Signs of Progress

NCCI-IDEA’s Indian Sign Language Course Launches on a Vibrant Note!

September 23, 2023: In a thrilling celebration of International Sign Language Day, the National Council of Churches in India -Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI-IDEA) Online Indian Sign Language Course kicked off with a bang! Enthusiastic learners, 25 strong, hailing from the North, North-East, Central, and South parts of India, are all set to conquer communication barriers.

Leading the charge is the dynamic Ms. Madhurya Y, who has seven year of expertise in the realm of ISL training and interpretation.

The digital inauguration on September 23, 2023, via Zoom, started with NCCI Youth Executive Secretary Mr. Asher Noah’s soul-stirring opening prayer, followed by a warm welcome from Rev. Ribin John.

Highlighting the event was the presence of Pastor R Praveen Kumar, an inspiring figure in the hearing-impaired community, who couldn’t contain his joy at seeing more people embrace his First language(ISL). He sees this as a hope for the deaf community, as it opens doors to more meaningful connections.

Rev. Dr. Asir Ebenezer, NCCI’s General Secretary, delivered a powerful inaugural address, challenging everyone to recognise that true completeness comes from embracing the ideas and creativity of the hearing-impaired community. He hailed this course as a revolutionary step in bridging the language gap between the church and the hearing-impaired community, marking a historic moment.

The day ended on a high note with Ms. Madhurya igniting students’ excitement by diving into basic ISL alphabets, setting the stage for an incredible learning journey.

The NCCI-IDEA Online Indian Sign Language Course’s inauguration was not just a celebration; it was a declaration of breaking down barriers and forging deeper connections in a world where communication reigns supreme!

Rev. Ribin John
Executive Secretary
NCCI Ecumenical Fora/ IDEA

Prayer Day for PEACE in MANIPUR (July 30)

In the last few days we have witnessed the outrage of the People of India in different locations with regard to the unabated violence in Manipur. We stood united in condemning violence and sexual assault on women, and continue to voice out and intervene.

We also see unrest and semblances of violence spilling over to other parts of the North East India. This is quite dangerous and needs to be contained.

The secretariat of the National Council of Churches in India and it’s service wing the Christian Service Agency is seized of the matter in different fronts. We are in constant contact with our constituents in Manipur and churches in NE for finding out the ways to build peace in that region. Agencies related to the NCCI like the CASA and the LWSIT are also actively engaged in providing relief to the affected irrespective of ethnicities or religious affiliations.

We now appeal for concerted prayer – joining together in one accord – to advocate for PEACE in Manipur and the whole of North East India. We request all local churches/ congregations/ parishes/ corps in the episcopal overview and pastoral supervision of the NCCI Member Churches to observe the upcoming Sunday – Sunday the 30th July 2023 as a COMMON Day of PRAYER for PEACE in MANIPUR and across NORTH EAST INDIA.

We pray God Almighty to look favourably upon the situation in Manipur, and bless all efforts to bring Healing amidst the people of Manipur and Peace in the region.

We thank the Heads of Churches, all the Constituents of the NCCI, and all those who have actively involved in providing relief and advocating for Peace in Manipur. We further urge you to be continually involved and encourage all, over whom you have influence, to also involve in local initiatives to build peace and promote communal harmony among and amidst all people.

Let us be fervent in prayer.

Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary NCCI

Invitation to observe NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2023

Indigenous youth in their communities play differentiated roles and functions, from which derive certain rights, responsibilities, abilities and social recognition. Their roles and functions can differ according to their cosmovision and Indigenous languages. Importantly, ways of living for Indigenous youth are changing due to evolving social, cultural, political, and economic contexts. Discrimination impacts the lives of Indigenous youth in ways that affect their self-esteem, loss of spiritual richness, loss of language and denial of their cultural roots. . Many Indigenous youth face multiple barriers, cultural clashes, and different influences that over time, push them to acquire an identity that is foreign to their place of origin to avoid being the object of discrimination and racism, in extreme cases rejecting their culture, languages, and the practice of ancestral customs. In some cases, entire generations of Indigenous youth have grown up out of their communities but have retained a connection to their lands and territories through their families, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations or others.

Despite these challenges, there are examples of Indigenous youth participation in Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, in urban and rural areas, and even outside national borders, who are revitalizing and promoting their cultural identities. They are organizing diverse activities to strengthen cultural identity, participating in different forums, and sharing cultural spaces with Indigenous elders, and creating a solidarity network among Indigenous youth.

The theme for this year’s Tribal and Adivasi Sunday is “ Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination” and we have prepared a special Order of Worship for the day. You may please take the freedom to use the entire worship order and translate it in your vernacular language or adapt parts of it. We sincerely hope that the observance of this special NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday will be an enriching one in our faith affirmation and commitment and for widening the horizon of our ecumenical journey.

