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Floods! Fundamentalism! Franchise!

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

 

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

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

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

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

  1. TEN YEARS OF “KANDHAMAL”

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

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

  1. CALL TO RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP

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

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

Kerala Floods – CASA Response

This is an update from a Constituent member body of NCCI, Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) on their relief work for Kerala floods. Received the following by email from Joseph P. Sahayam, Additional Emergency Officer (HQ), CASA.

Kerala Floods | Pic Source: casa-india.org

Greetings from CASA!

As you are aware the Monsoon Floods in Kerala has created havoc in 13 of the 14 districts in Kerala. CASA has been responding since the first flooding in July and continuing the intervention in the Second wave of floods with many of the Church Partners.

I am herewith sharing the updates on our intervention and the same is appended below.

 

Sl.No Partner Church / Agency Programme Cost (INR) Area Type of Intervention Total Number
1 CARD (Christian Agency for Rural Development) 8,55,600.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta (Peringara GP, Edathua GP, Nedumudy GP, Thalavady GP, Ramankery GP, Veliyanadu GP, Muttar GP, Payipad  GP, Payipad  GP, Thiruvalla) Dry Ration 1775
2 CSI Synod

(CSI Malabar Diocese)

9,00,000.00 Wayanad

Koilery Area – Mavanthavadi Taluk,

Moolakani Area, Sultan Battery Municipality

Dry Ration 710
3 CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese 10,00,00.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta

(Perumthuruthy, tTamaral, Merpal. Chathenkery, Adichikad)

Dry Ration 1000
4 CSI East Kerala Diocese 5,00,000 Idukki and Ernakulam Dray Ration /   NFI 600
5 Malankara Orthodox Church 5,00,000 Wayand and Kozhikode Dray Ration /  NFI 500
Total 37,56,000 Wayand, Allapuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Kozhikode 4585

Apart from this CASA is also directly intervening in Wayanad and Idukki providing 1200 Dry Ration Kit, Tarpaulin, Hygiene Kit and Support for 150 House Repair and 1100 Shelter and Non Food Items in Idukki. CASA staff are Stationed in the above mentioned districts.


Please continue to remember in prayer the relief operations in Kerala undertaken by CASA and other constituent bodies of NCCI.

Most Rev. Shiblal Soren (Former moderator of NELC) passes away

Former Moderator of Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC), Most. Rev. Shiblal Soren passed away on August 12, 2018. He had been unwell for some time. Please remember the bereaved family, his wife and son, in your prayers for God’s comfort and peace.

He represented NELC on NCCI’s Executive Committee and General Body during the quadrennial 2008 – 2012. We remember with gratitude and thanks to God, his leadership and faithful ministry.

NCCI news

 

Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan passes away.

Late Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan (Pic. source: marthoma.in)

The Mar Thoma Church deeply mourns the unexpected passing away of Suffragan Metropolitan Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan Thirumeni at P.V.S. Memorial Hospital, Ernakulam at 4:40 AM on 18-4-2018.. Thirumeni is fondly remembered for His soul stirring oration marked with Christian maturity and vast knowledge in human relations. Thirumeni who is keen in keeping relationships systematically was instrumental in materializing many humanitarian projects for the upliftment of the poor and needy. As Thirumeni completes His earthly sojourn, Church praises Her Lord for the outstanding life and witness of Thirumeni.

Born on 26th April 1944 as the son of Late Sri. C.I. Idicula and Late Smt. Achiyamma of Nedumpram Christos Mar Thoma Parish Chirayilkandathil C.I. George completed High School education from TMT High School Neerattupuram. After obtaining BSc Degree from Mar Thoma College, Thiruvalla he was called upon to serve the Church as a priest and got BD Degree from Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur in 1969.

He was ordained Semmas on 3rd May 1969 and Kassesa on 14th June 1969. He served thereafter Palakkad, Olavakkod, Karimba, Nelliyambathy, Attappadi, Kozhinjampara, Kuzhalmannam, Mumbai, Dadar, Toronto, Venmoney Sehion, Kottayam Jerusalem, Madras Chetpet, Edayaranmula, Laka Senthom, Kurichimuttom and various other Parishes illustriously. While in Canada he did higher studies in Wycliffe College, Toronto (1975-76). He was selected as Bishop while serving in Edayaranmula parish. He was consecrated as Ramban on 4th November 1989 at the Kottarakkara Mar Thoma Convention ground along with Rev. Dr. George Jacob (Geevarghese Mar Theodosius Episcopa and Rev. Euyakim I. Cheeran (Euyakim Mar Coorilos Episcopa) and as Episcopa with the name Geevarghese Mar Athanasius on 9th December 1989 at Thiruvalla SCS ground. He was assigned to be the head of Mumbai – Delhi Diocese. He served as head of Kottayam-Kochi Diocese from 1993 November to September 2001 and from 2001 October continues to head Ranni – Nilackal Diocese. In 2015 October 2nd, Tirumeni was installed as the Suffragan Metropolitan of the Church.

