The Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India organized an Ecumenical Consultation on Women Catalyst of Change . This consultation was organized in partnership with Diocesan Women’s Fellowship of Christian Service (DWFCS), North East Diocese – Church of North India on 18th February 2018 in Christ Church , Guwahati, Assam.
60 women church leaders from Baptist Church, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church in India, North East India Council of Churches, and The Salvation Army from different parts of Assam and Meghalaya attended this Consultation. Prior to this consultation an Ecumenical Worship was organized to commemorate World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2018 in Christ Church from 8:30am – 10:00 am. Women leaders of DWFCS conducted the WDP worship reflecting on the theme ” All God’s Creation is Very Good”.
Drawing from the WDP resource material produced by WDP Committee of Suriname, Rev Moumita Biswas delivered the key message about women’s power in protecting God’s created order . She cited contextual examples about how taking care of wet lands can be an answer to climate change . Rev Biswas cited the example of 37 years old women Purnima Burman of Assam who engaged women and villagers to protect the storks or Hargila birds and their nestling grounds the wetlands of Assam. She also reflected how women in the North East India in state of Nagaland are practicing organic and contour farming using indigenous skills to save water and prevent soil erosion . Such efforts have resulted improving women’s living condition and promoting food security.
Following the worship was the Ecumenical Consultation on Women Agents of Change based on the theme ‘All God’s Creation is Very Good: So Now Choose Life , Change Ways and Actions’. The theme was based on WDP 2018 theme ‘ All God’s Creation is Very Good!’ and Asian Church Women’s Conference centenary theme ‘Now Choose Life, Change Ways and Actions.’
The consultation reflected on the impact of climate change and ecological degradation on women and girls and efforts to heal wounded relationship with mother earth and communities. There was discussion regarding the nexus between climate change, ecological degradation , migration and human trafficking and gender based violence . Women church leaders shared contextual practical stories and strategies of how in the midst of all this, because of their resilience, spirituality, commitment and indigenous practices, women are acting as catalyst of change. They also reflected on how ‘informed prayer and prayerful actions’ and praxis oriented prayer movements like WDP can nurture spirituality of stewardship to protect and take care of God’s Oikos and create order .
Dr Monisha Behal ( CEO , North East Network) reflected on Climate Change, Ecological Degradation and Impact on Women and how rural women in the North East as custodians of seed are maintaining bio diversity . She focused on strategies of sustainable development and practices to end violence on Mother Earth and Women as practiced by rural women to bring about transformation .
Ms Rosanna Lyndoh ( Co-founder Impulse and renowned NGO in North East that works to promote sustainable development, Human Rights and End Human Trafficking ) created awareness about Nexus Between Human Trafficking, Sexual Slavery, Migration and Climate change. While creating awareness regarding ways to end human trafficking she raised the question how women’s fellowship of churches can act as acatalyst in this process.
Rev Moumita Biswas ( Women Concerns Ministry, National Council of Churches in India ) shared about different Campaigns and Advocasy Methods to be Catalysts of Change.
Mrs Wellorich Anderson Sokhlet (Chairperson ,Presbyterian Women’s Fellowship) shared about Handful of Rice Movement practiced by Presbyterian women in India supporting pastors and different forms of ministry of the Presbyterian church . In this movement every time women cook a meal, they keep aside a handful of rice and later sell it to contribute to the Church. However she shared that there is need to support more women missionaries through the money raised by ‘Handful of Rice’ movement as majority of the fund goes in supporting the traditional ministries of the church.
According to Pritty Sangam Basumatary – Women Fellowship President of Christ Church, Guwahati “It is indeed a privilege for us to host this consultation; moreover this ecumenical gathering further helped us to strengthen church women networking. ”
This consultation was part of ‘Women’s Ecumenical Action and Networking (WEAN) for Justice and Peace’ program of ‘Women Concerns Ministry’ of National Council of Churches in India. The WEAN Program of aims –
- To strengthen networking among christian women , regional councils , global church women leaders and civil society to build inclusive communities.
- Promote and nurture women’s spirituality and prayer movements to reflect faith in action
Reported by Rev Moumita Biswas , Executive Secretary of Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India