NCCI names General Secretary designate

The Rev. Asir Ebenezer. General Secretary designate, NCCI.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), in its Executive meeting in Chennai on August 28, 2018, announced Rev. Asir Ebenezer as the next General Secretary of NCCI. He will be taking charge at the turn of the year to succeed the present General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad.

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.

He currently serves as Director of Social Empowerment: Vision in Action (SEVA)  at the CSI Synod. He had earlier served the NCCI in various positions, including Officiating General Secretary of NCCI in 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.

 

 

Floods! Fundamentalism! Franchise!

Matters of Public Concern addressed  by the General Body of the National Council of Churches in India in its meeting in Chennai on 29th August 2018

 

  1. FLOODS IN KERALA AND IN PARTS OF KARNATAKA AND TAMIL NADU

The National Council of Churches in India expresses its deep pain and distress over the loss of hundreds of lives due to the massive floods, overflowing rivers and dams, and a series of gigantic landslides which have also displaced tens of thousands of people, causing colossal destruction of their belongings, consequently leading to immeasurable misery and hardship. Not only more than four hundred precious lives have been lost, but also cattle and other livestock have perished. The affected people are subject to suffer from various diseases such as cholera, typhoid and other health hazards. Irreplaceable damage has been caused to the eco-balance of the region.

The NCCI affirms its solidarity with the suffering people and all creation of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu.

The NCCI appreciates the invaluable disaster relief support rendered by its member Churches and organizations. At the same time it appeals to all the constituent members to continue to provide help in the arduous process of relief and rehabilitation, which lies ahead.

  1. TEN YEARS OF “KANDHAMAL”

The NCCI expresses its deep concern and anguish with regard to the continued suffering of Christian survivors of the Kandhamal massacre even after 10 years of its happening. The carnage was one of the worst of its kind against Christians in the past 100 years. Despite the fact, that in the process of inquiry, many officials have testified that the allegations against Christians are false, the local Christian community still continues to struggle. Many people are still languishing in prison. The rightful compensation on relief and rehabilitation from government is so slow that people are losing hope in their own government.

Right wing fundamental forces are becoming more and more aggressive over the past five years. The NCCI strongly condemns the rather slow, indeed disinterested, action of the concerned authorities in Odisha, and urges the government to pay the announced compensation to the victims, speed up the rehabilitation process, and release the innocent people languishing in prison. Justice delayed is justice denied.

  1. CALL TO RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP

The NCCI urges all Indian Christian citizens to carry out their responsibilities in the country. This concern is urgent because of certain undesirable trends in the country which are on the increase since the past five years. The so called liberalization and development policies and strategies of the government (while apparently benefiting the middles class along with the rich and the millionaires), are constricting, oppressing and exploiting the poor, particularly dalits and tribals/adivasis. The patriarchal and consumerist culture of our society is seriously, indeed cruelly victimizing women and children. Right wing fundamentalism is allied with globalizing  systems, thereby quenching the spirit of democratic secularism which our Indian Constitution affirms. Religious minorities are being hounded. Whether it is our FCRAs, governance of educational institutions, operation of our medical and social services, our freedom to worship and give witness to the gospel, or our food and dress culture, they are all subject to the constricting laws of the ruling authorities and the vigilantism and impunity of fundamentalist forces.  Not only religious minorities but citizens in general are subject to scrutiny. Dissent and criticism are not tolerated; persons are being arrested, being branded as anti-national.

We are also witnessing the political atmosphere getting charged with assembly elections in some states and the country-wide General Elections in 2019 drawing near. It is the bounden duty of the government to ensure peace and free and fair elections.  At the same time the NCCI urges its member Churches and organizations to unite in creating awareness among the people about the importance of making responsible use of our right of political franchise. Voting is our right which would help our country to be back on the rails of true democracy. Christians are therefore urged to be proactive in the participation of the elections.

Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2018 Report from Different Churches and Theological Colleges

Report from  Bishop’s College, Kolkata

The community of Bishop’s College, Kolkata, observed Tribal/Adivasi Sunday on August 5, 2018. The leader of the worship Rev. Priscilla Papiya Durairaj led the worship service following the order of worship provided by NCCI, Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns with certain modifications. Among the few modifications were lighting of lamps by different members of the community to invoke the divine presence; an adivasi dance procession of different tribal/advasi groups from the community at the beginning of the service to celebrate jal, jungle and jameen. This was followed by the bringing of water, plants and earth at the altar, as symbols of thanksgiving for God’s gift to us. The sermon focused on the selected verse from the theme Leviticus 25:23 and highlighted certain facts about water, land and forest considering them as the natural gifts to us from God and hence these have to be preserved instead of exploiting them. The sermon highlighted the significance of honoring and protecting the natural resources which are explained in the Bible particularly in the gospels and the specific use of parables having  natural imageries. The sermon emphasized the vulnerable condition of and struggles faced by the tribal and adivasi communities and the responsibility of church and faith community towards caring for these communities and also caring for the gifts given by God.  There were two special songs sung by the student community, apart from the two songs in the order of worship. The service concluded with the benediction, followed by an Adivasi dance in which the congregation also participated, dancing and going out to affirm and celebrate Jal, Jungle and Jameen once again. Read more

An Epistle on Radical Inclusivity

“Philosophy of Radical Inclusion is to be inculcated among the Churches and in the Society” 

says  Mr. Liju Jacob Kuriakose, Vice President of the National Council of Churches in India

The NCCI – National Ecumenical Forum of Gender and Sexual Diversities joined the Student Christian Movement of India and Aneka, with the support of the United Church of Canada, in organizing a National Workshop on ‘Philosophy of Radical Inclusion from Faith and Human Sexuality Perspectives at SCM House, Bengaluru from 22 -24 August 2018. Sixty students of Theology and Philosophy from 20 Theological Seminaries,  secular colleges  and other academic institutions,  mostly from the northern part of India, participated in this workshop.

Mr. Liju Jacob Kuriakose, the Vice President of the National Council of Churches in India inaugurated the workshop. In the inaugural address Liju applauded the various ministerial and programmatic interventions of the NCCI in order to realize its quadrennial theme ‘Towards Just and Inclusive Communities’.  Further he said, inclusion is a Christian attitude and it should not be symbolic. If we read the life and work of Jesus during his earthly ministries, he expressed the real nature of God including every one especially the so-called discriminated and marginalized. So, it is the duty of  Christians to express the attitude of inclusion in all our day to day life. He suggested  a paradigm shift in our faith journeys by accepting every one as they are, not discriminating anyone on the basis of their birth and orientations.

Prof. Dr. Meera Baindur delivered the  key note on Radical Inclusion. She started addressing Jesus as the Radical inclusivist  who crossed the borders of  the traditional  religious interpretations of the scriptures and teachings in including everyone  to be part of the reign of God.    When we say we follow Jesus, we need to follow such ministerial expressions rather than simply paying lip-service to it. It is a mandate for all Christians and Churches  to be ‘Radical’ in nature in terms of inculcating, promoting and practicing the culture of inclusivity in all  walks of life. This will emancipate and challenge the rest of the society to practice  inclusion. She challenged and invited all to be inclusive.

Prof. Dr. George Zachariah introduced “Rainbow Theology” to the participants. He elucidated the love of God in ‘conventional’ and ‘non-conventional’ ways. So we need to have a shift in our theological perceptions and articulations of moving from conventional to non-conventional.

Dr. Gladson Jathanna introduced  ‘Theology of Body’, in which he emphasized the need to consider the body as the bottom line or source to articulate our theologies rather than working on and around abstract concepts . He also suggested that we should celebrate bodies since bodies carry the image  and attributes of the creator God who is Just and Inclusive. So, no theology is full without dealing with bodies and its emotions.

