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Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

International Prayer Day for Peace – 21st September 2017

A Call to ‘Missioning’ and ‘Ministering’ Peace

Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

Since 1981, the United Nations (UN) has declared 21st September as the International Day of Peace. The UN invites the global states to observe the day meaningfully to strengthen peace ties between earth communities including human communities.  Since, 2004, the World Council of Churches joined the UN and declared this day as the International Prayer Day for Peace. The International Day of Prayer for Peace offers an opportunity for church communities in all places to pray and act together to nurture lasting peace in the hearts of people, their families, communities and societies.   From 2009, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (Diaconia), has been facilitating and working with the Indian Churches to make certain that this day addresses issues related to peace and social harmony.   NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the global ecumenical movements in voicing concerns for peace among nations, people, market places and earth communities.   NCCI – Unity and Mission, has been standing in solidarity with the peace initiatives and campaigns for peace in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other countries who are in need of  peace and reconciliation, and also been voicing its concern  for peace within our  Indian contexts.

Today’s world can never be freed from conflicts. Rise of fundamentalism, Hate Campaigns by the majorities against minorities, the atrocities of unjust and inhuman policies and politics of the rulers and empires, cause  conflicts. Systems like caste, ethnicity, race, gender injustice, and patriarchy,  are a few of the factors that destroy peace among communities. We witness that the ecological catastrophes and climate change also take away peace from among people and make them vulnerable. On the other hand, there are efforts being made in the form of promotion of a few religious concepts that promise individual and personal peace by the practice of exercises like yoga and meditation. While the use of such tools can perhaps be seen as being important in conflict transformation, the natural trajectory issuing from the inherent implication of individual peace over societal values is inclined more towards individual satisfaction. However, God-intended peace is of communitarian and societal character rather than being individualistic.

In this context, another International Peace Day has come and is challenging the global communities again to observe and commemorate this day creatively and meaningfully on the theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”  These are a few points that may sharpen the focus of our peace-engagements.

  • ‘Together for peace’, urges us as members of earth communities to join hands with all of creation to not only ‘speak’ / ‘preach’ peace but also ‘do’ peace.
  • ‘Respect’, ‘Safety’ in this context emphasizes  the role of the society in building hope in humanity, that the purpose of living is in living in harmony “with.” This, in turn, establishes a society that is safe for migrants, children, women, animals, social and religious ‘outcastes’ and all other earth communities. ‘Dignity for all’ should under-gird our basic attitude of human beings towards one another.
  • This call is to the national and international communities to ‘act early’ and more intensively in the face of human and earth rights violations, which are often the precursors of worse things to come.
  • May this Day ‘unite us all’ as one family to deliver the right to peace by encouraging peace-champions to lay down and give-up their arms and related ideologies.
  • Let this Day make us ‘stand in solidarity’ with the innocent victims who are killed by terrorism, war and arm-raising ideologies, the traumatized families whose homes and futures lie in ruins, the countries whose development has been set back by decades.

Jesus in all his life on earth, ministry, death and resurrection, conversed about and advocated a ‘life of abundance’ (John 10:10) which ensures that through peace, life can become more meaningful. This life is contagious when hearts are moved to live life in harmony. A peace-loving God’s mission of peace is a mission mandate that every believer in Christ has to follow.

Hence, as responsible faith-based human communities, how are we going to observe or commemorate this day  meaningfully?

Is there a possibility for us as ‘Faith-Communities’  to join with the global communities (who are made vulnerable, have suffered and lost peace due to the  political actions of the dominant and powerful, climate change and ecological catastrophes, ideologies that stigmatize and discriminate our fellow human beings including women, children, gender minorities and so on), with the folded hands and on bended knees asking God’s interventions to grant ‘Peace on Earth’?

Therefore, we,  the  NCCI – Unity and Mission, invite all NCCI Constituent Members, Inter-faith and Peace Loving Communities to creatively and meaningfully  explore the implications of this day in our respective congregations, communities and institutions through appropriate peace-engagements and expressions.

This will give an opportunity to propagate peace and ensure social harmony in the country. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”. Thus, these efforts make us channels of peace, and entitle us as God’s children.

