Jesus Stills a Storm

The MOST Rev Dr P.C. Singh
Bishop of the CNI Diocese of Jabalpur, Moderator Church of North India & President NCCI

(27th March 2020)

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he (Jesus) said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

These are challenging times.
But we have been through challenging times before.
Indian Christians have been through challenging times, as have Christians from the time of Jesus until now.

As we all struggle to adapt our lives to this new reality of churches and schools being closed, quarantine, medical and economic difficulties, we are all finding ways not only to survive but to thrive.

One of the ways we will thrive is through caring for one another. We know that Scripture tells us “They will know we are Christians by our love.” (John 13:35) Indeed, this is not a time to turn inward but to look outward—even from our own homes—considering how we can care for one another. Calling our friends and family, praying for one another, sharing resources as we are able: this is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus, who shared His love with us all the way to the cross.

Another way we will thrive during this crisis is by looking to Jesus, our defender and our comforter. We have read how, when the disciples were weathering a terrible storm in Tiberias, Jesus was with them in the boat, though He was sleeping. The disciples worried that Jesus wasn’t doing anything about the situation, and therefore everything was on their shoulders.

But soon, Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’

Yes, these are hard times. But we have lived through hard times before. This storm, too, shall pass. We will not give up faith in God, and we will not give up on one another. Do not be afraid—God is with us.

I pray for each of you. I pray for your strength, for your health, for your faith, and for the church of Jesus Christ in our country and throughout the world.

May the peace of God keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Remembering Prof. Dr. Saramma Varghese…

 

We receive the news of the demise of Prof. Dr Saramma Varghese with sadness. We join fellow believers, friends and family in thanking God for her valiant fight against a long and debilitating illness. We pray for eternal rest to her and affirm the blessing of partaking in the everlasting life of God as promised to all who profess the name of Christ.

We thank God for her ministry as an educationist, an accomplished scholar, and an upright Principal of the Catholicate college. She represented the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in many National and International fora including the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

She served on the Executive committee of the NCCI and as the President of one of its autonomous bodies the All India Council for Christian Women (AICCW). She is remembered fondly for her contribution to the cause of women and her passionate orthodox spirituality.

She is described as a beautiful lady at heart and a strong one in her determination. Elegance, soft spoken and upright nature, gentleness and kindness that gave her grace and beauty, are some of the characteristics and virtues for which she will be remembered and celebrated.

We offer our sympathies and prayers to her husband and the family. May the virtues and values that lighted her path of following Jesus bless and guide them all to the end.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary

Let’s come out of Herod’s palace and follow the star . . .

Star has a central role in the story of Christmas as portrayed in the writing of Mathew. It is said to have guided magi to the manger. It is also portrayed as having waited patiently for the magi to come out of Herod’s palace in order to guide them to where they need to have gone.

Contemporary human knowledge attributes power with the ‘high and mighty’; revelation in God’s creation, as in the star, point the other way. It waits for the ‘wise’ men (sic!) to unlearn their folly and return back to an orientation that Power is and in the coming together of the vulnerable children, the nomads, the despised, single mothers, their allies, migrants, and all such of creation both in heaven and on earth.

Christmas, thus, poses a challenge both to the powerful that they are not invincible, and to those who need a deconstruction of their wisdom about Power – that it lies elsewhere and not where the world constructs it to be. The annual remembrance of the birth of Jesus (Christmas) calls us to take up the challenge to deconstruct our wisdom about power, and work on communities and all of creation – both in earth as also in the heavens – realise (their) Power.

It will be pertinent therefore for Christians to come out of the palaces of the powerful and follow the star; joining God’s movements of those alleged vulnerable, and also despised, whose joyful refrain echo the strains of everlasting songs of life-flourishing.

Merry Christmas! Come out, let’s follow the star! Let our year ahead be truly blessed!

Let’s have a Power Christmas . . . all year round.

 

Rev. Asir Ebenezer

General Secretary, NCCI

NCCI Youth Concerns invites young people for Ecumenical Internship

Ecumenical formation is a unique program of National Council of Churches in India – Youth Concerns, which offers young people an excellent opportunity to work in and experience in a setting of ecumenical praxis. The Internship Programme is only the beginning of a long process, it encourages young people to start the journey of ecumenism and become ecumenical ambassadors in the future. The internship programme mainly focuses on the ministry priority areas (Five Foci) for the 2016-2020 quadrennium: Ecumenism and Mission; Human Rights; Peace Building Migration and Trafficking.

