An Ecumenical Call to join and Pray – “Global Day of Prayer to End Famine”

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

and

Ecumenical Commission on Drought and Water Management (ECODAWM)

join

World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC – EAA) and

All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)

 in extending an Invitation to

All Churches, Christian Organisations and All Faith Communities to participate in the

Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (May 21, 2017).

To

The Church Leaders, Heads of the Institutions and

Leaders of all Faith Communities

Respected and Revered Church Leaders, Heads of the Institutions and All Faith Leaders,

Greetings of Peace!

“For I was hungry and you gave me food,  I was thirsty and you gave me to drink,

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35).

Most of the Earth Communities including human communities of today  face drought and famine, more than at any time in modern history. Famine has been declared in South Sudan. Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are on the brink of famine and drought, and  some of the Indian States are facing a similar situation.

Globally, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation, while millions more suffer from drought and food shortages. In this desperate situation children suffer most and become increasingly vulnerable. The UN is calling this the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.  There is great danger that on its current course, the global response to this crisis will be hugely inadequate and will lead to unimaginable suffering and death, which is eminently avoidable. Hence, Church as a community that cares for others, have a responsibility and prophetic role in calling to mobilizing their members, the wider society and governments, and making a difference during this unprecedented period of suffering.

At this juncture of crisis, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance  (WCC – EAA) joins the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)  in inviting the entire global Christian faith communities and ecclesial confessions to participate in  the ‘Global Day of Prayer to End Famine’ on the May 21st 2017.  with a special focus on the African continent. Thousands of churches, church related organisations and faith communities and their net-works in hundreds of countries are joining this global campaign considering its timely importance and need.

As we all are aware, India is not free of  such vulnerability. Agriculture is slowly dying. Everywhere we witness   water scarcity and in some places hunger deaths. In many parts of India, farmers commit suicide due to unprecedented drought,

Therefore, the National Council of  Churches in India (Unity and Mission), and Ecumenical Commission on Drought and Water Management join together in encouraging all Indian Churches to participate in the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine, and pray for India also along with offering prayers for Africa.

We sincerely request you to  encourage all your local congregations and grass-root communities to join  this prayer campaign on the 21st May 2017, to pray during our Sunday holy Masses, Worships and Services, beseeching God’s pardon for  human sin against the earth communities and seeking God’s providential grace to end famine and give life.

Nations from the North, South, East and West  are urged to embark on this Prayer Journey. It is a journey that is not about us, but about a world in desperate need of God’s compassionate love. It is a call to respond to God’s invitation in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. May God hear our prayers, forgive our sin and heal our land.

Come let us join the ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’ with faith and prayer that  bring blessings to all the earth communities.  May our collective repentance, prayer and timely intervention assure and ensure  ‘zero hunger deaths’.

With kind regards and prayers,

Dr. William Stanley

ECODAWM

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

NCCI – Unity and Mission

Rt. Rev Dr. P C Singh

President – NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary – NCCI

Note:

The WCC worship and prayer resources are available in https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine.

If you wish to share your experiences, please share with us at <mission@ncci1914.com>

MAY DAY CELEBRATION WITH THE MIGRANTS

Migrants form the largest part of India’s vast unorganised work sector. Their entry into the labour markets is marked with several endemic disadvantages. Devoid of critical skills, information and bargaining power, migrant workers often get caught in exploitative labour arrangements that force them to work in low-end, low-value, hazardous work. Lack of identity and legal protection accentuates this problem. The hardships of migrant workers are especially magnified when state boundaries are crossed and the distance between the “source” and “destination” increases. In India, thousands of people including men, women and children mostly Dalits and Adivasis, are forced to migrate from their homes to other places because of poverty, unemployment, limited economic activities, landlessness, global warming, environmental calamities, failure in agriculture due to uncertain monsoon and floods, deforestation, political persecution, poor medical care facilities in their native place, forced displacement due to so-called developmental work, and so on. Keeping these things in mind NCCI-Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns in partnership with Vidarbha Centre for Labour Concerns and Bahujan Rangbhoomi (street theatre group) celebrated May Day with more than 200 various labour migrants as well as locals from the Butibori and Hingna (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) MIDC area at Samvidhan Chowk (Constitution Square), Near Kasturchand Park, Nagpur on 1st May from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. This celebration was done through sharing of Experiences, Street Theatre performances, singing songs of Liberation and Expressions of social-workers.