Rev. Dr. Allan Samuel Palanna introduced ‘Moral Theology’. He explained how morality influences our theological and faith expressions. He identified several socio-psychological components and codes and how they influence our lives. He asserted that  moral codes or commandments are not  meant to impose punishment, discrimination, marginalization or isolation of any person,  rather they are meant to facilitate  smooth and harmonious social living.  So, he suggested that moral codes should be used as tools to include all, not to discriminate or exclude.

There was an interface of the gender and sexually diverse communities. This interface helped the participants to minsterially and theologically understand the status of the Gender and Sexually Diverse Communities (GSDC) and their pathos, expectations and celebrations.  The important question is “Who includes whom?”  Indeed the GSDC  say that it is the diverse communities who include the rest, and  not the rest who include GSDC. When the so-called ‘straight’, ‘normal’ and the ‘hetero-normative  sexual oriented’ use the term homophobia with regard to relating with homosexuals, it is they who have a phobia about homosexuals, and not homosexuals who are nurturing a phobia about hetero-sexuals; therefore should not the fear which the straight or normal people have be called their own phobia, i.e. is it not supposed to be heteronormative-phobia? This discussion has helped the students to realize who is phobic towards the homosexuals and they have come to an understanding that it is supposed to be ‘hetero-normative phobia’ and not homophobia.

In a session on ‘Homophobic Society’, Vikkram Subbrraman alias Delfina challenged the participants who the society is phobic towards the gender and sexually diverse communities. Further invited the participants to be more ‘humane’ rather mere religious. There was an emphasis to affirm our of love for all rather hate others.

In the session on homophobic law,  Adv. Deepta Rao explained the legal struggle of the gender and sexually diverse communities. She also suggested let religious institutions be silent rather affirming hatred over these communities. At this silence will help them to have a better life in the society.

There were two interfaith panels that explained how the other faiths including Classical Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism and also Christianity affirm homophobia by using their moral codes of law. As the representatives and advocates of the gender and sexually diverse communities Ankit Bhuptani, Romal Singh, Sukhdeep Singh, Muhammad Afeef and Tashi Choedup served as panellists.

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Director, NCCI – National Ecumenical Forum of Gender and Sexual Diversities (NCCI – NEFGSD) facilitated a workshop on ‘Radical Inclusivity’. Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar, General Secretary, Student Christian Movement of India and Mrs. Anshi Zachariah, Executive Director of Aneka, also facilitated workshops on the theme and both were part of the organizing team.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the  participants stated that their perceptions were changed.  All of them pledged to be inclusive and promote inclusion though their future ministries. The participants also have decided to send an EPISTLE to the Indian Christians and the Churches to invite them also to be inclusive. The participants request and invite all to be part of the campaign by sharing this (Click to Download) Epistle on Radical Inclusivity to realize the ‘Just and inclusive societies.

Reported by:

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – NEFGSD and
Executive Secretary, NCCI – Unity and Mission

PRAYER EPISTLE – CONCERN FOR KERALA AND FLOOD VICTIMS

Prayer for Kerala and other Flood Victims

The southern State of Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’. It attracts  numerous global tourists because of  its  beaches, mountains, rivers, back-waters, valleys and forests. The land is thus regarded as  a  miniature expression of the Garden of Eden and God’s wonderful creation.

It is unfortunate that Kerala is reeling under one of its worst flooding disasters in its history.  There are 39 dams in this State; shutters of 35 dams have been opened.

There are 44 rivers in this State, and in 41, water levels have risen above the danger mark; river banks are washed away. Since, it is a land of forests, several land-slides have damaged houses and habitats of the people. The hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki have received excess rain of 70% and they have got cut-off from the rest of the State due to land-slides and floods.

The Cochin International Airport has been waterlogged; the run way is under 3 to 4 feet of water. Therefore the airport is closed.  Even the road and river transport has come to a stand still in several parts and routes.

As per media reports, the death toll has risen over 60 (as on 15th August) and several are missing. In fact, a Red Alert has been issued in 14 districts. So far the loss estimated is 12,000/- crores. Several have lost their homes, lives, livelihoods, and agricultural fields.Not only have many people lost their dear ones and property, they are also under severe mental stress and anxiety.

