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Together We Can End Gender Based Violence in Education! 16 Days of Activism 25th November- 10th December

“As a mother, every morning I take the biggest leap of faith when I wave to my child as they leave for school. The fear that lurks in my heart is : Will anyone touch the body of   my child? Will anyone bully her in school? Will  she face corporal punishment for not being able to answer ? Our roads are not even safe to send our daughters and children walking to school.” shared a concerned mother  from one of the Women’s Fellowship of Member Churches of National Council of Churches  during World Day of Prayer  event  in Delhi while reflecting on the WDP theme “Receive Children , Receive Me.”

Such fear looms large in the heart of many mothers and parents in India.  Violence in educational institutions in India and  school-related gender-based violence is a recurring phenomenon in India. Such violence  refers to acts of sexual, physical or psychological violence in and around schools because of stereotypes and roles or norms attributed to or expected because of sex or gender identity. GBV in education is perpetuated by teachers, school administrators, other school employees, fellow students, and community members.

Women’s Concerns Ministry of National Council of Churches in India invites member churches, church managed and run organizations/institutions to promote 16 Days of Activism Campaign against Gender -Based Violence. The theme of the  16 Days Activism Campaign 2017 is “Together We Can End Gender Based Violence in Education!”

16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. The aim of this Campaign is to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

The right to education and gender equality is central to human rights and development objectives. Nobel Prize winner renowned  economist Amartya Sen  rightly points out  that there are two main inequalities: educational inequality and health inequality  These are the indicators of a woman’s status of welfare. In India irrespective of the caste, creed, religion and social status, the overall status of a woman is lower than that of a man. Therefore a male child is preferred over a female child; a girl child is considered as a burden.

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‘Water for life’ – Joint program of VCLC-NCCI and the EWN-WCC

‘Water for life’ –

Joint program of VCLC- National Council of Churches in India and the EWN-World Council of Churches

3rd November 2017 | NCCI Campus, Nagpur.

A one-day consultation on ‘Water for life’ was organized in the NCCI Campus on the 3rd of November 2017. It was a joint program of the Vidarbha Centre for Labour Concerns – National Council of Churches in India VCLC – NCCI) and Ecumenical Water Network – World Council of Churches (EWN – WCC). The 50 participants in the consultation were from the Church of North India, Mar Thoma Church, and the Orthodox Seminary, from faith-based organizations and also people (people of different faith traditions) from Butibori – MIDC and Totladoh who have been affected by developmental activities in the region. NCCI Secretaries and Interns also participated in this consultation.

The major focus of the program was on the International, National and Local issues of the Water Crisis as water is being commoditized and therefore this natural resource is made available unequally.

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An Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation

“Reformation is a Process and we need to adopt and adapt to…”

said Fr. Peter, a Catholic Rector at the Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation.

The Churches and the Christian Communities and Organisations in Nagpur gathered together at the All Saints Cathedral of the Church of North India in Nagpur, to participate in a commemorative Eucharist worship on 31st October 2017 at 6.30 pm. remembering Martin Luther and his colleagues, who advocated reformation in the Church 500 years ago on the same day.

Over hundred people, including persons with disabilities, clerics, theologates, mission and social workers, participated in this ecumenical worship representing different ecclesial confessions from Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Church of North India,  and Free Church Traditions.

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Catholics and Lutherans mark 500th anniversary of Reformation

Pope Francis, flanked by the president and secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation, lead a joint commemoration of the Reformation in October 2016. (Pic. Vatican Radio – en.radiovaticana.va)

(Vatican Radio) October 31st 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the day on which German theologian Martin Luther published his 95 theses, setting in motion the events of the Protestant Reformation.

To mark the occasion, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation on Tuesday issued a joint statement, giving thanks for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation and recalling the commemorative events that have taken place over the past year.

Exactly one year ago, Pope Francis travelled to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo to take part in a joint commemoration of the Reformation alongside leaders of the Lutheran World Federation. A moving liturgy in the ancient Lund cathedral and a joyful celebration of young people in Malmo arena focused on asking forgiveness for the sins of past centuries, while also celebrating the progress of the last fifty years and pledging to step up joint efforts in the service of those most in need.

Commitment to continue the ecumenical journey

One year on, today’s statement recalls those historic events, in particular the commitment by Pope Francis and former LWF president Bishop Munib Younan to continue the ecumenical journey.

The statement says the shared journey of the past fifty years has resulted in “the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements”.

While Catholics and Lutherans can still not share at the Eucharistic table, the two Churches acknowledge their “joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ “.

