As her commitment towards building ecumenism, the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) through Youth Concerns has produced various young ecumenical leaders in both national and international levels over few decades. In continuing the vision of witnessing in forming young ecumenical leaders, the School of Ecumenical Leadership Formation for Indian Youth (SELFIY) was organized by the Youth Concerns of NCCI from 11th – 25th October 2018 at the NCCI Campus, Nagpur. The programme aimed at enhancing the prophetic Indian young minds so that the Indian Church and society at large may bear witness to ecumenism in a much more organic and tangible way. This year we focused on youth members from North and Central India. The proceeding SELFIY will emphasis on the young people from South and North East India.
SELFIY was indeed a fortnight of fellowship. There were 20 participants representing various churches and ecumenical organizations. There were youth participants from Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Salvation Army, Methodist Church in India, Church of North India, Hindustan Covenant Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh, Syrian Orthodox, Student Christian Movement of India and India Peace Centre. We also had a great team of Resource Persons viz. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad (General Secretary – NCCI), Rev. Caesar David (Executive Secretary – Communication – NCCI), Fr. Thomas Ninan (General Coordinator ESHA – NCCI), Mr. Pradip Bansrior (Executive Secretary – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns – NCCI), Rev. Christopher Rajkumar (Executive Secretary – Unity and Mission – NCCI), Rev. Dr. Abraham Mathew (Executive Secretary – Policy Governance and Public Witness – NCCI), Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar (General Secretary – SCMI), Mr. Kasta Dip (Director – IPC), Mr. Zuchonthung Ovung (Pastor – North East Christian Fellowship), Rev. Ganesh Barve (Pastor – CNI), Mr. Angelious Michael (Coordinator, Partnership Desk – JELC), Ms. Shona Thangavel (Entrepreneur), Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei (Executive Secretary – Youth Concerns – NCCI), Ms. Jenifa Rani (Intern – Unity and Mission – NCCI) and Dn. Basil Paul (Intern – Youth Concerns – NCCI).
The programme covered various topics through presentations, plenary, group discussions, documentaries, movies, activities and contextual Bible studies. The topics dealt with were Ecumenism and its contextual importance, Migration and Human/Sex Trafficking, Caste System, Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi, Communication and Advocacy skills, Patriarchy, Economic Challenges, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Minorities, Religious Fundamentalism and Freedom of Religion, 4th Industrial Revolution, Disability, Mission and Evangelism, Justice and Peacebuilding and Role of Youth in India and Theology.
Saturdays and Sundays were meant for social and ecclesial exposures respectively. During the two Saturdays and two Sundays; on one Saturday, the participants had a social exposure to the people working at the Garbage dump yard Bhandewadi and Sharansthan Charitable Society which caters to the needs of the children of sex workers. The other Saturday, an interfaith exposure was organized where the participants had an interaction with the people of other faith at Gurdwara Singh Sabha (Sikhism), Deeksha Bhoomi (Buddhism), Masjid Markaz (Islam) and Parsi Zorastrian Temple (Zoroastrianism). Likewise on two Sundays they were exposed to All Saints Cathedral and North East Christian Fellowship respectively. The delegates also observed Thursdays in Black, a campaign in solidarity and advocacy against all forms of sexual and gender based violence.
The programme was concluded with a bonfire and interaction. In the feedback session the participants expressed their joy and the great learning experience they had during this programme. They left NCCI with a sense of deep ecumenical commitment and an earnest desire to bring transformative changes in their church and society.