While people may discuss the reasons for this calamity, it is a time for the entire Nation and the Global Communities to stretch both hands to embrace our sisters and brothers with our prayers and extend whatever support possible.

The National Council of Churches in India mourns with the people of Kerala. We assures them of our prayers and accompaniment at this time of trial and experience of  crossing the valley of darkness. We hope and pray that the rains will subside and the flood waters recede.

Read more

Report of the Consultation on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” (July 24 – 26, 2018 | CSI Centre, Chennai)

The Church cannot be dumbfound towards the precarious issues faced by Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis as they have been ostracized from the historical accounts by the dominant historians and writers of ancient Indian history. The need of the hour therefore, in  contemporary times, is to listen to the people from the margins, about their struggles […]

Appeal to observe AUGUST 10th as “Day of Mourning”

 

August 2, 2018

Warm greetings from NCCI – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India – Office for SC/BC jointly appeal to the Churches and organisations to actively participate in observing ‘Day of Mourning’ on 10th August to raise our protest regarding the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country.

This year we will use the term “Day of Mourning” instead of ‘Black Day’.  The concept of “Black v/s Fair” comes from the Brahminical mind-set that ‘black is ugly and fair is beautiful’. On the other hand, the Black people and the Dalits hail the colour and the word “Black”, and say “Black is Beautiful”. Hence, when we use the phrase Black Day for August 10th, we are assimilating and accepting the concept that Black is negative, ugly and sad.

The infamous Presidential (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India. It says “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. But this law, as we are all aware of, keeps the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Castes list.

We request you to kindly observe ‘Day of Mourning’ on August 10th by organising protest meetings/ rallies/ demonstrations/ hunger fasts/ submitting memoranda/ candle vigils/ special prayers, and other appropriate programmes in your church/institution to express our solidarity with the suffering Christians and Muslims of Scheduled caste origin.

We would appreciate if you send couple of photos and a brief report of the observance to the undersigned.

Thanking you in anticipation,

With regards,

In Christ,

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary,
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns,
National Council of Churches in India.

Email: dataconcerns@ncci1914.com

 

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

In partnership with EMW Germany, Christian Service Agency and Church of South India | held from 24 – 26 July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai (TN)

 

S T A T E M E N T

 

We, 46 delegates from the Member Churches, Regional Councils and All India Christian Organisations of National Council Churches in India met at the Consultation for the Church Leaders of the Southern Regions of India in partnership with Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland (EMW Germany), Christian Service Agency (CSA) and Church of South India (CSI) from 24th -26th July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai on the theme: “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” with the following objectives:

  1. To re-read the Bible from Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi perspectives.
  2. To bring contextual awareness of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi issues, and the imperative importance of Liberation, Equality, Justice and their Rights
  3. To motivate the church/congregation to participate actively in the struggles of oppressed and marginalized people
  4. To encourage the member churches of the NCCI to bring out educational policy guidelines from predominantly Dalit and Adivasi perspectives, which could be used by the institutions of the Churches. This education policy will help the excluded Dalit and Adivasi students to obtain more space.
  5. To make an assessment of the Church’s position and response to the current political situation in the country
  6. To struggle for participation space of Dalits and Tribals/ Adivasis in the decision making process of the Church and Society

And through various deliberations we realise and condemn: Read more

Celebrate Democracy Day!

15th August and 26th January are important days for all Indians, including people belonging to minority communities. 15th August is the day of freedom from colonial rule, the independence of the country, and governing of the country by its own leaders. 26th January is the day of affirming that we are a democratic socialist republic with our own constitution, and our commitment to uphold the constitution in our racially, biologically, ethnically, and religiously pluralistic country.

However we are living in times where democracy and all the values and principles of our constitution are being eroded or given a new meaning. It is becoming the rule (cracy) of people who claim to represent a majority religious community, asserting that they are the primary citizens (demos) of India. Indian democracy is being degenerated into a communal understanding of India as a “nation of Hindus.” As has been said by one of their leaders,

“Nation Concept comprises the five constituent ideas—country, race, religion, culture and language—as the necessary and indispensable ingredients, in the existence of which five in a homogeneous whole, the Nation exists and in the destruction of any one of which the Nation itself experiences extinction.

