Indian Christian Mission starts ‘FROM’, ‘BY’ and ‘WITH’ the Margins, says Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

The India Pre-conference of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism was held at the CNI Bhavan, New Delhi from 24 -26 January 2018 on the theme: ‘Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions’. There were forty-eight delegates including fourteen women and ten youth from thirteen various ecclesial traditions, seven theologians from various schools of thought, thirteen social and developmental organizations, nine ecumenists and six mission workers, represented also from the ‘so-called’ socially, religiously and culturally excluded communities like, Tribals/Adivasis, Dalits, People With Disabilities, Sexually Diverse Communities, Women, and Youth. The Conference was jointly organized by the Church of North India Synod and NCCI Unity and Mission along with the WCC – Commission on Council for World Mission and Evangelism.

The Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, President, National Council of Churches in India and the Moderator of the Church of North India inaugurated the Conference. In the inaugural address the Most Revered Moderator ‘invited’ the Churches, Mission Movements and Diaconal Organizations to adopt ‘discipleship’ as a strategy to ‘do’ and ‘practice’ mission in India. Further the President observed that, Christian Mission in India has a 2000 years  history. Christian Mission has been involving in inculcating the Gospel values of Justice, Peace and Love through its education, health and diaconal interventions in and among all the communities and the societies at large. These interventions have reached millions of people and brought a change in their lives and in the societies at large. These interventions are not basically to convert anyone to Christianity; rather these are engaged in the process of molding good human / citizens. But, today a hate campaign is waged against the Churches and its mission services including diaconal interventions, alleging  that these missional interventions are after all for ‘conversion, ‘ even when facts reveal that  the Christian population has been constituting  2.5 % of the Indian population for centuries.

It is clearly evident that in all missional and diaconal interventions Indian Christian missions have largely focused on the ‘transformation of lives’ by ‘DOING gospel’ along with ‘preaching’ of the good news.  The gospel of Christ has directly confronted injustices in society such as caste discrimination, gender injustice and other social divides, and has identified with the socially, religiously, economically neglected, excluded and discriminated communities who are pushed to the edges of society. So, Indian Christian Mission is ‘FROM’ the Margins, ‘BY’ the Margins and ‘WITH’ the margins.  This is the uniqueness of the Indian Christian mission.   Further the President said that, the transforming discipleship strives to enhance human values based on the gospel values of justice, peace and love.  Therefore, he invited the mission movements and churches to be together in mission, facilitating new disciples to transform the society as God intended, thereby realizing the reign of God: “ I call upon the mission leaders to go into the world, strengthening the process of ‘transforming disciples’ in all nations”.

Shri. Alwan Masih, the General Secretary of the Church of North India, moderated the inaugural sessions and several Church leaders spoke at the inaugural session.

Please click  for detailed India Pre-Conference Report

Click here for Coverage in Peoples Reporter

Click for Photographs

Reported by:

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,

Executive Secretary,

NCCI – Unity and Mission

<mission@ncci1914.com>

NCCI supports the Peaceful Clean Election Campaign of NBCC

The National Council of Churches in India, keeping in mind the political scenario in Nagaland, on account of  the  upcoming state assembly elections which are to be held on 27th February 2018, appreciates the ongoing campaign of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) on Clean Election.

The NCCI urges all churches in Nagaland to continue to pray for peaceful clean elections, and also to encourage one another in ensuring that the upcoming elections will take place in an exemplary manner.

The NCCI also urges all political parties, NGOs  and civil society organizations in Nagaland to abide by the call made by NBCC and its suggestions for a clean and responsible election.

The appeal and the guidelines of NBCC are presented below:

No.1 – Letter to the Director General of Police

December 13, 2017

Director General of Police
Nagaland Police Headquarters
PR Hill, Kohima- 797001

Subject: STRICT ENFORCEMENT OF THE NAGALAND LIQUOR TOTAL PROHIBITION (NLTP) ACT, 1989

Dear Sir,

Warm season greetings from the NBCC Office, Kohima.

In view of the general election in the State related for early next year coming close, the need for  concerted effort from all concern, to usher in free and fair election, has become imperative and critical. We believe that strict enforcement of the NLTP Act in the state during the coming months will greatly strengthen  the Clean Election Campaign which is currently in motion.

We would, therefore, like to request you to direct all concerned law enforcing agencies under your kind authority to work together with Clean Election Campaign members and volunteers (Youth, Women, Students etc.) so as to stop illegal supply of liquor to towns and villages.

We look forward to your kind cooperation and support. Thank you.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

SD/-
(REV. DR. ZELHOU KEYHO)
General Secretary

SD/-
(REV. DR. MAR ATSONGCHANGER)
President & Convener, NBCC-CEC

CC:

  1. Executive Secretaries of Baptist Associations for information
  2. NBCC CEC Core Committee Members for information
  3. CEC Conveners under Associations for information
  4. Cabinet and Member-at-Large for information
  5. Office File

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World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2018 – “All God’s Creation is Very Good!”

INFORMED PRAYER & PRAYERFUL ACTION

“ALL GOD’S CREATION IS VERY GOOD”

Dear  Fellow-pilgrims of Justice and Peace,

Greetings of Peace from Women Concerns Ministry of National Council of Churches in India.

It is our pleasure to share with you the Resource Material of World Day of Prayer  2018. The theme of  2018 WDP is “All God’s Creation is Very Good!” .

This year WDP Resource Material is prepared by Suriname WDP Committee, shared by  World Day of Prayer  International Committee (WDPIC)  and contexualized in India  by  Women Concerns Ministry, NCCI.

The WDP is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian Women who join in prayer for peace and justice. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action.” The movement aims to bring together women of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common  Day of Prayer as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.  Every year it is commemorated on the first Friday in March and a  particular country is chosen as country of focus . The  WDP Committee prepares the resource material on particular theme.

 The 2018 Resource material reflects how Women from Suriname lift up their voices to remind us that we are caretakers of God’s creation! How good is God’s creation? That is the question to meditate upon and respond to with a personal commitment to care for creation . They are bringing to our attention the urgent need for caring at a time when more than 180 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change: A commitment to take care and heal wounded mother Earth.

Through the worship service, we listen to the multicultural and multi-ethnic people of Suriname. They take us to their communities and through their concerns. History is before our eyes! The flora and fauna is remarkable! Everyday life is weaved into prayers. Through WDP a movement for “informed prayer and prayerful action” we encourage women’s fellowships in India and churches to care of creation  throughout the year .

We encourage you to involve children and youth during the worship as they are our future stewards and care takers of mother Earth. Not only will they carry the legacy of WDP Movement but sow seeds of justice and peace in the world.

We request you to send 3-4 good resolution photographs and brief report immediately and latest by 31st March 2018 so that we can publish it and share it in the NCCI Website  WORLD DAY OF PRAYER ASIA FACEBOOK PAGE and  send Women Concerns ministry report to  WDPIC. The soft copy reports and photographs can be sent by email to aiccw.office.ncci@gmail.com with a copy to ncci.aiccw.moumita@gmail.com

We have already sent the Resource Material to National Women’s Fellowships of member churches of NCCI.   Please share these resource materials with local dioceses, women’s fellowships,  church leaders, ecumenical partners,  theological colleges and Christian institutions.

Looking forward to all your solidarity in practicing and promoting WDP (Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action) movement.

Shanti! Shalom! Salam!

Rev. Moumita Biswas
Executive Secretary
Women’s Concerns Ministry NCCI.

 

DOWNLOAD: World Day of Prayer 2018 WDP Prayer Book

Posted by Women Concerns Ministry of NCCI

 

Letter from WCC General Secretary | WCC’s 70th anniversary.

Please click on link  to see a letter from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary – WCC, updating you on the WCC’s 70th Anniversary and inviting you to participate actively in the celebrations.

Also see the link to the list of events planned so far.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI.

 

Download –

  1. 18_1 Letter 70th anniversary
  2. 70th Anniversary_Letter to member Churches_Appendix

PRESS RELEASE on the present situation at St. Mary’s College, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

Christians in Madhya Pradesh have recently been passing through a very difficult period. Besides the arrest and harassment of innocent Christmas Carol singing Priests and seminarians in Satna just before Christmas, fundamentalist forces had set their eyes on St. Mary’s P.G. College, Vidisha.  For the past few weeks, the ABVP, the Sanathan dharma and other like minded organizations have been threatening to forcibly perform “The Aarti of Bharat Mata” in the college Premises. On 30-12-2017, a violent mob of 60-70 persons jumped over the walls despite the presence of some 20 policemen and attempted to forcibly perform ‘Bharat Mata ki Aarti’. They threatened the Director Fr. Shaiju Devassy that they would return on 4th January and perform the Aarti at all costs and that should Father refuse to do it, they would put a garland of shoes around his neck and make him perform it.  Meanwhile, the SDM of the area had already denied these groups permission to perform the Aarti. Despite this order, on 4-1-2018, true to the threats, a larger and virulent mob of over 700 persons from outside the college again attempted to forcibly enter the college premises and perform the Aarti.  The Staff of three institutions in the campus which provide education for over 9,500 students unanimously agreed with the Director that the action of aarti is neither needed nor permissible in the campus. Bowing to mobs would endanger the running of the institutions and was not good for our democratic way of life, they felt. The Union Home Ministry, the Madhya Pradesh State Government and the State as well as the local Police acted effectively, efficaciously and provided full protection to the College, its staff and students.

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Appeal to Churches in the context of Unity Octave, Republic Day and Martyrs Day

While we participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) and focus on the theme, “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious In Power” (Ex. 15:6), reminding ourselves of God’s engagement to liberate people from the bondage of political, social and economic oppression, it is but apt that churches also observe important days in the life of our country . As citizens of India, on Republic Day, let us affirm the  Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:18-19) of Jesus Christ, standing for justice,  liberation and holistic well being of all, and as disciples of the Crucified Jesus Christ be reminded of the cost of discipleship on Martyrs Day, as we move on in the resurrection hope of a new just peaceful eco-integrated world of love!

The following appeal has been drafted for your deliberation and action.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, NCCI.


A Call to Churches to be Committed to a Campaign

To DEFEND Democracy

&

     PRACTICE Non-violence

(REMEMBERING AMBEDKAR & GANDHI)

26th to 30th January, 2018

Threats looming large over the Indian Democracy have become more real today than ever before; and the country is witnessing an escalation in the violent attacks on minorities, dalits, adivasis, intellectuals, workers, writers, journalists, artists, students and community leaders who raise their voices honestly and express dissent and disagreement.  Proclamations by the fascist and corporate forces to alter the Indian Constitution is part-and-parcel of a grand design to establish autocracy, especially with regard to removing “Socialism” and “Secularism” from the Preamble, and are also definitely designed to change the basic character of the Indian Constitution & Sovereignty of the State and, in turn, pave the way for establishing the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in its place.

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Towards Just and Inclusive Communities: A Statement on Sec.377 of IPC

A Statement on Sec.377 of IPC

We, the members of the National Ecumenical Forum for Gender and Sexual Diversities of the National Council of Churches in India note the decision of the Supreme Court of India on 8th January 2018 to refer to a Constitution Bench a petition seeking to quash Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes homosexuality. The apex court has observed that a section of people cannot live in fear of the law which atrophies their right to choice and natural sexual inclinations.

Homosexuality and homo-eroticism have been practiced in India from time immemorial. Homosexual activity was never condemned or criminalized in ancient India. Such activities were tolerated as long as people fulfilled the societal expectations of marriage and procreation.

This is the context in which the British came to India as part of their mission of colonial expansion.

In Great Britain, from the Middle Ages, heterosexuality was understood as the divinely ordered and natural norm for human sexuality, and any deviance from this norm was perceived as immoral and unnatural, and hence a sin against God. Christian sexual ethics based on heteronormativity thus led to the imposition of Sodomy Law in Great Britain.

The understanding of sexual ethics of the British colonial administration was deeply influenced by Victorian morality and its particular interpretation of the Judeo-Christian scripture and theology. So, the British authorities considered tolerance towards homosexuality as a social evil, and based on heteronormative principles, they initiated stringent measures to criminalize homoeroticism as part of their mission to civilize the heathens in India. In 1861, the British colonial administration imposed the Sodomy Laws in India to “purify” and “cure” the Indians of their primitive and deviant sexual practices.

Today, there are around seventy countries in the world which continue to criminalize private same-sex intimacy between consenting adults, and eleven countries that still impose the death penalty for homosexuals. The fact is that most of these countries are former British colonies. However, in 1967, the United Kingdom repealed the Sodomy laws, and the Church of England played a significant role in it. The first report in Britain, calling for decriminalization, was initiated and published by the Anglican Church. Further, there was a significant Anglican presence in the Wolfenden Committee, appointed by the government, which recommended to the Parliament to repeal the Sodomy Law.

In the contemporary context of growing fascism, it is important for us to understand the Sodomy Law as legal codes of fascism as they provide the State the power to intervene, invade, regulate, and monitor even the intimate spheres of human life. The Sodomy Law legally sanctions a regime of imperial gaze where the people are always under the surveillance of the State. This repressive legal code further reduces human body and sexuality into “colonies” that can be invaded, tamed, and redeemed with the display of abusive power by the law enforcement officers and the judiciary of the State, and the violent interventions of moral policing by the Religious Right.