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National Council of Churches Condemns Human Rights Violation of Dalit Women

 

National Council of Churches in India condemns the heinous crimes which are being committed against Dalits and especially Dalit women in India. Instances of such violence on dalit women are   increasing as fascist ideologies  are spreading like plague in India

Another heinous crime happened recently when two Dalit women were beaten up, their clothes were stripped off and then they were forced to walk naked in their village. High caste women were used to commit such violence on these two women while   the insensitive crowed amused themselves by taking pictures and filming them naked. The “crime” the two Dalit women committed did was to take water from a tap that was in the area of the upper class Hindus. These sisters belonged to the MSA (Mission Sisters of Ajmer) congregation, who run the Karuna Hospital in Borivli. This is the how Dalit women are treated in India, irrespective of their services to the community. ( Source :www. thecjpost.com)

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Open letter to The Prime Minister of India.

To

Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

Though a Christian pastor, and serving the National Council of Churches in India as its General Secretary, I am writing this open letter to you as an Indian citizen, joining all Indian citizens who are concerned about the state of affairs in our country, India

You have been giving the country very impressive slogans about its future, be it “Achhe Din!” or “New India!” Harping on “Development” you have been advocating and initiating schemes such as “Make in India”, “Skill India”, “Start-up India”, “Digital India”, “Smart Cities”, etc.

The question which many would like to ask: Achhe Din for whom? New India for whom? The Preamble to the Constitution of India gives us a vision for all citizens:

We the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, and to secure to all its citizens:

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
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

However many people who belong to your government, party, and other likeminded bodies give us a different picture of Achhe Din and of New India where the values of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are stifled. “Vigilantism” has become a popular methodology of such persons and bodies.

Cow Vigilantism: Cow reverence and cow protection has become a very serious concern among such people. They claim that the cow represents their religion and culture. I appreciate the cow symbol as it represents love, compassion, service, sacrifice, and non-violent living. People, when they become politically emotional about this symbol, tend to give expression to hatred, cruelty, harm, murder, and violent life-styles. I wonder whether the cow would approve of such things done in her name. Read more

Indian Mission Movements Called to Minister among Cyber Natives!

An  Indian Missiologist describes the discussion on ‘Cyber Mission’ as  Historical

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A Training on Cyber Mission was organized on  March 23, 2017, by the National Council of Churches in India-Unity and Mission, and NCCI – Youth Concerns, along with the World Association of Christian Communication (WACC), India Missions Association (IMA), Christian Service Agency (CSA) and Tamilnad Christian Council (TNCC). This training was hosted by the Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) at its Head Quarters in Chennai.

Fifty Mission Workers from twenty Mission Movements and Organizations from various parts of India enthusiastically participated in this training.  The aim of the training was to focus on the role of mission(s) in the cyber era by using  ‘cyber space’ and ‘social media’ for effective mission work. Technical and practical inputs were given on the relevant and appropriate use of media apps such as ‘Facebook’, ‘WhatsApp’, ‘Blogs’, ‘Twitter’, ‘You Tube’ and the like to the Mission Workers.  To emphasize the importance of the subject,  the sessions were given cyber-language titles such as  ” Login ”  for the Inauguration, and  ” Cyber Mission Explorer”  for the Keynote Address.

