Kerala Flood Relief operations of ATTWI

Information about Kerala Flood Relief Operations of Association of Theologically Trained Women of India (ATTWI), a constituent member of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), as received:

 

The recent floods in Kerala, as we all know, caused colossal damage. during the floods, people were shifted to some safe place but they lost their houses and house hold things.

In this context Grace centre and Association of Theologically Trained Women of India (ATTWI) provided emergency relief materials such as blankets, children dresses, food materials ,rice oil ,milk powder nutritious food for children ,napkins, medicine, and financial helps to Idikki district area

ATTWI requests your prayer support towards the needy people of Kerala….


Thanking you
In Christ 


Rev. Elizabeth Joseph.
Treasurer,  ATTWI.

 

Pictures

 

 

NCCI names General Secretary designate

The Rev. Asir Ebenezer. General Secretary designate, NCCI.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), in its Executive meeting in Chennai on August 28, 2018, announced Rev. Asir Ebenezer as the next General Secretary of NCCI. He will be taking charge at the turn of the year to succeed the present General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer is an ordained minister of the Church of South India (CSI). He has been in ministry since 1992 and has served in various positions in national and global ecumenical forums.

He currently serves as Director of Social Empowerment: Vision in Action (SEVA)  at the CSI Synod. He had earlier served the NCCI in various positions, including Officiating General Secretary of NCCI in 2010. A well-known figure in ecumenical circles, theologian, community-enabler and finance expert, the multiple competencies of Rev. Asir Ebenezer will go a long way to strengthen the council.

 

 

‘Day of Mourning’ on 10th August 2018

The National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns observed the Day of Mourning on 10th of August 2018 as a protest against the infamous Presidential Order 1950 (August 10th) Paragraph 3, which excludes Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Caste (SC) status, and the related affirmative action benefits of the Government.

Thus the Day of Mourning was a time to express  solidarity with the struggles and problems of  Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in  contemporary India where they are deprived of their rights.  On this day the NCCI staff gathered on the lawn of the NCCI premises, displaying posters expressing their protest. This act was not only an expression of mourning  but also an urgent appeal to the authorities to repeal the unconstitutional law that violates the rights of the ones who are genuinely in need of it. A short speech was delivered by Mr. Saurabh Khobragade, NCCI Intern of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns, regarding the significance of the protest.  He not only cited the infamous Presidential Order that was signed on 10th August 1950, but also emphasized how concerned people should  respond in times like this – to be critical  about the unjust ways of the authorities, to relate justly and responsibly  with our neighbours in society, and to be responsible citizens and  stewards in the service  of God. The observance of the Day of Mourning  concluded with a word of prayer remembering the suffering of  marginalized people, and seeking  God’s  intervention in the struggles for justice and inclusivity in the society and country at large.

 

An Epistle on Radical Inclusivity

“Philosophy of Radical Inclusion is to be inculcated among the Churches and in the Society” 

says  Mr. Liju Jacob Kuriakose, Vice President of the National Council of Churches in India

The NCCI – National Ecumenical Forum of Gender and Sexual Diversities joined the Student Christian Movement of India and Aneka, with the support of the United Church of Canada, in organizing a National Workshop on ‘Philosophy of Radical Inclusion from Faith and Human Sexuality Perspectives at SCM House, Bengaluru from 22 -24 August 2018. Sixty students of Theology and Philosophy from 20 Theological Seminaries,  secular colleges  and other academic institutions,  mostly from the northern part of India, participated in this workshop.

Mr. Liju Jacob Kuriakose, the Vice President of the National Council of Churches in India inaugurated the workshop. In the inaugural address Liju applauded the various ministerial and programmatic interventions of the NCCI in order to realize its quadrennial theme ‘Towards Just and Inclusive Communities’.  Further he said, inclusion is a Christian attitude and it should not be symbolic. If we read the life and work of Jesus during his earthly ministries, he expressed the real nature of God including every one especially the so-called discriminated and marginalized. So, it is the duty of  Christians to express the attitude of inclusion in all our day to day life. He suggested  a paradigm shift in our faith journeys by accepting every one as they are, not discriminating anyone on the basis of their birth and orientations.

