Joy Balazo has just been announced as the winner of the World Methodist Peace Award for 2012.
A native of the Southern Philippine island of Mindanao, Joy emerged as a voice for peace in the Asia Pacific region through her involvement with the Uniting Church in Australia. Joy worked for over twenty years with UnitingWorld and its predecessors. Ten years ago she established Young Ambassadors for Peace, acting as the movement’s leader and working with local communities to establish eight peacemaking centres in Asia and the Pacific.
Last year Joy returned to her home in the Philippines to work in Mindanao among the indigenous Subanen people of the Zamboanga Peninsula supporting their efforts for peace and sustainable livelihood. The World Methodist Council’s award is testimony to Joy’s tireless pursuit of peace.
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, has warmly welcomed the award.
“This award is a fantastic acknowledgement of Joy Balazo’s work as a champion for peace and as a peacemaking role model for the Uniting Church. I join with the whole Uniting Church community in conveying our congratulations to Joy”, says Rev Prof Dutney. “Her work and the ongoing work of UnitingWorld to engage young people in our region in peacemaking is a powerful example of our mission for reconciliation.”
Rev Prof Dutney’s comments are echoed by UnitingWorld’s National Director, Dr Kerry Enright. “Joy’s leadership and passion for peace characterised her significant ministry with UnitingWorld. She recognises the call to peace in all its fullness as being at the heart of the gospel” he says. “UnitingWorld is privileged to be continuing the crucial work Joy has pioneered.”
First awarded in 1977, the World Methodist Peace Award is given twice each year to people who have displayed courage, creativity and consistency in pursuing peace and equal rights for individuals throughout the world. Past recipients have included former United States of America President Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev.