Joint Ecumenical Statement by ACT, WCC, LWF to the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women

Joint Ecumenical Statement by Action by Churches Together – ACT Alliance (ACT), Commission of the Churches in International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women

 

As networks of Churches and Christian faith based organizations working for decades in humanitarian response and human rights-based development in over 130 countries, we call for an end to gender inequality and injustice. Our faith inspires us work to address the needs not only of the body but also of the mind and spirit, honoring the fullness of humanity. We also extend into the most rural areas that are often out of the institutional reach of national governments. We welcome the Commission’s acknowledgment that the specific challenges of women and girls living in rural communities must be addressed in order obtain gender justice for all. These challenges must be particularly addressed in line with the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 to ensure that those most marginalized, such as rural women and girls, are not ‘left behind’.

Working with Faith Actors to End Harmful Practices

 United Nations mechanisms such as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), show that a number of customary laws and the misuse of religious practices beliefs threaten progress, particularly concerning rural women and girls’ rights, even within countries that have ratified treaties and committed to implementing human rights standards. For example, in Sierra Leone, up to 85 percent of the population uses customary law as part of the formal and informal legal system. Moreover, civil unrest in a country can weaken formal justice systems; in such situations, the population might resort to traditional dispute settlement mechanisms, which complicates and may preclude the assurance of the rights of women and girls, particularly in rural communities.

Acknowledging that these customary and traditional practices are rooted in convictions, values and beliefs, the importance of deliberately involving religious leaders of different faiths cannot be overemphasized. Such leaders play critical and influential roles within society and people of all age groups in communities rely on them for guidance on many matters. As such, working with faith based actors has the potential to bring lasting and sustainable change to end harmful traditional practices including female genital mutilation/cutting and child, early and forced marriage.

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Catholics and Lutherans mark 500th anniversary of Reformation

Pope Francis, flanked by the president and secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation, lead a joint commemoration of the Reformation in October 2016. (Pic. Vatican Radio – en.radiovaticana.va)

(Vatican Radio) October 31st 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the day on which German theologian Martin Luther published his 95 theses, setting in motion the events of the Protestant Reformation.

To mark the occasion, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation on Tuesday issued a joint statement, giving thanks for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation and recalling the commemorative events that have taken place over the past year.

Exactly one year ago, Pope Francis travelled to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo to take part in a joint commemoration of the Reformation alongside leaders of the Lutheran World Federation. A moving liturgy in the ancient Lund cathedral and a joyful celebration of young people in Malmo arena focused on asking forgiveness for the sins of past centuries, while also celebrating the progress of the last fifty years and pledging to step up joint efforts in the service of those most in need.

Commitment to continue the ecumenical journey

One year on, today’s statement recalls those historic events, in particular the commitment by Pope Francis and former LWF president Bishop Munib Younan to continue the ecumenical journey.

The statement says the shared journey of the past fifty years has resulted in “the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements”.

While Catholics and Lutherans can still not share at the Eucharistic table, the two Churches acknowledge their “joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ “.

New insights into Reformation

Commemorating the Reformation together in many countries around the world, the statement says, has allowed Lutherans and Catholics new insights into events of the 16th century which led to their separation. Noting the theological progress that was made through the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the statement says growing communion and shared service are a sign of hope for the world of today to overcome divisions and fragmentation.

The statement concludes with a commitment to continue the journey towards unity, guided by God’s Spirit, in the knowledge that “what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us”.

Please find the full statement below:

Joint Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the conclusion of the year of the common commemoration of the Reformation, 31st October 2017

On 31st of October 2017, the final day of the year of the common ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation, we are very thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, a commemoration that we have shared together and with our ecumenical partners globally. Likewise, we begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today.

We, Lutherans and Catholics, are profoundly grateful for the ecumenical journey that we have travelled together during the last fifty years. This pilgrimage, sustained by our common prayer, worship and ecumenical dialogue, has resulted in the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements. In the face of so many blessings along the way, we raise our hearts in praise of the Triune God for the mercy we receive.

