Report of National Ecumenical Youth Assembly (NEYA) – 2018 and Youth Manifesto

Date: 7th  – 9th November, 2018

Venue: Mar Thoma Youth Center, Adoor, Kerala

India stands on the verge of being the youngest nation in the world in a few years. In such a time as this, it becomes imperative that we demand civic, ecclesial and ecumenical space(s) for the youth to connect, create and change. National Council of India (NCCI) – Youth Concerns serves as a space for young people of all sections of life in society to express, experience and explore the multi-dimensional features of Ecumenism and Ecumenical Movement and to analyse the role of youth in strengthening the Ecumenical Movement. Giving a young face to the Ecumenical Movement is the prerequisite in the formation of the Youth Concerns.One of the prominent endeavors of NCCI – Youth Concerns in its attempt to augment the sense of accountability among the youths, is its quadrennial youth assembly entitled National Ecumenical Youth Assembly widely known through the acronym NEYA.

NEYA – 2018, organized by NCCI – Youth Concerns from 7 – 9 November 2018 was hosted by the Mar Thoma Youth Center, Adoor, Kerala. The theme of NEYA – 2018 was Fostering Responsible Citizenry”. The quadrennial assembly bore witness to around 140 delegates from different church traditions. The programme commenced with a beautiful worship led by Mar ThomaYuvajana Sakhyam (Youth wing of Mar Thoma Church) with the Reflection being shared by Rev. Merin Mathew, a Priest of the Mar Thoma Church. The inaugural programme comprised of the Welcome by the Local host, Rev. John Matthew C – General Secretary of Mar ThomaYuvajana Sakhyam; Welcome address by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad – General Secretary NCCI; Introduction to the theme of NEYA by Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei – Executive Secretary, NCCI – Youth Concerns; Greetings from Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar, General Secretary, SCMI and Rev. K. G. Joseph, Sabha Secretary, Mar Thoma Sabha.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Abraham Mar Paulose Episcopa, Bishop – Adoor Diocese delivered Episcopla Greetings. The Bishop remarked that the youngsters were being enticed by the illusions offered by the corporates and there is a scenario of the youths drifting away from the Church. Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and is becoming all pervasive. He further said that the Churches are silent and so are the literate people. This silence is indeed appalling, and needs to be broken.

Following the Episcopal greetings, Rev. Asir Ebenezer – Director of CSI SEVA (and General Secretary Designate of NCCI) delivered the Keynote address wherein which he urged the youth to be more proactive by being well versed with our fundamental rights and duties as citizens of this nation. Thereafter two youth, namely Mr. Praveen (CSI Church) and Ms. Manna Prasad (Mar Thoma Church) presented their reflections on the theme “Being Responsible Citizens.”

The second and third day morning worship sessions were creatively organized by SCMI. There were two Bible studies, one led by Ms. Manjulie Vaiphei – Executive Secretary, Gender and Justice Desk, SCMI and the second by Ms. Esther Ao– Associate Professor, Calcutta Bible Seminary respectively. Several interactive workshops were also organized, led by Rev. Dr. Abraham Matthew (Executive Secretary, Policy Governance and Public Witness – NCCI), Dr. Sonia George (Self Employed Women’s Association – SEWA – Union – Kerala Secretary), Fr. Philip Kuruvilla (Consultant ESHA – NCCI), SCMI, Mr. Michael Angelious – JELC and Fr. Abraham Koshy Kunnumpurathu (Youth Commission Chairman – Kerala Council of Churches). The respective themes of the workshops were “Religious Fundamentalism and Freedom of Religion”; “Atrocities against Women and Gender Justice”; “Understanding Human Sexuality and Gender Identities: Towards Inclusive Churches”; “Journey to the Holy Land”; “Responsibility towards Ecology and Climate Change”; and “Youth in the Ecumenical Movement from Orthodox Perspective.”

Besides workshops there were four sessions.

“Ecumenical Formation” by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad;

“Accountability to Peace building in times of Intolerance” by Mr. Kasta Dip (Director of India Peace Centre);

“Plenary on Sexual Minorities” by ESHA – especially Vijayaraja Malika, JijoKuriakose and Younus; and

“Atrocities on Dalits and Tribal/Adivasi” by Mr. PradipBansrior (Executive Secretary – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns, NCCI).

To add to the charm of the assembly there were various cultural programmes. Rev. Dr. Saju Mathew performed a magic show; Rev. Oommen K.  Jacob presented a tradition musical Kacheri; there was a Margam kali (traditional folk dance of Kerala) by the Kizhakkupuram (Adoor) Bethel Mar ThomaYuvajanaSakhyam and there were also programmes by specially skilled Children of  Asha Bhavan, Pidavoor ( Pathanapuram).

The assembly concluded with Thanksgiving worship and declaration of the Youth Manifesto.

 

YOUTH MANIFESTO

We, the Youth delegates of the National Ecumenical Youth Assembly (NEYA), organised by The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), at the Mar Thoma Youth Centre, Adoor, Kerala from 7th to 9th November 2018, deliberated on the theme, “Fostering Responsible Citizenry”.

During the course of the three-day discussions and reflections, we realised the urgency for youth to address the contemporary challenges in our country. The youth need to act individually and collectively as responsible citizens of India, giving expression to the noble values and principles of the Indian Constitution: Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, along with all the Fundamental Rights and Duties enshrined in the Constitution.

 We affirm that God, who is just and inclusive, calls us to be citizens of the diverse, pluralistic, beautiful oikomene. We firmly believe that we all are respectful members in the household of God, and are lovingly encouraged to live individual and community life in all its fullness.

We strongly condemn all the existing discriminatory practices that challenge life and perpetuate injustice; the injustice that repudiates the rights, dignity and identity of every creature.  We also condemn the politicisation of identity for ulterior motives and strategies for gaining supremacy and power over others.

We realize and identify ourselves as peacemakers. We therefore, are committed to breaking barriers of exclusivity that deny the flow of justice and harmony in the socio-politico-economic and religious context of our country. India should always be a land which sustains and enhances diversity in terms of creed, culture, tradition, language and gender, thereby strengthening our “SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC”.

Keeping in mind that the General Elections are due in our country in early 2019, and following the model of Jesus’ Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:18-19), we as Youth of this country declare our Manifesto.

  1. We are committed to foster a holistic and ecumenical cognizance of responsible citizenry while networking among all youth.
  2. We shall cultivate political consciousness among all youth so that they exercise their right to vote during the elections, in a responsible manner, rising above all narrow minded and communal considerations, thereby electing proper, mature, responsible persons as leaders in our country.
  3. We shall eradicate all unjust discriminations based on generation, gender, patriarchy, sex, ability, health, caste, class, globalization, religion and culture, and usher in just and inclusive, mutually edifying societies.
  4. We shall facilitate inter-faith, inter-religious and inter-ideological dialogues among the Youth so that all fundamentalist and fanatical forces are decimated and respectful loving, kinship, fraternity and unity among all Indian citizens is fostered, as envisaged in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.
  5. We shall commit our lives to expedite environmental protection and sustainable development, promote an increased awareness and sensitivity towards ecological issues, and facilitate integrated living with all creation.
  6. We dedicate ourselves as responsible citizens to serve as “volunteers”, strengthening unity and the sense of belonging to a multifaceted integrated country thereby ushering a land of justice, love and peace for all.

Our Election Slogan is

“No to Communalism, Commercialism, Corruption!

  Yes to Community, Creation, Constancy!”

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