Habitat Founder and President Receives Highest Honor “Methodists Bestow on Anybody”

Habitat for Humanity International (HHI) and its founder were awarded “the highest honor the people called Methodist bestow on anybody,” at the campus of Emory University, on Dec. 8, 2004. The two were given the 2004 World Methodist Peace Award – an honor given to dozens of other notables in the past including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

According to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) both Millard Fuller, founder and president of HHI, and Rey Ramsey, president of HHI’s board of directors, were given the award to recognize their “contributions to peace, reconciliation and justice.”

In receiving the award, Fuller was quoted as saying the honor has been “more meaningful” because it is a peace award that comes from Methodists – a group involved in larger number in Habitat than any other faith group or denomination.

Fuller took note that while Habitat is “non-denominational” or “non-doctrinal,” it is “openly and unashamedly a Christian organization.”

"From the very beginning," he said, "I have wanted to bring the various Christian denominations together to work and to build, side-by-side, with love and peace in our hearts."

Meanwhile, Fuller took note that people of other faith traditions are often involved in the building and receiving of Habitat-built homes.

At that light, Fuller said he considers HHI’s work to be a peace-making endeavor to build bridges between people of different faiths. Such instances include that of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and Christians and Muslims in the Philippines, according to UMNS.

“Walls of suspicion and hostility are coming down as walls for houses go up," he said during his brief acceptance address.

According to UMNS, Fuller also “quoted extensively from John Wesley” in expressing his appreciation to the Methodists. He said that he, like the World Methodist Council that presented the award, stands for “peace, opposition to the death penalty and understanding that faith alone, without works, is dead.”

"It ain’t easy," Fuller said, "but it is the way of Jesus. It is the way of the cross. And ultimately it is the best way."

The award ceremony was attended by representatives from the World Methodist Council (WMC) and HHI. International guests included His Eminence Sunday Mbang of Nigeria, chairperson of the council’s executive committee; the Rev. Brian Fletcher, president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, which nominated Fuller and Habitat for the award; and Peter Faquarson, director of the Habitat program in Northern Ireland.

The WMC, headquartered in Lake Junaluska, N.C., represents 76 different denominations in the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition, with 40 million members and a constituency of 75 million (UMNS).

HHI, established 29 years ago, has active members in 100 countries, daily building homes for low-cost to needy families. In August 2005, Habitat projects it will build its 200,000th house for its millionth person. It will have taken nearly 30 years to reach that milestone, but Fuller projects housing for the next one million will be completed in six years.