New insights into Reformation

Commemorating the Reformation together in many countries around the world, the statement says, has allowed Lutherans and Catholics new insights into events of the 16th century which led to their separation. Noting the theological progress that was made through the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the statement says growing communion and shared service are a sign of hope for the world of today to overcome divisions and fragmentation.

The statement concludes with a commitment to continue the journey towards unity, guided by God’s Spirit, in the knowledge that “what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us”.

Please find the full statement below:

Joint Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the conclusion of the year of the common commemoration of the Reformation, 31st October 2017

On 31st of October 2017, the final day of the year of the common ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation, we are very thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, a commemoration that we have shared together and with our ecumenical partners globally. Likewise, we begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today.

We, Lutherans and Catholics, are profoundly grateful for the ecumenical journey that we have travelled together during the last fifty years. This pilgrimage, sustained by our common prayer, worship and ecumenical dialogue, has resulted in the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements. In the face of so many blessings along the way, we raise our hearts in praise of the Triune God for the mercy we receive.

On this day we look back on a year of remarkable ecumenical events, beginning on 31st October 2016 with the joint Lutheran – Catholic common prayer in Lund, Sweden, in the presence of our ecumenical partners. While leading that service, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib A. Younan, then President of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint statement with the commitment to continue the ecumenical journey together towards the unity that Christ prayed for (cf. John 17:21). On the same day, our joint service to those in need of our help and solidarity has also been strengthened by a letter of intent between Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service.

Pope Francis and President Younan stated together: “Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”

Among the blessings of this year of Commemoration is the fact that for the first time Lutherans and Catholics have seen the Reformation from an ecumenical perspective. This has allowed new insight into the events of the sixteenth century which led to our separation. We recognize that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation. Again, it has become clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us.

We rejoice that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, solemnly signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, has also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006 and, during this Commemoration Year of the Reformation, by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. On this very day it is being welcomed and received by the Anglican Communion at a solemn ceremony in Westminster Abbey. On this basis our Christian communions can build an ever closer bond of spiritual consensus and common witness in the service of the Gospel.

We acknowledge with appreciation the many events of common prayer and worship that Lutherans and Catholics have held together with their ecumenical partners in different parts of the world, as well as the theological encounters and the significant publications that have given substance to this year of Commemoration.

Looking forward, we commit ourselves to continue our journey together, guided by God’s Spirit, towards the greater unity according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. With God’s help we intend to discern in a prayerful manner our understanding on Church, Eucharist and Ministry, seeking a substantial consensus so as to overcome remaining differences between us. With deep joy and gratitude we trust “that He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

 

Source: Vatican Radio – en.radiovaticana.va (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/10/31/catholics,_lutherans_mark_500th_anniversary_of_reformation/1346149)

A Round Table Discussion on 1st October 2017

A round table discussion on “Religious Minorities in India: Challenges and Responses” was held on 1st October 2017, at New Delhi YMCA. 44 members attended the meeting representing NCCI member churches, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Evangelical Organisations and Civil Society Organisations. It was moderated by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). Three presentations were made by Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of World Council of Churches (WCC); Prof. T.K. Oommen, Emeritus Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Adv. Irfan Engineer, Director of Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Mrs. Aleyamma Thomas, Vice-President, NCCI felicitated the Chief Guest and the two panelists. Rev. Dr. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, a WCC Executive Secretary, delivered the vote of thanks.

 

Mr. Samuel Jayakumar
Executive Secretary
Policy, Governance and Public Witness
National Council of Churches in India

Churches’ Week of Action on Food – 2017

(October  11 – 17, 2017)

The Churches Week of Action on Food is a Global Campaign for Food Justice initiated by the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the National Council of Churches in India is part of this campaign for years. This week (11 -17 October), highlights the UN days of Gild Child (11), Disaster Reduction (13), Rural Women (15) World Food day (16) and Eradication of Poverty 17).

The theme for World Food Day, this year (2017) is “Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. It has been chosen to highlight the role of civil societies and faith communities in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger by addressing climate change with the Gospel Values of Justice, Love and Peace.

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WCRC joins declaration to overcome Reformation divisions

The World Communion of Reformed Churches has formally joined an ecumenical statement with Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists aiming to overcome divisions between Protestants and Roman Catholics from the time of the Protestant Reformation.

“Today is a historic day,” said Jerry Pillay, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), at a ceremony on 5 July in the eastern German town of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther lived and worked. “The documents we are signing today are significant and symbolic of the road we are to travel.”

Pillay was speaking as the WCRC, which groups more than 225 Protestant churches worldwide, formally associated itself with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, originally signed by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 1999.