Prof. Dr. Meera Baindur delivered the  key note on Radical Inclusion. She started addressing Jesus as the Radical inclusivist  who crossed the borders of  the traditional  religious interpretations of the scriptures and teachings in including everyone  to be part of the reign of God.    When we say we follow Jesus, we need to follow such ministerial expressions rather than simply paying lip-service to it. It is a mandate for all Christians and Churches  to be ‘Radical’ in nature in terms of inculcating, promoting and practicing the culture of inclusivity in all  walks of life. This will emancipate and challenge the rest of the society to practice  inclusion. She challenged and invited all to be inclusive.

Prof. Dr. George Zachariah introduced “Rainbow Theology” to the participants. He elucidated the love of God in ‘conventional’ and ‘non-conventional’ ways. So we need to have a shift in our theological perceptions and articulations of moving from conventional to non-conventional.

Dr. Gladson Jathanna introduced  ‘Theology of Body’, in which he emphasized the need to consider the body as the bottom line or source to articulate our theologies rather than working on and around abstract concepts . He also suggested that we should celebrate bodies since bodies carry the image  and attributes of the creator God who is Just and Inclusive. So, no theology is full without dealing with bodies and its emotions.

Rev. Dr. Allan Samuel Palanna introduced ‘Moral Theology’. He explained how morality influences our theological and faith expressions. He identified several socio-psychological components and codes and how they influence our lives. He asserted that  moral codes or commandments are not  meant to impose punishment, discrimination, marginalization or isolation of any person,  rather they are meant to facilitate  smooth and harmonious social living.  So, he suggested that moral codes should be used as tools to include all, not to discriminate or exclude.

There was an interface of the gender and sexually diverse communities. This interface helped the participants to minsterially and theologically understand the status of the Gender and Sexually Diverse Communities (GSDC) and their pathos, expectations and celebrations.  The important question is “Who includes whom?”  Indeed the GSDC  say that it is the diverse communities who include the rest, and  not the rest who include GSDC. When the so-called ‘straight’, ‘normal’ and the ‘hetero-normative  sexual oriented’ use the term homophobia with regard to relating with homosexuals, it is they who have a phobia about homosexuals, and not homosexuals who are nurturing a phobia about hetero-sexuals; therefore should not the fear which the straight or normal people have be called their own phobia, i.e. is it not supposed to be heteronormative-phobia? This discussion has helped the students to realize who is phobic towards the homosexuals and they have come to an understanding that it is supposed to be ‘hetero-normative phobia’ and not homophobia.

In a session on ‘Homophobic Society’, Vikkram Subbrraman alias Delfina challenged the participants who the society is phobic towards the gender and sexually diverse communities. Further invited the participants to be more ‘humane’ rather mere religious. There was an emphasis to affirm our of love for all rather hate others.

In the session on homophobic law,  Adv. Deepta Rao explained the legal struggle of the gender and sexually diverse communities. She also suggested let religious institutions be silent rather affirming hatred over these communities. At this silence will help them to have a better life in the society.

There were two interfaith panels that explained how the other faiths including Classical Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism and also Christianity affirm homophobia by using their moral codes of law. As the representatives and advocates of the gender and sexually diverse communities Ankit Bhuptani, Romal Singh, Sukhdeep Singh, Muhammad Afeef and Tashi Choedup served as panellists.

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Director, NCCI – National Ecumenical Forum of Gender and Sexual Diversities (NCCI – NEFGSD) facilitated a workshop on ‘Radical Inclusivity’. Mr. Inbaraj Jeyakumar, General Secretary, Student Christian Movement of India and Mrs. Anshi Zachariah, Executive Director of Aneka, also facilitated workshops on the theme and both were part of the organizing team.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the  participants stated that their perceptions were changed.  All of them pledged to be inclusive and promote inclusion though their future ministries. The participants also have decided to send an EPISTLE to the Indian Christians and the Churches to invite them also to be inclusive. The participants request and invite all to be part of the campaign by sharing this (Click to Download) Epistle on Radical Inclusivity to realize the ‘Just and inclusive societies.

Reported by:

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – NEFGSD and
Executive Secretary, NCCI – Unity and Mission

Kerala Floods – CASA Response

This is an update from a Constituent member body of NCCI, Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) on their relief work for Kerala floods. Received the following by email from Joseph P. Sahayam, Additional Emergency Officer (HQ), CASA.

Kerala Floods | Pic Source: casa-india.org

Greetings from CASA!

As you are aware the Monsoon Floods in Kerala has created havoc in 13 of the 14 districts in Kerala. CASA has been responding since the first flooding in July and continuing the intervention in the Second wave of floods with many of the Church Partners.

