The National Council of Churches in India
Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar
Executive Secretary, UELCI & Treasurer, NCCI
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
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,
Dalit and Tribal/ adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India
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 . . .
National Council of Churches in India
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
National Council of Churches in India
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.
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India
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.
Mr. Saurabh Khobragade
Mr. Yatharth Jadav
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.
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
National Council of Churches in India.