A brief report of the Ecumenical Peace Consultation and Workshop held at Guwahati during 29th – 31st October 2018.Jointly organized by NEI-Action Desk – NCCI (National Council of Churches in India, CBCNEI (Council of Baptist Churches in North East India), APBF (Asia Pacific Baptist Federation), JPMT (Joint Peace Mission Team) NEISF (North East India Social Forum)
A three day Ecumenical Peace Consultation and Workshop was organized at CBCNEI Conference Hall under the theme Cultivate and Create a Culture of Compassionate Christian Community in the North East India: the 6 C’s. Around 57 delegates from various North East States from various backgrounds and professions such as Church leaders, missionaries, principals, theological students, teachers, peace activists, social workers and students pursuing M.A in Peace Studies took part in the program. During the three day consultation and workshop the participants were inspired and taught how compassion within the community can play an important role in bringing peace in the Northeast states of India.
There were three key note speakers for each day on day 1 Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil gave the key note on the topic “Creating a Compassionate Community”. On Day 2 Rev. Steve Smith delivered the key note on the topic “Compassionate Communities”. On Day 3, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad General Secretary of NCCI gave the key note on the topic “Institutionalizing Compassion”. Apart from the Key note addresses there were also panel presentations and discussions each day on various concerns of Peace. The group of panelists were: Elungkiebe Zeliang, Malthyus Sangma, Dr. Gangtei, Fr. Owen, Mukul Bora, Allen Brooks, Amrit Goldsmith and V. Shitovi Sema. Based on the three key note addresses and the sharing of all the panelists the participants took part in various brainstorming workshops which helped all the participants to articulate and bring out a declaration note on the final day as a sign of their commitment to work in creating compassionate communities, indeed to be channels of sharing compassion, thereby facilitating a societies of Peace and Justice.
Declaration of the Ecumenical Peace Consultation (EPC)
Held during 29-31st October 2018, at the Council of Baptist Churches in Northeast India (CBCNEI). Jointly Organized by ; Asia Pacific Baptist Federation ( APBF) ; North East India Social Forum (NEISF); Joint Peace Mission Team ( JPMT) ; NEI – ACTION DESK – NCCI ( National Council of Churches of India); and Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI) .
During the 3 day discussion a number of issues were identified as possible causes of conflict : acquisition of land , disrespect for humanity, tribal and group rivalries , unnecessary denominational divisions, marginalization of refugees, challenges of minorities and tribes who work in tea gardens, people resorting to political and ethnic violence as an inadequate solution to finding harmony and peace .
We have come together to address issues of violence, trauma, tension, and anxiety in the Northeast Region of India. We believe that Christian Communities can make a significant contribution to improving the life of the people as given in the Gospel by serving as salt and light. We believe that we can achieve our goals not only through individual initiatives but also through team work of all the community of believers.
Our Affirmation and Commitment
We are appalled at the massive loss of lives during the times of conflict over the last two to three decades in the northeast region.
We believe that in the present situation of conflict and turmoil, we are called to intervene and bring positive solutions in our region, using the way of Compassion as taught to us by Christ.
As our commitment to Christ, we will continuously learn, imbibe and seek to practice and advocate Compassion in every sphere of our being both in individual and community life.
We will Cultivate and uphold the preciousness of human life and dignity , as we are all created in the image of God .We will endeavor to Create a Culture of Compassion as the foundation of human relations, to heal and facilitate creative solutions in the midst of conflicts and misunderstandings that exist in our surrounding and environment.
We believe the spirit of Compassion in the Christian Community will help to break down tribal barriers and open
our connection to wider communities.
We believe in the power of intercessory prayers and encourage all Christians to earnestly pray for Peace and building Compassionate Community in Northeast India and different parts of the World. We believe Compassion is a way to bring the Gospel to all around us and those in need.
We will earnestly encourage and strengthen each other in our advocacy to enhance Compassion in our midst and every sphere of life in relation to humankind and the environment around us.
We, who have participated in the 3 days consultation, will commit to using our strength and resources to promote Compassionate Community, wherever we work and live.
Our Recommendations to all Churches, Institutions and Organizations
We call on leaders of churches, institutions and organizations
- To endorse, teach and train the people to follow the way of peace and creating Compassionate communities.
- To hold training programs that will prepare people to face conflicts whenever it arises; which include occasionally inviting experienced peace experts and to share their experiential knowledge and wisdom.
- To train people in nonviolent methods of conflict resolution, such as learning to use Peace Counts and other effective methods such as the Do No Harm ( DNH) , Local Capacity for Peace ( LCP), Making Sense of Turbulent Conflict ( MSTC) and the Reflection on Peace Practices ( RPP) .
- To send their members for studies in the field of Peace and Justice Courses in available Institutions.
- To encourage and hold regular activities such as Peace Week, Peace Workshop, Seminar , Symposiums , arts and painting, songs and drama for all age groups. This will enhance and imbibe the knowledge to practice the culture of Compassion.
- To identify the major causes of conflict and violence in the region and suggest possible solutions.
- To establish prayer groups and pray for peace and compassionate relationships in their communities.
- To strengthen the spiritual discipline of Church and community leaders continually by intentional practices such as retreats, prayers, meditations and inter church fellowship.
- To address issues of trafficking and prevention methods in the Northeast region.
- To continue to organize future consultations and advocate the declaration and to sustain the growing movement.
Reported by Shitovi Sema, Coordinator : NEI-Action Desk – NCCI