If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan is the land of the Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion and culture?

. . . we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea, can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race. So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners, who may be either friendly or inimical to the Nation. . .”

Thus we are confronted with Hindutva  Nationocracy. As mentioned in a press release two years ago, “Today our society is witness to increasing religious polarization and fear; and attacks on women, Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities and working people; the criminal neglect of agriculture leading to an epidemic of farmer suicides; the theft of natural resources; and attacks on livelihoods and workers’ rights; gender violence; the neglect of persons with disabilities; discrimination against Dalit students in schools and universities across the country; and the persecution of people marginalised on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Worst of all, the members and allies of the so-called Sangh Parivar are bent upon curbing our freedoms. They tell people what to wear, write and speak; whom to love and what to eat.” Even persons such as Swami Agnivesh (Social activist and Bandhua Mukti Morcha leader) are not spared.  The Swami said there was a pattern in an assault on him at Pakur on 17th July 2018  in Jharkhand and incidents of mob attacks by vigilante groups on dalits and minorities which appeared “state sponsored”.

Let us celebrate democracy!

This most diverse country in the world belongs equally to all persons who make it its own, regardless of their religious faith (or for that matter, their denial of faith), their caste, gender, class, language, ethnicities, physical and mental abilities, gender identity and sexual orientation. This is the promise that we had made to ourselves during the Independence movement. This is the soul of India’s secular, socialist democratic Constitution.

Let us as Indian Christians, celebrate the spirit and purpose of our independence in our churches and in our mission services. Let us celebrate our democracy along with all like–minded fellow citizens of India. As 15th August 2018 approaches let us give meaningful expressions of our Indian democracy based on our constitution. Let us not only sing the national anthem and salute the Indian Tri-colour but, while praying for the country, also affirm:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; 

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all; and 

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual, and the unity and integrity of all Indians

 

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India.

 

NCCI President’s Address: Embracing the Strangers and Practicing Prophetic Witness

This is the inaugural address of NCCI President, The Most. Rev. Dr. P C Singh at  the National Consultation on “Embracing the Strangers and Practicing Prophetic Witness” ( A Program of CCA – Vichara | June 19, 2018 | Orthodox Seminary – Kottayam).

Greetings

Let me, first of all, greet you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is with great joy that I am bringing greetings from the Church of North India as its Moderator and from the National Council of Churches in India as its President. My own diocese, the Diocese of Jabalpur CNI also joins me in wishing success for this conference.

I congratulate CCA and Vichara for the great partnership in organizing this conference. The Orthodox Church in India has been gracious to provide this Centre as the venue of the conference. It will be only proper to offer a special word of appreciation for the hard work put in by the Vichara team of Prof. Mammen Varkey.

For CCA “Embracing the strangers” has been a favourite theme and  area of action for several years now.  For me, it has been a privilege to serve in CCA Central committee. I see that a good number of  participants  are attending the conference and enjoying the hospitality of “God’s own country”!

Strangers and Wanderers

“A wandering  Aramean was my father…” was the memorial confession of the people of God in the Old Testament.  Abraham, Jacob, and the  people of Israel were all strangers in the land  into which their journey  brought them .  Then, we have the story of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness which depicts many occasions where people were treated as strangers and wanderers. Throughout history even up to modern times we can see people moving or fleeing from one place to another becoming  strangers elsewhere.

According to the UN report – 2013, Asians represented the largest Diaspora group residing outside their major area of birth, accounting for about 19 million migrants living in Europe, some 16 million in Northern America and about 3 million in Oceania.

Compared to other regions of destination, Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants since 2000, adding some 20 million migrants in 13 years, and this growth was mainly fuelled by the demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries of Western Asia and in South-Eastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economics such as Malaysia and Thailand.

The influx of migrant workers leaving various Asian countries increase yearly and more than 250,000 workers from Sri Lanka and 100,000 from Thailand have also been leaving their country every year since 2008.

