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International Prayer Day for Peace and Peace Sunday

International Prayer Day for Peace (21st September 2018)

Peace Sunday  (23rd September 2018)

Theme: The Right to Peace

(An invitation to Celebrate Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70)

 Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals to inculcate the culture of Peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nation’s Organisations states: “It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document.” As we all know, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Therefore the UNO calls the globe to celebrate the UDHR on the 21st September 2018. This observation affirms the Sustainable Development Goal No 16.

INTERNATIONAL PRAYER DAY for Peace (21 September):

Along with the UN, the World Council of Churches invites Churches and all the faith and peace loving communities to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace. Observances of the peace prayer day began in 2004 during a meeting between the then WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

For the past nine years, the erstwhile Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation, and the present Unity and Mission ministry of the National Council of Churches in India have been facilitating and working with the Indian Churches to ensure that this day addresses the issues related to peace and societal harmony.

The Indian Churches are committed to Peace wherever there are conflicts such as Iraq, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Palestine and other places including India where unjust and inhuman policies and politics are waging war against the innocent public. The NCCI joins the global communities who seek peace and demand suitable mechanisms for ‘truth and reconciliation’.  On 3rd February 2014, at the NCCI’s Centenary Symposium, the South Asian National Councils have decided to work on a common theme ‘Peace and Human Security in South Asia’.

This year the World Council of Churches is calling the world-wide Church to observe a week of prayer for the Peace in Palestine. With this inspiration the National Council of Churches in India calls churches to pray for Peace in India and other parts of the world, including Palestine.

PEACE SUNDAY (23 September 2018):

The Unity and Mission ministry of the National Council of Churches in India, invites all NCCI Constituent Members, Interfaith and Peace Loving Individuals and Communities to creatively observe the Prayer Day for Peace in India as a pledge-taking event at their respective congregations, communities and institutions.

 This observance would offer opportunities for all of us to support the peace campaign widely and to reaffirm the words of Jesus ‘ … blessed are the peace makers (Mathew 5: 20)‘ by ministering towards the Right of Peoples to Peace in order to recognize the call of God in promoting peace in our region.

As we are aware there are several issues of religious, racial and caste disparities which destroy peace among the people.  Women and girl children are not safe in societies, people and communities are forced to migrate, and women and girl children are being trafficked – everywhere we witness violation of human right violations. Therefore we earnestly encourage our members and other faith communities to observe this week sincerely to work towards the Gospel Call of ‘Peace on Earth’ as members of the Jesus’ Community.

Therefore, the NCCI is providing this WORSHIP RESOURCE and encouraging every peace-loving person and congregation to engage with their members, friends and neighbours, community organizations and governments: together let us pray for and claim the right of peoples to peace.

Let us dedicate this day or the Sunday (26th September 2018) to praying and sowing seeds of local possibilities for a harvest of global peace.

An Invitation:

The Prayer Day for Peace, invites all to stand for cessation of hostilities and to commemorate the day by organizing events and programmes such as  ‘lighting a candle’ and encouraging the people to ‘pledge for peace’, offering special prayers for victims and martyrs in conflicts and for peace, through education and creating public awareness on issues related to peace,  and  by affirming the declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, with its central message that humanity’s sustainable progress and the realization of fundamental rights and freedom depend on peace and security. It is central to the Rights upfront approach, which calls upon the national and international communities to act early and more concertedly in the face of human rights violations, which are often the precursors of worse things to come.

This Day also unites all of us as an earth family to work for the cause of peace by encouraging fighters to lay down and give-up their arms.  Let this Day make us stand in solidarity with the civilians killed by terrorism and war, the traumatized families whose homes and futures lie in ruins, the countries whose development has been set back by decades.

History has shown that, no matter how fierce the conflict, it will come to an end, peace can prevail and reconciliation can be achieved.  On 21 September, at concerts and special events around the world — in major cities and small towns, in conflict zones and peaceful communities – people will broadcast this essential message.  They will celebrate the value of human diversity and the strength of our unity.