Dr. Esther Kathiroli, Secretary, Tamilnad Christian Council served as the Chair and Moderator for this training. This training was inaugurated by Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, NCCI – Unity and Mission. In his inaugural address he  introduced the concept and explained the importance of  Cyber Mission by scanning the cyber context of our times with significant statistics and explanations, orally and visually. Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer, General Secretary of the India Missions Association shared greetings of peace and advocated the need for a paradigm shift in our traditional mission work.  Further, he said, this meeting is ‘historical’ as  this is the first time the Indian Mission Movements are discussing about  Cyber Mission. He thanked  the NCCI – Unity and Mission for introducing and facilitating the discussions. Rev. Dr. Sudarshan, General Secretary of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band welcomed the trainees as a host and emphasized the importance of finding ways to use ‘Cyber Space’ for gospel work.

The session on ‘The Cyber Mission Explorer’ was facilitated by Rev. Dr. Peter Singh, Professor – Christian Communication at Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai. Dr. Singh presented a  paper titled as “Social Media: An emerging new Location for Christian Mission to the Digital Natives”. Dr. Peter Singh  defined “cyber natives” or “digital natives”as people who use cyber space for their day to day lives through gadgets and digital technology .  He implied that practicing  Christian mission in this context of several social networking possibilities where people are not merely consumers but also active creators of information, can be very challenging. Therefore, we need to look at the recipients of the Gospel appropriately, because they are not mere consumers of (y)our good old gospel(s).  He further emphasized that the Great Commission (Matt 28: 16 -20) has to be seen as an opportunity for the churches and the mission movements to explore all possible and available ways to communicate the gospel, and  if we do not appropriate them with the needed strategies and methodologies, we will remain behind  while the world goes ahead with speed of growth and development of next generations.   This session was moderated by Mrs. Faith Kulothungan a grass-root mission leader from Maharashtra.

The following session was titled as “Surfing on ‘Digital Mission”’. This session aimed to ‘import’ information on ‘History of World Mission’ and its development and how the present generation mission could appropriate time and space. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar presented the history of world mission movements chronologically with adopted shifts in the mission approaches, paradigm shifts with needed categorization on the theme ‘Mission Update’.

Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei, Executive Secretary of NCCI – Youth Concerns presented the context of the ‘Next-Generation Christianity’, and how and why missions need to address the societies and communities of the present cyber generation. He elaborated on the context of the cyber generation youth and the children who are part of the digital world and their challenges and opportunities, and therefore the importance of adopting relevant mission(s) that involve them too.

Mr. Vinod Shemron, who does internship with the NCCI – Unity and Mission, facilitated a session on  ‘Skype-ing Mission: Face (time) mission’. He referred to  the role of social media in mission and how and what could be done in terms of appropriating the space and time that we see today.  He also elucidated the use of Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, twitter, etc. This three part session gave answers to the three pertinent questions in the minds of the gathered people : what is mission?  who are we addressing?  what are the media that we can employ? This session was moderated by the Rev. Dr. Regi Samuel of Inter-Service Church Association (ICSA), who uses these digital schemes for his ministry.

The adjutant session was on ‘Desk-top’.  This session was aiming to offer a practical tour to experience the use of handsets (smart phones, tabs and computers). Three experts facilitated them to open up  accounts in WhatsApp, Facebook and BlogSpot and encouraged them to use these for their mission works.  Rev. Arvind Jeyakumar a Research Scholar and Theological Educator from the Methodist Church in India elucidated how’Facebook’ could be effectively used for our mission work. This session was titled as ‘Interaction’. Further he explained about  responsible posting of views related to faith and inter-faith relationships that ought to be looked at from a peace perspective, and using the Facebook responsibly to convey the ‘great commandment’ that the Lord taught us. Mr. Jianthaolung then dealt with ‘Smart-Phones’. He  practically demonstrated  how to use Whatsapp to equip the missionaries to create groups and the process of broadcasting messages to the recipients. He  informed about the technicalities of the application and the securities that need to be taken in the process of sending messages to their group members. Mr. Vinod facilitated the session  titled as ‘Browser’.   He facilitated the participants to practically  create a ‘blog’ account and to publish a blog. He informed about the importance and use of blogs, their reach, and their outcome.  This session which helped the missionaries to gain confidence in using such apps for their mission work, was moderated by Rev. Kannan Rajendran of India Missions Association.

