Kerala Regional Celebrations of the Centenary of the National Council of Churches in India

Kottayam: As part of Centenary celebration programs of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) in various regions around the country, Kerala Council of Churches (KCC) hosted a three-day long (September 26th to 28th, 2014) program in Kottayam and Tiruvalla.

The Kerala bound celebration was inaugurated by Prof P J Kuriam, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, on the 26th of September at the CSI Retreat Centre in Kottayam. Rt Rev Thomas K Oommen, the Deputy Moderator of the Church of South India, chaired the meeting in which Rt. Rev. Taranath S. Sagar (NCCI President) delivered the Centenary Message. The former president of NCCI H.G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos (Mumbai), Archbishop Kuriakose Mar Severius (Knanaya), H. G. Dr. Kuriakose Mar Theophilus (Jacobite),  H. G. Awgin Mar Kuriakose, Mr. M. M. Philip (WCC Central Committee Member), Ms Pearly Jose (NCCI Vice President) gave their felicitations. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad conveyed the greetings of NCCI and handed over mementos to the Church of South India and KCC. The delegation from NCCI and the Executive Committee members of KCC were present in the event. Fr. Dr. M. P. George sung the Prayer Song in Sanskrit and the choirs of Sruti, FFRRC and CSI Youth presented melodious songs. Rev. Joby Joy extended the vote of thanks.

On the second day (Saturday, 27th Sept.) there was a National Seminar on the theme Ecumenism Re-envisioned: Towards a Just and Inclusive Society. It was inaugurated by Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the minister to the department of Transport, at the Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, which is celebrating its bicentenary this year. Fr Dr Jacob Kurian, the principal of the Seminary, was on the chair and H.G. Dr. Yakob Mar Irenaios (Kochi diocese) presented the theme. Dr Ninan Koshy presented the first paper on Ecumenism and Nationalism: Some New Challenges. He made it clear that “religious liberty is not a minority right but a right of all people in the country. It should be defended as a fundamental right and not as any special rights of Christians or Muslims”. Prof. Ninan Koshy was emphatic in saying: “the Indian church has largely compromised with globalization, often sacrificing Christian values of justice and freedom. We seem to have accepted that education is no longer a service but a trade and commercial activity as the World Trade Organization defines.  We should seriously consider whether we can call ‘Christian’, institutions which are run on a commercial basis…” Dr. Varghese George (Chairman, Plantation Corporation) responded to the paper. Rev. Gaikwad handed over the memento of NCCI to the Orthodox Church. The second presentation was from Fr. Dr. K. M. George. Rev. Dr. K. G. Pothen (principal of MTTS Kottayam) chaired the meeting. Fr. George spoke on Ecumenism Re-envisioned: A Cultural Perspective. He was questioning the result of the early paradigms used by the Indian Churches, viz. imperial and colonial structures, and he called everybody to imbibe a new paradigm, which is purely Indian. It is against aggression and occupation of the space as well as the earthly territories. It gives more importance for inner purity and thirst for meeting the truth. Prof. Mammen Varkey (Vichara) responded to the major issues of the paper. In the afternoon Ms Susan Jacob (Communications, CCA)

spoke on Living Together in the Household of God: Asian Perspective. Prof. Mary Mathew was on the chair and Ms Ashy Sara Oommen (Sanghom, Tiruvalla) responded to it. The final session was chaired by Rev. Sunil Raj Philip (NCCI) and Mr. Sunny Kapikadu delivered the Perspective from the Marginalized. He reiterated that Caste system is the basic issue of the Indian society as well as polity and the Churches have already compromised to this. Dr. Simon John (KCC) gave the response to the paper. The seminar was attended by 250 delegates from theological seminaries, members of KCC organizations and other Christian NGOs.

The concluding programme of the Centenary Celebrations was conducted on Sunday afternoon at the St. Thomas Church, SCS, Tiruvalla which was presided over by Most Rev. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the former president of KCC, NCCI and CCA. Mr Ramesh Chennithala (Home minister) inaugurated the function and Rt. Rev. Taranath Sagar delivered the Centenary Message. Rt. Rev. K. G. Daniel (Vice President, KCC), H. G. Kuriakose mar Gregorios, H. G. Zachariah Mar Aprem (Adoor), Mr Mathew T. Thomas, Mr. Joseph M. Puthussery spoke on the occasion. The choir of DSMC presented melodious songs.

Leaders of churches such as CSI, Orthodox, Jacobite, Marthoma, Chaldean, Salvation Army, Knanaya Jacobite, Thozhiyoor, and organisations like the YMCA, YWCA, Bible Society of India, CSS, CSSM and CASA have sent their delegates to the Centenary Celebrations.  H. H. Moran Mar Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II sent his greetings from USA and H.G. Dr Gabriel Mar Gregorios (President – KCC) sent his felicitations. Fr Reji Mathew (General Secretary, KCC), Adv. Prakash P Thomas (programme committee convener) and Rev Sunil Raj Philip (Executive Secretary, NCCI) gave the organizational leadership for the centenary celebrations in Kerala.

Prepared by: Fr. Reji Mathew (General Secretary, KCC)

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