Templars Quarterly Update
Nick Acosta, Communications and Development Officer
International Center for Religion and Diplomocy

Dear Friends:

This most recent quarter, ICRD was excited to announce the launch of two new major programmatic engagements. In addition to our ongoing work, these programs branch ICRD into new spaces and further cement the Center as a global leader in religious peacebuilding.

Most recently, ICRD announced a program working with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative (IPTI), with generous funding from both USIP and the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation (GHR), to study, enhance, and support the role of religious actors in Track One peace processes. Track One refers to formal peace negotiations, typically advanced by diplomats and government officials. This is often set in contrast to Track Two, which focuses on the reduction of violent conflict within a particular country or community context.

Research has shown that formal peace processes have a significantly higher chance of success and sustainability when they include religious actors, women, youth, and other frequently overlooked groups in negotiations. The lessons of history have taught us that peace processes of all types, including those executed at the Track One level, have failed or lacked efficiency and effectiveness because of the exclusion of these actors. Studying and quantifying the impact and value-add of religious actors is vital to advancing sustainable peacebuilding practices around the world.

“I think the role of religion needs to be paramount in all strands of negotiation. If religious leaders take a thoughtful approach not trapped in the extremes of nationalistic identity, using an inclusive framework for all identities. I think they can bring a lot to the table, not least that principle of hearing the marginalized excluded voices.” – Rev. Dr. Gary Mason, Founder of Rethink Conflict

This program will include the creation and establishment of a consortium of policy makers, practitioners, and scholars committed to generating a mechanism designed to support the inclusion and participation of religious actors at the Track One level worldwide. Following a first meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in December 2018, the second in a series of Consortium Workshops will be convened this December in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In addition, we were pleased to announce that, in collaboration with the Norwegian government’s development agency (NORAD), ICRD is supporting the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) in preventing and countering violent extremism, advancing religious literacy, and building social cohesion. Regional inter-governmental organizations like ASEAN, the African Union (AU), European Union (EU), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and others are vital to securing peace, stability, and growth in areas where these concerns are rarely bound within the borders of a single country. ICRD has built a strong set of partner organizations throughout the South and Southeast Asia regions to advance this program and see this as the first of many engagements with regional bodies to come.

While these two new programs are just beginning, our existing programs continue to press on. ICRD’s program staff was recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support and train local peacebuilders coming from Yemen. In collaboration with our local partner, Partners Yemen, ICRD trained 23 religious, educational, and civil society leaders in more than 20 distinct skills related to responding to violence in their communities. The topics covered during the training included context analysis, identifying drivers of violence, understanding and addressing violent extremism, reconciliation techniques, reintegration of former fighters, program monitoring and evaluation, and ensuring sustainability. Participants then returned home with program ideas for implementation. These training workshops initiated a new series of collaborative learning exchanges, which will support the ongoing capacity building of local peacebuilders in Yemen.

Having returned to Yemen, ICRD’s local partners will go on to implement peacebuilding initiatives and explore opportunities for growth and greater inclusion at the local level. Local projects will garner local input, build community buy-in, and involve citizen-participants in mutually beneficial community initiatives. ICRD will support these initiatives in an advisory role, providing guidance and feedback at every stage of program implementation.

As ICRD continues to expand its international portfolio and programmatic reach, support to intergovernmental regional actors deepens our global impact. International bodies and regional cooperation are vitally important to sustainable peace, and the opportunity to bring the importance of religion and religious values to these spaces is an exciting one. ICRD is taking a multi-layered approach to peacebuilding, working from the highest levels of Track One engagement and regional bodies, all the way to those community leaders working on the front lines of violent conflict. At the heart of fractured spaces, ICRD is making faith part of the solution.

Warm Regards,


December 2019
Regular publication of SMOTJ GPUSA

In This Issue

  Words from the Grand Prior

  Required Minimum Distribution

  SMOTJ Scholarship Drive

  SMOTJ Jerusalem Mite

  ICRD Templar Update

  Operation Knight Flight Update

  Bridge Building Partnership

  Order of Merit

  Priory News

  Priory News (cont'd)

  Priory News (cont'd)

  Priory News (cont'd)

  GPUSA Calendar

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