Conflict management institute honors Charles McGowan at five-year anniversary
By Janel Shoun on 1/25/2012
|Dr. Charles McGowan was awarded the 2012 Peacemakers Award.|
|ICM founder and Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry|
Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management recently celebrated five successful years with an anniversary gala dinner and the awarding of its 2012 Peacemaker’s Award to one of Nashville’s finest reconciliation ministers: Dr. Charles McGowan of Operation Andrew.
Operation Andrew was founded in 2000 as a strategic catalyst in the community, bringing a wide spectrum of churches, businesses and civic agencies together to meet spiritual and social needs. McGowan has been the president of Operation Andrew since 2003.
The former pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church has been a supporter of the Institute for Conflict Management since its early days of existence, when a conference held to explore common ground among the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith communities received controversial media coverage.
“My relationship with the Institute for Conflict Management has enabled me to be a part of efforts to strengthen interfaith dialogue and understanding in our city and area by serving on symposium panels and being involved in various interfaith projects,” McGowan said.
“Among the many things that I have learned over the years is that one does not have to compromise the essential tenants of his personal faith in order to be a friend, a good neighbor and an advocate for those who are victims of injustice and have been marginalized by our society,” he said.
“Through the years a driving force in my life has been to build friendships across racial, ethnic, political, and religious lines,” said McGowan, who credits an early childhood friendship with a black sharecropper couple in North Carolina for much of his hatred of racism and passion for peacemaking.Even before taking the helm at Operation Andrew, McGowan had been working to facilitate a spirit of goodwill and brotherly compassion for all people.
During his career, McGowan guided the First Presbyterian Church in Dothan, Ala., through racial integration in the 1970s and 1980s.
“This was a church that refused an opportunity to have Dr. Billy Graham preach at Sunday morning worship because he was on a ‘racial reconciliation’ preaching tour following the bombing on the black church in Birmingham. The fear was that blacks might show up to worship,” McGowan said.
“Because my denomination has deep racist roots going back to the days of slavery, I gave leadership to a controversial effort in the late 1990s to convince our denomination that we needed to publicly repent of the ‘sins of our fathers’ and re-position ourselves to aggressively become multi-racial and multi-ethnic in our ministry,” he said.
At Operation Andrew, McGowan said he was set free to aggressively build relationships across racial, ethnic, theological and interfaith lines.
“It has been an honor to become deeply immersed in the various ethnic church groups in the area and to be sought by many of these pastors as a mentor and friend. It is my privilege to be invited to preach in racial and ethnic churches in the city and across the nation,” he said.
“I can think of no one who deserves the Peacemaker Award more than Charles McGowan,” Joiner told the crowd.During the ICM anniversary dinner, Steve Joiner, managing director of the institute, recognized the institute’s founding director Larry Bridgesmith, reminisced about the institute’s work in conflict management education, practice and service and presented McGowan with his award.
Other speakers at the gala dinner on Jan. 24 included Howard Vogel, incoming president of the board of directors of the International Academy of Mediators, and Mike Hammond, chairman of the Knox County Commission.
|Knox County Commission Chair Mike Hammond said he couln't priase the iCM enough.||More than 100 guests gathered to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ICM.|
|ICM Managing Director Steve Joiner played host for the evening.||ICM Senior Fellow Larry Bridgesmith spoke about the legacy of the ICM on the city and region.|