Over the years Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing the local congregation on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. Thanks to the enormous support we have received from across the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions in celebrating this special Sunday. This year also we are inviting you to observe Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 6th August in your churches/local parishes/institutions.

Let us join to celebrate Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 6th August 2023.

Download the liturgy 

Thanking you in anticipation.

With regards,

In Christ,

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns, NCCI

Harmony in Silence : The Church committed to listening to the Silent voices of Speech and Hearing Impairment.

The Nagpur Christian community is committed to listening to the Silent voices within their church. A group of forty persons representing various Church denominations, such as Protestants, Catholics, and Evangelicals, made a collective decision to empower their churches in responding to the rights of individuals with speech and hearing impairments. They aimed to enhance accessibility within their church spaces, ensuring that everyone could fully participate and engage in the community. Due to the invisible nature of the disability, people with speech and hearing impairments are frequently overlooked and ignored in the church and society

Focused on the value of accessibility in fostering a more welcoming and creating equal environment for all, the NCCI-Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA), in collaboration with the Church of North India-Social Service Institute (CNI-SSI) arranged a one-day workshop on the topic “Silent Voices: Empowering the Church’s Response to Speech and Hearing Impairment” on July 7th 2023 at CNI-SSI Nagpur Campus to tackle the reality of abandonment against the people. The workshop concentrated exclusively on Speech and Hearing Impairment and attempted to equip the Churches to be all-encompassing in their varied Ministries towards the group.

Rev. Dr. Asir Ebenezer, General Secretary NCCI, used the line “Dancing to a tune that they cannot hear” in his opening remarks referring to the dance recitals of children with hearing and speech impairment to prime the audience for the workshop. This statement sparked discussion about the church’s ignorance and the silent voices within it. He urged everyone there to change their focus from “learning about disability to learning to be a part of the life of people with disability.” Additionally, he claimed that the workshop’s goal was to “Empower ourselves to dismantle structures and attitudes that disable people and not just to Empower the people with Disability,” which was the justification for achieving inclusivity, particularly in churches and Christian groups.

The workshop’s resource person was SLP, audiologist, and disability theologian Dr. Sunil Kathramalla. He focused his conversation on four specific topics with the help of his substantial knowledge to address the silent voices in the church that are ignored. These topics included Sensitivity Training, Inclusive Worship Services, Assistive Devices and Technology, and Awareness and Education. He astutely offered practical suggestions that churches and Christian organisations might use to strengthen their ministerial endeavours and daily contacts, promoting inclusivity and justice. The workshop witnessed an interactive atmosphere between the attendees and the resource person. The active participation of the attendees projected the seriousness of the issue and the passion to work towards the “need of the hour”.

The program commenced at 11:00 am with a brief period of worship followed by the formal welcome address by Mrs Aradhana Upadhya, Director of CNI-SSI and the vote of thanks by Mr Thayil D Sam, Core group member, Engage Disability Nagpur Hub. The workshop ended with an ecumenical unity prayer for Manipur. As the workshop came to a close, it became evident that its impact would reverberate far beyond its duration, empowering the church to embrace the Silent , but vibrant, Voices of speech and hearing impairment, and paving the way for a future of genuine disability inclusion.

Rev. Ribin John
Executive Secretary, Ecumenical Fora

Acknowledged to Accompany: NCCI -IDEA Acknowledged and Honoured COVID Heroes for their Exceptional Contributions to Persons with Disabilities

The NCCI Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA) Acknowledged and Honoured COVID heroes serves as a testament to the transformative power of selfless service and the unwavering spirit of compassion. It sets a commendable example for the ecumenical accompaniment and reaffirms the commitment of the NCCI to advocate for the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in India.

In an inspiring event held at the UELCI campus Chennai, NCCI-IDEA honored the unsung heroes who selflessly served persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCCI Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA) Award ceremony showcased the extraordinary efforts made by individuals and organizations to create a barrier-free church and society for all.

Out of a staggering 50 applicants from across the nation, NCCI selected the most deserving candidates in three distinct award categories. Esteemed paediatrician and Disability activist, Dr. Aiswarya Rao, had the privilege of presenting the awards to the remarkable COVID heroes, whose dedication and commitment shone through their exceptional achievements.

In the Individual Category, Mr. Sandeep Paul, the project coordinator for UNNATHI – Disability project, stood out for his outstanding coordination and resource mobilization efforts. Despite limited resources, Mr. Sandeep effectively supported individuals with disabilities by implementing training programs and raising awareness during the pandemic.

The Institution Category witnessed the recognition of the CSI School for the Intellectually Disabled, a residential school that defied government orders to send children home. With immense compassion, the school decided to keep around 30 inmates, including orphans, and extended their reach to over 100 kilometers to support 110 persons with disabilities.

