National Council of Churches in India condemns killings in New Zealand; affirms solidarity with Muslims

National Council of Churches (NCCI) in India is saddened by the hate-filled terror attack at Christchurch in New Zealand. We extend our solidarity to the families of the victims and we stand with friends of the Islamic faith who are affected largely by the trauma of the attack. Let God enable all the affected ones to experience the eternal peace.

The shooting at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and the Masjid in Linwood is a visible expression of growing intolerance worldwide towards migrants and Muslims. The right-wing fanaticism related to economy, ethnicity and nationalism complicates the situation. Hostility towards ‘others’, precipitated in violence has led to the annihilation of ‘others.’ These kinds of massacres which involve singling out a group of people and labelling them as ‘people to be
hated’ are against the human race. It is time to for those who believe in justice and peace to come out and condemn any such actions wherever it may be in the world.

This is an eye opener to everyone that the seeds of hate can grow to any extent, shedding the blood of many innocents. It is time now to take a pledge together, to have zero tolerance towards hate mongering of any form, be it through news channels, social media or hate speeches.

National Council of Churches in India believe in dialogue and peaceful coexistence of all. We support the efforts of New Zealand Government to maintain peace and harmony among the communities. May God grant us the understanding that we are meant to live with all peoples in peace.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

Call for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Women Concerns Ministry

Copy of the advertisement of the NCCI calling for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Women Concerns can be download here…

Please encourage suitable candidates to apply for the same.

Thanking you,

Sincerely,

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

A brief report on Ecumenical Youth Music Concert

As part of the Unity Octave, the National Council of Churches in India-Youth Concerns organized an Ecumenical Youth Music Concert on (24th January Thursday) at Sristhi Lawn, NCCI Campus, Nagpur, on the theme “Justice and only justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The main focus of the concert was to extent the ecumenical rapport and unity among the Christians, especially the Youth spreading the message of peace and unity through music in the midst of turmoil and intolerance in our society.

The programme began with an opening prayer by Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Youth Concerns welcomed the invitees and the participants as well as gave a brief introduction of the Unity Octave.

Different forms of music such as bhajan, devotional, choir, solo, and western were presented in various languages – English, Hindi, Marathi and Mizo. Churches, seminaries and organizations from different Christian faith community from in and around Nagpur participated in the event. The participants were from Mizo Fellowship, St. Charles Seminary, Hindi Methodist Church, St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS), Nagpur Christian Art Ministry, CNI St. Thomas Church, Marathi Methodist Church, Good Samaritan Church and North East Christian Fellowship.

Reading of the scripture was read by Ms. Sweta Nanda, Intern, from Matthew 15: 22-28 and proposed the vote of thanks. The program concluded with prayer for unity and benediction by Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Unity and Mission. The event was led by Ms. Megha Naik, Intern, NCCI-Women Concerns as its host.

Above all, Ecumenical Youth Music Concert was filled with delightful experiences where both the participants and the spectators were inspired through the presentations that paved the way for an opportunity to widen the space of learning and reasoning and welcome all humanity in one’s life that will lead towards love and unity of all in the pilgrimage of pursuing justice and only justice.

NCCI invites all to be a part of Global Campaign “Thursday in Black”

 

Gender based violence is a universal and global issue that harms men, women and children in their most private arena. People often feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much pain and injustice.

In 2011 a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women to live in. However, we can all be involved in a simple but powerful campaign to address gender Based violence.

Thursdays in Black encourages everyone, men and women, to wear black every Thursday. This can be a campaign T-shirt, other black clothing or simply a campaign badge as a sign of their support.

Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that you are tired of putting up with violence, and calls for communities where we can all walk safely without fear; fear of being beaten up, fear of being verbally abused, fear of being raped, fear of discrimination. The campaign is not confined only to countries at war, but recognizes that violence takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, murder, female infanticide, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, discrimination and sex trafficking.

The Thursdays in Black campaign protests began in the 1970s and its roots lie in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. These women began wearing black sashes in honor of their friends and family members who were disappearing, being raped, and abused. They would gather every Thursday in silence to protest the loss of loved ones under the military dictatorship, with the aim of raising the government’s awareness that these acts of violence were happening in their homeland. Other groups have developed including women who wanted to express outrage at the rape-death camps in war torn Bosnia, the Black Sash in South Africa and women who oppose the Israel occupation of the West Bank and ordinary woman all over the world.

In the 1980s, Thursdays in Black became an international human rights campaign supported by different organizations, groups and individual as a peaceful way of saying “I support the human right of women’s to live in a world without violence, rape and fear.”

National Council of Churches in India has been part of “Thursday in Black” campaign, and it acknowledges the churches, organizations, faith groups and individual who have been part of this campaign.

Jayalakshmi is a domestic violence survivor and her story is that of lakhs of other Indian women. That is why it needs to be told. 

https://www.womensweb.in/articles/domestic-violence-survivor-story/

National Council of Churches in India invites people to join this worldwide movement which enables the despair, pain and anger about rape and other forms of violence to be transformed into political action.