Scope of Internship

  1. Learning national and global ecumenical history, heritage and practice
  2. Assistance to the work in NCCI General Secretariat & Commissions
  3. Ecumenical Sunday Worships-Visits to Different Denominations
  4. Weekend-Visits to Ecumenical/Social Organizations
  5. Strengthening Ecumenical & Church Relations with NCCI Member Constituents
  6. Book Reviews & Ecumenical articles writing from ecumenical perspective
  7. Documentation & Report Writing
  8. Internship will be for a period of six months starting from 7th January 2020
  9. Interfaith interactions and exposures
  10. Project work in respective region before the completion of internship

Eligibility

  1. Candidates should belong and be recommended from one of the Constituent Member Churches/ Regional Councils/ Christian Organizations or Related Agency of the NCCI.
  2. Should be a Graduate and be in the age group of 20-30 years.
  3. Should have a working knowledge of English.
  4. Willingness to learn Hindi and other local languages.
  5. Basic knowledge of computer is desirable.
  6. Should be committed and willing to utilize their ecumenical experience and expertise in their respective church/organization.

Application Procedure

  1. Last date of submission: 20th December 2019.
  2. Candidates can apply with bio-data along with endorsements from their Church/ Organization to NCCI at youth@ncci1914.com
  • The applicants who are selected will be informed after a due process of selection.
  1. Basic living accommodation with food will be provided and a nominal monthly allowance of Rs. 5,000/-
  2. Internships are open for young people from other countries also, provided adequate reference is available. Internships of foreign nationals or NRI’s can also apply who are sponsored by the sending Church/Organization.

Jianthaolung Gonmei

Executive Secretary –Youth Concerns

Ph.  +91 84591 18640

NCCI MOURNS THE LOSS OF ITS TREASURER, REV. DR. A. G. AUGUSTINE JEYAKUMAR

The National Council of Churches in India

Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar

Executive Secretary, UELCI & Treasurer, NCCI

A Tribute

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) pays respectful homage to the living memories and rich heritage of its Treasurer Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar, Executive Director of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI), who received his home call on Reformation Day Thursday 31st October 2019. The President and the office bearers of the NCCI recognise and acknowledge with deep gratitude the guidance and services of the Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar, both as a member of the NCCI Executive Committee since 2008 and as its Treasurer since the year 2012; a tall ecumenical leader of the Lutheran Reformation tradition.

A committed servant to the liberating Gospel of Jesus the Christ, Dr. Jeyakumar endeared himself to the most deprived persons of the community, the dalits and all persons of the marginalised sections of the society, in the realisation of their dreams and aspirations. He had a keen eye to spot talent and groomed such persons for the service of the church in society.

The Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar was first and foremost a churchman. His deep passion for the ministries of the Church was evident in both his perspective of churches’ mission as well as in the implementation of its projects. He desired the relevance of church in society and spent all his life working toward the realisation of this desire.

A keen ecumenist, a shrewd administrator, a challenging yet reliable partner in mission, a friend, deep thinker, strategist and architect of many a plan, Dr. Augustine Jeyakumar stood a head above shoulder amidst his well wishers and critics alike. His penchant for discipline and commitment to keep to deadlines stood him in good stead.

In the National Council of Churches in India he is fondly remembered for thinking through his heart, his sharp observations and guidance in the fields of governance, administration and finance, his deep love for all staff and the support staff in particular, and his motivation and unwavering support to the Executive Secretaries in the discharge of their duties.

May his memory abide in the remembrance of the everlasting love that he showered on us all; may he be remembered in our walk of faith and persistence toward life affirmation; and may his tribe increase as we emulate his passion for the justice to all God’s people and every creation of God.

 

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

New Delhi, 1 November 2019

On behalf of the President, Vice-Presidents, members of the Executive Committee, and staff of the NCCI offices in Nagpur and in Delhi

Dalit Liberation Sunday | November 10, 2019

Respected Moderator /Metropolitan /Bishop /General Secretary /Executive Secretary/ Director /Principal /Executive Committee Member /General Body Member of NCCI and Dear Ecumenical Friends

Greetings from NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

We are happy to inform you that this year Dalit Liberation Sunday will be observed on 10 November  2019 all over India by the Member Churches/ Institutions/ Parishes of the National Council of Churches in India and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India. The theme for this year’s DLS is Resist Caste: “If one suffers all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12: 26). Let us as local congregation observe this DLS-2019 in all sincerity and truthfulness to our calling as Christians and sensitize people to overcome all forms of discriminatory practices of caste across India and initiate uncompromising actions to eradicate such practices within the Christian community.

