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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis (Reflection at Ecumenical Prayer, Geneva, Ecumenical Centre | 21 June 2018)

Theme: Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together.
June 21, 2018. His Holiness Pope Francis on the ecumenical pilgrimage to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) with an address to a prayer service at the WCC Ecumenical Center. The following is the text of his homily. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have heard the words addressed by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who were experiencing conflict and division. Groups were fighting and hurling accusations at one another. It is in this context that the Apostle, twice in the space of a few verses, invites us to “walk in the Spirit” (cf. Gal 5:16.25).

Walking. We human beings are constantly on the move. Throughout our lives, we are called to set out and keep walking: from our mother’s womb and at every stage of life, from when we first leave home to the day we depart from this earthly existence. The metaphor of walking reveals the real meaning of our life, a life that is not self-sufficient but always in search of something greater. Our hearts spur us to keep walking, to pursue a goal.

Walking is a discipline; it takes effort. It requires patience and exercise, day after day. We have to forego many other paths in order to choose the one that leads to the goal. We have to keep that goal constantly before us, lest we go astray. Remembering the goal. Walking also demands the humility to be prepared at times, when necessary, to retrace our steps. It also involves being concerned for our traveling companions, since only in company do we make good progress. Walking, in a word, demands constant conversion. That is why so many people refuse to do it. They prefer to remain in the quiet of their home, where it is easy to manage their affairs without facing the risks of travel. But that is to cling to a momentary security, incapable of bestowing the peace and joy for which our hearts yearn. That joy and peace can only be found by going out from ourselves.

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An Ecumenical Call for Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (10th June 2018)

An Ecumenical Call for Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (10th June 2018)

Did you feed me, when I was hungry? Though this was a question posed by Jesus several years hundred years ago, communities and nations who are starving for food and suffering from hunger put forward the same question to the world even today. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 825 million people in the world are malnourished and therefore are deprived of a healthy life (2017)

Here are some alarming facts about hunger and famine in 2016:

  1. Ninety-eight percent of those who suffer from hunger live in developing countries. 553 million live in the Asian and Pacific regions, while 227 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 47 million.
  2. India has the highest population of hunger. In 2014, over 190.7 million people were undernourished in India.
  3. Approximately nine million people die of hunger every year according to the World Hunger statistics; more than the combined death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis in 2012.
  4. Over 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women, who have limited access to resources in the patriarchal societies in which they live.
  5. Hunger in women of developing countries causes malnutrition and death of children. Approximately 3.1 million (8500 per day!) children die of hunger each year, and in 2011 poor nutrition accounted for 45 percent of deaths of children under five.
  6. The alarming tragedy is that such deaths take place when the world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2006.

In this context, the question of Jesus ‘Did you feed me, when I was hungry?’ in Matt 25: 35 – 40 is not only an indictment of Jesus, but also an experience of several people in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere in the world, who do not have accessibility to adequate food!

Many a time, faith communities( including churches) and even affluent States are comfortable in processing a few philanthropic services in addressing or combating poverty and hunger by providing food grains, rather than seriously looking at poverty and hunger as ‘Justice’ and ‘Human Rights’ issues.

Famine is mostly seen as non-availability of food due to various reasons including draught, war and ecological and natural catastrophes. Moreover, there prevails a view that it is also due to over population. However, the fact is that erroneous and unjust policies of the States and the unjust distribution of food grains cause famine conditions.

Therefore, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance facilitates this campaign, joining the World Evangelical Alliance and the All Africa Conference of Churches, inviting churches and faith communities around the globe to pray for God’s intervention in the healing of the lands, by sharing enough and healthy food (grains) among the people and also to facilitate the States to develop pro-people policies to ensure healthy food for all citizens.

This ‘Global Day of Prayer to End Famine’ motivates the participating organisations and individuals to affirm “food justice ‘FOR’ all – food-justice ‘OF’ all”.

The idea behind this ecumenical call for prayer is to:

  • Unite the ecumenical partners and faith communities around the globe together in spirit and in action to ministerially and theologically respond to the issues related to famine, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
  • Encourage and facilitate their congregations and constituencies to pray for, and reflect and act upon the situation of hunger with information and suggestions.
  • Facilitate the Ecumenical Bodies and Partners to prayerfully work with their respective States to develop pro-people policies to affirm just-distribution of food and health.
  • Bring about concerned awareness regarding impact of famines on the most vulnerable children, women and families and to help address its root causes.
  • Connect with church-related and other humanitarian organisations that are currently working to bring immediate relief and positive long-term change so that children and families can live out God’s aspiration for a dignified, peaceful and violence-free future.
  • Help communities and congregations to uphold each other in prayer and support, by sharing experiences, challenges and solutions.

