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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NCCI Executive Secretaries move on to new ministries

Rev. Moumita Biswas served as Executive Secretary, NCCI Women Concerns from September 2014 to August 2018. She was ordained as a Presbyter in North East India Diocese of the Church of North India on September 2, 2018. Hence she has started serving the Diocese since September 2018. We thank Rev. Moumita Biswas for the services she has rendered to the NCCI during the past 4 Years. We wish her all the best in her new ministry.


Rev. Caesar David served as Executive Secretary, NCCI Communications from March 2013 to October 2018. An ordained Methodist minister, he is now moving on to serve the Methodist Church in USA in the State of Iowa. He will be taking up his new assignment as a pastor in the church from December 2018. The NCCI is grateful to Rev. Caesar David for his services to the NCCI during the past 5 years and 7 months. We wish him all the best in his future ministry.

 

NCCI – IDEA Seminar on World Mental Health Day 2018

National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI – IDEA)

‘Acceptance is a Gospel Demand and Inclusion is a Gospel Affirmation’ says Mrs. Rachna Singh, Executive Committee member of NCCI, in a commemoration seminar on World Mental Health DayThe United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation called the global communities to commemorate and observe the World Mental Health Day on the 10th October every year with the overall objective of raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health care. This commemoration provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

The National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment and the Church of Scotland (World Mission Council), Student Christian Movement of India (Mid-India Region), Asia CMS, Church of North India – All Saints Cathedral Youth Fellowship and Christian Service Agency organized a Commemoration seminar on Mental Well-being of students in Nagpur at All Saints Cathedral’s  Chatterton Hall on October 10, 2018.

There were 60 participants from 30 different schools, colleges, institutions, organisations and Churches.

This seminar was inaugurated by Mrs. Rachna Singh, the Executive and Finance Committee Member of the National Council of Churches in India. She is also Principal of St. Ursula Girls High School and Junior College, and President of the Young Women Christian  Association, Nagpur. Mrs. Rachna Singh challenged and inspired participants to action as she said: Acceptance is a Gospel Demand and Inclusion is a Gospel Affirmation. We, as teachers should have more patience in working with Children who are in need of healthy mental status and environment. There are areas where Children find themselves isolated. In such contexts we need to play the role of a catalyst by way of making the student communities to be inclusive student communities by creating awareness among the students. Also, she invited all school and institutional campuses to become inclusive communities ‘OF’ all and ‘FOR’ all students.

This session opened with a word of prayer by Rev. John George, Presbyter of the CNI – All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur. He moderated the seminar. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary of NCCI – Unity and Mission, and Director of the NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI – IDEA)  introduced the theme and the context. Ms. Pranita P. Sandela of the CNI – All Saints Cathedral and Mr. Jeswin Rajan, Programme Secretary, Student Christian Movement of India Mid-India Region, jointly welcomed the gathering and honored the speakers and guests of honors.

The Seminar had four speakers to speak on four perspectives of the theme: Academic, Clinical, Media and Medical perspectives.

Prof. Dr. Dipti Christian, Principal of Hislop College, Nagpur, spoke from the academic perspectives.  Dr. Christian invited the attention of the participants by sharing her life and academic interventions of creating mental well-being environment in the institutions she is associated with. She presented tips to identify the students who are under a great stress due to their autism, slow learning, hyper-activity, and colour / vision deficiency, other issues related to vision and the such. She emphasized the need to create space for children to express themselves as they are. She said “We teachers and community workers need to appreciate students who express themselves rather discourage them”. She also invited the teachers to not be judgmental, but rather accept the students as they are, and encourage the other students also to understand each other though encouragement, support and accompaniment. She also proposed a paradigm shift in the present educational system and curriculum  in the direction of giving importance to the mental well-being of students rather than importing data alone.

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Dalit Liberation Sunday 2018

Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Warm greetings from NCCI – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

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. Thanks to the enormous support received from across the churches, dioceses, parishes and theological institutions in celebrating this special Sunday.

The theme for this year’s Dalit Liberation Sunday is “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We take this opportunity to invite you to observe Dalit Liberation Sunday on 11th November 2018 in your church/local parish/institution in a creative way and rededicate our commitment to the Gospel by accompanying the unaccompanied. However, if you already have some programme on 11th November 2018, you may think of celebrating this Special day on later Sundays.

You can download the POSTER (.jpg Hi-Res 6.70 mb | .jpg Lo-Res 537 kb) and special ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE (.pdf HI-RES 18 mb  | .pdf MED-RES 12.5 mb  | .pdf LO-RES 2.77 mb) for the day. You may take the freedom to use the entire worship order and translate it in your vernacular language or adapt parts of it.