The recent cases of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and  the influx of refugees from Syria give us the magnitude of suffering the “strangers” to other countries had to bear. Some countries decided to embrace the strangers whereas some others closed their doors. I am sure that this conference will take much time to discuss about the recent trends in migration and refugee situations. So I do not wish to go into further details.

We will look at our own country where neighbours are living as strangers and not willing to embrace each other. You know that I am speaking about the curse of caste system in our country. Exclusion or the practice of ostracising a group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom  is the dynamics of caste system. Even after many years of abolishing  “untouchability”, it is still in practice.  The Dalits of India are untouchable for the upper castes.

Thus, I wish to identify three main reasons which exclude  people from people and  prohibit the opportunity of embracing each other.  That is, these are the reasons which create “strangers” in our communities. Economic crisis and disparity, political aggression, religious intolerance are the main causes. Large communities, especially from Asia migrate to economically affluent countries in search of jobs to keep their life going at least in the minimum way.  Political exclusion and dictatorship as well as  ethnic cleansing  are some of the main reasons which make strangers in one’s own country and outside.  What is happening in Syria is mainly due to religious intolerance.  These  situations can be resolved only through dealing with these basic causes at the root.

The Prophetic Role

What does the Bible say about Embracing the strangers?  Practicing prophetic witness is what the Bible says.  The prophets  stood between God and people  and communicated to people what God wanted to tell them. It was not simple oral communication only, but it was the compulsion of establishing the justice of God in the world. Let us see some of the passages

  • “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 33-34)
  • Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15.7)
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4.9)
  • Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. ” (Hebrews 13. 1)

What can we do to enhance embracing the stranger?

We live in a world which is run by selfish economic motives. People use each other  for commercial gains. Money has become the measure of all things.  Greed has made human race like beasts.  The teaching  about Christ model, that is giving your life for others, does not attract many people.  So we need to create a counter culture of mutual care and deep concern for others.  I would like to make some practical proposal.

  1. Let us start with our homes. Some of us live in heavily protected houses and gated    Access for strangers to such living spaces will be impossible. So we need to make our  homes open to strangers in need.  The “strangers” may be even the people living next door!  As communities we need to formulate organized activities to take care of strangers.
  2. Next, let us take our local church. A recent  book on Parish Revitalization  titled one of the chapters  as, “A Gathering of Strangers?”  (Robert Worley, Chicago).  Are our local churches a gathering of strangers? We need to take a moment of  introspection . There are two questions. First, is our church a place of embracing the strangers within itself? Second,  as a church, do we have an outreach programme for the strangers?
  3.  Embracing the stranger at the grassroots. Embracing the strangers has found  place in international ecumenical councils like CCA and WCC. Even the NCCI has the related concern of migration as one of its ministerial foci. But embracing the stranger  has not found its due place in the agenda of local churches  and local ecumenical communities.  We know that  whatever does not happen  locally does not happen at all. So bringing  the agenda of embracing the stranger in the local ecumenical level is a pending task.
  4. Education from childhood. Christian nurture of children is mainly through Sunday Schools. The church has additional resource of  schools. These educational institutions  can be used as  places where children are taught from childhood  about the  care of strangers. Such positive attitudes are best developed  in schools.
  5. Wider ecumenical instrument. Religious fundamentalism is one of the main causes of exclusion . Strangers are created because of the misinterpretation of religious teachings. When interfaith communities take up the cause of embracing the strangers, it would have a great impact.  Well meaning and peace loving religious leaders can come together and make joint efforts towards this.
  6. The last suggestion is with a punch! Caste system has to go away from Indian community if our country has to be liberated from the bondage of mental and social oppression. The Church can play a model role by removing caste system from her own body. When that happens the Church will have no more strangers!

I am sure that this consultation will bring out rich insights and practical recommendations related to the theme. NCCI and CNI will be happy to follow them as well as implement them.

With blessings,

The Most Rev. Dr. P.C. Singh
Moderator CNI & President NCCI