Hence, the Unity and Mission of the National Council of Churches in India and the Ecumenical Council for Drought and Water Management (ECoDAWM) are  jointly inviting all Members of the NCCI and other faith communities, people’s movements and action groups to observe this day to spread awareness and commit ourselves to act towards eradicating poverty.

We hope all concerned Church and Community leaders will support this effort by organizing meaningful programmes within our churches and organisations.

PLEASE JOIN THIS GLOBAL PRAYER MOVEMENT ON THE 10TH JUNE 2018.

To Know more about the Prayer Day please visit

<https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-calls-for-global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine> and  <https://www.wvi.org/learn-more-about-global-day-prayer-end-famine>

To Download Resources Please click:

<https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/global-day-of-prayer-to-end-famine-1>

To join the campaign Please click: (Register Your Church / Organisation)

<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdbN309d0m_m_QxUFG_eRxi8_ymXBPAhqU-NXrmoC6-hS1WVA/viewform>

Yours in God’s Mission,

Dr. William Stanley

President – ECoDAWM

 

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary, NCCI – Unity and Mission

 

Most. Rev. Dr. P C Singh

President – NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary – NCCI

Green Epistle

Green Epistle to the Indian Churches :

Curse devours the earth  and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt (Isaiah 24:6)

on 

World Environmental Day (June 5, 2018)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in faith Journey,

Grace to you and Peace from God our Creator!

God created earth and heaven. In the process of creating the cosmos, God  created human beings along with  other earth communities. Unfortunately, due to human greed and irresponsibility, all of God’s earth is polluted with several toxic gases, degradable wastes including plastics. The deep seas are  filled with plastic wastes and consequently the species in the deep seas are adversely affected by plastics. Every year 8-10 million tons of plastic is dumped in the sea.

So also the species on land are afflicted by plastics. Daily we see so many plastic bags lying scattered here and there. Plastic is such a material which cannot be reused. Plastic is damaging our existence. It is estimated that one third of all plastic waste ends up in soils or fresh waters. Most of this plastic disintegrates into particles smaller than five millimetres, referred to as microplastics, and breaks down further into nanoparticles, which are less than 0.1 micrometre in size. In fact, terrestrial microplastic pollution is much higher than marine microplastic pollution – an estimate of four to 23 times more, depending on the environment.

PLASTIC IS A DANGEROUS INVENTION OF HUMANS AND IT NOT ONLY AFFECTS BUT ALSO KILLS THE EARTH COMMUNITIES INCLUDING HUMAN COMMUNITIES. We as faith communities need to be dedicatedly engaged in eliminating the very presence of plastics in our day to day life.  The use of plastic has to be stopped.

In this alarming context of the earth being filled with plastics, UN Environment is making its biggest global call and seeks to mobilize humans for action on 5th  June, World Environment Day (WED). The theme for this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. While WED  day has been observed every year since 1973,  from the last couple of decades it is being observed on a larger scale.

We have been experiencing tremendous climate changes since the last few years. These changes have brought  much suffering to living creatures in the various forms: global warming, drought, floods,  landslides, incurable diseases, irregular climate changes and so on . Today the question is ‘How do we as Christians deal with this concern?’

One of the reasons why God created humans is that they should take care of the earth. God has entrusted us with this responsibility. Therefore, whatever good or bad happens,  we are responsible. So far we have not done much in  nurturing, sustaining and protecting God’s creation.

Prophet Isaiah talks about the earth being polluted by its inhabitants. In Isaiah’s context he was talking of earth being polluted by the inhabitants through their disobedience of God’s commandments. This situation  continues even till today; in fact it has become worse. Humans are not only tempted to continue disobeying God but they are destructively tampering God’s creation. Chris Appleby,  in one of his sermons  states:

“The great temptation for Christians as well as for the Jews is the temptation to take God’s  grace for granted; even worse, to feel a sense of superiority, of smugness, because we’re part of  God’s chosen people. The way to overcome that temptation is to remember that with the privilege of being God’s people comes the responsibility to remain faithful; to allow God to be God in every part of our lives.”