On this day we look back on a year of remarkable ecumenical events, beginning on 31st October 2016 with the joint Lutheran – Catholic common prayer in Lund, Sweden, in the presence of our ecumenical partners. While leading that service, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib A. Younan, then President of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint statement with the commitment to continue the ecumenical journey together towards the unity that Christ prayed for (cf. John 17:21). On the same day, our joint service to those in need of our help and solidarity has also been strengthened by a letter of intent between Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service.

Pope Francis and President Younan stated together: “Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”

Among the blessings of this year of Commemoration is the fact that for the first time Lutherans and Catholics have seen the Reformation from an ecumenical perspective. This has allowed new insight into the events of the sixteenth century which led to our separation. We recognize that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation. Again, it has become clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us.

We rejoice that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, solemnly signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, has also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006 and, during this Commemoration Year of the Reformation, by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. On this very day it is being welcomed and received by the Anglican Communion at a solemn ceremony in Westminster Abbey. On this basis our Christian communions can build an ever closer bond of spiritual consensus and common witness in the service of the Gospel.

We acknowledge with appreciation the many events of common prayer and worship that Lutherans and Catholics have held together with their ecumenical partners in different parts of the world, as well as the theological encounters and the significant publications that have given substance to this year of Commemoration.

Looking forward, we commit ourselves to continue our journey together, guided by God’s Spirit, towards the greater unity according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. With God’s help we intend to discern in a prayerful manner our understanding on Church, Eucharist and Ministry, seeking a substantial consensus so as to overcome remaining differences between us. With deep joy and gratitude we trust “that He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

 

Source: Vatican Radio – en.radiovaticana.va (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/10/31/catholics,_lutherans_mark_500th_anniversary_of_reformation/1346149)

Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017

NCCI –IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment) is an Ecumenical Initiative of National Council of Churches in India accompanied by Unity and Mission. NCCI – IDEA theologically motivates ministerial interventions of its constituencies  in encouraging and facilitating the Indian Churches to be inclusive and disabled-friendly. Considering the importance of inclusivity, the XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI has chosen a theme ‘Towards… Just and Inclusive Communities for this Quadrannum thus, the Members of NCCI would be encouraged to ensure that their ministerial interventions result in inclusivity.

Since 2009 the Disability Advocacy Sunday (DAS) is being organized by NCCI – IDEA along with ecumenical organizations, local congregations and institutions. NCCI-IDEA has been a facilitator of conversations with communities in Church and Society in regard to advocacy for disability rights. The recently concluded interfaith roundtable on disability has propelled the work with significant stride towards just and inclusive communities. Considering the importance of observing this day, the NCCI Executive Committee in 2011 officially approved of designating the Sunday before the Advent as DAS, since 3rd December the International Day of People with Disability.

From its inception, DAS has focused on ‘An Inclusive Church’, through its sermons, urging the Church, to move from being charitable, to becoming an accompanier seeking justice ‘for’, ‘by’ and ‘with’ persons with disabilities . Surveying the past celebrations and the positive responses from the Churches and the local congregations to the observance of DAS, NCCI-IDEA expects that the congregations have become more open to PWDs and more Disabled-friendly.

This year Churches and the Congregations are encouraged to contemplate on the theme: ‘Creator of the disabled, reform your creation’. Persons with disabilities reflect God’s image and likeness. Hence, we are praying to this Creator God to reform creation through the persons with disabilities, with the 500th year of reformation as the background.

Every year, NCCI – IDEA assists the Churches and the Congregations with the Order of Worship for DAS observances. Since 26th November 2017 is the Sunday prior to the Advent season, IDEA recommends to churches to observe it as DAS.  In case you are not able to observe the DAS on 26th November, please feel free to observe any Sunday that is convenient to you and your congregations.

We are glad to inform you that the NCCI-IDEA have already planned to celebrate ‘Christmas of the Disabled’ on 3rd December 2017. Therefore, we encourage you to organize and celebrate along with us in your respective Churches and Congregations.

Kindly,  share with us the inspirational stories and the divine interventions through the DAS 2017 in your Church or Congregation.