Let us also join the World Council of Churches in praying for Peace in Palestine and Middle-East and in Myanmar, for Hunger and Poverty eradication, for  relief and rehabilitation initiatives in the Caribbean and other lands that were devastated by natural catastrophes, and also for people and communities who have been under the attack of  right-wing fundamentalists groups in India, who destroy  peace ‘in’ us and ‘among’  us.

Come, Let us… UNITE TOGETHER…  ACT EARLY…  (to) DO PEACE…

Yours,

Rt. Rev. Dr. P C Singh,
President, NCCI.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI.
Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,
Executive Secretary
Unity & Mission, NCCI.

Indian Missional Conversation

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Indian Missional Conversation on

‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’

 

The Indian Missional Conversation on Asia Mission Conference – 2017 on the theme ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia was held in Ranchi, Jharkhand from 23rd to 24th August, 2017. This conversation was facilitated by the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (NCCI) along with the  Diocese of Chotanagpur, Church of North India – (DCN-CNI), National Missionary Society of India (NMSI), India Missions Association (IMA), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and Christian Service Agency (CSA).

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INTERFAITH ROUND TABLE ON ‘DISABILITY’

National Council of Churches in India 

Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment

Nagpur Inter-Faith Round Table on Disability,

7 – 9 Aug 2017, Nagpur, India.

 All Faiths Commit to work towards Inclusive Communities.

The Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA) is an Ecumenical Initiative of the NCCI. The  IDEA aims to facilitate the Member Churches to be disabled-friendly and accompany the Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), theologically, ministerially and diaconally.

From 7 to 9 August the NCCI – IDEA organised an Interfaith Round Table on Disability in Nagpur, India by joining hands with the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (WCC -EDAN),  Spalding Trust, Church of Ireland, World Vision India and Christian Service Agency. There were  seventy representatives including those with Disabilities (PWDs) hailing from eight different faith backgrounds,  as clerics, theologians, academicians, practitioners representing the traditions of Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous community, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism.  The round table conversed  on how religions look at PWDs, deliberated upon the status and place accorded by Holy Scriptures to such persons, what is God’s view on PWDs in different faiths and also on how faith communities look at PWDs. We discussed about the role of faith communities in promoting and inculcating the culture of inclusion in faith communities and in society.

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Consultation cum Workshop on ‘Food and Migration’

World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) and

Christian Service Agency

Consultation on “Food and Migration”

 and

Workshop to Develop Worship Resources for Churches’ Week of Action on Food

The week between 10 – 17 October is  an important week for the all the Global Ecumenical Movements, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) since they collectively involve and participate in a campaign for Food-Justice. The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance has declared this week as “Churches’ Week of Action on Food”.  It is a global campaign tool to advocate Food-justice ‘OF’ all – Food Justice ‘FOR all. This is part of the WCC -EAA’s global Campaign on ‘Food for Life’.

This is an invitation to several thousand congregations around the globe to observe this week meaningfully. Hence, this week includes the ‘International Day for Disaster Reduction’ (13 October), ‘International Day for Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for Eradication of Poverty (17 October). In fact the UN’s FAO Committee on Food Security meets between 11 -16 October every year in its head quarters in Rome, Italy. The WCC – EAA invites churches to observe the Sunday falling during this week  as ‘Food for Life Sunday’.

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Interfaith Round Table on Disability

Interfaith Round Table on Disability

National Council of Churches in India

Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment

Interfaith Round Table on Disability

August 7 – 9, 2017, Pallottine Animation Centre, Nagpur, Maharashtra

Press Note

The NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA) is organizing an ‘Interfaith Round Table on Disability from 7 – 9 August 2017 at Pallottine Animation Centre, Nagpur.  It is jointly organised by the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, Spalding Trust, World Vision India and Christian Service Agency. The theme for the Round Table is “Faith Journey Together Towards ‘Inclusive Communities’”

It is a first event of its kind. There would be around 60 participants including clerics, theologians and academicians from  major faiths including Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Indigenous Traditions, Jainism, and Sikhism  from all over India.

This Round Table aims to…

  • invite different faith communities, to engage in conversing on ‘disability’ from their own faith and theological perspectives and experiences;
  • suggest and facilitate ‘faith-alliance building’ among the faith communities at leadership and religious adherents’ levels to serve PWDs and strengthen advocacy and policy development initiatives.

