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NCCI urges Responsible Journalism

Nagpur | November 21, 2014

STATEMENT | NCCI URGES RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), the apex body of the Protestant and Orthodox Churches which represents 14 million people around the country registers its protest against the irresponsible use of press freedom. The Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar (Nagpur | 11-11-2014) printed some speculative claim made by a scholar about Jesus and Mary that has caused immense grief to the Christian community at large.
In a pluralistic context of India where not only freedom, but also respect for all religions and religious sentiments is both taught and practiced, such insensitivity on the part of the publishers is intolerable. While we respect and support the freedom of press, surely it must be used responsibly. It may be seen as an irresponsible act purported to incite the feelings of the Christian community. Such provocation must cease in the interest of upholding the cherished secular fabric and principles of love and unity that our Country proudly professes to have had since ages and indeed does.

WCC – Theological Consultation on ‘Economy of Life’

World Council of Churches

Theological Consultation on ‘Economy of Life’

27 – 30 October 2014, CSI Guest House, Chennai, India

0The Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), joining the Board of Diaconal Ministries of the Church of South India (CSI) Synod hosted the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Theological Consultation on ‘Economy of Life’ from 27 – 30 October 2014 at CSI Guest House in Chennai, India.

40 participants representing different geo-political landscapes and peoples’ groups, global and contextual theological and ecumenical fraternities, civil society  movements, christian churches and local congregations, interfaith communities and ecumenical movements from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America actively participated in the consultation.

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Open letter to Palestinian prisoners. In Solidarity and with prayers

palestAs we celebrate the World Week of Prayer for Palestine and Israel, with its focus this year on all those Palestinians who are unjustly imprisoned by Israel, and the theme being “Let My People Go!”, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI has written an open  letter expressing solidarity with them and assuring them of our prayers.

In Solidarity

Dear Unjustly Imprisoned Palestinian Brothers and Sisters,

As you undergo the brutalities of injustice and suffering meted out to you by the Israeli authorities, we express our deepest solidarity with you in your present condition.
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Requesting all to observe August 16, 2014 as KANDHAMAL PRAYER DAY

Dear friends,

Greetings from National Council of Churches in India.

kandhamalprayerposterHuman rights activists are campaigning to have nation-wide observation of “Kandhamal Day” to ensure justice to the victims of the sectarian violence that took place six years ago. The communal violence that started on Aug. 25, 2008 lasted for almost three months and killed hundreds of people, mostly Christians. There have been more than 3,300 complaints, but only 820 odd FIRs were registered. The rest of the complaints were not even registered. Of these complaints, only 518 cases were charge sheeted. The remaining cases were treated as false reports. And out of these 518 cases, 247 cases were disposed off.
The rest of the cases are pending before the sessions and magistrate’s courts.(source: ucanindia.in/news)

The Utkal Christian Council of the National Council of Churches in India, has proposed observing August 16, 2014 as prayer day related to the Kandhamal persecution of Christians. The Council has been closely accompanying the victims of Kandhamal in their struggle for justice. On August 16, 2014 the Utkal Christian Council is inviting all leaders of Churches and organizations to a mega prayer summit at Happy Valley Home, Badenaju, Gudayagiri – 762100 to be held from  9:00 AM  to 3:00 PM along with believers in the Kandhamal area.

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NCCI letter to Minister of External Affairs, Government of India

To

Smt. Sushma Swaraj

Cabinet Minister of External Affairs, Government of India

Dear Madam,

Greetings to you from the National Council of Churches in India!

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) is concerned about thepresent conflict between Israel and Palestine in West Asia. It has beenreported that around 184 Palestinians died and more than 1,330 peopleare wounded. The majority of the victims are Civilians, Children and Elderlypeople. The Hamas has also fired rockets inside Israel. The violence of bothsides is condemnable.

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Agonize in prayer, Express solidarity, Campaign for justice

The situation in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, and Palestine, as we all are aware, is of global concern. The conflict in Syria appears on the surface to be a battle between those loyal to President Bashar Al-Assadand those who oppose him. The uprising against him began in March 2011 in Deraa, when several demonstrators were killed by security forces while protesting against the arrest of some teenagers who had painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. This spread to nationwide protests in May, demanding the President’s resignation.