“Catholics and Lutherans stated that a ‘consensus in basic truths exists between Lutherans and Catholics’ in regard to the theological controversy with was a major cause of the split in the Western church in the 16th century,” said Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity during in the ceremony.

The declaration stated that mutual condemnations pronounced by the two sides during the Reformation do not apply to their current teaching on justification.

The congregation at Wittenberg’s Stadtkirche (Town Church), broke into spontaneous applause as WCRC General Secretary Chris Ferguson and Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist representatives signed a statement confirming the WCRC’s association with the joint declaration.

“Today we are not only signing a statement, we are building a church together,” said the Rev. Najla Kassab from Lebanon in her sermon at the service in the Stadtkirche, where Luther used to preach.

The ceremony took place in the year marking the 500th anniversary of Luther’s denunciation of church corruption in his 95 Theses, an event that helped set in motion the Reformation and centuries of division between Protestants and Catholics.

“The present achievement and commitment are viewed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Reformed as part of their pursuit of the full communion and common witness to the world which is the will of Christ for all Christians,” said WMC president Jong Chun Park.

Pope Francis, in a message read by Bishop Farrell, described the ceremony as “an eloquent sign of our commitment to walking together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, on a journey from conflict to communion, from division to reconciliation.”

During the service, the LWF and the WCRC also signed a “Wittenberg Witness” pledging to strengthen cooperation and joint action.

“We commit ourselves to redouble our common efforts to embody our unity, together resisting the forces of injustice and exclusion,” said Martin Junge, LWF general secretary.

At the service there were prayers of repentance and lamentation for past divisions and wrongs, and commitments to work for unity and justice.

“The Reformation taught us accountability,” said Kassab in her sermon.

“Wherever we are in the church we are held accountable,” said Kassab, who was ordained in March as the second female minister in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. “Today we are reminded of Luther’s words from his pulpit, ‘A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.’”

All human beings are valuable in the eyes of God no matter what their colour or gender or race or passport, she said.

“Here I stand, a Middle Eastern women in the pulpit of Luther,” said Kassab, to spontaneous applause. “If only Luther had imagined this, this could have been his 96th question to the church. Not, ‘Why there is a women in this pulpit?’, but ‘Why did take so long?’”

The ceremony in Wittenberg took place during the WCRC General Council which has brought about 1000 participants to the eastern German city of Leipzig.

The WCRC groups more than 225 Protestant churches with a combined membership of about 80 million Christians in Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches in over 100 countries. Its offices are in Hannover, Germany.

(By Stephen Brown. Article and pictures source: WCRC Press Release July 5, 2017 | http://wcrc.ch/news/wcrc-joins-declaration-to-overcome-reformation-divisions)

CCA invites applications to serve as stewards at the Asia Mission Conference in Myanmar.

Stewards of the 14th General Assembly of the CCA in Jakarta, Indonesia — May 2015.

 

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) invites applications from young Christians belonging to CCA member churches and ecumenical councils in Asia to serve as stewards for the Asia Mission Conference (AMC) to be held in Yangon, Myanmar from 11 to 17 October 2017.

The stewards program will last for 10 days, including three days of ecumenical formation training and pre-AMC orientation; with arrival on 8 October and departure on 17 October 2017.

An opportunity to serve as a steward in a major Asian ecumenical event with historical significance is a unique experience. It will help to develop a sense of togetherness, working in a multicultural context, interacting with a wide range of participants of the AMC – church and ecumenical leaders from around the world, theologians, missiologists, social activists and interfaith scholars.

The deadline for receiving applications is 10 July 2017. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 years old.

The AMC will be a major ecumenical event with the participation of 400 representatives of churches, ecumenical councils and related organisations in Asia, Europe, North America and other continents. The theme of the AMC is ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the CCA also will be held during the AMC, on Sunday 15 October 2017.

Fifty stewards, 20 international and 30 local stewards will be selected to work together with the CCA staff and the local host committees to assume various responsibilities during the AMC, and in participating in the two historic events of the CCA – the AMC and CCA’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The Diamond Jubilee of the CCA will be commemorated on Sunday, 15 October 2017 in a grand event in the presence of a gathering of 5000 selected invitees, including the 400 participants of the AMC and international guests.

To download the application form for the Stewards Programme, please visit the CCA website. Kindly send the form to CCA.

