Last night in the Benes Room, OWU President Rock Jones conferred an Honorary Doctor of Divinity on the Reverend Dr. Harold Good for his dedication to peace, justice and reconciliation.
Although Good’s distinguished careers in the ministry and as Director of the Corrymeela Center for Reconciliation are widely known, it is one particular incident that highlights the integrity of the man and what belief in that integrity was able to accomplish.
In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement raised hopes for stability in Northern Ireland, which long had been rocked by sectarian violence and bloodshed.
But by 2005, while considerable progress had been made, the decommissioning of arms held by the Irish Republican Army was stalled.
Verification of weapons decommissioning would be difficult because no member of the IRA could be photographed surrendering weapons; such an action would be considered treasonous.
It was decided that independent witnesses to the decommissioning were necessary and the governments of Great Britain and Ireland turned to two men whose veracity would be unquestioned: Father Alec Reid, a Roman Catholic priest; and the Reverend Harold Good.
For nine days in multiple locations, the two men witnessed the decommissioning of a huge weapons cache. The duo watched the entire process minute by minute, and at the end made a statement that all weapons had been decommissioned—and “this development will become a benchmark for the peaceful resolution of political conflicts everywhere and that, for the people of Northern Ireland, it will herald the dawn of a new era of peace.”
Both the British and Irish governments were assured by the words of these two men and the peace process moved on.
Good was born in Northern Ireland, ordained to the Methodist ministry in 1962, and then came to the United States to earn a Master of Sacred Theology from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
He served an inner-city congregation in the United States at the time of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He then returned to a congregation in Northern Ireland, where he saw firsthand the devastating effects of the violence on innocent lives.
In 1973, he became director of the Corrymeela Centre for Reconciliation, a place where both Catholics and Protestants could find a haven from the hostilities and where there he created the opportunity for peaceful interchange between those of differing religious, social, and political views.
He returned to the active ministry in 1979, and in 2001, was elected president of the Methodist Church in Ireland.
He retired in 2002.
“Dr. Good exemplifies the core values of Ohio Wesleyan University, especially in relation to his substantial leadership in religious and racial reconciliation,” said University Chaplain Jon Powers, Th.M.
“As the 2007 recipient of the World Methodist Peace Award (presented by the World Methodist Council), Dr. Good stands in league with other recipients of this award—Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, Elias Chacour, Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela.”
“When we honor the Reverend Harold Good, we are honoring all that’s good in the human aspiration for a peaceful and just world—a world of shalom,” said Blake Michael, chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Religion.
In addition to the World Methodist Peace Award, Good has been recognized with the Rene Casin Human Rights Award from the Basque government; the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award; and honorary doctoral degrees from Queen’s University in Belfast, the University of Ulster, and The Open University in the United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1970 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985.