Features of this Round Table are …

  • Listening to Scriptures: “ What do our ‘Holy Books’ say about Disability?”
  • Exploring our Religious Traditions: “How do our faith traditions treat PWDs?
  • Examining whether our ‘holy shrines’ are accessible and inclusive.
  • Getting to know the policies and programmes of Governments that ensure inclusion and how faith communities could join together to make those policies accessible to the PWDs and Public.
  • Formulating Common and Collective Faith Based Action Plans.

The inauguration of the Round Table is scheduled on 7th August 2017 at 10:30 am. Honorable Prof. Dr. Siddharthavinayaka P. Kane, the Vice Chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur, and the Most Rev. Dr. Michael G. Jackson, the Arch Bishop of Dublin, Church of Ireland, have consented to be guests of honor at this inauguration. The Rt. Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh – President of NCCI, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad – General Secretary of NCCI, Rt. Rev. Paul Dupare –  Bishop of Nagpur Diocese, CNI,  Mr. Thomas Cherian –  World Vision of India, Ms. Rachna Singh, Member, Executive Committee – NCCI and Rev. Dr. Joshva Raja – Church of England  have also consented to jointly inaugurate the round table along with Ven. Bhante Dhammashree Sarathi, Mr. Santosh H. Chahande, Mr. Ankit Bhuptani, Janab. Ahammad Kutty, Prof. Dr. Amrit Kaur Basera , Swami  Kedar Joshi Ji and Shri. Hamant Lodha and other faith representatives.  As a mark of  celebrating  unity,  these interfaith leaders  will join the other participants in planting a tree symbolically at 10.30 am in the Pallottine Campus. The Round Table will  conclude on 9th Aug 2017.

The participants will collectively engage in ‘dialogical conversations’ through input sessions, panel discussions, talk-shows, group discussions, practical talks, story-telling and interfaith worship.

For more details please see the Concept Note (.pdf | 371 kb).

Yours,

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
President – IDEA  &
General Secretary NCCI
Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Director – IDEA &
Executive Secretary
NCCI – Unity & Mission
Mrs. Cynthia Shinde
Co-ordinator – IDEA
<idea@ncci1914.com>

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)

Green Epistle to the Indian Churches

Green Epistle to the Indian Churches :

“Remember your Creator and Creation” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

on 

World Environmental Day (June 5, 2017)

From time to time and as and when necessary  Churches have been responding to Ecological Catastrophes through various ministerial and diaconal interventions. Rather than waiting to address such catastrophes, it is imperative for Churches to deal with the context of climate change and the environmental crisis that destroy lives and threaten the future of earth communities, that are created by God almighty.

The summer this year has reached a decade high, resulting in drought in several parts of the county, while the monsoon season is expected to result in floods that would swallow agricultural fields. Such extreme weather conditions are not  at all favourable to our country, but yet, we have to go through the experience of the same.

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An Ecumenical Call to join and Pray – “Global Day of Prayer to End Famine”

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

and

Ecumenical Commission on Drought and Water Management (ECODAWM)

join

World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC – EAA) and

All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)

 in extending an Invitation to

All Churches, Christian Organisations and All Faith Communities to participate in the

Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (May 21, 2017).

To

The Church Leaders, Heads of the Institutions and

Leaders of all Faith Communities

Respected and Revered Church Leaders, Heads of the Institutions and All Faith Leaders,

Greetings of Peace!

“For I was hungry and you gave me food,  I was thirsty and you gave me to drink,

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35).

Most of the Earth Communities including human communities of today  face drought and famine, more than at any time in modern history. Famine has been declared in South Sudan. Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are on the brink of famine and drought, and  some of the Indian States are facing a similar situation.

Globally, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation, while millions more suffer from drought and food shortages. In this desperate situation children suffer most and become increasingly vulnerable. The UN is calling this the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.  There is great danger that on its current course, the global response to this crisis will be hugely inadequate and will lead to unimaginable suffering and death, which is eminently avoidable. Hence, Church as a community that cares for others, have a responsibility and prophetic role in calling to mobilizing their members, the wider society and governments, and making a difference during this unprecedented period of suffering.