With Prayer and Wishes,

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – IDEA

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde

Coordinator, NCCI – IDEA

Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

President, NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary, NCCI

 

Downloads:

  1. Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017 Order of Worship – English
  2. Poster to print (in .pdf)

Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha 2017

Santalia Council of Churches organised its yearly event ‘Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha’ from October 26 – 29, 2017 at CNI Mission, Taljhari, Dist Sahibganj, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand. More than 5000 delegates from Santal Churches of Assam, Bihar, Bengal & Jharkhand participated in this event. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI was the Chief Guest and the Main Speaker for the event. The Keynote address was delivered by Moderator Emeritus The Most Rev. Dr. Philip P. Marandi, CNI. The theme for this year was taken from Mathew 5:41. The Most Rev. B. Murmu, Moderator, NELC, Rt. Rev. B.B. Baskey, Diocese of Chotanagpur, CNI, Rt. Rev. Sushil Tudu of NELC and Rev. Emmanuel Chitrakar, Pakur District Superintendent of the Bengal Regional Conference of Methodist Church in India, were among other dignitaries present during the Dhorom Sabha. Rev. Francis Hansdak and Rev. Pradip Hansdak shared responsibility in smooth functioning of the entire programme.

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An Ecumenical Commemoration of 500th Years of Reformation

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Church of North India – Diocese of Nagpur

An Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation

October 31, 2017 is a historical day for the global Christian Communities. This day marks the 500th Anniversary of the Christian Reformation in Germany initiated by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, a Catholic priest who nailed his 95-faith questions and reflections on the doors of  Castle Church, traditionally known as All Saints Church, in Wittenberg, Germany on 31 October 1517. This act became the major stimulus for Reformation in the history of Christianity.

Since then, the Reformation has made an impressive journey everywhere: movements for reform started gaining momentum, new faith orientations and values were inculcated, and people’s faiths started to be practiced in public.  This day, 31st October 1517, roused Christians to interrogate themselves in order to appropriate their faith meaningfully and responsibly, and to experience the call to bear witness to the resurrected Christ in public.

Therefore, the commemoration of this quincentennial anniversary offers a historical opportunity for all of us to reflect on the need, relevance and reasons for Reformation and to discern its spiritual and societal impact.

The Lutheran World Federation has  called the global Christian communities to contemplate upon the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace” during the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, a theme which is closely linked to the doctrine of justification by faith, which has become the backdrop for the Reformation.  The central insight of this doctrine, namely that in Christ, God’s grace is given to us as a free and unconditional gift, evokes a response of gratitude, expressing itself in loving and caring engagements with human beings and the whole of creation. This understanding is as pertinent today as it was in Luther’s times, and it continues to influence all aspects of theology and spirituality of all Christians. A theology centered on justification by faith holds on to the concept of grace since, in biblical terms, justification promises God’s unconditional acceptance of human beings.

In this context,  National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission  joins the Nagpur Diocese –  CNI,  the Catholic Arch Diocese, Methodist, Lutheran, Oriental Traditions and other Congregations and Worshiping Christian Communities in Nagpur in commemorating the historical 500 years of Reformation through an Ecumenical Worship at All Saints Cathedral, Sadar, Nagpur.

This Ecumenical Worship would facilitate our generation to remember the works of our ancestors and church leaders who were trying to make our faith relevant. They not only aided reformation but also worked incessantly to bring together the varied colorful denominations of Christianity to walk hand in hand towards an Inclusive One-Ecclesia, the Body of Christ, forgetting the differences and rejoicing in diversities.

Hence, you are cordially, invited to be part of this historical commemoration of the 500th year of Reformation, at All Saints Cathedral, Sadar, Nagpur on 31st October, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.

ALL NCCI CONSTITUENT MEMBERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO HOLD SIMILAR  OBSERVATIONS.

Come let us all worship God in one voice and as one people of God!

 

With Prayers

Rev. John George
Presbyter-in-charge
All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur
Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Executive Secretary
NCCI – Unity and Mission
Rt. Rev. Paul Dupare
Bishop,
CNI Nagpur Diocese
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India.

