On November 7 Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili’s work for peace, freedom and justice was recognised by Pro Fide Award 2014. It was awarded by the Very Revd Johan Candelin of the Friends of the Martyred Church (Finland) at Betheli Centre, in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Very Revd Johan Candelin is the good will ambassador for the First Step Forward, an organization of top ranking Christian politicians from Europe and USA.
“I googled “Malkhaz Songulashvili” and when I read everything I thought such a person could not possibly exist,” said the Very Revd Candelin before granting the award, “yet he is among us and we would like to recognise his work and ministry.”
“I am humbled by such a recognition and, to be perfectly honest, I do not think I deserve it.” Said the Archbishop.
“This is what other recipients have also said.” Immediately commented the Very Revd Canelin, “we give this award only to such people who think they do not deserve it.”
“However,” continued the Archbishop after a short pause, “I can not refuse to receive such an award from the tallest clergymen in Europe.” Apparently Mr Candelin has been recognized as the tallest priest in Europe (He is 2 meters and 4 centimetres tall).
“This year I have turned fifty and whatever I have managed to accomplish in my life is chiefly due to support, affirmation and prayers of my friends. Therefore I should thank both you all and other friends of mine, who are not present here with us, for your most generous support without which I could not be what I have been.” concluded the Archbishop.
Previous recipients of the award include Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and China’s Bob Fu, the founder and president of ChinaAid.
After the award giving ceremony Mr Beka Mindiashvili, the Director of Tolerance Centre, Imam Kemal Tsetskhladze of the Georgian Muslim Union and Bishop Ilia Osepashvili of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia offered words of congratulation to the Archbishop.
“We count on the Archbishop’s spiritual, political and intellectual guidance in the matters of religious liberty and reconciliation.” Said Mr Minidiashvili.
“I should admit before I met Archbishop Malkhaz I could not stand Christian clergy,” Said Imam Tsetskhladze, “now I know what is a true image of the Christian clergy.”
Bishop Ilia spoke of the peace mission to Iran and Iraq, which Archbishop Malkhaz had recently led upon the invitation of Ayatollah Shahristani.
The award ceremony took place at Betheli Centre and was attended by Archbishop’s friends, family members and representatives of Muslim and Christian clergy.