At this juncture of crisis, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance  (WCC – EAA) joins the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)  in inviting the entire global Christian faith communities and ecclesial confessions to participate in  the ‘Global Day of Prayer to End Famine’ on the May 21st 2017.  with a special focus on the African continent. Thousands of churches, church related organisations and faith communities and their net-works in hundreds of countries are joining this global campaign considering its timely importance and need.

As we all are aware, India is not free of  such vulnerability. Agriculture is slowly dying. Everywhere we witness   water scarcity and in some places hunger deaths. In many parts of India, farmers commit suicide due to unprecedented drought,

Therefore, the National Council of  Churches in India (Unity and Mission), and Ecumenical Commission on Drought and Water Management join together in encouraging all Indian Churches to participate in the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine, and pray for India also along with offering prayers for Africa.

We sincerely request you to  encourage all your local congregations and grass-root communities to join  this prayer campaign on the 21st May 2017, to pray during our Sunday holy Masses, Worships and Services, beseeching God’s pardon for  human sin against the earth communities and seeking God’s providential grace to end famine and give life.

Nations from the North, South, East and West  are urged to embark on this Prayer Journey. It is a journey that is not about us, but about a world in desperate need of God’s compassionate love. It is a call to respond to God’s invitation in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. May God hear our prayers, forgive our sin and heal our land.

Come let us join the ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’ with faith and prayer that  bring blessings to all the earth communities.  May our collective repentance, prayer and timely intervention assure and ensure  ‘zero hunger deaths’.

With kind regards and prayers,

Dr. William Stanley

ECODAWM

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

NCCI – Unity and Mission

Rt. Rev Dr. P C Singh

President – NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary – NCCI

Note:

The WCC worship and prayer resources are available in https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine.

If you wish to share your experiences, please share with us at <mission@ncci1914.com>

NCCI rejoices over the Victory of Peoples’ Power in Odisha

People of Odisha are an “Icon of Unity and Beacon of Hope”

001

The National Council of Churches in India rejoices over the decision of the POSCO (Pohang  Steel Company) Korean Mining Company to withdraw from the lands of Odisha and asking the State to give back the lands to the Tribals and Adivasis from whom the lands were taken. This was officially announced and confirmed through a media statement by Shri Devi Prashad Mishra, the Honorable Minister for Industry, Government of Odisha.

The resilient struggle of the  people has borne fruit. It is a  victory of not only the people of Odisha but also of all Peasants, Fisher-folks, Forest-dwellers engaged in movements to save their land, life and livelihood.  Over a decade, the people of Odisha were struggling to redeem their land and life from the forces of corporate empire. They demonstrated  their opposition through various Gandhian style non-violent means such as hugging the scorching sandy earth while facing the onslaughts of the authoritative powers.

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Interfaith Communities Affirm ‘Life Giving Agriculture’ is the Way of Life

National Council of Churches in India

United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India& India Peace Centre

Interfaith Discussion on “Life-giving Agriculture”

26th December 2016, NCCI Campus, Nagpur, India.

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Thirty participants from major faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and Secular, Dalit and Gender ideologies participated in an Interfaith discussion on ‘Life Giving Agriculture’ (LGA) on the 26th December 2016 at NCCI Campus, commemorating the ‘National Farmers’ Day’.

The grave  agricultural  situation and in particular the incidence of farmer suicides in India were the backdrop of the discussion, which focused on how   faith communities and secular ideologues could contribute towards liberating the ‘agri-culture’ from the ‘agri-business’!

Rev. Christopher Rajkumar of NCCI in his introduction narrated how Monsanta and Bayer are taking over agriculture and converting  it into agribusiness, and also about the issue of GMOs. If, as was claimed , GMOs and Agri-business would bring more profits, why have alarming numbers of Indian farmers taken their lives over the last years in Vidarbha, Telangana, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamilnadu and elsewhere? In fact GM seeds and products are hazardous to health. Even the milk we drink, eggs and meat we eat are stuffed with GMOs and Chemicals since  cows, hens and goats are fed with GM and Chemically modified foods. Further he called the faith communities and civil society and peoples movements to come together for a collective campaign against the GMOs and Agri-business.

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