The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000, as per the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved. The crisis has also uprooted some 6.5 million people from their homes, forced 2.7 million to flee the country, laid waste to cities and towns alike, and unleashed sectarian hatreds that have rippled across the region. (cf. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/syria-death-toll/)

The ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken a tremendous toll on the people of those countries. As of April 2014, at the very least, 174,000 civilians have been determined to have died violent deaths because of the wars. The actual number of deaths, direct and indirect, as a result of the wars is many times higher than this figure.

The decade long war in Afghanistan has continued to take lives with each passing year. As of February 2014, at least 21,000 civilians are estimated to have died violent deaths due to  the war. The total number of civilians killed in Pakistan may be as high as or higher than the toll in Afghanistan, with NGO estimates ranging widely between 20,000 and 50,000 recorded deaths. In Iraq, over 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence have been civilians. Iraq Body Count conservatively estimates that at least 1,33,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence due to war between the invasion and early May 2014. In addition to the direct consequences of violence represented by these numbers, thousands more Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis are falling victim to the dangers of a battered infrastructure and poor health conditions arising from wars. In the case of Iraq, excess deaths indirectly resulting from the war add several times the 1,33,000 civilians killed directly by violence.

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WORKING TOGETHER (RECONCILIATION)

2 Cor. 5:16-21
June 8, 2014 is a significant day as per the almanac of Churches. We are going to celebrate Pentecost Day, reminding ourselves of the movement of God’s Spirit among peoples and nations, working out the purposes of the reign of God.
June 8, 2014 is also going to be significant historically because on this day the world is going to witness one vital expression of working together for reconciliation. It is on this day that the Palestinian president Abu Mazen and Israeli president Shimon Peres will meet together for prayer along with Pope Francis.
Allow me to quote extracts (in italics) from a text published in the Vatican Insider of 2nd June 2014 and draw insights from what Paul says in his letters, particularly in 2 Cor.5:16-21, and in related biblical texts. These insights have important implications for all ecumenical movements in the world.
The purpose of this meeting is not to attempt mediation or discuss new road maps: Francis wants to keep the encounter strictly religious.  “The purpose of the meeting will be to pray not to mediate,” Francis said on the return flight from the Holy Land to Rome. “The two presidents and I will only meet to pray and I believe that prayer is important and doing this helps. Then they will go home. There will be a rabbi, a Muslim and me…” Elsewhere Francis said: “In this place where the Prince of Peace was born, I desire to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, and President Shimon Peres, to raise together with me an intense prayer to God for the gift of peace. And I offer my house in the Vatican to host you in this encounter of prayer.” 
Note that Pope Francis asserts “The purpose of the meeting is not to attempt mediation or discuss new road maps.” In an article published on the Time website . . . Christopher J. Hale wrote: “Francis’ successful overture was especially remarkable considering the failed efforts by the United States earlier this spring to get both sides to the table to begin negotiated peace talks…” Countries, and in particular the superpowers, have been trying to broker peace and reconciliation, in line with their political ideologies of justice and peace, and within their framework of economic development,  nuclearization, militarization, and strategic alliances, spelling out human utopias.

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2014 Election Results: Reiterating the Church’s Prophetic Citizenship

As per our country’s democratic process, parliamentary elections are held every five years. As Christians we always pray that the elections would be conducted properly and peacefully. When the election results are out, as per conventional practice we congratulate the new government and we pray that the people so elected and the new government would serve the country well. In many of our church liturgies an intercessory prayer is offered every Sunday for the President, the Prime Minister, the Governor and Chief Minister of our respective states, and for all those in authority.
The 2014 election results are expressive of the desire of the majority of the people for corruption-free, electorate-responsible, good governance, for economic well-being in terms of employment, control over the rising cost of living, for easy access to basic necessities of life such as food-grains, water, electricity, education, shelter and health, and for justice and peace. We are reminded of the Nazareth Manifesto of Jesus “to bring good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Lk.4:18-19)
Therefore the 2014 Elections constitute the kairos (the critical decisive time) for the Church in India to be bearers of the ‘Nazareth Manifesto’ gospel in the country: 

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