In the Church Initiative Category, the Shaphiro initiative led by H.G. Dr. Yuhanon Mar Diascros Metropolitan and a group of passionate laity members received well-deserved accolades. The online glocal initiative connected more than 25 families from the Indian Orthodox community across India, the Middle East, Europe, and the ANZ region. The regular online fellowships for “Shaphiro” families and special needs children since December 2021 have had a profound impact on the lives of participants.

The award ceremony created a significant impact on the audience, which included representatives from various churches, institutions, and theological colleges. The COVID heroes shared their inspirational stories, shedding light on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and the tireless efforts undertaken to support and empower them.

By recognizing these exceptional individuals and initiatives, NCCI IDEA aims to encourage and inspire others to work towards the creation of an inclusive society. The event highlighted the significance of collaborative efforts in fostering a just community where all individuals, regardless of their disabilities, can flourish and thrive.

Churches Challenged to Embrace Disability Inclusion at Workshop Organized by NCCI-Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment and Engage Disability

To promote inclusivity and make people with disabilities feel welcomed in churches, a workshop on disability inclusion was held on 14th June 2023 led by NCCI-Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment and Engage Disability. The workshop challenged participants to think beyond the statement which they made initially from “We don’t have a person with disability in our church so we have to be a welcoming church”. The goal of the workshop was to equip churches with the tools they need to make their spaces welcoming to people with disabilities and to encourage their active involvement. The event aimed to equip churches with the necessary tools to create an inviting atmosphere for people with disabilities and encourage their active participation within the church community.

The workshop commenced with an engaging activity focused on raising awareness about disabilities. Participants were divided into pairs, with one person assuming the role of a person with a disability by having their hands and legs bound or their eyes covered. The other partner acted as their guide. By sharing personal stories and recounting the challenges faced during the activity, participants were encouraged to develop empathy and a deeper understanding of the experiences of individuals with disabilities.

One of the key highlights of the workshop was the introduction of the Disability Inclusion Audit for Churches in India, a tool for ongoing self-assessment and progressive improvement of churches created by Engage Disability. This tool provided participants with the means to conduct ongoing self-assessments of their church’s inclusivity practices and identify areas for improvement. During the session, pastors and church leaders had a unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Disability Audit Toolkit, enabling them to take proactive steps towards promoting disability inclusion within their congregations.

Through the workshop, attendees gained insight into their current disability inclusion practices. Participants highlighted areas where their churches excelled while also identifying areas that required further development and attention. The dedication exhibited by the participating churches towards promoting disability inclusion was evident in the workshop’s outcomes.

In addition to equipping attendees with practical tools, the workshop emphasized the significance of engaging with disability-related policies, particularly the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016-2017, as published in the Gazette of India. By actively involving themselves in disability-related policy discussions, churches can positively impact the lives of individuals with disabilities and foster inclusivity, advocacy, and support within their communities.

The workshop, conducted in collaboration with the Nagpur Ecumenical Fora and Nagpur ED Hub, witnessed the active participation of 25 pastors from various denominations, institutional heads, and church member

s from Nagpur. The diverse representation of individuals showcased the collective commitment to promoting disability inclusion within the church community.

With the tools and knowledge gained from this workshop, participants are now motivated to develop more accessible and inclusive venues with the right attitude towards inviting people with disabilities to their places of worship.

Dr Agnes Aboum – The Epitome of Faithfulness

National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) expresses its deep sorrow at the demise of Dr Agnes Aboum (73), the former moderator of the central committee of World Council of Churches (WCC). As the first woman and the first African to serve as moderator of WCC central committee, she proved her staunch leadership in handling the most difficult of issues with grace. Her role in enhancing women’s leadership, especially in the Church worldwide, is noteworthy.

Her passion for social justice led her down the path of activism, especially during her college days at the University of Nairobi. Her active involvement in politics forced her to leave Kenya for Sweden and she continued her studies over there. After returning to Kenya, she continued her involvement in politics and was imprisoned for opposing President Daniel Arap Moi, the longest serving president of Kenya.

She was part of the ecumenical movement worldwide for years and was honoured on multiple occasions for her faithful and committed leadership by numerous organisations, including church bodies. Her zeal for gender justice and peace-making will be remembered for ever.

On behalf of the leadership of National Council of Churches, I, pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased in the dwellings of the righteous, and comfort to those who mourn her loss.


Rev Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary

NCCI demands restorative justice; appeals for lasting solution to the Manipur context

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), a fellowship of Protestant and Orthodox churches, condemns the violence in Manipur and urges the State and Central Governments to take immediate steps to restore normalcy. Attack on life and property, and providing a communal colour to an otherwise non-religious issue is unacceptable.

