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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)

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”

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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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Disability Christmas at St. Ursula Girls School, Nagpur

Disability Christmas

The Disability Christmas Program, a first of its kind at Nagpur especially for PWDs (Person with Disability) was jointly organized by IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment), a forum of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Commission on Youth-NCCI in the evening of 2nd December 2016  at St. Ursula Girls School, Nagpur. The Disability Christmas program was a platform of inspiration and encouragement to see the season of love, joy and happiness from a different perspective. Rev. Rony Jacob (who himself is a person disabled because of an accident) gave an encouraging Christmas message about accepting Christ once again back in our lives. The Mizo Christian Fellowship of Nagpur enthralled the audiences with their beautiful traditional song and dance. The main hallmark of the program was the spectacular presentation by  children with disabilities from Jeevodaya Special School. The presentation touched and inspired the hearts of all the audiences as thunderous claps began from the moment the children began to perform. The program  concluded with  prayer and a group photo shoot.

Many people appreciated the program and some even encouraged the participating bodies to continue organizing this program even in the years to come because such a program  is not only special for the disabled, but it also helps the community to come together in solidarity with, and commitment to the cause of, PWDs within the society.

Conflict to Communion: Historical Signatures at Lutheran Cathedral, Sweden on Oct 31, 2016

National Council of Churches in India welcomes the Joint Unity Declaration by the Catholics and Lutherans

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October 31, 1517 became a kairos day in history as Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany. After 499 years on the same day, another landmark history was created in the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund in Sweden when Pope Francis and Bishop Dr. Munib Younan (President – Lutheran World Federation) jointly signed a statement in which Catholics and Lutherans pledged to pursue their dialogue in order to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder them from reaching full unity. They also stressed their commitment to common witness on behalf of the poor, the needy and victims of injustice. This commemoration brings hope for greater unity.

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Press Release – Tamilnadu Churches Commemorating the 500 Years of Reformation.

Press Release.

Tamilnadu Churches Commemorating the 500 Years of Reformation.

The recently held Executive Committee of the Tamilnadu Christian Council in Chennai chaired by Rt. Rev. Dr. M Joseph, President of TNCC has decided to commemorate the 500 Years of Reformation on the theme: “Reformation of the Church for the Renewal Communities”.

This commemoration would be at the inauguration of the next General Assembly of Tamilnadu Christian Council, which is scheduled to be held at Thirukovilur in Tamilnadu from 3 to 4 November 2016 and hosted by the Arcot Lutheran Church.

The agenda of this commemoration includes biblical-theological reflections, ministerial espouses, seminars, conversations and sessions to plan the joint ecumenical actions. The outcome of this commemoration would set an ecumenical-missional agenda  for the Churches in Tamilnadu for the near future.

There would be around 100 Church Leaders, Theologians, Mission Workers, Women, Men Youth and Activists expected to participate.

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Report: Tamilnadu Christian Council Executive Committee – September 20, 2016

Report of the Tamilnadu Christian Council Executive Committee held on  September 20, 2016 at TNCC Office, Guindy, Chennai.

tncc-ex-com-2016-1

The Executive Committee of the Tamilnadu Christian Council was held on the 20th September 2016 at TNCC Office, Guindy, Chennai.

Rt. Rev. Dr. M. Joseph, the President of TNCC and the CSI Bishop of the Diocese of Madurai – Ramnad presided over the meeting. There were Twenty TNCC – Member representatives and Church leaders officially participated and I (Rev. Christopher Rajkumar) represented the National Council of Churches in India as a General Secretary nominee.

The Meeting  was opened with word of prayer by the Rev. Dr. (Mrs.) Nalini Immanuel of the CSI Trichy – Tanjore Diocese. Dr. Esther Kathiroli, the Secretary / Director of TNCC welcomed the Members and Bishop Joseph greeted the members and led a devotion. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar shared the greetings of the National Council of Churches in India and its Officers including the General Secretary and Secretariat.

The proposed agenda contained the constitutional requirements such as receiving the activity and financial reports and approval of budget along with seeking of an approval to convene the next TNCC – General Assembly in November 2016. It was also reported that, the Arcot Lutheran Church has come forward in hosting the same at Thirukovilur in Tamilnadu from 4 to 5 November 2016.

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21st September 2016 – International Prayer Day for Peace (An invitation to “Do” and “Practice” Peace)

21st September 2016 – International Prayer Day for Peace

(An invitation to “Do” and “Practice” Peace)

“Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace”(United Nations)

ipdp-imageEach year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21st 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.

The World Council of Churches calls 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, and coincides with the UN International Day of Peace.

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