 

PRAYER EPISTLE

PRAYER EPISTLE*

PRAY FOR THE ‘DENGUE-INFECTED’

Dear People of God,

The NCCI – Unity and Mission, through this ‘PRAYER EPISTLE’ invites all to pray for those infected with Dengue fever that is devastating several lives in Tamilnadu and other parts of India and the World.

Dengue fever is a flu-like illness, spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito transmits Dengue by biting an infected person and then biting someone else. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal, complication of dengue fever. Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are caused by any of the dengue family of viruses. Infection with one virus does not protect a person against infection from another.

As per the data of the Government of Tamilnadu,  over 17000 people are  infected by Dengue. Around 100 have died due to dengue and 333 have died due to swine flu and other mysterious flues. The State Governments are making strong and steady efforts in combating Dengue and trying their best to reduce its vulnerability.

This being the scenario, the NCCI – Unity and Mission calls upon  churches, faith based organizations, mission institutions, and the entire faith community to uphold the people suffering from such deadly viruses through prayers and appropriate missional and ministerial interventions. Indeed, it is our Christian duty to remember prayerfully the people of our nation.

 

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2nd National Engage Disability 2017 Conference

National Council of Churches in India

Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI -IDEA)

Most Respected Church Leaders,

Greetings from the NCCI – IDEA!

This is for your kind information that, the ‘ Engage Disability’ Network is holding its 2nd National Engage Disability 2017 Conference in Chennai from 14 – 16 November 2017 jointly hosted by the Church of South India Synod.

Hence, on behalf of the Engage Disability Team, the NCCI – IDEA  would like to invite you and your organization to be part of the 2nd National Engage Disability 2017 conference.   

See the brochure at https://www.dropbox.com/s/4do3ghaktt3bxvc/Brochure%20FINAL.pdf?dl=0

Date: 14th – 16th November 2017 

Venue: Laity Institute for Transformation Education (LITE), 17, Balfour Road, Chennai 600010.

Registration www.engagedisability.com

This 2nd National conference builds on the Engage Disability movement which began with the 2014 Engage Disability Conference.  This was a watershed moment with nearly 450 people  from 100 organisations and churches coming together to strengthen the response to disability in India (declaration attached).  This moment turned into a movement.  Since 2014 the Engage Disability Network has been working with Christian partners across India to train Christians, produce resources and tool-kits, and meet in the regions to form a Christian response to disability.

The objectives of the 2017 conference are:
·       To bring together like-minded people and organisations who have a heart  for disability.
·       To develop strategies for ministry alongside those with disabilities in Christian Community.
·       To equip church leaders for disability inclusion in the Christian Community.
·       To identify leaders with disabilities who can speak about disability issues in the Christian Community.

For further information contact Jessica (jessicaprakash@gmail.com 9841198695) or

Sylvia (sylvia@engagedisability.com).  They will endeavor to help you as soon as possible.

 

Respectfully,

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde

Co-ordinator

NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment

The Force is Within Her : Grassroots Church Women Leaders Transforming Communities and Lives

Grassroots Women Leaders  engaged in Group Discussions during  Convention Organized by  Durgapur Diocese, Church of North India

The Women’s Convention   of Diocesan Women’s Fellowship for Christian Service (DWFCS)  of Durgapur  Diocese met on 10th – 14th October 2017 in St Michael All Angels Cathedral . 125 grassroots Church Women Leaders from Bankura, Purulia, Asansol, West Dinajpur, Malda , Durgapur etc attended this convention . Most of the women leaders are from indigenous or Dalit background. The theme of the Convention was “THE FORCE IS WITHIN HER” ( God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. (PSALMS 46:5)

 Mrs Rita Dutta President of Women’s Fellowship of Durgapur Diocese ( DWFCS) shared ” We organize Women’s Convention annually. Grassroots women church leaders during this Convention share about  their experiences of weaving justice and peace in their communities, their hopes and challenges and strategizes to transform communities . Revd Papia Priscilla Duriaraj facilitated the delegates  to re-read the Bible from Gender Justice perspective. Ms Moumita Biswas – Executive Secretary of Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India facilitated a diaogical  session on Role of Christian Women in Society.