We would appreciate if you send a brief report along with a few photographs of the observance to the undersigned. Let us join to observe Dalit Liberation Sunday on 11th November 2018.

Thanking you in anticipation.

With regards,

In Christ,

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

 

DOWNLOADS (Right-click and “Save link as…”):

  1. POSTER (.jpg Hi-Res 6.70 mb | .jpg Lo-Res 537 kb)
  2. ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE (.pdf HI-RES 18 mb  | .pdf MED-RES 12.5 mb  | .pdf LO-RES 2.77 mb)

Executive Secretary of NCCI Policy, Governance and Public Witness

Rev. Dr. Abraham Mathew was installed as the next Executive Secretary of NCCI Policy, Governance and Public Witness at NCCI’s Office in New Delhi on October 1, 2018.

Rev. Dr. Mathew belongs to the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, has a Ph.D  from Trinity College, Bristol, and has worked extensively in Churches, seminaries and the mission field. Having had several responsibilities in various forums, having published several books and articles, and having represented the Church in important national and international events, his vast experience is expected to greatly benefit the council and its wide ministry.

After the installation, Rt. Rev. Gregorios Mar Stephanos Episcopa dedicated Rev. Dr. Mathew in prayer. Mrs. Aleyamma Thomas, Vice-President of NCCI, felicitated the new Executive Secretary on behalf of the NCCI and the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. Important Church dignitaries including Rt. Rev. Collin C. Theodore (Secretary of North West India Council of Churches), Mr. Alwan Masih (General Secretary of Church of North India), Mrs. Lidwina Cedric (Director of Ecumenical Church Loan Fund India), Dr. Mary Verghese (Executive Director of The Leprosy Mission), Mr. Samuel Jayakumar (Former Executive Secretary of NCCI Policy, Governance and Public Witness) and Prof. T. K. Oomen (Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University), along with Clergymen, other Church leaders and NCCI Delhi office staff, graced the occasion and wished the ministry of Mrs. and Rev. Dr. Abraham Mathew to be blessed with success and good fruit.

Ms. Catherine Christopher Nair.
Intern, NCCI Policy, Governance and Public Witness.

 

NCCI – VCLC (Vidarbha Centre for Labour Concerns) empowering the next generation Journalists for a just society.

The VCLC along with District Journalist’s Forum and Star Apex News had jointly organized a one day work shop for the progressive Journalist’s of Butibori in Hotel Royal Regency, Butibori on 30th September 2018.

The Butibori Journalist’s Union welcomed the participants. The Deputy Superintendent Ms Reena Janbandhu congratulated the efforts of the local organisers for this attempt to empower the next generation of budding Journalists. During this workshop many Journalist’s were awarded for their fearless write ups which challenged Corruption and the various Developmental issues.

The workshop had two sessions. In the first session, the legal aspects and role to be played by the press and media were spoken of. One of the speakers hailed the Maharashtra Government for introducing the bill to protect the on-duty journalists and media persons. He also congratulated them for taking the lead in enacting the first ever law in the country to protect the media and journalists, who have been paying a heavy price for upholding their right to “free and fearless reporting” of news and views.

Resource person Yogesh slated that the (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2017, adopted by both the Houses of the State’s legislature early this month, covers all journalists and media houses and organizations and makes the attacks on journalists and media establishments punishable with both fines and jail terms. The Act, however, also penalizes its willful misuse by journalists or media organizations. The participants found this session enlightening and helpful.

Post-lunch, the Second Session discussed on the roles and responsibilities of the Journalist’s in the changing sociopolitical context. Dr. Bhola Sarovar slated that the role of the media is influential in social change and social innovation processes.

“The role of the media in social change can either be progressive or conservative,” said one of the resource persons. Media can support the renewal of society by introducing new, constructive angles and new knowledge. It can question prevailing operative models and paradigms. The media can, however, also impede progress and cast doubt on warranted social reforms or take a passive stance in a change situation.

 

What is particularly important in a change situation is the feedback that policy-makers and other social actors receive through the media. It has a direct impact on how positively social reforms and initiatives are perceived and how likely they are to be accepted.

“The media could take a more active role in promoting social reform without compromising their journalistic principles. Involvement in social change does, however, require solid competence on behalf of the media,” said the Resource person.

The workshop concluded with all the participants having an open forum. The closing ceremony was done by Naagesh Girhe.

Rajesh Jadhav
Coordinator, VCLC