I am herewith sharing the updates on our intervention and the same is appended below.

 

Sl.No Partner Church / Agency Programme Cost (INR) Area Type of Intervention Total Number
1 CARD (Christian Agency for Rural Development) 8,55,600.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta (Peringara GP, Edathua GP, Nedumudy GP, Thalavady GP, Ramankery GP, Veliyanadu GP, Muttar GP, Payipad  GP, Payipad  GP, Thiruvalla) Dry Ration 1775
2 CSI Synod

(CSI Malabar Diocese)

9,00,000.00 Wayanad

Koilery Area – Mavanthavadi Taluk,

Moolakani Area, Sultan Battery Municipality

Dry Ration 710
3 CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese 10,00,00.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta

(Perumthuruthy, tTamaral, Merpal. Chathenkery, Adichikad)

Dry Ration 1000
4 CSI East Kerala Diocese 5,00,000 Idukki and Ernakulam Dray Ration /   NFI 600
5 Malankara Orthodox Church 5,00,000 Wayand and Kozhikode Dray Ration /  NFI 500
Total 37,56,000 Wayand, Allapuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Kozhikode 4585

Apart from this CASA is also directly intervening in Wayanad and Idukki providing 1200 Dry Ration Kit, Tarpaulin, Hygiene Kit and Support for 150 House Repair and 1100 Shelter and Non Food Items in Idukki. CASA staff are Stationed in the above mentioned districts.


Please continue to remember in prayer the relief operations in Kerala undertaken by CASA and other constituent bodies of NCCI.

PRAYER EPISTLE – CONCERN FOR KERALA AND FLOOD VICTIMS

Prayer for Kerala and other Flood Victims

The southern State of Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’. It attracts  numerous global tourists because of  its  beaches, mountains, rivers, back-waters, valleys and forests. The land is thus regarded as  a  miniature expression of the Garden of Eden and God’s wonderful creation.

It is unfortunate that Kerala is reeling under one of its worst flooding disasters in its history.  There are 39 dams in this State; shutters of 35 dams have been opened.

There are 44 rivers in this State, and in 41, water levels have risen above the danger mark; river banks are washed away. Since, it is a land of forests, several land-slides have damaged houses and habitats of the people. The hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki have received excess rain of 70% and they have got cut-off from the rest of the State due to land-slides and floods.

The Cochin International Airport has been waterlogged; the run way is under 3 to 4 feet of water. Therefore the airport is closed.  Even the road and river transport has come to a stand still in several parts and routes.

As per media reports, the death toll has risen over 60 (as on 15th August) and several are missing. In fact, a Red Alert has been issued in 14 districts. So far the loss estimated is 12,000/- crores. Several have lost their homes, lives, livelihoods, and agricultural fields.Not only have many people lost their dear ones and property, they are also under severe mental stress and anxiety.

While people may discuss the reasons for this calamity, it is a time for the entire Nation and the Global Communities to stretch both hands to embrace our sisters and brothers with our prayers and extend whatever support possible.

The National Council of Churches in India mourns with the people of Kerala. We assures them of our prayers and accompaniment at this time of trial and experience of  crossing the valley of darkness. We hope and pray that the rains will subside and the flood waters recede.

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Certificate Course on Gender Justice | Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

Brief Report

Certificate Course on Gender Justice
Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

National Council of Churches in India | Women Concerns Ministry

13th-17th June 2018 | Vishranti nilayam, Bangalore |Organized in partnership with CSI Women’s Fellowship | Australian Church Women Inc.

Trainees with the General Secretary of CSI Women’s Fellowship, Rev. Synthia Chopra after Valedictory Service.

Context:

Gender based violence has become a pandemic in India. It is one of the major national problems; however it is not adequately addressed as a major problem either by the Government or by civil society. The worst victims of such violence are girls, women, and children. India is the 4th dangerous country for women to live in and for the girl child to survive. 53 percent children get sexually abused in India (that means one out of two children). Though girls are vulnerable, boys also face sexual abuse. Gender based violence violates human rights, and harms and impoverishes communities, reinforces other forms of violence throughout societies, restricts economic growth and undermines development. Violence on women in India often take on inhuman and intolerable dimensions in the form of domestic violence, eve teasing, sexual assaults, rape, psychological  abuse, dowry burning, honour killing, acid attack, harassment in work place, human trafficking etc. The culture of rape is a common phenomenon in India and marital rape is not recognized by society as rape. Gender based violence has its roots in spiritual poverty. It is in this context Women Concerns Ministry (earlier known as All India Council of Christian Women) of National Council of Churches in India as a part of its Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation Program has evolved ‘Training the Trainers Program – Certificate Course on Gender Justice’.