Herewith, we encourage all ecclesial traditions to use our holy shrines and pulpits for prayer and ministering the Word on Peace. Let us observe Peace Sunday on the 23rd September 2018 with the Worship Resource made available for you.

Blessed are the Peace Makers (Matt 5: 9). Come let us follow Jesus and his Words as PEACE MAKERS.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary

 Please CLICK HERE for the 2018  Peace Sunday Worship Resource

Please CLICK THE LINK to know more about WCC’s Observation <https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/world-week-of-peace-in-palestine-and-israel>

Please CLICK THE LINK to know more about UNO’s Observation <https://internationaldayofpeace.org/>

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

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

 

An Ecumenical Call for Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (10th June 2018)

An Ecumenical Call for Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (10th June 2018)

Did you feed me, when I was hungry? Though this was a question posed by Jesus several years hundred years ago, communities and nations who are starving for food and suffering from hunger put forward the same question to the world even today. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 825 million people in the world are malnourished and therefore are deprived of a healthy life (2017)

Here are some alarming facts about hunger and famine in 2016:

  1. Ninety-eight percent of those who suffer from hunger live in developing countries. 553 million live in the Asian and Pacific regions, while 227 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 47 million.
  2. India has the highest population of hunger. In 2014, over 190.7 million people were undernourished in India.
  3. Approximately nine million people die of hunger every year according to the World Hunger statistics; more than the combined death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis in 2012.
  4. Over 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women, who have limited access to resources in the patriarchal societies in which they live.
  5. Hunger in women of developing countries causes malnutrition and death of children. Approximately 3.1 million (8500 per day!) children die of hunger each year, and in 2011 poor nutrition accounted for 45 percent of deaths of children under five.
  6. The alarming tragedy is that such deaths take place when the world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2006.

In this context, the question of Jesus ‘Did you feed me, when I was hungry?’ in Matt 25: 35 – 40 is not only an indictment of Jesus, but also an experience of several people in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere in the world, who do not have accessibility to adequate food!

Many a time, faith communities( including churches) and even affluent States are comfortable in processing a few philanthropic services in addressing or combating poverty and hunger by providing food grains, rather than seriously looking at poverty and hunger as ‘Justice’ and ‘Human Rights’ issues.

Famine is mostly seen as non-availability of food due to various reasons including draught, war and ecological and natural catastrophes. Moreover, there prevails a view that it is also due to over population. However, the fact is that erroneous and unjust policies of the States and the unjust distribution of food grains cause famine conditions.

Therefore, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance facilitates this campaign, joining the World Evangelical Alliance and the All Africa Conference of Churches, inviting churches and faith communities around the globe to pray for God’s intervention in the healing of the lands, by sharing enough and healthy food (grains) among the people and also to facilitate the States to develop pro-people policies to ensure healthy food for all citizens.

This ‘Global Day of Prayer to End Famine’ motivates the participating organisations and individuals to affirm “food justice ‘FOR’ all – food-justice ‘OF’ all”.

The idea behind this ecumenical call for prayer is to:

  • Unite the ecumenical partners and faith communities around the globe together in spirit and in action to ministerially and theologically respond to the issues related to famine, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
  • Encourage and facilitate their congregations and constituencies to pray for, and reflect and act upon the situation of hunger with information and suggestions.
  • Facilitate the Ecumenical Bodies and Partners to prayerfully work with their respective States to develop pro-people policies to affirm just-distribution of food and health.
  • Bring about concerned awareness regarding impact of famines on the most vulnerable children, women and families and to help address its root causes.
  • Connect with church-related and other humanitarian organisations that are currently working to bring immediate relief and positive long-term change so that children and families can live out God’s aspiration for a dignified, peaceful and violence-free future.
  • Help communities and congregations to uphold each other in prayer and support, by sharing experiences, challenges and solutions.

Hence, the Unity and Mission of the National Council of Churches in India and the Ecumenical Council for Drought and Water Management (ECoDAWM) are  jointly inviting all Members of the NCCI and other faith communities, people’s movements and action groups to observe this day to spread awareness and commit ourselves to act towards eradicating poverty.

We hope all concerned Church and Community leaders will support this effort by organizing meaningful programmes within our churches and organisations.

PLEASE JOIN THIS GLOBAL PRAYER MOVEMENT ON THE 10TH JUNE 2018.

To Know more about the Prayer Day please visit

<https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-calls-for-global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine> and  <https://www.wvi.org/learn-more-about-global-day-prayer-end-famine>

To Download Resources Please click:

<https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine-1>

To join the campaign Please click: (Register Your Church / Organisation)

<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdbN309d0m_m_QxUFG_eRxi8_ymXBPAhqU-NXrmoC6-hS1WVA/viewform>

Yours in God’s Mission,

Dr. William Stanley

President – ECoDAWM

 

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary, NCCI – Unity and Mission

 

Most. Rev. Dr. P C Singh

President – NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary – NCCI

Green Epistle

Green Epistle to the Indian Churches :

Curse devours the earth  and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt (Isaiah 24:6)

on 

World Environmental Day (June 5, 2018)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in faith Journey,

Grace to you and Peace from God our Creator!

God created earth and heaven. In the process of creating the cosmos, God  created human beings along with  other earth communities. Unfortunately, due to human greed and irresponsibility, all of God’s earth is polluted with several toxic gases, degradable wastes including plastics. The deep seas are  filled with plastic wastes and consequently the species in the deep seas are adversely affected by plastics. Every year 8-10 million tons of plastic is dumped in the sea.

So also the species on land are afflicted by plastics. Daily we see so many plastic bags lying scattered here and there. Plastic is such a material which cannot be reused. Plastic is damaging our existence. It is estimated that one third of all plastic waste ends up in soils or fresh waters. Most of this plastic disintegrates into particles smaller than five millimetres, referred to as microplastics, and breaks down further into nanoparticles, which are less than 0.1 micrometre in size. In fact, terrestrial microplastic pollution is much higher than marine microplastic pollution – an estimate of four to 23 times more, depending on the environment.

PLASTIC IS A DANGEROUS INVENTION OF HUMANS AND IT NOT ONLY AFFECTS BUT ALSO KILLS THE EARTH COMMUNITIES INCLUDING HUMAN COMMUNITIES. We as faith communities need to be dedicatedly engaged in eliminating the very presence of plastics in our day to day life.  The use of plastic has to be stopped.

In this alarming context of the earth being filled with plastics, UN Environment is making its biggest global call and seeks to mobilize humans for action on 5th  June, World Environment Day (WED). The theme for this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. While WED  day has been observed every year since 1973,  from the last couple of decades it is being observed on a larger scale.

We have been experiencing tremendous climate changes since the last few years. These changes have brought  much suffering to living creatures in the various forms: global warming, drought, floods,  landslides, incurable diseases, irregular climate changes and so on . Today the question is ‘How do we as Christians deal with this concern?’

One of the reasons why God created humans is that they should take care of the earth. God has entrusted us with this responsibility. Therefore, whatever good or bad happens,  we are responsible. So far we have not done much in  nurturing, sustaining and protecting God’s creation.

Prophet Isaiah talks about the earth being polluted by its inhabitants. In Isaiah’s context he was talking of earth being polluted by the inhabitants through their disobedience of God’s commandments. This situation  continues even till today; in fact it has become worse. Humans are not only tempted to continue disobeying God but they are destructively tampering God’s creation. Chris Appleby,  in one of his sermons  states:

“The great temptation for Christians as well as for the Jews is the temptation to take God’s  grace for granted; even worse, to feel a sense of superiority, of smugness, because we’re part of  God’s chosen people. The way to overcome that temptation is to remember that with the privilege of being God’s people comes the responsibility to remain faithful; to allow God to be God in every part of our lives.”

