World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission
Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) and
Christian Service Agency
Consultation on “Food and Migration”
Workshop to Develop Worship Resources for Churches’ Week of Action on Food
The week between 10 – 17 October is an important week for the all the Global Ecumenical Movements, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) since they collectively involve and participate in a campaign for Food-Justice. The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance has declared this week as “Churches’ Week of Action on Food”. It is a global campaign tool to advocate Food-justice ‘OF’ all – Food Justice ‘FOR all. This is part of the WCC -EAA’s global Campaign on ‘Food for Life’.
This is an invitation to several thousand congregations around the globe to observe this week meaningfully. Hence, this week includes the ‘International Day for Disaster Reduction’ (13 October), ‘International Day for Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for Eradication of Poverty (17 October). In fact the UN’s FAO Committee on Food Security meets between 11 -16 October every year in its head quarters in Rome, Italy. The WCC – EAA invites churches to observe the Sunday falling during this week as ‘Food for Life Sunday’.
In the past the observance of this week has been found to be effective and has impacted several local congregations, CBOs and FBOs to focus their ministerial and diaconal interventions towards Food-Justice through various creative activities such as rallies, food-festivals, seed-festivals, demonstrations, literature distributions, consultations, symposiums, seminars, public meetings including prayers and worships. Generally the theme of the United Nations’ World Food Day’ is followed. The theme for 2017 is “Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. Therefore “Food and Migration’ is chosen as a theme to observe the Churches Week of Action on Food – 2017′.
At the end of each day, 795 million people – one in nine people in the world, go to sleep on an empty stomach. One in three – suffer from some form of malnutrition. This is not because of either poverty or population explosion or scarcity of food, but because of unjust structures, and unjust systems of production, procurement and distribution of food. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) critically cautions that poverty is quite acute in South Asia and that in the long term starvation would lead to the deaths of five members including two children under the age of six in every family. And today we witness hunger deaths and suicide of farmers around us. Despite the economic growth achieved during the last 20 years, continents like Africa, South Asia and other such vulnerable lands continue to suffer from ‘alarming hunger’ and acute malnutrition. The recently introduced Sustainable Development Goals try to address some of these concerns seriously.
Today’s globe is witnessing migrations due to various reasons. Most of them are due to scarcity of food whether it is a war context or drought context. Therefore, it is time for immediate interventions. One among them is Churches Week of Action on Food. These observances would facilitate local congregations to support the local elected bodies to improve their welfare programmes including the Public Distribution Systems (PDS) which distributes basic commodities at subsidized cost to the people who live under the poverty line. It is also an opportunity for Christians and others around the world to act together for food justice and food sovereignty. It is a special time to raise awareness about farming approaches that help individuals and communities develop resilience and combat poverty, and take action together to eradicate hunger, promote adequate nutrition, and strive towards just and sustainable food systems. These observances would also address issues of human-made ecological degradation and the inevitable climate change.When the agricultural yields are very inadequate or even nil at times, it forces farmers to migrate leaving their lands or selling them and becoming landless labourers contributing to exploitative practices like bonded labour and migration.
The migration report of the United Nations observes that, in 2015, India had the largest “Diaspora” in the world (16 million), followed by Mexico (12 million). 15. 2% of the Indian population is undernourished which is approximately 194.6 million people. The National Crime Record Bureau Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India records 12602 deaths of Farmers and Agri-labourers in 2015 alone, and 6667+200 deaths (in only 5 states) in 2016. These alarming numbers give a picture of the way in which these issues are relevantly urgent for the Indian context. This however is the case of human communities not only in India but is also the reality everywhere.
Advanced studies claim that the rapid urbanization and concretization of towns and cities have not only destroyed the well being of humanity and face to face relations but also resulted in the loss of forests, trees, rare birds (now extinct) and so on. This constant urbanization has not only become an exploitation of earth but has negatively impacted in creating a mirage for people of struggling communities to move into cities in search of better living. This is resulting in the downfall of agriculture, which used to be the backbone of the country’s GDP. We as human communities are called to be responsible stewards of creation; we should not disrupt earth’s systemic cycle.
Theologically, food for all is seen as an essential mission mandate for Christians. God the Creator ensures that Adam, representing all humans, is provided with food for sustenance, health and growth. Jesus refers to himself as the ‘bread of life’, thereby denoting the importance of food for all. ‘Bread of life’ is God’s gift not only to humanity but to all of creation. Hence this gift ought to be shared among all creation. Any disparity in such sharing results in injustice thereby accentuating the disturbances caused to the very cycle of life.
Food is essential for the existence of all living creatures. It is mandated to us that we need to missiologically act in making sure that food is shared among all living creatures. If we seek a mission mandate toward serving God, our focus should be on Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry, you gave me food…, I was a stranger, you welcomed me…” If theos is explicit in the face of the hungry, and strangers, then that theos dwells in them making us to serve those who are hungry and are strangers.
This missiological expression of Christian faith and practice is visible through the diaconal interventions in reaching out to those who are strangers and those in hunger, not only by standing in solidarity with them but also by participating in their struggles and responsibly using natural resources and by propagating this model of diaconia among our neighbours. This can be done by using strong advocacy tools like prayer, liturgies, songs, and other worship resources. Since spirituality is the heart of a person’s expression of Christian faith, worship becomes a pivotal peak of expression.
Since it is a life and death issue for our country, the NCCI has been committed to engage in this campaign thereby encouraging the constituent members and churches to mainstream ‘Food Justice for Life’ in their respective Mission and Ministerial Agendas. Therefore, the NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the WCC – EAA and Student Christian Movement of India and the Christian Service Agency (CSA) in organizing a one day consultation to develop worship and prayer resources at SCM House, Mission Road, 2nd Cross, Bangalore on the 14th August 2017. This would be an interface between Church and Ecumenical Leaders, Social Scientists and Workers, Academicians and Theologians to sharpen our focus to effectively facilitate the local congregations and communities for participating in the Campaign that affirms ‘Food-Justice ‘OF’ all , Food-Justice ‘FOR’ all.
Aims and Objectives
- To facilitate an interface between church workers/ academicians/ theologians/ social activists/ clergy together to discuss on issue relating to food and migration
- To deliberate upon and develop worship resources for the church to observe the Churches’ Week of Aaction on Food.
- To help formulate an ecclesial framework based on theological, spiritual, socio-political experiences in the context of Food
- Input Sessions,
- Panel and Group Discussions,
- Plenary and Reflections.
- World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
- National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission,
- Student Christian Movement of India
- Christian Service Agency
Facilitation: National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission
Venue: SCM House, Mission Road, Bangalore
Date: 14th to 15th August 2017
- Representatives from WCC, WCC-EAA and NCCI /CSA Constituent Members
- Representatives from SCMI
- Ecumenical and Community Leaders
- Representatives from Theological and Other Educational Institutions
- Social Workers and Social Scientists
- Scanning and listening to stories from the Indian Context from Political/Religious/Social Perspectives
- Developing Worship Resources for ‘Churches Week of Action on Food’ 2017
Rev. Christopher Rajkumar – NCCI <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar – SCMI <email@example.com>