There have been different initiatives, campaigns and litigations to repeal Sec 377. On July 2nd 2009, in a historic verdict, the Delhi High Court repealed Sec 377. According to the learned judges, “If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of ‘inclusiveness’… In our view, Indian Constitutional law does not permit the statutory criminal law to be held captive by the popular misconceptions of who the LGBTs are. It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of every individual…We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution.”

However, the Supreme Court of India, in a verdict given in 2013, set aside the verdict of the Delhi High Court. “We hold that Section 377 does not suffer from unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the High Court is legally unsustainable… However, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 from the statute book or amend it.”

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India, in a verdict on August 24, 2017, held that “right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under the Constitution.” “Discrete and insular minorities face grave dangers of discrimination for the simple reason that their views, beliefs or way of life does not accord with the ‘mainstream.’ Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.” This verdict gave a great boost to the initiatives to decriminalize homoeroticism in India.

Soon after the Delhi High Court verdict repealing Sec 377, the NCCI organized a round table to reflect upon the verdict theologically and biblically. The statement of the round table affirmed that, “We recognize that there are people with different sexual orientations. Our faith affirmation that we are created in the image of God makes it imperative on us to reject systemic and personal attitudes of homophobia against sexual minorities. . . We envision Church as a sanctuary to the ostracized who thirst for understanding, friendship, love, compassion and solidarity. We appeal to churches to sojourn with sexual minorities and their families ministerially, without prejudice and discrimination, to provide them ministries of love, compassionate care, and justice. We request the National Council of Churches in India and its member churches to initiate an in-depth theological study on Human Sexuality for better discernment of God’s purpose for us.”

In the Indian context of religious diversity, it is important to initiate interfaith coalitions to campaign against homophobia. An interfaith round table was organized in 2014 which brought together theologians, clerics and practitioners of all major religious traditions in India. The statement of the interfaith round table affirmed that: “We commit ourselves to critically engage with our belief systems and practices to review and re-read scriptures and moral codes that stigmatize and demonize people who are different from us. We condemn homophobia and bigotry as morally unacceptable, and commit ourselves to eradicate this sin from our religious communities. We pledge to accompany friends who are stigmatized and criminalized due to their sexual orientations and to provide them fellowship and solidarity in their struggles to love and live with dignity. We commit ourselves to transform our worship places to welcome and provide safe spaces for sexual minorities. We discern the need to reclaim and reinterpret our traditions and rituals, festivals and feasts, scriptures and practices, to liberate our religions from the shackles of ideologies of exclusion such as patriarchy, casteism and homophobia. . . We call upon religious leaders to condemn homophobia and to practice non-discriminatory hiring policies in their institutions, and also to follow affirmative action to end the discrimination that transgendered people face in admissions and appointments. We affirm our resolve to work tirelessly to create a new world of compassion, justice, inclusivity and acceptance where the divine gift of sexuality will be celebrated in all diverse manifestations of affirmative love.”

Hence churches in India need to give responsible consideration to the initiative of the Supreme Court of India to review Sec 377 in the light of constitutional rights and the right to privacy, and the gospel of justice and love. As followers of the non-conformist Christ, the one who consistently questioned unjust and non-compassionate traditions of public morality, our call is to reject all laws that demonize, criminalize, and exclude human beings, and work to facilitate just inclusive and loving communities.

In Solidarity,

Members,
National Ecumenical Forum of the Gender and Sexual Diversities,
National Council of Churches in India.

India Pre-conference of the World Mission Conference

World Council of Churches – Council for World Mission and Evangelism

Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism

India Pre-conference

24 -26 January, 2018 | CNI Bhavan, New Delhi.

The next Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism of the  World Council of Churches is meeting in Arusha, Tanzania from 08th to 13th March 2018 on the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship”. The Conference is an opportunity for the global Church, the ecumenical and the mission movements to review and re-examine its present mission patterns in order to make the Gospel relevant by interpreting it in response to the signs of our times.

To facilitate this process of introspection and re-imagination, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission joining the Church of North India Synod and the WCC – Council for World Mission and Evangelism is organizing a ‘Pre-assembly’ to deliberate upon the need, relevance and engagement of the Indian churches, ecumenical mission organizations in our contemporary context on the theme “Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions”.