During the Convention women praised and worshiped through the rhythms of  their bodies  folk dances and  songs in St Michael All Angels Cathedral in Durgapur. According to Mrs Archana. A. Dey Secretary of DWFCS “ Dance is therapeutic it helps women to heal within, break the culture of silence on violence on women and build bonds of love and fellowship in communities. We promote indigenous expressions of worship and spiritualities  to discover Asian Christ .”

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Churches’ Week of Action on Food – 2017

(October  11 – 17, 2017)

The Churches Week of Action on Food is a Global Campaign for Food Justice initiated by the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the National Council of Churches in India is part of this campaign for years. This week (11 -17 October), highlights the UN days of Gild Child (11), Disaster Reduction (13), Rural Women (15) World Food day (16) and Eradication of Poverty 17).

The theme for World Food Day, this year (2017) is “Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. It has been chosen to highlight the role of civil societies and faith communities in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger by addressing climate change with the Gospel Values of Justice, Love and Peace.

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Colonel Chelliah Mony, Territorial Commander of India Central Territory of The Salvation Army, passes away.

Colonel Chelliah Mony, Territorial Commander India Central Territory of The Salvation Army, was promoted to Glory on 25 September, 2017.

Chelliah Mony entered training from Osaravilai Corps in the India South Eastern Territory as a cadet of the Overcomers Session, and was commissioned on 13 May 1976. Also in May 1976 he married Mallika Mony, who was a cadet in the Disciples of Jesus Session. Lieutenant Chelliah Mony was then serving as Corps Officer of the Kolencoidu Corps.

After Cadet Mallika completed her training, they served as Corps Officers in the India South Eastern Territory before they were both appointed to the Training College in July 1981. With this came the promotion to the rank of captain for Chelliah Mony. The Captain also attended the Brengle Institute in this year.

In 1983 the Monys were appointed first to Thuckalay Division and then to Vallyoor Division, where Captain Chelliah Mony served as Divisional Youth Officer. In 1987 they were appointed to Cape South Division. Again, Captain Chelliah served as Divisional Youth Officer.

Following attendance at the International College for Officers in 1988, Captain Chelliah Mony was appointed to THQ, India South Eastern Territory as Youth Secretary. Further appointments at THQ followed in 1997 when Major Mony was appointed to Human Resources Development Secretary and in the following year, Social Secretary.

A return to the Cape South Division as Divisional Commander came in May 2003. In June 2009 Major Chelliah Mony was appointed back to THQ, as Social and Education Secretary and the following year as Secretary for Programme Administration.

Transfer to the India South Western Territory in July 2012 saw Lieut-Colonel Chelliah Mony appointed as Chief Secretary of that territory. In June 2014 further international service followed with a transfer to the India Central Territory as Territorial Commander, with a promotion to the rank of colonel. It is from this appointment that Colonel Chelliah Mony was promoted to Glory.

We salute the Colonel for his many years of faithful service to God and to The Salvation Army. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his wife, Colonel Mallika Mony and with their children, Yesumarline Mony, Yalin Rancy Mony, Darline Santhini Mony and Alwin Devarasu Mony.

The funeral for Colonel Mony was held on 26 September 2017 at Booth Tucker Memorial Church Corps Hall (Nagercoil), conducted by Colonel Edwin Masih.

Colonel Mallika Mony may be contacted at:-
82 Nungambaggam High Road
Chennai – 600 034. India.
Phone: 09962172849
e-mail: Mallika_Mony@ict.salvationarmy.org   or ICT_Leadership@ict.salvationarmy.org

Source: The Salvation Army, India National Secretariat.

Colonel Mony attended meetings of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) several times. His ecumenical outlook and genuine concern for the people proved to be a blessing for many. He served with exemplary passion for the Glory of God.

NCCI joins with The Salvation Army in praying for God to comfort the family. Colonel Mony’s  faithful service and strong leadership will always be remembered. His work will continue to light the way for seekers and future leaders.

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