 

(Source: CCA News | http://cca.org.hk/home/news-and-events/cca-invites-applications-to-serve-as-stewards-at-the-asia-mission-conference-in-myanmar)

Statement on Martial law in Mindanao (Philippines)

Coming from the Meeting of the Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples’ Network Reference Group (May 31, 2017 | Manila, Philippines)

We condemn the declaration of a state of martial law in the whole of Mindanao by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s in response to the alleged terrorist attacks by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City. Current reports show that state security forces are intensifying its military operations in the whole island of Mindanao especially in Marawi City through indiscriminate aerial bombings, ground confrontations and clearing operations.

We equally express alarm that Martial Law in Mindanao further heightens current military abuses and excesses against the Indigenous Peoples there who aredefending their lands against extractives, energy projects and plantations, and militarization of their communities.

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Young Ambassadors of Peace in Asia (YAPA) 2017 (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

The 2nd Young Ambassadors of Peace in Asia (YAPA) 2017, a week-long training programme, was organised by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) from 28th May to 3rd June at Payap University at Chiang Mai, Thailand.

YAPA training programme sought to facilitate the role of young people as ambassadors of change in peacebuilding processes, and to build a network of young peacebuilders in Asia bridging the missing links in promoting peace in society. The training programme consisted of interactive sessions on non-violence and peace with justice through theological foundations of peace from various religious perspectives, skill development to peace implementation programmes at the grassroots level. The programme further buoyed up the young people to be peace makers not among humans alone but within the whole creation commencing from one’s own inner self.

25 young participants from various Asian countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand – with representatives from the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim communities who are committed to promoting interfaith collaboration in peacebuilding and conflict resolution participated in the programme.

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Events

Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017

NCCI –IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment) is an Ecumenical Initiative of National Council of Churches in India accompanied by Unity and Mission. NCCI – IDEA theologically motivates ministerial interventions of its constituencies  in encouraging and facilitating the Indian Churches to be inclusive and disabled-friendly. Considering the importance of inclusivity, the XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI has chosen a theme ‘Towards… Just and Inclusive Communities for this Quadrannum thus, the Members of NCCI would be encouraged to ensure that their ministerial interventions result in inclusivity.

Since 2009 the Disability Advocacy Sunday (DAS) is being organized by NCCI – IDEA along with ecumenical organizations, local congregations and institutions. NCCI-IDEA has been a facilitator of conversations with communities in Church and Society in regard to advocacy for disability rights. The recently concluded interfaith roundtable on disability has propelled the work with significant stride towards just and inclusive communities. Considering the importance of observing this day, the NCCI Executive Committee in 2011 officially approved of designating the Sunday before the Advent as DAS, since 3rd December the International Day of People with Disability.

From its inception, DAS has focused on ‘An Inclusive Church’, through its sermons, urging the Church, to move from being charitable, to becoming an accompanier seeking justice ‘for’, ‘by’ and ‘with’ persons with disabilities . Surveying the past celebrations and the positive responses from the Churches and the local congregations to the observance of DAS, NCCI-IDEA expects that the congregations have become more open to PWDs and more Disabled-friendly.

This year Churches and the Congregations are encouraged to contemplate on the theme: ‘Creator of the disabled, reform your creation’. Persons with disabilities reflect God’s image and likeness. Hence, we are praying to this Creator God to reform creation through the persons with disabilities, with the 500th year of reformation as the background.

Every year, NCCI – IDEA assists the Churches and the Congregations with the Order of Worship for DAS observances. Since 26th November 2017 is the Sunday prior to the Advent season, IDEA recommends to churches to observe it as DAS.  In case you are not able to observe the DAS on 26th November, please feel free to observe any Sunday that is convenient to you and your congregations.

We are glad to inform you that the NCCI-IDEA have already planned to celebrate ‘Christmas of the Disabled’ on 3rd December 2017. Therefore, we encourage you to organize and celebrate along with us in your respective Churches and Congregations.

Kindly,  share with us the inspirational stories and the divine interventions through the DAS 2017 in your Church or Congregation.

With Prayer and Wishes,

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – IDEA

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde

Coordinator, NCCI – IDEA

Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

President, NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary, NCCI

Downloads:

  1. Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017 Order of Worship – English
  2. Poster to print (in .pdf)

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, Theme : Together We Can End Gender Based Violence in Education

Women’s Concerns Ministry of National Council of Churches invites member Churches, Church managed organizations and institutions and Women’s Fellowship of Member Churches  to  promote  16 Days Activism Campaign to end Gender Based Violence. 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The main aim of this campaign is galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.The Theme for 2017 is “Together We Can End Gender Based Violence  in Education!”

Moumita Biswas
Executive Secretary
Women’s Concerns Ministry
National Council of Churches in India.