Talk about issues faced because of pollution and what can be done about it, is often a topic of discussion in our family and friend circles, but we fail in taking appropriate actions.  Global warming is a curse not only for human kind but also for all  living beings.

 We are responsible for the phenomena of global warming, climate change, and the ever increasing pollution,  and we have to bear the consequences. We have to do something about it.  Today is the time to get into action!  Now the question arises ‘Where do we start?’ and ‘When do we start?’

Therefore to start with, the NCCI – Unity and Mission encourages all its members and the public  at large to give up the use of plastics in our day today life. We have to start  someday,  so why not today? The UN has a very practical slogan this year “If you cannot reuse it, refuse it.” There are few alternatives for plastic which we need to start using. Let us make our campuses and neighborhood ‘PLASTIC-FREE’.

Let us boldly and publicly declare “NO TO PLASTIC !”

Ecologically Yours,

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary

Rev. Christopher Rajkumar

Executive Secretary – Unity and Mission

 

NCCI gives thanks for the Life and Witness of James Hal Cone

Pic: Wikipedia | James Hal Cone (August 5, 1936 – April 28, 2018)

James Hal Cone (August 5, 1936 – April 28, 2018) was an American theologian, best known for his advocacy of black theology and black liberation theology. His 1969 book Black Theology and Black Power provided a new way to comprehensively define the distinctiveness of theology in the black church. Cone’s work was influential from the time of the book’s publication, and his work remains influential today. His work has been both utilized and critiqued inside and outside the African-American theological community. He was the Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York until his death.

(Source: Wikipedia – James Hal Cone).

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Extremists who seek to victimize those of another faith are strongly condemned

Extremists who seek to victimize those of another faith are strongly condemned

 

 

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

05 April 2018

Extremists who prey upon believers of other faiths in the name of their religion or belief are to be called out and condemned for their “abhorrent incitement” in the strongest terms, says World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

“The freedom of religion and belief is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary and is also part of the constitutions of so many nations in the world. So, it is abhorrent and ungodly for any person from one faith to call for iniquitous acts against those belonging to another religion; merely because they follow that belief,” said Tveit.

His comments came after the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States, said it is outraged by hateful and violent fliers encouraging people to take part in “Punish a Muslim Day”.

”Freedom of religion is as much about Christian minorities in Muslim countries as it is about followers of Islam in countries where Christians are a majority,” noted the general secretary.

The ADC made its call on 29 March in response to the vile campaign designed to stir up hatred between believers of different faiths, which originated in London, where flyers instigating violence against Muslims were left at the steps of several mosques.

It said the fliers have also alarmed communities across the United States in their singling out of American Arabs and Muslims.

ACT Alliance, the WCC’s partner organization, was quick to condemn the incitement to hate, tweeting #BanPunishAMuslimDay, saying “We believe that all persons are created in the image of God. Therefore, we act in ways that respect dignity, uniqueness, and the intrinsic worth and human rights of all people.”

Source: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/extremists-who-seek-to-victimize-those-of-another-faith-are-strongly-condemned

Indian Christian Mission starts ‘FROM’, ‘BY’ and ‘WITH’ the Margins, says Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

The India Pre-conference of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism was held at the CNI Bhavan, New Delhi from 24 -26 January 2018 on the theme: ‘Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions’. There were forty-eight delegates including fourteen women and ten youth from thirteen various ecclesial traditions, seven theologians from various schools of thought, thirteen social and developmental organizations, nine ecumenists and six mission workers, represented also from the ‘so-called’ socially, religiously and culturally excluded communities like, Tribals/Adivasis, Dalits, People With Disabilities, Sexually Diverse Communities, Women, and Youth. The Conference was jointly organized by the Church of North India Synod and NCCI Unity and Mission along with the WCC – Commission on Council for World Mission and Evangelism.

The Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, President, National Council of Churches in India and the Moderator of the Church of North India inaugurated the Conference. In the inaugural address the Most Revered Moderator ‘invited’ the Churches, Mission Movements and Diaconal Organizations to adopt ‘discipleship’ as a strategy to ‘do’ and ‘practice’ mission in India. Further the President observed that, Christian Mission in India has a 2000 years  history. Christian Mission has been involving in inculcating the Gospel values of Justice, Peace and Love through its education, health and diaconal interventions in and among all the communities and the societies at large. These interventions have reached millions of people and brought a change in their lives and in the societies at large. These interventions are not basically to convert anyone to Christianity; rather these are engaged in the process of molding good human / citizens. But, today a hate campaign is waged against the Churches and its mission services including diaconal interventions, alleging  that these missional interventions are after all for ‘conversion, ‘ even when facts reveal that  the Christian population has been constituting  2.5 % of the Indian population for centuries.