Talk about issues faced because of pollution and what can be done about it, is often a topic of discussion in our family and friend circles, but we fail in taking appropriate actions.  Global warming is a curse not only for human kind but also for all  living beings.

 We are responsible for the phenomena of global warming, climate change, and the ever increasing pollution,  and we have to bear the consequences. We have to do something about it.  Today is the time to get into action!  Now the question arises ‘Where do we start?’ and ‘When do we start?’

Therefore to start with, the NCCI – Unity and Mission encourages all its members and the public  at large to give up the use of plastics in our day today life. We have to start  someday,  so why not today? The UN has a very practical slogan this year “If you cannot reuse it, refuse it.” There are few alternatives for plastic which we need to start using. Let us make our campuses and neighborhood ‘PLASTIC-FREE’.

Let us boldly and publicly declare “NO TO PLASTIC !”

Ecologically Yours,

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary

Rev. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary – Unity and Mission

 

CCA invites applications for the Asian Ecumenical Institute-2018

Participants of Asian Ecumenical Institute 2017

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) invites applications for the annual session of the Asian Ecumenical Institute (AEI- 2018).

Focusing on the theme ‘Wider Ecumenism in Asia‘s Pluralistic context’, the AEI-2018 will be held from 15 July to 13 August 2018 at the Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The AEI is a month-long annual training programme for young people from various Asian countries come together in an inter-cultural and inter-denominational setting to gain in-depth insights on ecumenism through a variety of learning methodologies.

AEI is designed to increase the knowledge and skills of prospective church and ecumenical leaders in Asia who seek to enhance their engagement in church and society and to assume future leadership positions in the ecumenical movement.

The programme also aims to empower the participants in understanding the concept and ethos of ecumenism while being anchored on a strong sense of rootedness in one’s own faith, tradition, and heritage,- The course outline and the methodology designed for the AEI-2018 will enable the participants to understand the need for  crossing  boundaries of denominational, cultural, social, economic and political strata to recognise the value of  wider ecumenism.

Admissions will be offered  to 25 students who will be selected from among the applicants between ages 25 to 35. Selection of prospective participants will be based on competence, gender and confessional balances, national and sub-regional representations, ability to communicate in English.

The deadline for receiving Applications will be on or before 31 May 2018.

For Application Form and more details about the AEI-2018, please  email <cca.aei@gmail.com> or click the links below:

Asian Ecumenical Institute

AEI 2018 Application Form

(Source: Christian Conference of Asia News)

ASIA SUNDAY 2018 (May 13, 2018)

Theme: ‘Embracing the Differently Abled and Upholding Their Dignity’.

Respected and Revered Church Leaders and People of God,

Greetings from the Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment  of the National Council of Churches in India!

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has invited the entire Asian Churches to  observe ‘Asia Sunday’ on 13 May, 2018 on the theme, ‘Embracing the Differently Abled and Upholding Their Dignity’.

The Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment of NCCI (NCCI -IDEA) congratulates the CCA Leadership for having chosen the theme concerning The People with Disabilities (PWDs).

The Asia Sunday is observed every year on the Sunday before the Pentecost. But, some of the Indian Churches are observing  Mother’s Sunday on the 13th May. However, we encourage the Church leaders, clerics and people of God to observe the Asia Sunday either on the 13th May or on subsequent Sundays that are convenient to you.

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Indian Christian Mission starts ‘FROM’, ‘BY’ and ‘WITH’ the Margins, says Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

The India Pre-conference of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism was held at the CNI Bhavan, New Delhi from 24 -26 January 2018 on the theme: ‘Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions’. There were forty-eight delegates including fourteen women and ten youth from thirteen various ecclesial traditions, seven theologians from various schools of thought, thirteen social and developmental organizations, nine ecumenists and six mission workers, represented also from the ‘so-called’ socially, religiously and culturally excluded communities like, Tribals/Adivasis, Dalits, People With Disabilities, Sexually Diverse Communities, Women, and Youth. The Conference was jointly organized by the Church of North India Synod and NCCI Unity and Mission along with the WCC – Commission on Council for World Mission and Evangelism.

The Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, President, National Council of Churches in India and the Moderator of the Church of North India inaugurated the Conference. In the inaugural address the Most Revered Moderator ‘invited’ the Churches, Mission Movements and Diaconal Organizations to adopt ‘discipleship’ as a strategy to ‘do’ and ‘practice’ mission in India. Further the President observed that, Christian Mission in India has a 2000 years  history. Christian Mission has been involving in inculcating the Gospel values of Justice, Peace and Love through its education, health and diaconal interventions in and among all the communities and the societies at large. These interventions have reached millions of people and brought a change in their lives and in the societies at large. These interventions are not basically to convert anyone to Christianity; rather these are engaged in the process of molding good human / citizens. But, today a hate campaign is waged against the Churches and its mission services including diaconal interventions, alleging  that these missional interventions are after all for ‘conversion, ‘ even when facts reveal that  the Christian population has been constituting  2.5 % of the Indian population for centuries.

It is clearly evident that in all missional and diaconal interventions Indian Christian missions have largely focused on the ‘transformation of lives’ by ‘DOING gospel’ along with ‘preaching’ of the good news.  The gospel of Christ has directly confronted injustices in society such as caste discrimination, gender injustice and other social divides, and has identified with the socially, religiously, economically neglected, excluded and discriminated communities who are pushed to the edges of society. So, Indian Christian Mission is ‘FROM’ the Margins, ‘BY’ the Margins and ‘WITH’ the margins.  This is the uniqueness of the Indian Christian mission.   Further the President said that, the transforming discipleship strives to enhance human values based on the gospel values of justice, peace and love.  Therefore, he invited the mission movements and churches to be together in mission, facilitating new disciples to transform the society as God intended, thereby realizing the reign of God: “ I call upon the mission leaders to go into the world, strengthening the process of ‘transforming disciples’ in all nations”.

Shri. Alwan Masih, the General Secretary of the Church of North India, moderated the inaugural sessions and several Church leaders spoke at the inaugural session.

Please click  for detailed India Pre-Conference Report

Click here for Coverage in Peoples Reporter

Click for Photographs

Reported by:

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,

Executive Secretary,

NCCI – Unity and Mission

<mission@ncci1914.com>

India Pre-conference of the World Mission Conference

World Council of Churches – Council for World Mission and Evangelism

Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism

India Pre-conference

24 -26 January, 2018 | CNI Bhavan, New Delhi.

The next Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism of the  World Council of Churches is meeting in Arusha, Tanzania from 08th to 13th March 2018 on the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship”. The Conference is an opportunity for the global Church, the ecumenical and the mission movements to review and re-examine its present mission patterns in order to make the Gospel relevant by interpreting it in response to the signs of our times.

To facilitate this process of introspection and re-imagination, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission joining the Church of North India Synod and the WCC – Council for World Mission and Evangelism is organizing a ‘Pre-assembly’ to deliberate upon the need, relevance and engagement of the Indian churches, ecumenical mission organizations in our contemporary context on the theme “Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions”.

This India Pre-Conference is hosted by the Church of North India Synod and facilitated by the NCCI – Unity and Mission. This conference is scheduled to be held in CNI Bhavan, # 16, Pandit Pant Marg, New Delhi from 24th to 26th  January 2018.

Please click the link for the concept note.02. CNI – NCCI – CWME Concept Note for WMC

To know more about the WCC – World Mission Conference, please visit <https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/conference-on-world-mission-and-evangelism-moving-in-the-spirit-called-to-transforming-discipleship>

For Details… Please contact

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Executive Secretary,
NCCI – Unity and Mission
<mission.ncci@gmail.com>, <mission@ncci1914.com>

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