Observance of Nakba Day on 15th May 2019

The Nakba commemoration of 71 years was jointly organized by National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns, Urban Rural Mission and India Peace Centre on 15th May 2019 at India Peace Center. People from various walks of life, from different faith communities participated to understand the complex reasons responsible towards the mass exile of the Palestinians from their land which now is under the captivity of Israel. Mr. Rajesh Jadhav working with NCCI -Urban Rural Mission explained in brief the historical background of NAKBA by giving details of the Israeli Zionist thought process in the Exodus and occupied areas of Gaza strip. Followed by the introductory speech a short documentary movie “The Walls of Shame” was screened which highlighted the burning issue of human rights and American right-wing approval for this endeavor. The movie depicted the reality which the people of Palestine have faced since decades in the hands of Israel and its inhuman strategies against a particular faith community.

Followed by the movie Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns – NCCI highlighted the issues existing in the Indian society and about the invisible wall which is present in the Indian society in the form of caste system and its practices. In between, the Muslim friends offered the sunset prayer Namaaz commemorating the Holy month of Ramadan after which they break their fast with Iftar.  Dr. Suresh Khairnar, National President of Rashtra Seva Dal, Nagpur shared and brought insights and his experiences which he had during his visit to the Gaza strip and Palestine. Dr. Khairnar in his address spoke extensively on the problems faced by the people living at the borders of Israel and Palestine and the key issues which are mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, and the Palestinian right to return. Dr. Khairnar was eloquent in bringing out the how the world media is reluctant towards the problems faced by Palestinian. He appealed and encouraged the participants to read the book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim written by Mahmood Mamdani in order to understand the degree of suppression, distress and violence the people from the Muslim communities go through in their daily life.The program was concluded with the final remarks on standing together and striving for a justice oriented community and society by large was given by Rev. Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre after which Mr. Rajesh Jadhav proposed a vote of thanks to all the delegates and the organizers of the program and proposed special thanks to Mr. Moses Gaur and Mr. Saurabh Khobragade. This was yet another opportunity wherein the National Council of Churches in India once again stood in strictly objecting the violation of human rights done by Israel in the case of Palestinian and affirming that it stands for peace, justice and love which Christ Jesus commands to share with every human being and the whole creation at large.

Reported by:

 Mr. Saurabh Khobragade

Mr. Yatharth Jadav

“Celebrating Our Journey Together” : NCCI Youth Leaders’ Meeting

 

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) caters approximately 4 million youths through its member churches throughout the country. The subversive energy of this network needs to be harnessed to bring about an uprising in the country. This possibility should not be trampled especially at such a time as this when India stands at the verge of being the youngest country in the world.  With these encouraging thoughts in mind NCCI – Youth Concerns organized a Youth Leaders’ Meeting on the theme “Celebrating Our Journey Together” from 29th April to 1st May 2019 at the NCCI Secretariat Nagpur.

 The NCCI Youth Leaders’ Meet focused on bringing the youth leaders to share the ideas and visions of exertion that are involve and build a common ecumenical platform and accordance across the country especially among the youths. The three day gathering also focused on the capacity building for youth leaders and creates opportunity to address various social concerns and issues such as Human Rights, Migration, Human Trafficking, Peace and Reconciliation across the country.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer, General Secretary, NCCI shared the visions and dreams concerning youths and youthood in which he accentuated to realize the potential of the existing network offered by the NCCI and to use it wisely to counter the elements of fascism, disenfranchisement and communal violence being sown by the political bigots of our country. Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei, Executive Secretary, Youth Concerns, NCCI in the welcome address shared the purpose and prospects of the meeting urging the respective youth secretaries gathered to mobilize the youths of their churches and dioceses through various workshops, rallies, campaigns and other creative initiatives and solidify the ecumenical commitment, mutually learn from each other and plan and dream together programmes on a larger scale.

Rev. K. Noah David, Youth Secretary, South Andhra Lutheran Church (SALC) gave a presentation on the topic “Youth in Socioeconomic and Political Context” wherein he spoke about the importance of inspiring the youths especially in churches to be politically literate so as to safeguard the secular fabric of the country. Thereafter, a Panel Presentation on the theme “Youth Capacity Building in Practice” with four panellists viz. Rev. Asir Ebenezer, Ms. Cheryl, Councillors, Sharansthan Charitable Society Nagpur, Mr. Kasta Dip, Director, India Peace Centre and Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei who spoke on “Freedom of Religion and Beliefs”, “Human Rights and Human Trafficking”, “Peace and Reconciliation” and “Migration” respectively. The session was moderated by Mr. Ashish Yusuf, Youth Secretary, Mennonite Church in India.

The youth leaders had an interactive session of sharing the various areas of engagements among the youths in their respective churches or regions which ruminate as an opportunity to learn from the other.  The youth leaders also had an opportunity to visit the socio-religious important places in Indian history such as Deekshabhoomi, India Peace Centre and Zero Mile Stone of India. The delegates also participated in Shradhanjali Programme, a condolence meeting convened at the Press Club of Nagpur to pay homage in solidarity to the victims of the genocide of Sri Lanka.

