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.

The Most Rev. Dr. Michel Jackson, Arch Bishop of Dublin, Ireland inaugurated the Round Table along with Prof. Dr. Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, the Vice-Chancellor of the Nagpur University, Rev. Dr. Joshva Raja, Vicar, Church of England, Birmingham Diocese, Bishop Paul Dupare, Bishop, Church of North India – Diocese of Nagpur, Mrs. Rachna Sing, Principal, CNI – St. Ursula Junior College and Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary NCCI.

The Arch Bishop in his key note appreciated the initiative and invited all the faith communities to get engaged in such conversation and collective engagement in realizing the inclusive societies ‘of’ all and ‘for’ all. Arch Bishop also observed that all holy scriptures are inclusive,  that  God-images are found to be disabled friendly and treat the PWDs as full human without any discrimination. So, the faith communities are to reflect those images of God while we practice our faiths.

Prof. Dr. Siddharthavinayaka P Kane emphasized  a spirituality that unites all rather divides. Rev. Dr. Joshva Raja suggested to experience God and read holy scriptures from the eyes of the PWDs . Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad suggested and appealed to all faith communities to create an accessible environment including at our holy shrines and in our faith journey to ensure inclusive communities.

Mr. Thomas Cherian, National Director, World Vision India described the need for Mainstreaming Disabilities in our society and explained how policy developments help to mainstream.

Yogachariya Kedar Joshi, Ankit Bhuptani, Janab. Yahiya Khan, Mrs. Manju Jain,  Venerable Bhadant Dhamma Sarathi, Shri Santosh H Chahande, Rev. Deva Jothi Kumar, Dr. Ezamu Murry, Shri, Hemant Lodha and Dr. Mrs. Amrit Kaur Basera were the speakers representing eight world faiths.

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde coordinated this round table. She said, it is a time for the faith communities to move from the ‘charity’ mode to ‘accompaniment’ mode in ensuring ‘transparent inclusion’ and ‘visible accessibility’ in our faith journeys.

Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, the Director of the IDEA and the Executive Secretary of the NCCI – Mission and Unity asserted that  every faith adherent has the right to worship and participate in religious activities. Therefore, it is the duty of all faith adherents to ensure the participation of PWDs in person  in  worship and other activities by consciously  creating space for them.

The Round Table concluded with the commitment to continue as ‘Interfaith Disability Advocates Net-work’ and also with a pledge to initiate such conversations locally with their own faith communities and other faith communities also. The Participants also have  adopted the Nagpur Interfaith Declaration on Disability and pledged to translate the declaration in  different vernacular languages and disseminate the same among their faith communities and their interfaith new-works.

Reported By:

Mrs. Cynthia Shinde, Coordinator,

NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment,

<idea@ncci1914.com>

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