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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Seminar Report - Smart Church: Youth initiatives for an efficient, vibrant, communicating Church

February 17, 2015 | NCCI, Nagpur

A seminar entitled “Smart Church: Youth initiatives for an efficient, vibrant, communicating Church” was held on February 17, 2015 at Azariah House at National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) campus in Nagpur. It was jointly organized by NCCI’s  Commission on Communications & Relations and the Commission on Youth. The purpose of this seminar was to provide space for young people from our Churches to come together bringing their own experiences and ideas towards enhancing the ministries of the Church, especially in their organizational aspects, and particularly in terms of consolidating the communication systems, tools and processes. The program was attended by 28 participants from several protestant denominations as well as Roman Catholic orders.

Praise songs at the beginning of the program was led by Ms. Mrinalini Pakhare, Ms. Rebecca Hembrom and Mr. Reuben David. Opening prayer was done by Pastor Zuchon. Rev. Caesar David, Executive Secretary of the Commission on Communications and Relations, outlined the scope of the program and welcomed everyone. The resource persons were felicitated, there was a round of introductions.

In her keynote address Ms. Preety Kamble, President of Youth Synodical Youth Fellowship Committee of Church of North India, said that a Smart Church is a growing church with strong faith, helping the communities to come together for better administration and networking.  In her interactive address, she questioned the participants about their idea of a Smart Church.  She quoted Rick Warren from the book Purpose driven church: The church is a living organism, it is natural for it to grow, if it is healthy.  If a church is not growing, it is dying.  She closed with a personal challenge: How would you and I make our church a smart and growing Church?

Prof. Dr. Kalpana Jadhav, Youth trainer and executive member of Maharashtra Council of Churches (MCC) started her session with the game “Chinese whispers” to demonstrate and observe the distortion of information that the process of communication must take seriously. In her presentation she explained the various elements in the process of communication with special emphasis on points that the Church can use towards more efficient working. She also said that, one should find one’s own voice and execute it appropriately with Christian values, and that for the Church to be smart, its youth have to be smart and adept at linking the benefits of technological advances to the work of the Church.

Rev. Sunil Raj Philip, Executive Secretary of the Commission on Dalits, spoke about the Opportunities and Pitfalls of smart communications. He spoke on the intra-personal and inter-personal forms of communication.  He spoke about the emerging New Media where people can vent out their feelings when they are not heard in the Church. The two-way communication that is characteristic of new forms of communication must be used by Churches to break out of some set patterns and structures that have been limiting and hindering the efficiency of the Church.  He also cautioned about how the overuse of gadgets can sometimes lead to underuse of information thereby resulting in barriers between people.

After lunch, the participants were broken into 4 groups and questions to think about, discuss and bring their findings to the plenary. The discussions were very lively and engaging, and as such, clearly brought out youth ideas, aspirations and hopes towards initiating the move towards greater efficiency in Churches.

The following are the findings as a result of the seminar presentations and discussions:

1. What is a “Smart Church"?

a.       It successfully motivates and engages members in the life and growth of the Church
b.      It caters to spiritual and other needs integrally
c.       It is a catalyst for people becoming acquainted with the love of God
d.      It is a growing fellowship where sustainable communities are built up
e.      It is a networking Church that helps and is helped by other churches
f.        It uses new media, both digital and non-digital to share, engage and reach to various people groups
g.       It gives evidence to democratization in communication and other processes used by the Church
h.      It uses lesser resources to accomplish more by employing smart management techniques and tools
i.         It is focused and stable in its short-term and long-term goals
j.        It integrates the functions and ministries of the Church to being seamless and non-conflicting processes

       2. Following are the barriers found by the participants which hinders the church from becoming a Smart Church:

a.       External barriers such as undeveloped infrastructure
b.      Lack of funds leading to inability to harness the offerings of development
c.       Lack of motivating and/or efforts by Church committees
d.      Casual mindset towards the youth initiatives / lackadaisical responses
e.      Lack of skill / awareness of the use of media and communication in church
f.        Fear of change
g.       Digital divide
h.      Lack of ownership
i.         Competing work and distraction
j.        Hierarchical structures and processes
k.       Lack of inter-personal communications and relationships
l.         Misplaced priorities

In order to overcome the barriers to becoming a Smart Church, participants felt that Sharing information, education and media literacy, networking, cross-learnings, mutual encouragement and help, are some of the main elements that need attention and action.