These input and practical sessions were followed by group work titled as “Group Chat (cntl+s)”. The participants were divided into 5 groups with five different questions:

  • Why cyber mission?
  • Why should mission use technology?
  • How cautiously could mission use technology?
  • What are the challenges in adapting technology in mission?
  • What do you want to tell the mission world?

Each group identified a reporter to present a report of their discussion.   The presenters of the five groups identified and brought forward  many innovative suggestions and a road map. Every group realized that there is a swift process in digital globalization which could hinder  mission activities. A confession was also made that these discussions ignite them to review and re-think their present mission approach and initiate a study with an open mind to look for appropriate use of cyber space and gadgets. They also affirmed that there is  virtual space through which God’s people can be reached for missional purposes.

The closing act was titled as “Logout”. Rev. Zohmingthanga, Programme Executive of IMA, facilitated a feedback session in a creative way. Every participant found the discussions meaningful, challenging and timely. Some said that though they had lagged behind in getting into cyber mission, still it is better late than never from them to get started today. Some expressed their desire of forming cyber groups for  mission work and the youngsters would be encouraged to be freelance missionaries.

Rev. Christopher Rajkumar reminded the gathering about the importance laid in Luke 15 (Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son). The Shepherd could have used some “Technique” to re-trace the lost, the Lady could have used a “Technology” of lighting a lamp to trace the lost coin, but ultimately the gospel affirms  the “Transformation”  in the lost son. So, let us use appropriately and adequately, either a technique or technology for transformation which is the ultimate result of all our mission. Secondly, he suggested to have a shift from preaching the gospel to  ‘do’ the gospel, referring to the movement from the great commission to the great commandment.

In his  concluding remarks, Rev. Dr. Wati Longkumer referred to the insights gained on  digital natives and the digital immigrants that have become new concepts for modern missiology. He appreciated the Mission Leaders for having identified the Cyber Mission as an important area to be adopted for our missional interventions.

Rev. Daniel David of the FMPB proposed the vote of thanks and concluded by referring to the 500 years of the Reformation and its historical importance. He observed that these discussion challengingly bring “reformation thoughts” among the mission movements. The training concluded with a word of prayer by Rev. Prabhakhar, FMPB, and the Benediction pronounced by Rev. D B Kulothungan, Treasurer, IMA.

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary

NCCI – Unity and Mission

Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei

Executive Secretary

NCCI – Youth Concerns

 

NCCI rejoices over the Victory of Peoples’ Power in Odisha

People of Odisha are an “Icon of Unity and Beacon of Hope”

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The National Council of Churches in India rejoices over the decision of the POSCO (Pohang  Steel Company) Korean Mining Company to withdraw from the lands of Odisha and asking the State to give back the lands to the Tribals and Adivasis from whom the lands were taken. This was officially announced and confirmed through a media statement by Shri Devi Prashad Mishra, the Honorable Minister for Industry, Government of Odisha.

The resilient struggle of the  people has borne fruit. It is a  victory of not only the people of Odisha but also of all Peasants, Fisher-folks, Forest-dwellers engaged in movements to save their land, life and livelihood.  Over a decade, the people of Odisha were struggling to redeem their land and life from the forces of corporate empire. They demonstrated  their opposition through various Gandhian style non-violent means such as hugging the scorching sandy earth while facing the onslaughts of the authoritative powers.

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NWICC discussion on Ecumenical Transparency, Accountability & Responsibility’

The North West India Council of Churches (NWICC) in collaboration with National Council Churches in India (NCCI) organised a seminar on 25th February 2017 themed upon ‘National Ecumenical Campaign for Transparency, Accountability & Responsibility’. Bishop Collin C. Theodore, Secretary, NWICC was hosting the seminar.

