Although Dr. Lyon is the former general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church denomination, the award recognized her as founder and longtime leader of World Hope International, a ministry that she started in her home. Within twelve years of its inception, the organization grew to a $17 million global Christian relief and development agency serving in 30 countries and dedicated to alleviate suffering and injustice. In her time with World Hope International, she traveled extensively, often to dangerous and remote areas. Her creative approach and problem-solving with local leadership led to programs which brought both clean water and spiritual nourishment to these communities. She has helped to initiate numerous projects including digging wells, holistic healing programs for post-war amputees, and brought national awareness to human-trafficking. She followed her time at World Hope International by serving for eight years as General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.
Dr. Lyon states: “In this time, we care about needy and suffering people, about immigrants, about racial reconciliation, about refugees, about human trafficking, and about the equality of God’s image in women. The prophet Amos said: ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ (5:24). Seeking justice alone can become all political. But righteousness without seeking justice for others leads to isolation from the world. We find that balance including both justice and righteousness, rooted in the Bible and in our historical identity.”
Dr. Lyon has served as the representative of The Wesleyan Church to the President of The United States Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, on the board of directors of many organizations including the National Association of Evangelicals Executive Committee, Christian Community Development Association, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Asbury Theological Seminary, Council on Faith of the World Economic Forum.
“Seeking justice alone can become all political,” Lyon said. “But righteousness without seeking justice for others leads to isolation from the world. We find that balance including both justice and righteousness, rooted in the Bible and in our historical identity.”
Lyon gave a plenary address at the conference on Sept. 3, and noted the power inherent in the 80.5 million people represented in the 80 Methodist, Wesleyan and related United and Uniting groups that are part of the World Methodist Council.
“Eighty million of us. That’s a lot of folks, people!” she said. “And God can do a lot with us. And if we can get focused on the mission and vision God has for us, literally at this time in history the world can be turned upside down.”
About the World Methodist Peace Award
First awarded in 1977, the World Methodist Peace Award is given to a person or persons who have displayed courage, creativity and consistency in pursuing peace and equal rights for individuals throughout the world. Nominations may be made by leaders of the World Methodist Council’s Member Churches by submitting a letter highlighting the reason for the nomination and giving evidence of the fruit of the nominee’s efforts toward peace. Prior recipients of the award include former South African President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Other recipients are former President of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski, the compassionate community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.
Thanks to Sam Hodges, UMNS reporter, for his coverage of the World Methodist Conference. Parts of this article were taken from his story at www.umc.org.