We are deeply saddened by the sequence of events that have unfurled in the state, polarising people into hostile camps. We recognize that there are long-term grievances within the communities that need to be addressed through dialogue at different levels. In this strained situation we urge the Government and its administration to develop confidence between communities, taking strong and impartial action against those who indulge in violence and spreading of hate campaigns.

Reports reveal the tragic nature of the devastation caused, especially the heavy loss of innocent lives in the clashes. Worship places and houses were attacked and burned, and heavy damages inflicted on public and private properties. In this context, we urge the communities to refrain from any violent acts as violence is not the answer to such issues. We also urge the communities to support the authorities in bringing peace and normalcy to the region.

We urge the National Human Rights Commission and the National Minorities Commission, as well as the State Human Rights and Minority Commissions, to take suo moto cognisance of the matter and address the situation. The Government of Manipur must take responsibility for restoration of life and rebuilding communities, churches and temples vandalised, and restarting destroyed establishments.

We fully understand the sentiments, emotions and grievances of people in thick of the violent context and encourage the faith communities in the region to take initiative towards dialogue for peace and communal harmony. To this end also we express our solidarity and stand by for any assistance or accompaniment required in building peace.

Acknowledging the steps that have been taken, we appeal that this crisis situation will be used as an opportunity to bring a lasting solution to the long-vexed context.


Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary

The NCCI resolves to get going…

The XXIX General Assembly of National Council of Churches in India concluded accentuating ‘The Hour’ with the objective to prioritise inclusion, accessibility, peace and justice.

The time spent at Henry Martyn Institute, Hyderabad, has kindled fellowship as the delegated representatives of Protestant and Orthodox denominational traditions of the Member Churches, Regional Christian Councils, All India Christian Organisations, and Related Agencies of NCCI, representing all diversities came together to participate in singing and praying through inclusive worships led by women, children and youth and reflecting theologically on the Word and issues of the Hour.

The engagement of all delegates was striking as they participated actively in the six parallel workshops educating and enabling churches to comprehend the need of the Hour. Simultaneously, the printed resources, handmade crafts and informative accessories were exhibited. The blend of music and culture projected during two ecumenical evenings including the celebration of Eid Milap which was glorious and blissful.

To Journey forward, H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulious (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church), has been elected as the new President. Rev. Dr. Packiam T. Samuel (Church of South India), Mrs. Basanti Biswas (Methodist Church in India), Ms. Sharon Misha Mayuri Dass (Mennonite Church in India) are the Vice Presidents and Rev. A. Joshuva Peter (United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India) is elected as the Treasurer.

Please pray for the leadership and the ministries of the Council.

Glimpse of thematic workshops



Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023 (Unity Octave)

Theme: Do good; seek justice’ (Isaiah 1:17)

Unity Octave (Week of Prayer for Christian Unity) is a joint global initiative of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In India, NCCI joins with all Episcopal and Confessional traditions in coming together to observe the Unity Octave and to pray for Christian Unity. Policy, Governance and Public Witness department of NCCI is coordinating the Unity Octave observance this year.

The days between the feast of St Peter (18 Jan) and St Paul (25 Jan) cover the Unity Octave / Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The week-long prayers are envisaged as part of this observance and hence Pulpit exchange, cottage meetings, public ecumenical gatherings, youth concerts, symposiums, etc. can be planned. These prayer meetings are meant to foster togetherness among us especially in the grass root level with an intention to encourage each other to renew our commitment to God and to the entire creation. It should also be a time to express ourselves as part of the body of Christ through which we work together for bringing healing in the midst of brokenness.

The theme for this year’s Unity Octave is ‘Do good; seek justice’ (Isaiah 1:17)

Worship this year has been prepared by the Minnesota Council of Churches, USA. The theme is shaped in the context of the history of mistreatment of communities of colour in the United States which has created longstanding inequities and relational rifts between communities. More recently Minnesota has been in the attention of the world due to the murder of George Floyd, a young African American, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.  The theme ‘Do good; seek justice’ reminds us that only by being good to others and only by maintaining justice in our relationships a better world can be expected. This theme has much relevance in caste driven and religiously polarised Indian context.

The Sunday which falls during the Unity Octave is observed as NCCI Sunday. Therefore, we request you to observe 22 January 2023 as NCCI Sunday. While remembering NCCI and its activities on this Sunday, NCCI encourages you, wherever possible, to send the offertory of the day to the NCCI office for the use of NCCI ministries. Cheques/Demand Draft can be drawn in favour of the National Council of Churches in India.

Click here to download the liturgy  You can contextualize this liturgy considering the needs of your local context. We strongly encourage all our constituents to observe unity octave along with members of other Christian denominations and be part of the World Christian Community initiative to have ecumenical expressions through worship.  

With Prayers,

Rev Dr Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI