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September 9, 2016
LeDayne McLeese Polaski, executive director of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz (BPFNA), was the 2016 recipient of Furman University’s Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award, which “recognizes a Furman graduate who reflects Baptist ideals by thinking critically, living compassionately, and making life-changing commitments…to strengthen, expand, and translate the relationship between faith and learning.” LeDayne is the 16th person to receive this award, which has been in place since 2000.*
LeDayne, a 1989 Furman graduate, has worked for BPFNA in various roles since 1998, and in 2015 she became the organization’s executive director.
“LeDayne may be a life-long Carolinian, but her commitment to peace and justice has motivated her to reach far and wide in pursuit of racial reconciliation and restorative justice,” said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, president of Furman. “She lives her life and dedicates her calling to the idea that peacemaking is more than speaking out against violence. It should be a prescriptive and transforming way of life. Furman is proud to recognize LeDayne for demonstrating to all of us that peacemaking requires a total commitment of body, soul, and mind.”
In her acceptance speech, LeDayne paid tribute to the brave peacemakers working in courageous and creative ways to build the world they wish to see. “From men and women who, under threat of death, walk into villages with cameras to document human rights abuses to those who walk past men armed with AK47s to lead open air conflict transformation trainings, these peacemakers live out the Biblical admonition that we be willing to lay down our lives for one another. It is in their honor that I accept this award."
*The three previous recipients of this award have BPFNA connections! James Russell (Russ) Dean (2015) and April Baker (2014) are both pastors of BPFNA Partner Congregations, and Joseph Stanley (Stan) Wilson (2013) is a longterm BPFNA member. Other BPFNA members to receive this award include Kyle Matthews (2006) and Peggy Haymes (2005).