Deliberation on the Youth

 Matters: Youth Policy Drafting Guidelines, a guideline drafted by NCCI, Youth Concerns for the youth in church was made. Suggestions, additions, omissions etc. were solicited from the participants so as to update the same for better. Time was also devoted to develop common and individual programmes and to see to it how to nurture the ecumenical fellowship and solidarity more proactively. There was space for the delegates to share their feedback and recommendations. In short the three days program was focused and purpose oriented and the delegates bid adieu with a strong determination to engage more productively with the youths of their respective churches. The three-day programmes was initiated with a daily devotion led by Dn. Basil Paul, an intern at NCCI-Youth Concerns.

The meeting bore witness to the Youth Leaders from 13 churches.

National Council of Churches in India condemns bombings in Sri Lanka

The leadership and the members of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) send their prayers and solidarity to the people of Sri Lanka during the time of deep crisis.

The NCCI strongly condemns the inhuman bombing that occurred this morning. NCCI joins the international community in expressing solidarity with the people and government of Sri Lanka, the Church in Sri Lanka and all the faithful.

The situation arising out of this dastardly attack pose serious challenge to the idea and value of humanity, peace, mutual cooperation, fraternity and love. It is our prayer that all people of Sri Lanka will once again rise to the occasion and defeat the forces that seek to push the clock back.

We pray for justice to be affirmed and peace ensured for all peoples. May God’s peace rule the hearts and minds of the bereaved.

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

Let’s start all over again . . .

Death, Decay, Disenchantment, Disfranchise, Disease, Destruction are all that fills the air.  The print media is no exception. These are dimensions of a world that seems to be falling apart. At least in one of the synoptic gospels the writers remind the women who sought Jesus at the tomb, that they were searching the risen among the dead. A reminder to us today to once again renew our faith that death shall not hold sway over the forces of life, and life will prevail. This is a message that we need to preach to us especially this Easter and repeatedly thereafter – that the forces of death will not cow us down.

More importantly this Easter should remind us that ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee’. The Greek rendering shows the urgency and the eagerness to start it all over again – that which in the first place led him to the cross. It is time now for the Christian community in India and the world over to return to ‘Galilee’ and start it all over again – to remember again our commitment to make the fringes, the ends of the earth, the redefined centre(s); a redefined centres that ring down hegemonic power expressions be it religious represented in Jesus time by the Jewish temple or the political power that patronised such divisive religious hegemony that had puritan overtones and their economic accompanists.

May this be our prayer this Easter that as Christian faith communities everywhere, together with peoples of all faith expressions and ideological persuasions, we will renew our commitment to go again in the path of embracing the cross, affirming the rights and dignity of the victims of religious, economic, ethnic, political expressions of hegemony; and together speak the truth to ‘power’.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer

General Secretary – NCCI

A Sermon on “The Riddle of Genuine Religion: Remembering Ambedkar” to mark the 128th birth anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Sunday, 14th April 2019

Scripture Reading:   

Old Testament   :           Amos 8:4 – 6

 New Testament    :           James 1:19 – 27

              Gospel               :           Mathew 25:31 – 40

The 128th Birth anniversary of Dr. B. R Ambedkar falls on Sunday, 14 April, 2019. On this particular Sunday it is important for us to have a bird’s eye view of how Ambedkar looked at religion. Interestingly, his understanding of religion has resemblances with the passages given here. Let us examine how Ambedkar viewed religion:

According to Ambedkar the life and practices of the society lay the foundation of religion. Therefore, religion is part of one’s “social inheritance”. He affirmed the role of religion in the society and life of people, but he never endorsed hypocritic expressions in the name of religion. Religion, to him, is the driving force for human activity. He elsewhere remarked that “Man cannot live by bread alone. He has a mind which needs food for thought. Religion instils hope in Man and drives him to activity.”  He linked religion with the social being of the people. He remarked, “The religion which discriminates between two followers is partial and the religion which treats crores of its adherents worse than dogs and criminals and inflicts upon them insufferable disabilities is no religion at all. He wanted a religion which was all inclusive and open to all. Ambedkar also was of the opinion that religion should be rites and ritual free. He emphasized the social value of religion.  The social values talked about by Ambedkar are dignity, equality, liberty and fraternity which are the core values of a society.  Ambedkar believed that for betterment of socio-economic, religious and political way of life, “the prescription of equality, liberty and fraternity was needed.” Ambedkar in his response to religion sees religion in the interest of establishing a society of equals. For him, the questions of the origin, nature and practice of religion were not essential; instead he studied and assessed various religions from a social perspective of justice. Thus, we can say that for Ambedkar the search for a new religion was less of a spiritual quest and more of a longing for a religion free from unnecessary rites and rituals and built on the principles of justice and equality.