This India Pre-Conference is hosted by the Church of North India Synod and facilitated by the NCCI – Unity and Mission. This conference is scheduled to be held in CNI Bhavan, # 16, Pandit Pant Marg, New Delhi from 24th to 26th  January 2018.

Please click the link for the concept note.02. CNI – NCCI – CWME Concept Note for WMC

To know more about the WCC – World Mission Conference, please visit <https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/conference-on-world-mission-and-evangelism-moving-in-the-spirit-called-to-transforming-discipleship>

For Details… Please contact

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Executive Secretary,
NCCI – Unity and Mission
<mission.ncci@gmail.com>, <mission@ncci1914.com>

A Wheel Chaired Santa… made the Christmas Celebration Meaningful

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION OF  PERSONS  WITH DISABILITIES

A wheel-chaired Santa graced the Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD). This radical imagery of Santa on wheel chair rather than his regular sleigh or dance rung hard in the minds of the participants. 8th December 2017 marked a one of a kind celebration with over 250 people and over 100 persons with disabilities who made it to this historic eventful Christmas celebration. Neither the foggy winter nor the chill wind that brushed the people could move the people present as they joyfully participated in some soul inspiring and mind boggling renditions of the Children with disabilities. The Children enthralled the participants by their thought provoking and energized engagement.

NCCI-IDEA’s 2nd Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) embedded with the core PWD expectations of inclusion, justice, identity and dignity. The children and the persons with disabilities, who came in numbers to spell the good news of the season, ornamented the celebration. Before the children presented their artistic Christmas messages, the people who came there were inquisitive on seeing question marks everywhere. This inquisitivity drew the audience to reflect on what that question marks could mean.

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Concern for Justice and Peace over the Jerusalem Issue

The recognition accorded by the US Administration  to Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, and its decision to shift its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will further aggravate the problem of finding a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian tension, and the larger issue of peace and goodwill in the West Asian region. It also undermines the role of UN (and all its member nations) who have resolved in 1980 that Jerusalem should be respected as  a  sacred place for three religious traditions, that no diplomatic missions of countries should be established in Jerusalem, and the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel constitutes a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

It is in this context that the following appeal has been submitted to the US Embassy in India, and copies of the same have been circulated to all important state and civil society bodies. This is for your consideration, prayer and action. Let us be careful that we do not get carried away by unjust Zionist perspectives. Especially at Christmas time let us be committed to the Prince of Peace.

URGENT APPEAL

We, the undersigned, Justice and Peace-loving citizens in India, urge the US Adminstration to withdraw its recognization of Jerusalem as the Captital of Israel and the proposal to shift its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Realizing the adverse impact of the announcement by President Trump on Wednesday, the 6th December 2017,  on Arabs, Christians and Muslims who live in Palestine and all over the world;

Noting that this declaration will go against the UN Resolution that Jerusalem should be the ‘sacred place’ for all the major three religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity;

Sensing that such an action will disrespect and jeopardise the peace process that has been under progress for both Jews and Palestinians to live together with a two-nation theory and peaceful settlement;

Understanding that this has already geared up the Islamic and other countries to express their deep concern and anguish against such an unwarranted decision by the US;

Considering that most of the world leaders including Pope Francis, State Heads of Britain, France and Germany and several Islamic States have condemned this unilateral decision and raised their voice against this proposal;

Bearing in mind that such an impulsive and drastic decision would lead to disturbance of peace not only in Middle East but also across the world;

Reflecting that this kind of unwarranted announcements may further instigate and perpetuate  the never ending war in that region that may spread over to different parts of the world;

Considering that this kind of irresponsible decions and desparate and impulsive actions would accelerate tension in Palestine and would worsen the life and livelihood situation of the marginalized especially the aged, otherwise abled, women and children in the occupied territories;

While expressing our deep concern and solidarity with the struggles of our brothers and sisters in Palestine for their life, livelihood, dignity, equality, justice and peace,

  • We strongly condemn the US Adminstration for the unilateral way of making decision on an internationally arbitrated issue that goes against all norms of democracy that the US keeps speaking about time and again for other nations to follow;
  • We urge US to withdraw this untimely and autarchic decision and allow the people of Israel and Palestine to live with Justice and Peace in mutually recognized states;
  • We also urge the Indian Government not to take sides with US and Israel but to intervene with the US Administration to call back this decision and announcement and to enable the Middle East and the entire world to live in Peace with due respct for humanity, dignity and diversity.

10.12.2017 – New Delhi

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