The program ended on a note of promise as enlightened youth were found to have been inspired to continue explorations at their local and regional levels, spread the idea in their networks and seek out opportunities to put into practice the ideas shared and learned at this seminar towards being an efficient, vibrant, communicating Church and thereby an effective, relevant and a “Smart Church”.

Reported By
-Ms. Sunita Gaikwad
-Ms. Madhuri Rebecca Hembrom
-Ms. Mrinalini Martin Pakhare

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Requesting proper authority to ban the entering of Mr Pravin Togadia to Kondhmal

Utkal Christian Council acts in the context of the rising phenomenon of Hatred Speeches

(A Regional Council of the National Council of Churches of India)

   Regd. Office: Bishop’s House, Mission Road, Cuttack- 753 001, Orissa Phone:0671-3250268, Mobile:1406627, Emails:;

The Superintendent of Police, Kandhamal 
Phulbani, Dist: Kandhamal, Orissa. 

Sub: Request for ban on entering  of Mr. Praveen Togadia into Kandhamal District on 27th Feb 2015 which is likely to  disturb peace and communal harmony prevailing in the state because of his provocative and inflammatory speech.  


Greetings from Utkal Christian Council. 

1. This is to inform you that the U.C.C. is the regional Council of Churches in Orissa for furthering the objectives of member Churches and to  represent the grievances of the churches of Odisha and  protestant churches in particular.

2.This has come to the knowledge of the undersigned that Mr. Praveen Togadia is coming to  Kandhamal District on 27th Feb 2015 for conducting a public meeting which is likely to  disturb peace and communal harmony prevailing in the state because of  his provocative and inflammatory  speech. People of Odisha especially of Kandhamal have not yet forgotten his calculated inflammatory provocative speech which triggered communal violence in Kandhmal and spreaded over alarmingly to other parts of the state and resulted in serious destruction of life and property of people including property of the Government. The people of Kandhamal District are still living in anxiety and fear.  The visit of Mr Togadia’s visit will have consequences both immediate and long range, as we know from past experience. 

NCCI prays for the team involved in Crisis Relief International (CRI) at Queragosh and Erbil

In solidarity with all those being persecuted for their faith, particularly children

The National Council of Churches in India calls upon all its constituent members along with the Member Churches and other non-member churches to unite in prayer for the misguided terrorists who are involved in extreme Islamic goals of mass conversion or death not even sparing the little children.  The NCCI pleads with all those who read this mail to forward it to your churches to pray unitedly in your intercessory prayers.

May this Lenten Season bring light upon those who are misguided in the name of religion.

Lord, we come before you in sadness and grief for the people facing persecution in Your Holy name.  Your Son Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  In His resurrection He restores life and peace in all creation.  Comfort them Lord, we pray, all victims of intolerance and those oppressed by their fellow humans.  Remember in your kingdom those who have died.  Lead the mis-guided terrorists towards compassion and give hope to the suffering.

Launch of HELP HOTLINE and Information on Rights related to police complaints, arrests and legal aid for Indian citizens

Do You Know Your Rights?

The rise of violence against Christians in India has led to the formation of a legal aid agency and the establishment of a help hotline both to monitor and provide assistance in the event of an attack against Christian Indians.

According to the World Watch Monitor, Christians in India formed the United Christian Forum for Human Rights on January 19. The forum’s spokesperson, John Dayal, said that its purpose is “to coordinate both legal and advocacy assistance to the community, which has been traumatised in recent months by communal violence in several states.”

The statement gives further details on the agency’s hotline and its purpose: “The UCF has commissioned a 24-hour National Helpline, 1-800-208-4545, so that lawyers and experts can assist victims of violence, intimidation, coercion and illegal confinement by any criminal or political group.”