(Source: Website of The Mar Thoma Church | marthoma.in)

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) joins the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in mourning the great loss of this great leader, visionary, ecumenist, scholar and shepherd. Thirumeni served faithfully and selflessly for the benefit of the Church and society at large, both in India and abroad. His dedicated and mature leadership will be missed. We thank God for his life and ministry, and hope that the excellence of his work will continue to inspire coming generations of leaders to serve with undying passion and commitment.

An Open Letter from Bishop Most Revd Thomas K. Oommen (Moderator, Church of South India) to the Fellow Citizens of India.

ABSTRACT

  • As an Indian Citizen and the Head of the Second Largest Church in India, with more than 4.5 Million members, most of them being dalits, Adivasis, poor farmers and fisherfolks, I hereby share the fear my people have under the rule of a Government that has become a nightmare to the poor and the minorities in India.
  • It is true and sad fact that the current Government that follows the Hindutva supremacist ideology seems to have consciously discounted what is stated in the Preamble of our Indian Constitution that declares liberty, equality, and fraternity as its ideals and assures Social, Economic and Political Justice to the citizens of India.
  • The Government proves to be pro-corporate and unkind to the poor by waiving off loans of rich people and corporate while not waiving of the loans of the poor farmers, not giving Minimum Support Price (MSP) to them, not addressing the issues of economic distress, joblessness, price rise by forcefully implementing policies like ‘Demonetization’ and GST. In fact, corruption and scams/scandals have become a hallmark of this Government.
  • The Church of South India demands that the Government at the centre ensures the democratic and secular fabric of India to be safeguarded instead of promoting their Hindutva agenda for which they demolish Churches and Mosques, vandalizes religious statues and symbols, persecutes Christians and Muslims, change school textbooks, insert dogmatic and pseudo-scientific religious content, ban films, books, festivals of minorities claiming that they to “offend” the Hindu nationalist sentiments.
  • The Church of South India not only stands in solidarity with the Dalits fighting for justice and equality and agitating against alleged “dilution” of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, but also condemns all atrocities against the Dalits, that tortures, rapes and brutal murders by the Hindutva extremist forces.
  • Church of South India also strongly demands that recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Sachar Committee for reservation to Dalits of Christian and Muslim minority communities be implemented.
  • On this day on April 06, 1930, at the end of the ‘Salt March’, Mahatma Gandhi raised a lump of mud and salt and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire”. Today, on April 06, 2018, I urge my fellow citizens in India to unite together and shake the foundations of another empire being built by the corporate fascists.

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CMAI | Healing Ministry Week | February 11 – 18, 2018.

Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI) is celebrating the Healing Ministry Week along with the National Council of Churches in India, Catholic Health Association of India and the Commission for Healthcare Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. The broader partnership has enabled many more congregations to celebrate the healing ministry week.

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NCCI mourns for the sad demise of Bishop B. P. Sugandhar, the former Moderator of the Church of South India

Rt. Rev. Dr. B. P. Sugandhar, the former Moderator of the Church of South India, passed away on 05 December 2017. He was residing at Hyderabad after his retirement as the sixth Bishop of the Medak Diocese of the CSI.

Bishop Sugandhar was the Deputy Moderator of the CSI for two terms (2000- 2004) and the Moderator for another two terms (2004- 2008). He was very well known as a people’s bishop, and his memory power to remember people and their names was highly appreciated. He was an office-bearer of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches, (APFC) a society that incorporates bishops of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Indigenous Church traditions and whose members strive for ecumenism

He served as the Vice-President of the Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary of the Bible Society of India. He was also on the governing board of the United Theological College, Bangalore, and the Andhra Christian Theological College, Hyderabad.

He started his student life at Wesley Boys’ School in Secunderabad. He had done his Bachelor of Divinity at United Theological College in Bangalore and later earned a Doctorate in Theology.

Bishop Sugandhar is survived by his wife Mrs. Nalini Sugandhar, Sons Mr. John Priya Babu and Dr. Vimal Sukumar (Treasurer of the Medaka Diocese of the CSI), Daughter Ms. Glory and five grandchildren. His demise was on the evening today (05.12.2017).

Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, the Moderator of the Church of South India, Rt. Rev. Dr. Vadapalli Prasada Rao, the Deputy Moderator, Rev. Dr. Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary, and Adv. Robert Bruce, the Hon. Treasurer expressed their deep condolences to the bereaved family of late Bishop Sugandhar.

NCCI mourns for the loss of a good leader.

news courtesy-

Rev. Sunil Raj Philip, CSI Communications.

 

Report of Regional Seminar on Transparency, Accountability and Responsibility (Dumka | Nov. 28 – 29, 2017)

Report of Church Leaders Seminar On Transparency, Accountability and Responsibility (TAR)

November 28-29, 2017 |Dumka, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand

Organised by: National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Christian Service Agency (CSA) and Santalia Council of Churches (SCC)

DAY I, SESSION I

The TAR Conference was initiated by the Grace of the Lord, with a session of Devotion, led jointly by Revd Francis Hansdak’ and Revd Roshan Hansdak’.

The Keynote Address to the Conference was also delivered by Revd Roshan Hansdak’.

Then Revd Caesar David deliberated upon “the Historical Necessity of Strengthening Good Practices in Our Churches and Organisations”. He emphasised upon the necessity of stringent upkeep of Ethics and Values in these challenging times, when a focused invigilatory approach is being adopted by the Government, and the FCRA Compliant Bank A/cs. of many Organisations are being closed due to detection of irregularities. He explained, to upkeep Ethics and Values, our Churches and CBOs need to do no new things, as these are the same set of Christian Values of Honesty, Love, Kindness and Integrity, we are supposed to adhere in all of our Activities. This of course doesn’t mean that the Church and its affiliate CBOs have been lax in upkeep of Ethics and Values, but merely is indicative of the Grey Areas of Ethics, which is open to opportunistic interpretations to suit the situation at hand. As an example he cited the rampant but inappropriate use of pirated proprietary softwares in our Churches, instead of Freewares and Sharewares.

There is also a shyness on the part of us in acknowledging corruption in our Churches. But denying the existence of corruption is doing disservice to our Churches in actuality. Contrary to the popular perception that, corruption comprises solely of monetary malpractices, Revd Caesar explained, there are various types of corruption involving Power Abuses, Illegalities, Handling of Donations, Procurement Acceleration, Sexual Abuses and Favours, Manipulations and Collusions etc. which erodes the Values, stems the Church growth, perpetuates inefficiencies, and lessens the faith upon the Church. All these factors ultimately compounds towards a weak Church. In contrast, adherence to the Global indicators of Ethics, Freedom and Transparency leads to a Sustainable and Strengthened Church.

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Presbyterian Church of India Declaration on Climate Change

Rev.  Laldawngliana,  Moderator  of the  Presbyterian  Church  of  India  (PCI)   officially  released  and  dedicated  the  PCI’s  Declaration  on  Climate Change   in Shillong  on 1st November 2017   during  the  meeting  of the  PCI’s  Peace  &  Justice  Committee  chaired  by  Rev.  Dr.  P. B.  M.  Basaiawmoit,  the  Committee  Chairman.

This  is  an  outcome  from  the  One  Day  Consultation  on  taking forward  the  Paris  COP21 Agreement  on  Climate  Change  held  last year  in  Shillong  itself  and partnered   with  Centre  for  Social Development  (CSD),  Imphal.

This  Declaration  has  been  released  before  the  meeting  of COP 23  in  Bonn,  Germany,  during  06 – 17  November,  2017  with the  hope  that all  stakeholders  will  seriously  and  concertedly act  without  reservation  on  mitigating  climate  change.

Download the Climate Action.pdf

Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha 2017

Santalia Council of Churches organised its yearly event ‘Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha’ from October 26 – 29, 2017 at CNI Mission, Taljhari, Dist Sahibganj, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand. More than 5000 delegates from Santal Churches of Assam, Bihar, Bengal & Jharkhand participated in this event. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI was the Chief Guest and the Main Speaker for the event. The Keynote address was delivered by Moderator Emeritus The Most Rev. Dr. Philip P. Marandi, CNI. The theme for this year was taken from Mathew 5:41. The Most Rev. B. Murmu, Moderator, NELC, Rt. Rev. B.B. Baskey, Diocese of Chotanagpur, CNI, Rt. Rev. Sushil Tudu of NELC and Rev. Emmanuel Chitrakar, Pakur District Superintendent of the Bengal Regional Conference of Methodist Church in India, were among other dignitaries present during the Dhorom Sabha. Rev. Francis Hansdak and Rev. Pradip Hansdak shared responsibility in smooth functioning of the entire programme.

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