Local leaders of diverse religious backgrounds play a vital role in building and sustaining peace in their respective communities. Acknowledging this key component of peacebuilding, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria and the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN) co-sponsored a one-day Community Entry and Stakeholder Engagement program in Bukuru community, Jos South LGA, Plateau State, North Central Nigeria. Approximately 100 community members attended the event on September 19, 2023. Participants included faith leaders, traditional rulers, youth leaders, and women leaders from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.
GPF’s central theme of “One Family Under God” was introduced to the attendees, and the universal principle of their shared humanity became the program’s focal point that transcended differences among them. Recognizing this significant foundational element, stakeholders and community leaders engaged in meaningful dialogue, reinforcing the power of working together to create a unified and consistent approach to achieving peaceful coexistence.
Reverend John Joseph Hayab, country director of GPF Nigeria, reiterated the underlying foundation of our shared humanity to build upon individual differences to collaboratively engage in community peacebuilding activities. He stated, “Our gathering today, reflecting the richness of our community’s diversity, sends a resounding message that we can come together as one, regardless of our individual beliefs or traditions.” Rev. Hayab further stated, “It is through collective effort and shared commitment that we can truly make a difference and build a brighter future for all.”
CRUDAN Executive Director Mr. Joseph Gyandi expressed his excitement for the gathering to achieve a collaborative approach and synergy among diverse communities. He asked attendees, “Let us remember that our diversity is a source of strength, and together, we can build a community where peace reigns supreme.” Supporting the co-sponsors, he remarked, “In this spirit of unity and acceptance, we pledge our full support, cooperation, and resources to ensure the success of this project.”
Testimonies from attendees shared the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit of the program to embrace GPF’s vision of “One Family Under God” to lead to positive change. According to Reverend Grace Johnson, “This experience has deepened our bonds and motivated us to work collaboratively for peace.” Village Head Stephen M.N. pledged his support and noted, “We are now going to work together regardless of differences towards a harmonious and prosperous future.” Uniting generations, Ibrahim Aliyu stated, “As a youth leader in our community, I’ve witnessed the impact of interfaith collaboration firsthand. This event brought us together like never before.”
The one-day program highlights the ability of influential leaders in diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to collaboratively participate in peacebuilding activities in the Bukuru community. A follow-through plan includes several action items to create a long-term positive impact in the community: future participation in local peace committees, peace education, leadership development, and partnerships to continue the engagement. Capacity-building workshops will be held in October 2023 to build on the success of the initial Community Entry and Stakeholder Engagement program.
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