Similar to Ambedkar’s views, the prophet Amos criticised religion which discriminates people based on their economic back ground. His criticism is meant to evolve a genuine religion. Let us now look at how the prophetic voice of Amos described the characteristics of genuine religion: Read more

National Council of Churches in India condemns killings in New Zealand; affirms solidarity with Muslims

National Council of Churches (NCCI) in India is saddened by the hate-filled terror attack at Christchurch in New Zealand. We extend our solidarity to the families of the victims and we stand with friends of the Islamic faith who are affected largely by the trauma of the attack. Let God enable all the affected ones to experience the eternal peace.

The shooting at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and the Masjid in Linwood is a visible expression of growing intolerance worldwide towards migrants and Muslims. The right-wing fanaticism related to economy, ethnicity and nationalism complicates the situation. Hostility towards ‘others’, precipitated in violence has led to the annihilation of ‘others.’ These kinds of massacres which involve singling out a group of people and labelling them as ‘people to be
hated’ are against the human race. It is time to for those who believe in justice and peace to come out and condemn any such actions wherever it may be in the world.

This is an eye opener to everyone that the seeds of hate can grow to any extent, shedding the blood of many innocents. It is time now to take a pledge together, to have zero tolerance towards hate mongering of any form, be it through news channels, social media or hate speeches.

National Council of Churches in India believe in dialogue and peaceful coexistence of all. We support the efforts of New Zealand Government to maintain peace and harmony among the communities. May God grant us the understanding that we are meant to live with all peoples in peace.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

Call for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Women Concerns Ministry

Copy of the advertisement of the NCCI calling for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Women Concerns can be download here…

Please encourage suitable candidates to apply for the same.

Thanking you,

Sincerely,

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

A brief report on Ecumenical Youth Music Concert

As part of the Unity Octave, the National Council of Churches in India-Youth Concerns organized an Ecumenical Youth Music Concert on (24th January Thursday) at Sristhi Lawn, NCCI Campus, Nagpur, on the theme “Justice and only justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The main focus of the concert was to extent the ecumenical rapport and unity among the Christians, especially the Youth spreading the message of peace and unity through music in the midst of turmoil and intolerance in our society.

The programme began with an opening prayer by Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Youth Concerns welcomed the invitees and the participants as well as gave a brief introduction of the Unity Octave.

Different forms of music such as bhajan, devotional, choir, solo, and western were presented in various languages – English, Hindi, Marathi and Mizo. Churches, seminaries and organizations from different Christian faith community from in and around Nagpur participated in the event. The participants were from Mizo Fellowship, St. Charles Seminary, Hindi Methodist Church, St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS), Nagpur Christian Art Ministry, CNI St. Thomas Church, Marathi Methodist Church, Good Samaritan Church and North East Christian Fellowship.

Reading of the scripture was read by Ms. Sweta Nanda, Intern, from Matthew 15: 22-28 and proposed the vote of thanks. The program concluded with prayer for unity and benediction by Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, NCCI-Unity and Mission. The event was led by Ms. Megha Naik, Intern, NCCI-Women Concerns as its host.

Above all, Ecumenical Youth Music Concert was filled with delightful experiences where both the participants and the spectators were inspired through the presentations that paved the way for an opportunity to widen the space of learning and reasoning and welcome all humanity in one’s life that will lead towards love and unity of all in the pilgrimage of pursuing justice and only justice.

NCCI invites all to be a part of Global Campaign “Thursday in Black”

 

Gender based violence is a universal and global issue that harms men, women and children in their most private arena. People often feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much pain and injustice.

In 2011 a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women to live in. However, we can all be involved in a simple but powerful campaign to address gender Based violence.

Thursdays in Black encourages everyone, men and women, to wear black every Thursday. This can be a campaign T-shirt, other black clothing or simply a campaign badge as a sign of their support.

Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that you are tired of putting up with violence, and calls for communities where we can all walk safely without fear; fear of being beaten up, fear of being verbally abused, fear of being raped, fear of discrimination. The campaign is not confined only to countries at war, but recognizes that violence takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, murder, female infanticide, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, discrimination and sex trafficking.

The Thursdays in Black campaign protests began in the 1970s and its roots lie in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. These women began wearing black sashes in honor of their friends and family members who were disappearing, being raped, and abused. They would gather every Thursday in silence to protest the loss of loved ones under the military dictatorship, with the aim of raising the government’s awareness that these acts of violence were happening in their homeland. Other groups have developed including women who wanted to express outrage at the rape-death camps in war torn Bosnia, the Black Sash in South Africa and women who oppose the Israel occupation of the West Bank and ordinary woman all over the world.

In the 1980s, Thursdays in Black became an international human rights campaign supported by different organizations, groups and individual as a peaceful way of saying “I support the human right of women’s to live in a world without violence, rape and fear.”

National Council of Churches in India has been part of “Thursday in Black” campaign, and it acknowledges the churches, organizations, faith groups and individual who have been part of this campaign.

Jayalakshmi is a domestic violence survivor and her story is that of lakhs of other Indian women. That is why it needs to be told. 

https://www.womensweb.in/articles/domestic-violence-survivor-story/

National Council of Churches in India invites people to join this worldwide movement which enables the despair, pain and anger about rape and other forms of violence to be transformed into political action.