NCCI Dalit Liberation Sunday 2017 – Religious Freedom of Dalits.

Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Warm greetings from National Council of Churches in India!

Dalit Liberation Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements. Over the years, there has been a positive response in sensitizing the local congregations towards concerns of Dalits, for no longer caste issue is visualized as a sociological issue or an issue outside the purview of church but more seen as an issue challenging the core of our faith and gospel.

Dalit Liberation Sunday is a joint programme of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI), aiming at the empowerment of the local congregations for Dalit liberation. Dalit Liberation Sunday is observed by the member churches of NCCI and the churches under CBCI in their local congregations across India.

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A Round Table Discussion on 1st October 2017

A round table discussion on “Religious Minorities in India: Challenges and Responses” was held on 1st October 2017, at New Delhi YMCA. 44 members attended the meeting representing NCCI member churches, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Evangelical Organisations and Civil Society Organisations. It was moderated by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). Three presentations were made by Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of World Council of Churches (WCC); Prof. T.K. Oommen, Emeritus Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Adv. Irfan Engineer, Director of Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Mrs. Aleyamma Thomas, Vice-President, NCCI felicitated the Chief Guest and the two panelists. Rev. Dr. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, a WCC Executive Secretary, delivered the vote of thanks.

 

Mr. Samuel Jayakumar
Executive Secretary
Policy, Governance and Public Witness
National Council of Churches in India

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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Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

International Prayer Day for Peace – 21st September 2017

A Call to ‘Missioning’ and ‘Ministering’ Peace

Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

Since 1981, the United Nations (UN) has declared 21st September as the International Day of Peace. The UN invites the global states to observe the day meaningfully to strengthen peace ties between earth communities including human communities.  Since, 2004, the World Council of Churches joined the UN and declared this day as the International Prayer Day for Peace. The International Day of Prayer for Peace offers an opportunity for church communities in all places to pray and act together to nurture lasting peace in the hearts of people, their families, communities and societies.   From 2009, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (Diaconia), has been facilitating and working with the Indian Churches to make certain that this day addresses issues related to peace and social harmony.   NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the global ecumenical movements in voicing concerns for peace among nations, people, market places and earth communities.   NCCI – Unity and Mission, has been standing in solidarity with the peace initiatives and campaigns for peace in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other countries who are in need of  peace and reconciliation, and also been voicing its concern  for peace within our  Indian contexts.

Today’s world can never be freed from conflicts. Rise of fundamentalism, Hate Campaigns by the majorities against minorities, the atrocities of unjust and inhuman policies and politics of the rulers and empires, cause  conflicts. Systems like caste, ethnicity, race, gender injustice, and patriarchy,  are a few of the factors that destroy peace among communities. We witness that the ecological catastrophes and climate change also take away peace from among people and make them vulnerable. On the other hand, there are efforts being made in the form of promotion of a few religious concepts that promise individual and personal peace by the practice of exercises like yoga and meditation. While the use of such tools can perhaps be seen as being important in conflict transformation, the natural trajectory issuing from the inherent implication of individual peace over societal values is inclined more towards individual satisfaction. However, God-intended peace is of communitarian and societal character rather than being individualistic.

In this context, another International Peace Day has come and is challenging the global communities again to observe and commemorate this day creatively and meaningfully on the theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”  These are a few points that may sharpen the focus of our peace-engagements.

  • ‘Together for peace’, urges us as members of earth communities to join hands with all of creation to not only ‘speak’ / ‘preach’ peace but also ‘do’ peace.
  • ‘Respect’, ‘Safety’ in this context emphasizes  the role of the society in building hope in humanity, that the purpose of living is in living in harmony “with.” This, in turn, establishes a society that is safe for migrants, children, women, animals, social and religious ‘outcastes’ and all other earth communities. ‘Dignity for all’ should under-gird our basic attitude of human beings towards one another.
  • This call is to the national and international communities to ‘act early’ and more intensively in the face of human and earth rights violations, which are often the precursors of worse things to come.
  • May this Day ‘unite us all’ as one family to deliver the right to peace by encouraging peace-champions to lay down and give-up their arms and related ideologies.
  • Let this Day make us ‘stand in solidarity’ with the innocent victims who are killed by terrorism, war and arm-raising ideologies, the traumatized families whose homes and futures lie in ruins, the countries whose development has been set back by decades.

Jesus in all his life on earth, ministry, death and resurrection, conversed about and advocated a ‘life of abundance’ (John 10:10) which ensures that through peace, life can become more meaningful. This life is contagious when hearts are moved to live life in harmony. A peace-loving God’s mission of peace is a mission mandate that every believer in Christ has to follow.

Hence, as responsible faith-based human communities, how are we going to observe or commemorate this day  meaningfully?