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 (Unity Octave)

Every year Christians across the world gather in prayer for growth in unity. We do this in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. Ours is a united prayer in a fractured world: this is powerful. However, as individual Christians and communities, we are often complicit with injustice, and yet we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world.

The theme for the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Justice and only justice you shall pursue”  is taken from the book of Deuteronomy 16:18-20.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 has been prepared by Christians from Indonesia. With a population of 265 million, 86% of whom are reckoned to be Muslim, Indonesia is well known as having the largest Muslim population of any country. However, about 10% of Indonesians are Christian from various traditions. In terms of both population and the vast extension of the country Indonesia is the biggest nation in South East Asia. It has more than 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages and yet is united in its plurality by one national language Bahasa Indonesia. The articulations on the prayer themes have however been adapted to the Indian context by the NCCI Secretariat.

Churches all over the globe are called to work together to heal the wounds in the body of Christ. At the same time, need to discern God’s hand at work in bringing about reform, healing and liberation. In other words, churches should be together and work where God is.

Download the Week of Prayer 2019 for Christian Unity

 

Passing the Baton: Revd. Asir Ebenezer takes charge of NCCI as the General Secretary 

The installation of Rev. Asir Ebenezer as the new the General Secretary  took place on 3 January 2019. The program began with a worship service in which the Office bearers of NCCI,  members of Working Committee, Finance Committee, Executive Secretaries and Staff were present. The President  handed over a copy of The Holy Bible and Constitution of NCCI to the new General Secretary. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad the outgoing General Secretary handed over the charge. Rev. Asir Ebenezer was felicitated by the Church dignitaries who  graced the occasion.   After the installation service Rev. Asir Ebenezer was led to the General Secretary’s room where he was seated in the general secretary’s chair.  Rt. Rev. Dr. J. George Stephen, Bishop of Madras Diocese consecrated him in prayer .

Rev. Asir Ebenezer is an ordained minister of the Church of South India (CSI). He has been in ministry since 1992 and has served in various positions in national and global ecumenical forums.

Prior to this, he was serving as Director of Social Empowerment: Vision in Action (CSI_SEVA)  at the CSI Synod. He had earlier served the NCCI in various positions, including Officiating General Secretary of NCCI in betweeb 2004 and 2010. A well-known figure in ecumenical circles, theologian, community-enabler and finance expert, the multiple competencies of Rev. Asir Ebenezer will go a long way to strengthen the council.

The office Bearers, Secretaries,  and the Staff of the NCCI welcome Rev. Asir Ebenezer and  wish him well in his new responsibility.

The Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad moves to another area of work relating to Theological Education. The NCCI acknowledges his contribution to NCCI and wishes him well for his new endeavor.

Manger on the Streets: Nativity in 2018

National Council of Churches in India

Christmas Programme – 2018

Manger on the Streets

Venue: Srishti Lawn, NCCI Campus                            Date: 18/12/2018                 Time: 6:00 pm

 

“We need to fight for the sick child, the woman in sanctuary, the migrant family, the transgender teenager, the homeless veteran, the young black man at the traffic stop,; because when we do, we are perpetuating the heart of the Middle Eastern child, born under duress, amid the smell of damn straw and animal dung—the one who turned the world upside down in the name of a compassion that knew no borders and a love that had no walls.”

                                                                                                                                                -John Pavlovitz

 

Introduction

Narrator:

Good Evening!! Christmas is on the verge. What is Christmas?Is it yet another festive of celebration? Certainly not. It is an emotion. It is a harvest of memory of God acknowledging God’s humanity and humans realizing their divinity. Christmas is when Christ – the Creativity of God – took flesh in Jesus. So come let us try to comprehend the incomprehensible mystery of Incarnation.

SCENE 1

Skit: Christ – less Christmas

(A woman hears the voice of Jesus expressing his desire to dine in her home. The woman feels overwhelmed and starts cleaning her house. Meanwhile she makes calls to her friends and a photographer as well. Later she hears a knock at the door and opens it to find Jesus. She warmly welcomes him. Soon her friends also drop in and the woman introduces them to Jesus. Finally the photographer arrives and all of them get ready for a group photo with Jesus. The photographer says that the frame does not accommodate everyone and hence one should move. None of them agrees to move out of the frame and eventually Jesus himself leaves and stands at the fringe. Then the photo is clicked without Jesus.) 

Moral: Christmas seems to have lost its anamnesis. The paraphernalia commemorating its memories are at sale but too expensive for the commons. Market has usurped the manger. In the pomp and gaiety of the celebrations of Christmas we often push Christ to the periphery and thus our Christmas turns out to be a Christ – less Christmas.

SCENE 2

Flashback

Narrator:Who is this Christ Jesus secluded on the fringe? Shall we take a re-look at his birth.

One fine day, off-the-wall, trees blossomed, birds chirped like never before, wind blew bearing the aroma of flowers, the sky poured out his love through the clouds and the earth drenched in it, spread her fragrance all throughout. The entire cosmos stood in awe on seeing its Creator, Creativity and Animator. Jesus, him we call. The True Human.

We re-imagine the birth of Jesus on the Streets.

