press release of 23 August 2016)

Bossey students celebrate graduation (WCC press release of 23 August 2016)

People and Faith on the Move - Message from the Bossey Interreligious Course August 2016

The Inter-knowing Foundation (in French)

The Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey

WCC work on Strengthening inter-religious trust and respect