This three-year programme, which is supported by Australian Church Women Inc through Winifred Kiek Scholarship Trust especially for young women, and through local contributions from Women’s Fellowships and churches (to support scholarships for male candidates) will be conducted between June 2017 and June 2019.

Aim of the three-year programme: Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation in Gender Justice to intercept the culture of Gender based violence and build inclusive Just communities Read more

Report of the Consultation on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” (July 24 – 26, 2018 | CSI Centre, Chennai)

The Church cannot be dumbfound towards the precarious issues faced by Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis as they have been ostracized from the historical accounts by the dominant historians and writers of ancient Indian history. The need of the hour therefore, in  contemporary times, is to listen to the people from the margins, about their struggles […]

Kandhamal Carnage: No Justice Yet! What “Independence” to Celebrate?

Ten Years since the Kandhamal Carnage:  Yet no Justice!

What kind of “freedom” do we celebrate on 15th August every year?

This August 25, 2018, it will be ten years, since the biggest anti Christian violence, biggest communal violence in Odisha, will complete ten years. It was on this date, in the wake of the slaying of VHP leader Swami Lakshamananda Sarswati on the night of August 23, 2008, that a nun working in the Dibyajyoti Pastoral Centre of Kandhamal, ran away from the centre with Father Thomas Chellam fearing attack from a violent mob. She was forced out of her shelter the next day and was subjected to horrifying physical and sexual violence. As reported by the National Solidarity Forum in the communal fire that raged over Kandhamal, around 393 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. The shocking fact is that all these incidents took place in full view of police and the police remained mute spectators.

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A Response to MHRD Draft Bill for Repeal of UGC Act 1956 & Setting up HECI

The ALL INDIA FORUM FOR RIGHT TO EDUCATION, with its office in Hyderabad, has given a response to the MHRD Draft Bill for repeal of UGC Act 1956 & setting up HECI (Higher Education Commission of India). The same is being shared for our reflection on this important issue, as the Church in India continues to be one of the significant agencies of contributing to the advancement of education in India.

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20 July 2018

Response to MHRD Draft Bill for repeal of UGC Act 1956 & setting up HECI (Higher Education Commission of India).

For the last 60 years the UGC was taking decisions related to allocation of funds, deciding course structure, monitoring quality and giving clearance for setting up new campuses. But now, as has become common practice, MHRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has tweeted that “In a landmark decision, a draft Act for repeal of #UGC & setting up #HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) has been prepared,” in accordance with the “commitment of the government” to reform the regulatory mechanism to provide “more autonomy” to higher education institutes to “promote excellence” and “facilitate holistic growth of the education”.

The MHRD Note further proclaims that “Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked a process of reform of the regulatory agencies for better administration of the higher education sector.”

What are the changes sought to be introduced through the proposed Bill, which the Minister incorrectly refers to as an Act even though it has not been placed before or passed yet by Parliament?

  • HECI will not determine, allot and disburse grants to Institutions of Higher Education (IHE); these will be directly handled by the MHRD;
  • All new courses will henceforth have to be approved by HECI;
  • HECI will have the powers to shut down and initiate criminal action against IHE that fail to act according to its decisions;
  • HECI will be advised by an overarching Advisory Council with Minister and Secretary MHRD as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson respectively and its `advice’ will be “implemented” by HECI;
  • Overriding the specific Central and State Acts establishing universities and the other related legislations of states, the HECI Bill, if passed, will legislate on a concurrent subject thereby encroaching on the rights and powers of the state governments and jeopardising constitutional federalism. According to the Article 246 read with Entry 32 of List 2 and Entry 44 of List 1 in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, the “Incorporation, Regulation and Winding up of a University is an exclusive domain of the State Government” and the Union Government cannot legislate on these matters.

The direction of the changes is significant. On the one hand the HECI will have punitive powers to `discipline’ IHE, and on the other hand the Central government’s role in the composition and the day-to-day functioning of the HECI will be enormously increased.

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