Is there a possibility for us as ‘Faith-Communities’  to join with the global communities (who are made vulnerable, have suffered and lost peace due to the  political actions of the dominant and powerful, climate change and ecological catastrophes, ideologies that stigmatize and discriminate our fellow human beings including women, children, gender minorities and so on), with the folded hands and on bended knees asking God’s interventions to grant ‘Peace on Earth’?

Therefore, we,  the  NCCI – Unity and Mission, invite all NCCI Constituent Members, Inter-faith and Peace Loving Communities to creatively and meaningfully  explore the implications of this day in our respective congregations, communities and institutions through appropriate peace-engagements and expressions.

This will give an opportunity to propagate peace and ensure social harmony in the country. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”. Thus, these efforts make us channels of peace, and entitle us as God’s children.

Let us also join the World Council of Churches in praying for Peace in Palestine and Middle-East and in Myanmar, for Hunger and Poverty eradication, for  relief and rehabilitation initiatives in the Caribbean and other lands that were devastated by natural catastrophes, and also for people and communities who have been under the attack of  right-wing fundamentalists groups in India, who destroy  peace ‘in’ us and ‘among’  us.

Come, Let us… UNITE TOGETHER…  ACT EARLY…  (to) DO PEACE…

Yours,

Rt. Rev. Dr. P C Singh,
President, NCCI.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI.
Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,
Executive Secretary
Unity & Mission, NCCI.

Observance of “Black Day” on August 10, 2017

National Council of Churches in India -Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns along with many member churches, theological institutions and various organisations proactively participated in the observance of ‘Black Day’ on 10th August 2017. The infamous Presidential  Order that was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India stated, “No person who professes a  religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste.” This Order was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste fold. It is ironical that the Government is turning deaf ears even when twelve state Governments along with union territories and political parties have endorsed the proposal to delete  paragraph-3 of the Presidential Order 1950 in order to ensure equality and justice for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India.

Therefore on 10th August 2017, people protested against the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. At different places protest rallies, meetings, demonstrations, candle vigils, special prayers, submission of  memorandums and other appropriate programmes were organised to express solidarity with the oppressed Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin.

Observance of  Black Day at Bishop’s College, Kolkata

“Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians are citizens of India! ” was one of the slogans heard on  A.J.C. Bose Road in front of Bishop’s College, Kolkata. Black Day was observed by the theological students and faculty of  Bishop’s College, Kolkata, in keeping with its tradition and conviction of being a voice for the voiceless. Rev. Dr. Sunil Caleb (Principal of the college) briefed  the community about the significance of the observance of  Black Day. He categorically emphasized the church’s participation in the struggles of the Dalits. He provided a historical overview of the infamous Presidential Order of 1950 that excludes Christian and Muslim Dalits from the Scheduled Castes list.

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Celebration of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2017

Celebration of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements. Over the years Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing  local congregations on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. Thanks to the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions for their encouraging partnership in celebrating this special day on the first and the following Sundays of August. The theme for this year’s Tribal and Adivasi Sunday was “Solidarity in Christ: Bearing One Another’s Burdens” (cf. Galatians 6:2). Few reports and pictures received from member churches and institutions are presented here.

Celebration at All Saints Cathedral CNI, Nagpur

On the 6th August 2017, the All Saints Cathedral celebrated the Tribal and Adivasi Sunday. Rev. John George the Priest in charge led the service as per the order of worship provided by NCCI. The message was brought by Mr. Mathingmi Hongchui, Intern of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi (DATA) Concerns, NCCI. The speaker  drew attention to the problems faced by Tribal and Adivasi communities since antiquity. Prayer alone is not enough in today’s context; it is imperative  to speak up for the voiceless and ensure justice for those who are poor and needy, which is the need of the hour. The message was concluded with a quote of John Stott, “To be a burden-bearer is a great ministry. It is something that every Christian should and can do. It is a natural consequence of walking by the Spirit. It fulfills the law of Christ.”

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NCCI Condemns the Brutal Murder of Courageous Outspoken Senior Journalist Ms Gauri Lankesh

Gauri Lankesh ( Photo Credit : Hindu , Source: www.hindu.com /news)

National Council of Churches condemns the brutal murder of a senior gusty, outspoken journalist, editor  and activist Ms Gauri Lankesh.  Ms Gauri Lankesh  was very critical about the fascist ideologies,  fascist forces in our country and right wing. Lankesh, with dauntless courage, even challenged political leaders and corruption. She was also a theatre person and a film maker, an artist who used her talent to expose truth and injustice.