Mary: May Peace be upon all of you as we welcome you to celebrate the birth of our child Jesus the Christ. We are the children of the street, we bear the stench of exclusion, our clothes are tattered and stained, we have nothing to offer than our sweat and blood, yet God chose to incarnate on the streets among us. Today the streets are blessed.The womb of a woman has become the site of inception of the Salvation of the World.

Joseph: Come and witness you people how God has sanctified the profane, how the wise and wealthy have been put to shame, how the powerful and complacent are mocked and how the ethos of the margins are acknowledged and upheld. The Light of the world has been born in the darkness of the streets. We are overwhelmed and thank God for this subversive act. We shall pray;

The God who sees we thank you for looking at us with utmost mercy and compassion. We understand that we encounter you in places we least expect. In the face of infant Jesus we see your radiance that penetrates deep into our being. In his eyes we see your unconditional love towards creation. May we perceive all things through his eyes so that we explore the unexplored beauty of this world. Help us to grow along with your Son so that we renew ourselves. In Christ Jesus we find the embodiment of the impoverished, the excluded, the homeless, the refugee and the outcast. May our pilgrimage with Christ enlighten us to embrace all so as to flourish our intrinsic humanity. For Christ’s sake we pray. Amen

Mary: It’s time to celebrate. Come let’s sing and dance for the Savior is born today.

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HOPE IN DISTRESS

HOPE IN DISTRESS

The NCCI Christmas Card has a picture of a mother with a child seated in a relief boat during the August 2018 floods in Kerala. With her house being submerged, there was no room for immediate help, but the boat which would take her to the safety of one of the relief camps. Hope in distress!

A pregnant woman who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy was stranded on the roof top of her house in Aluva. – a submerged region of Kerala’s Ernakulam District. Her house got isolated in the relentless rain. Her life and that of her child in the womb were in danger till help came out of the blue – almost literally. It was an Indian Navy Chopper that had been sent especially to rescue her and to end her nightmare. Hope in distress!

When lives of their fellow human beings were under threat, the fishermen of Kerala travelled hundreds of kilometres with their fishing boats on the back of trucks to flood ridden areas and rescued people. They waded through unknown waters looking for people and rescued them. Those boats are their livelihood. They literally risked everything they had and their lives to save fellow human beings, without expecting anything in return. Selfless agents of hope in distress!

In all the above mentioned three stories, hope came in the form of persons who were committed to save people in distress.

Hope in distress! That’s what even the Christmas message is all about this year. Read more

National Consultation on “Violence: Nature and Types”

NCCI – Policy, Governance and Public Witness is organizing a National Consultation on “Violence: Nature and Types” on 30th November 2018 and 1st December 2018 at CNI Bhavan, Pandit Pant Marg 16, New Delhi- 1.

The consultation aims to bring to light the depths and types of violence instigated against the constitutional fundamental rights of religious minorities in India, through the findings of a research project initiated by NCCI in 2016 to examine whether violence against religious minorities has increased in contemporary India in recent times. Further, through this deliberation we intend to facilitate discussion on the topic and provide a platform to share experiences and opinions through which we can offer new insights to the civil societies about the ways to move forward to foster harmonious living in India.

Report of National Ecumenical Youth Assembly (NEYA) – 2018 and Youth Manifesto

Date: 7th  – 9th November, 2018

Venue: Mar Thoma Youth Center, Adoor, Kerala

India stands on the verge of being the youngest nation in the world in a few years. In such a time as this, it becomes imperative that we demand civic, ecclesial and ecumenical space(s) for the youth to connect, create and change. National Council of India (NCCI) – Youth Concerns serves as a space for young people of all sections of life in society to express, experience and explore the multi-dimensional features of Ecumenism and Ecumenical Movement and to analyse the role of youth in strengthening the Ecumenical Movement. Giving a young face to the Ecumenical Movement is the prerequisite in the formation of the Youth Concerns.One of the prominent endeavors of NCCI – Youth Concerns in its attempt to augment the sense of accountability among the youths, is its quadrennial youth assembly entitled National Ecumenical Youth Assembly widely known through the acronym NEYA.

NEYA – 2018, organized by NCCI – Youth Concerns from 7 – 9 November 2018 was hosted by the Mar Thoma Youth Center, Adoor, Kerala. The theme of NEYA – 2018 was Fostering Responsible Citizenry”. The quadrennial assembly bore witness to around 140 delegates from different church traditions. The programme commenced with a beautiful worship led by Mar ThomaYuvajana Sakhyam (Youth wing of Mar Thoma Church) with the Reflection being shared by Rev. Merin Mathew, a Priest of the Mar Thoma Church. The inaugural programme comprised of the Welcome by the Local host, Rev. John Matthew C – General Secretary of Mar ThomaYuvajana Sakhyam; Welcome address by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad – General Secretary NCCI; Introduction to the theme of NEYA by Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei – Executive Secretary, NCCI – Youth Concerns; Greetings from Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar, General Secretary, SCMI and Rev. K. G. Joseph, Sabha Secretary, Mar Thoma Sabha.

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