World Council of Churches
Theological Consultation on ‘Economy of Life’
27 – 30 October 2014, CSI Guest House, Chennai, India
The Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), joining the Board of Diaconal Ministries of the Church of South India (CSI) Synod hosted the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Theological Consultation on ‘Economy of Life’ from 27 – 30 October 2014 at CSI Guest House in Chennai, India.
40 participants representing different geo-political landscapes and peoples’ groups, global and contextual theological and ecumenical fraternities, civil society movements, christian churches and local congregations, interfaith communities and ecumenical movements from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America actively participated in the consultation.
The consultation aims to articulate a counter narrative to the dominant neo-liberal ideology, a counter narrative that has the perspectives and experiences of the marginalized at its heart, an “Economy of Life.”
The consultation started with an immersion experience of meeting with a local christian congregation in Chennai that is fighting for their land, life, livelihood and liberation from a proposed sky-way project that would uproot the whole community from the place where they live. The interactions were mostly on, “how as a christian church can we fight against the state’s developmental programme?” The participants learnt about how the local congregation organized the entire community in fighting for their life and future as a faith-based, spiritual commitment and response to the liberative gospel of Christ.
In the afternoon the participants met with community leaders fighting for the land rights of Dalits, women, children and poor labourers to understand economy of life from the subalterns. They learnt that, land gives identity and dignity to marginalized communities. So, economy of life is not just dealing with livelihood related issues but land as well. This sharing session helped the consultation to register similar stories of economic exploitation and perspectives on economy of life from Latin America, Europe, Sri Lanka, North America, Indonesia, Tanzania, Zambia, Columbia, Indonesia, Canada, South Africa, Philippines and India. These perspective and stories were also strengthened and complemented by responses of people from different faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), presided over the opening session and welcomed the participants on behalf of the Indian churches. The consultation was inaugurated by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Ratnakara Sadananda, General Secretary of the Church of South India Synod. Ms. Athena Peralta (WCC), the co-ordinator of the consultation welcomed the participants, expressed her gratitude to the Indian churches and the NCCI, and shared the rationale and objectives of the consultation. Rev. Asir Ebenezer, Director of the Board of Diaconal Ministries of the CSI, and Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary of the Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation of the NCCI, jointly facilitated the immersion programme and the related follow up sessions.
This consultation will articulate a theological document with a difference to impact the popular global theological fraternity to consider the grassroots experience as post canonical scriptures. It will offer an alternative theology to live out economy of life.
Rev. Christopher Rajkumar
National Council of Churches in India
Ms. Athena Peralta
World Council of Churches