We are sending you some prayers and affirmations to be included into your worship service. Attached herewith please find pdf. files of the worship order and poster of DLS-2019 which you may circulate among your pastors, lay leaders and department heads.

Looking forward to receiving your cooperation in observing Dalit Liberation Sunday on November 10, 2019.

Thanking you in anticipation,

With regards,

In Christ,

 

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/ adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India

 

Download the Liturgy

Download the Poster

Tribal and Adivasi Sunday | 4 August 2019

And the people of God said, “Amen” !!

Worship in every Christian tradition has been a corporate affirmation of God’s work amidst us, accomplished in and through all of God’s creation including the human persons.

This year too we affirm God at work in the context of the struggles and resilience of the indigenous peoples of our lands; their affirmation of life, living patterns, search for livelihood options, and more importantly land. Identity, the very essence of being human persons and that which is so intrinsically related to land is denied when land itself is usurped.

We are invited this year during the observance of the NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday to lift our hearts and cry out to this apathy, and more importantly to affirm our participation in the struggle to restore land to the peoples who love, tend and keep it. Affirmed and committed thus, we are also invited to join issue with those persons, policies and processes that usurp land, challenging with all else and God the affirmation of life and dignity to these our kin – the land and her own.

I commend to you the work of my colleague Mr. Pradip Bansrior, the Executive Secretary of the Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns of the National Council of Churches in India, and that of his team, who invite us to worship together and thus to this commitment to restore land to the Indigenous people from whom it is usurped thereby affirming rights that’s just.

Sing unto the Lord a new song . . .

Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

download the liturgy 

Download the Poster

Christian communities hurt over being discredited by responsible authorities

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) expresses deep anguish over the completely baseless and sweeping blanket opinions expressed by one of the judges of Honourable High Court, Chennai against Christian missionaries and Christian educational institutions in a verdict connected to Madras Christian College, Tambaram. It is painful that these comments were made ironically in a case where it was a Christian management which impartially took action against one of the staff, based on the complaint by some students.

These unfortunate comments deeply hurt the sentiments of Christian communities in India who have contributed a lot for the development of education in this country. Tens of millions of Indians belonging to different faiths have graduated from Christian institutions without facing any pressure to convert and remain in their respective religions. They are living testimony contradicting the utterly false conclusions drawn about the vast majority of Christian institutions in India today.

We do feel that expressing an opinion on the possibility of gender-specific laws being misused by women can lead to victimising the victim and turning them away from approaching law enforcement agencies or seek protection under law.

Narratives such as these can be misused by persons and organisations who are anti-minorities further victimising and shaming individuals and groups of minority communities.

The NCCI calls on all concerned including those in responsible positions to be sensitive to and respect the sentiments of minority communities who have and are serving the people of this country with great diligence and commitment. The NCCI expresses its gratitude to all those who stand in solidarity with the community.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

Appeal to observe AUGUST 10th as “Day of Mourning”

 

Respected Moderator /Metropolitan /Bishop /General Secretary /Executive Secretary/ Director /Principal /Executive Committee Member /General Body Member/ National Program Commission Member of NCCI and Dear Ecumenical Friends

Appeal to observe AUGUST 10th as “Day of Mourning”

Greetings from NCCI – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

National Council of Churches in India-Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India-Office for SC/BC jointly appeal to the Churches and organisations to make appropriate and relevant plans for the observance of the ‘Day of Mourning’ on 10th August to raise our protest regarding the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country.

Over the past couple of years we have been started using the term “Day of Mourning” instead of ‘Black Day’.  The concept of “Black v/s Fair” comes from the castiest mind-set that ‘black is ugly and fair is beautiful’. On the other hand, the Black people and the Dalits hail the colour and the word “Black” and say “Black is Beautiful”. Hence, when we use the phrase Black Day for August 10th, we are assimilating and accepting the concept that Black is negative, ugly and sad.

The infamous Presidential (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India which says “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. But this law, as we are all aware of, keeps the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Castes list.

We request you to kindly observe ‘Day of Mourning’ on August 10th by organising protest rallies/ demonstrations/ hunger fasts/ submitting memoranda to appropriate authority/ candle vigils/ meetings/ special prayers and other appropriate programmes in your church/institution/ neighbourhood to express our solidarity with the suffering Christians and Muslims of Scheduled caste origin. Should you need any assistance do not hesitate to contact us.

 

With regards,

In Christ,

 

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India

Download the poster