Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land will be this year’s recipient of the Kenneth W. Bensen Award for Contextual Leadership.

Bishop Younan is an internationally renowned religious leader with significant experience and expertise in interfaith relationships and actions in pursuit of justice and peace. As one who is constantly attentive to the contextual struggles of the Palestinian people, Bishop Younan’s voice is both authentic and powerful.

In his retirement, Bishop Younan continues to engage in the various ecumenical and interfaith initiatives in Jerusalem, some of which, he helped found and nurture. He continues to serve as an honorary president of the Middle East Council of Churches and is a recent past president of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches. He is also a founding member of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land which comprises Jerusalem’s Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, and provides leadership to the ecumenical Patriarchs and Heads of Local Christian Churches in Jerusalem.

Globally, Bishop Younan is the most recent past president of the Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of Lutheran churches with 145 member churches in 79 countries representing more than 70 million Christians, and is currently an honorary president of Religions for Peace International, a prominent interfaith organization dedicated to global peacebuilding.

Bishop Younan has been a part of the OMNIA Institute since its transition from the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE). In 2017, he, together with Dr. Wesley Ariarajah and OMNIA’s president Dr. Shanta Premawardhana spoke at the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation at Kirchentag (a massive Christian festival) held in Berlin and Wittenburg, Germany. Given today’s context of increased interreligious activities and conflicts, they proposed that the framework for New Reformation should be Interreligious Contextual theology.

His books, Witnessing for Peace: In Jerusalem and the World (Fortress Press, 2003) and Our Shared Witness: A Voice for Justice and Reconciliation (Lutheran University Press, 2012) amply describe his commitment to justice, peace and contextual leadership.

The award ceremony will be a part of a fundraising celebration of OMNIA’s Interfaith Peacemaker Teams. The online event will be on Thursday, December 3rd at 2:00 p.m. (US/ Canada Central Standard Time). Please click here to register for the event.

OMNIA has built 138 Interfaith Peacemaker Teams in Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Each team comprises twenty tough-minded and focused faith leaders who collaborate across barriers, build power and engage in strategic actions for justice and peace.

Shanta Premawardhana


Shanta Premawardhana is president of OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership. Prior to OMNIA, he served as the Director for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also the Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations at the National Council of Churches, USA. While serving as pastor of Ellis Avenue Church in Chicago, he engaged in community organizing work in the Southside of Chicago. He is an emeritus trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, National Council of Churches, USA, and Common Cause Illinois. He earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.


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