Rev. William Premkumar Ebenezer Joseph
Minister, Methodist Church of Sri Lanka
Rev. William P. Ebenezer Joseph is a minister of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka and the Co-Secretary of the Congress of Religions and the Secretary General of the Inter-faith Coalition for Peace. Having pioneered many innovative peace-related programmes, including interfaith initiatives, he passionately promotes interfaith activities addressing issues of religious freedom as well.
Rev. William was the General Secretary of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka for 14 years, promoting ecumenical relations among various Christian denominations and promoting inter- and intra-faith dialogue.
He served as the head of the Methodist church in Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2010, addressing many sensitive issues related to the tsunami of 2004 and the final phase of the thirty-year-old war in the country. He facilitated innovative ways of addressing issues related to relief, rehabilitation, justice and reconciliation, partnering with the Maha Bodhi society (Buddhist), Muslim Aid (Muslim), United Methodist Committee on Relief (Christian), among others.
Having specialized in theology and social analysis and lectures in many theological institutions, he is a sought-after speaker in many peace-related and religious forums. He currently serves as the Minister of the Methodist Church Kollupitiya, Colombo, and as the consultant on interfaith relationship for the Christian Conference of Asia.
He was conferred the title of “Samayanthara Darshana Sevitha Shasana Sobitha” in recognition of his contribution for National Unity and Religious Co-existence in Sri Lanka by the Anti-war Front in 2006.
Interreligious Activities and Initiatives
A study of the Origin, nature and function of the Inter-faith forum in Mutur amidst war and violence from 1990 – 2010 and applying lessons learnt
Mutur is a small town, situated on the East of Trincomalee, consisting of Muslims, Tamils [Hindus and Christians] and a small number of Sinhalese [Buddhists]. It was located in a militarily sensitive area during the ethnic Conflict and therefore had the interference of both the Government security forces and the Militants in a very significant way. The issues around the ethnic conflict mainly between the Sinhalese and Tamils affected this little town as well. However, more uniquely, this town experienced wave of violence between the Tamil and Muslim communities.
Amidst total confusion and chaos, The inter- faith forum was formed, which was under suspicion by both the Military and the Militants. It also faced many opposition from extremists elements fro within the communities it served. The forum made a significant contribution to the ordinary people amidst many risks and confusion. However, the forum ceased to exist after the war ended.
This initiative is to study the origin, nature and significantly its activities and as to why it ceased to function after the end of the war. It will also endeavor to apply the lessons learnt in order to revive the same to focus dialogue and peace building with an emphasis to mobilize the present day youth, both Men and women to be actively involved. The lesson learnt will also be shared with other Inter-Religious activities in areas affected by war and violence.