The two resource persons for the seminar Rev. Arvind Peter & Ms. Nirmala Fenn reflected upon the topic discussing the biblical nature of corruption in this modern world and deliberated on how to ‘be JUST’ IMG_20170225_145509

Chalo Nagpur March ! Women’s Action for Justice and Peace Against the Forces of Hatred, Inequality, Fascism and Dominance

 ‘Nagpur Chalo March’  gathered more than 3000 women from different parts of India on 10th March 2017 in Indora Maidan, Nagpur. Women from Dalit, adivasi, bahujan and minority communities, women from different faiths disabled, queer women, transgender people, sex workers, nomadic tribeswomen, students and many others discriminated against on the basis of caste, class, religion, community, sexuality, gender, disability, occupation or age came together to raise their voices against the forces of communal, brahmanical, feudal, casteist, capitalist patriarchy on 10th of March 2017.

International Women’s Day on March 8th 2017 geared up women different parts of the world to protest against fascism, racism, discrimination, intolerance, hatred. Fascism is increasing in the world today which is fueling heinous crimes and breeding culture of violence. There are  countless cases of heinous gendered and sexual crimes by dominant castes upon Dalit girls and women of minority communities in India . Women’s and girls’ bodies have become battlefields where caste and communal wars of hatred are being fought . Rape has become an instrument to revenge, creating terror and shaming communities.

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Maternity Leave Increases from 12 weeks to 26 Weeks in India

“Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” was the IWD theme of UN. As the world commemorated IWD in India  on March 8, 2017, the Lok  Sabha, on 9th March, 2017, passed amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, increasing the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, which is over six months.

With this, India has become the country with the third highest Maternity Leave,  Canada and Norway grant 50 weeks and 44 weeks respectively as paid maternity leave. The Rajya Sabha had passed it in August last year. (source: www.timesofindia.indatimes.com, accessed on 12 March 2017)

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka  Gandhi  said this was a major step towards empowering women. “I am very, very happy we have made history today. This will help thousands of women and produce much healthier children. We have been working on it for a long time,”she said.

The World Health Organization recommends that every child should be breastfed within an hour of birth and given only breast milk for their first six months of life. Breastfeeding should ideally continue up to the age of two, along with complementary food. In India, proper breastfeeding could reduce thousands of child deaths and episodes of diarrhoea and pneumonia annually.

Mrs Maneka Gandhi further states that After giving birth, a woman’s body needs to heal over a period of time. It is a very stressful time for the mother, who should be with the child. Moreover the Bill has its roots in malnutrition, as breast feeding the child is recommended which is not possible unless the mother is in physical proximity of the child.”

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 protects the employment of a woman during the time of her maternity and entitles her to full paid absence from work to take care of her child. Among other things, the bill provides for 12 weeks of maternity leave to a woman who legally adopts a child under three months of age and a commissioning mother (defined as a biological mother) who uses her egg to have a surrogate child.

The bill also requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche a day. This will include her interval for rest.It has also made a provision under which an employer can permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits.

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International Women’s Day 2017- “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030

Click on the Link to Download IWD  Newsletter   IWD-2017NCCI Resource Material2

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day on 8th March 2017, the National Council of Churches invites churches, church leaders, Christian  organizations , and church run institutions to create and promote “women and family friendly” work places. India is the fourth dangerous country in the world for women to live in. India women face challenges and discrimination also in work place

The UN theme for IWD 2017 focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. IWD provides us the opportunity to rethink, deliberate, discuss, implement policies, educate colleagues, communities, congregations and engage in spiritual formation for gender justice to create women and family friendly workplace.

The world of work is changing with significant implications for women. On one hand, we have globalization, technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring, and on the other hand, the growing informality of labour, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts—all of which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment.

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