Gauri was known for advocating freedom of the press.  She worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike and and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike

Ms Lankesh  was openly critical of the caste system. In 2015, some Brahmins accused her of criticizing the novelist S.L.Bhyrappa and Brahminism during the 81st Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (Kannada literary conference) held at Shravanabelagola.  On 19 February 2015, protesters from the Hassan Zilla Brahmin Sabha (“Hassan district Brahmin Association”) organised a rally against her, urging the police to register a First Information Report against her.

According to Ms Lankesh “My Constitution teaches me to be a secular citizen, not communal. It is my right to fight against these communal elements. I oppose the caste system of the ‘Hindu Dharma’, which is unfair, unjust and gender-biased.”

The defamation cases filed against her did not deter her fearless spirit or  stop her from speaking out against corruption , fascism and different forms of violence.

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Indian Missional Conversation

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Indian Missional Conversation on

‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’

 

The Indian Missional Conversation on Asia Mission Conference – 2017 on the theme ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia was held in Ranchi, Jharkhand from 23rd to 24th August, 2017. This conversation was facilitated by the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (NCCI) along with the  Diocese of Chotanagpur, Church of North India – (DCN-CNI), National Missionary Society of India (NMSI), India Missions Association (IMA), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and Christian Service Agency (CSA).

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Memorandum submitted to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

 

 

Bishop Johan Dang (Moderator, GEL Church), Bishop Dular Lakra (NWGEL Church), Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad (General Secretary, NCCI), Mr. Pradip Bansrior (Executive Secretary, Dalit & Tribal / Adivasi Concerns, NCCI), Mr. Joy Tudu (Secretary, Santalia Council of Churches), Rev. Arun Barwa (Secretary, Jharkhand Council of Churches), and Rev. Ashisan Bage (Women Representative).

These leaders submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

Text of the memorandum:

To

Her Excellency,

Shrimati Draupadi Murmu

Governor of Jharkhand

Raj Bhawan, Ranchi – 834001

Jharkhand

Subject: An appeal to Repeal the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017by the Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha on 12th August 2017.

Honorable Governor Shrimati Draupadi Murmu,

We, as citizens of India and on behalf of National Council of Churches in India, Jharkhand Council of Churches and Santalia Council of Churches bring our greetings of respect, love and joy to you. The Jharkhand assembly on 12th August 2017 passed the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017 brought by the BJP-led government. During the debate on Religious Freedom Bill 2017in theassembly, a figure was presented by the BJP led government, which states that in 2011 there were 10,90,283 Christians in Jharkhand which rose to 14,18,783 in 2017 which means in the last five years an increase of 30 percent in the population of Christian religion. According to Indian government census report it was 4.1 percent of the population who accepted Christianity in 1951 in Jharkhand, which rose 4.3 percent in 2011, i.e. an increase of just 0.2 percent of the population of Christians in 70 years. Your Excellencyan increase of30 percents in just five years is just impossible; it is only a politically motivated inflated figure.In India, as per the government census the Christian population in the country was 2.33 per cent in 1951; 2.44 in 1961; 2.60 in 1971; 2.44 in 1981; 2.32 in 1991; 2.34 in 2001 and 2.30 in 2011. The growth rate is almost static. Jharkhand has the same kind of scenario too. Though the State was formed in 2000, yet for a larger picture the Christian population was 4.12 in 1951; 4.17 in 1961; 4.35 in 1971; 3.99 in 1981; 3.72 in 1991; 4.10 in 2001 and 4.30 in 2011. Here too the growth rate is stagnant. The census occurs once in every ten years. How could the Jharkhand government introduce its figure on Christian population percentage to the assembly? The BJP led government has misled the assembly by introducing fake figures. Is this not a travesty of democracy?

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INDIAN MISSIONAL CONVERSATION

Indian Missional Conversation on Asia Mission Conference – 2017

Theme:

‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’

The Christian Conference of Asia is organizing the Asia Mission Conference (AMC)  in Yangon, Myanmar from 11 – 17 October 2017 along with its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (for details please visit www.cca.org.hk).

At this juncture, the NCCI – Unity and Mission deems it important to have an Indian Missional Conversation on the AMC theme: ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’,  so that we, as Indian Churches and Mission Boards, could share our Indian Missional concerns and contribute to the AMC deliberations. Therefore, the NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the National Missionary Society of India (NMSI) and India Missions Association (IMA) and the CNI Diocese of Chotanagpur in organizing an Indian Missional Conversation from 23rd to  24th August 2017 at  CNI – HPDC, Church Road, Ranchi, Jharkhand.

On behalf of the organizers, you are genially invited to be part of this Conversation and  enlighten the discussions with your ministerial and theological experiences.

For details, please read the Concept Note.

Soliciting your prayers.

Contact:

Executive Secretary,

NCCI – Unity and Mission

<mission@ncci1914.com>