It is clearly evident that in all missional and diaconal interventions Indian Christian missions have largely focused on the ‘transformation of lives’ by ‘DOING gospel’ along with ‘preaching’ of the good news.  The gospel of Christ has directly confronted injustices in society such as caste discrimination, gender injustice and other social divides, and has identified with the socially, religiously, economically neglected, excluded and discriminated communities who are pushed to the edges of society. So, Indian Christian Mission is ‘FROM’ the Margins, ‘BY’ the Margins and ‘WITH’ the margins.  This is the uniqueness of the Indian Christian mission.   Further the President said that, the transforming discipleship strives to enhance human values based on the gospel values of justice, peace and love.  Therefore, he invited the mission movements and churches to be together in mission, facilitating new disciples to transform the society as God intended, thereby realizing the reign of God: “ I call upon the mission leaders to go into the world, strengthening the process of ‘transforming disciples’ in all nations”.

Shri. Alwan Masih, the General Secretary of the Church of North India, moderated the inaugural sessions and several Church leaders spoke at the inaugural session.

Please click  for detailed India Pre-Conference Report

Click here for Coverage in Peoples Reporter

Click for Photographs

Reported by:

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,

Executive Secretary,

NCCI – Unity and Mission

<mission@ncci1914.com>

Letter from WCC General Secretary | WCC’s 70th anniversary.

Please click on link  to see a letter from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary – WCC, updating you on the WCC’s 70th Anniversary and inviting you to participate actively in the celebrations.

Also see the link to the list of events planned so far.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI.

 

Download –

  1. 18_1 Letter 70th anniversary
  2. 70th Anniversary_Letter to member Churches_Appendix

India Pre-conference of the World Mission Conference

World Council of Churches – Council for World Mission and Evangelism

Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism

India Pre-conference

24 -26 January, 2018 | CNI Bhavan, New Delhi.

The next Conference of the World Mission and Evangelism of the  World Council of Churches is meeting in Arusha, Tanzania from 08th to 13th March 2018 on the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship”. The Conference is an opportunity for the global Church, the ecumenical and the mission movements to review and re-examine its present mission patterns in order to make the Gospel relevant by interpreting it in response to the signs of our times.

To facilitate this process of introspection and re-imagination, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission joining the Church of North India Synod and the WCC – Council for World Mission and Evangelism is organizing a ‘Pre-assembly’ to deliberate upon the need, relevance and engagement of the Indian churches, ecumenical mission organizations in our contemporary context on the theme “Transforming Discipleship: Mission of the Missions”.

This India Pre-Conference is hosted by the Church of North India Synod and facilitated by the NCCI – Unity and Mission. This conference is scheduled to be held in CNI Bhavan, # 16, Pandit Pant Marg, New Delhi from 24th to 26th  January 2018.

Please click the link for the concept note.02. CNI – NCCI – CWME Concept Note for WMC

To know more about the WCC – World Mission Conference, please visit <https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/conference-on-world-mission-and-evangelism-moving-in-the-spirit-called-to-transforming-discipleship>

For Details… Please contact

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Executive Secretary,
NCCI – Unity and Mission
<mission.ncci@gmail.com>, <mission@ncci1914.com>

A Wheel Chaired Santa… made the Christmas Celebration Meaningful

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION OF  PERSONS  WITH DISABILITIES

A wheel-chaired Santa graced the Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD). This radical imagery of Santa on wheel chair rather than his regular sleigh or dance rung hard in the minds of the participants. 8th December 2017 marked a one of a kind celebration with over 250 people and over 100 persons with disabilities who made it to this historic eventful Christmas celebration. Neither the foggy winter nor the chill wind that brushed the people could move the people present as they joyfully participated in some soul inspiring and mind boggling renditions of the Children with disabilities. The Children enthralled the participants by their thought provoking and energized engagement.

NCCI-IDEA’s 2nd Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) embedded with the core PWD expectations of inclusion, justice, identity and dignity. The children and the persons with disabilities, who came in numbers to spell the good news of the season, ornamented the celebration. Before the children presented their artistic Christmas messages, the people who came there were inquisitive on seeing question marks everywhere. This inquisitivity drew the audience to reflect on what that question marks could mean.

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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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