Ecumenical Consultation on Women Catalyst of Change

Women Church Leaders carrying  fruits, flowers and plants  during Ecumenical worship service in Christ Church , Guwahati

The Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India organized an  Ecumenical Consultation on Women Catalyst of  Change . This consultation was organized in partnership with Diocesan Women’s Fellowship of Christian Service (DWFCS), North East Diocese – Church of North India on 18th February 2018 in Christ Church , Guwahati, Assam.

60 women church leaders from Baptist Church, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church in India, North East India Council of Churches, and The Salvation Army from  different parts of Assam and Meghalaya  attended this Consultation. Prior to this consultation an Ecumenical Worship was organized  to commemorate World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2018 in Christ Church  from 8:30am – 10:00 am.  Women leaders  of DWFCS conducted the WDP worship reflecting on the theme ” All God’s Creation is Very Good”.

Drawing from the WDP resource material  produced by WDP Committee of Suriname, Rev Moumita Biswas  delivered the key message  about women’s power in protecting God’s created order . She cited contextual examples  about how taking care of wet lands can be  an  answer to climate change . Rev Biswas cited the example of 37 years  old women Purnima Burman of Assam who engaged women and villagers to protect  the storks or Hargila birds and  their nestling grounds the wetlands of Assam.  She also reflected how women in the North East India in state of Nagaland are practicing organic and contour farming  using indigenous skills to save water and prevent soil erosion . Such efforts have resulted improving women’s  living condition  and promoting food security.

Following the worship was the  Ecumenical  Consultation on Women Agents of Change based on the theme ‘All God’s Creation is Very Good: So Now  Choose Life , Change Ways and Actions’.  The theme was based on WDP 2018 theme ‘ All God’s Creation is Very Good!’ and Asian Church Women’s Conference  centenary theme ‘Now Choose Life, Change Ways and Actions.’

The consultation reflected on the impact of climate change and ecological degradation on women and girls and efforts to  heal wounded relationship with mother earth and communities. There was discussion regarding the nexus between climate change, ecological degradation , migration and human trafficking and gender based violence . Women church leaders  shared contextual practical stories and strategies  of how in the midst of all this, because of their resilience, spirituality, commitment and indigenous practices, women are   acting as catalyst of change.  They also reflected on  how ‘informed prayer and prayerful actions’ and praxis oriented  prayer movements like WDP  can nurture spirituality of  stewardship to protect and take care of God’s Oikos and create order .

Dr Monisha Behal ( CEO , North East Network) reflected on Climate Change, Ecological Degradation and Impact on Women  and how rural women in the North East  as custodians of seed are maintaining bio diversity . She focused on strategies of sustainable development and practices to end violence on Mother Earth and Women as practiced by rural women to bring about transformation .

Ms Rosanna Lyndoh ( Co-founder Impulse and renowned NGO in North East that works to promote sustainable development, Human Rights and End Human Trafficking ) created awareness about Nexus Between Human Trafficking, Sexual Slavery, Migration and Climate change. While creating awareness  regarding ways to  end human trafficking she raised the question how women’s fellowship of churches can act as acatalyst in this process.

Rev  Moumita Biswas  ( Women Concerns Ministry, National Council of Churches in India ) shared about   different Campaigns and Advocasy Methods to be Catalysts of Change

Mrs Wellorich Anderson Sokhlet (Chairperson ,Presbyterian Women’s Fellowship)  shared about Handful of Rice Movement practiced by Presbyterian women  in India  supporting pastors and different forms of ministry of the Presbyterian church . In this movement every time women cook a meal, they keep aside a handful of rice and later sell it to contribute to the Church. However she shared that there is need to support more women missionaries through the money raised by ‘Handful of Rice’ movement as majority of the fund goes in supporting the traditional ministries of the church.

According to Pritty Sangam Basumatary – Women Fellowship President of Christ Church, Guwahati  “It is indeed a privilege for us to host this consultation; moreover this ecumenical gathering further helped us to strengthen church women networking. ”

This consultation was part of  ‘Women’s Ecumenical Action and Networking (WEAN) for Justice and Peace’  program of ‘Women Concerns Ministry’ of National Council of Churches in India. The WEAN Program of  aims –

  • To strengthen networking among christian  women , regional councils , global church women leaders and civil society to build inclusive communities.
  • Promote and nurture  women’s spirituality and prayer movements  to reflect faith in action

Reported by Rev Moumita Biswas , Executive Secretary of Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India

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