Anybody can lodge a FIR. You do not need to be a witness to the crime to be eligible to lodge an FIR. If you have come to know about the crime, that would suffice.
• It is illegal for the police officer to deny lodging an FIR. If such a situation occurs, send a copy of your complaint to the Commissioner/ Superintendent of Police by registered post or AD.
• The FIR must be taken down in writing, read over and explained to you before you sign it.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Dr. Mathews George Chunakara elected General Secretary of CCA

Dr. Mathews George Chunakara and members of the CCA General Committee
with the President of Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand
(Pic from CCA News -
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, a lay member of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in India has been elected unanimously as the new General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) for a term of five years by the General Committee of the CCA which met  at the Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand from 10-12 February 2015.
Mathews George Chunakara is the first Indian citizen to be elected to this position. He will succeed Rev. Dr. Henriette Hutabarat Lebang from Indonesia, who was elected General Secretary in 2010.
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara comes with rich ecumenical experiences in Asia and at the global level. He held various positions in his own country in India, Asia region and at the global level during the past thirty years. He was Director of the Commission of Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland from 2009 to 2014. Prior to that, he served as Asia Secretary of the WCC (2000- 2009) and Executive Secretary for International Affairs of the CCA in Hong Kong (1993- 2000).

Monday, 9 February 2015

Call to uphold and safeguard the religious freedom and fundamental rights of all Indian citizens: Press note from KJPSS

Please see here the press note from Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi (KJPSS), a constituent of the Presbyterian Church of India, urging the governments to uphold and safeguard the religious freedom and fundamental rights of all Indian citizens.


By The
Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi
Shillong, Meghalaya.

The  Executive  Committee  of  the  Khasi  Jaiñtia  Presbyterian  Synod  Sepngi, one of the constituents of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India with its headquarter in Shillong, Meghalaya, having a membership of more than 340000,  which  met  in  Shillong,  Meghalaya  on  Thursday,  05th   February,  2015  is seized of the  recent  developments  concerning  forced  conversion,  re-conversion  and  proposed  ban  on  conversion.  In the light of such developments and after a thorough discussion, it was decided to issue a Press Statement as follows:

That  the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi expresses  its  appreciation  to  the  HRD  Ministry  for  withdrawing  its advisory  to  States  and  directives  to  the  Navo  Vidyalayas  on  opening  schools  on  25th December, 2014  to  observe  “Good  Governance  Day”  as  per  guidelines  given.

An appeal from CCBI: Uphold Rule of Law, Peace and Harmony

The Conference of Catholic Bishops in India (CCBI), during their 27th Plenary session in Bangalore from February 3 - 9, 2015, represented by 140 Bishops from around the country, expressed their anguish and concern over the attacks on Christians, Churches and Christian institutions.
Here is their appeal to uphold the rule of law, peace and harmony.

We, the 140 Bishops from across the country attending the 27th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) during February 3–9 in Bangalore, hereby express our deep anguish and concern over increasing threats to peace and communal harmony in the wake of various untoward incidents affecting the Christian community in different parts of the country.

Hardly a day has passed off in recent months without reports of attacks on Christians, Churches and Christian institutions from across the nation. Churches have been torched even in the national capital while reports of ‘Ghar Waspsi’ and blatant threats to hold mass reconversions are causing anxiety to the Christians scattered in the far corners of the nation.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Vandalism and attacks on Churches in India condemned - Press note from Church of South India

Please see here the press note from Church of South India (CSI) condemning the attacks on Churches in India and demanding action.



Members Present:
  1. The Most Rev. Dr. G. Dyvasirvadam , Moderator, Church of South India
  2. The Rt. Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, Deputy Moderator
  3. Rev. Dr. D.R. Sadananda, General Secretary
  4. Adv. C. Robert Bruce, Honorary Treasurer
  5. The Rt. Rev. Dr. G. Devakadasham,  Former Moderator, Church of South India &      Bishop in CSI Kanyakumari Diocese
  6. Rev. T. Devaputhiran, Administrative Secretary, CSI Madras Diocese
  7. Mr. Arthur Sadhanandham, Executive Committee Member, Church of South India
  8. Dr. Vimal Sukumar, CSI Medak Diocese

The recent vandalism and attacks on five Churches in different directions of the city of New Delhi has evoked a strong sense of insecurity and anguish among the Christian community in India.  This is an alarming atmosphere apparently linked to the Ghar Wapsy Programme organized by some religious fanatics.  There is a strong feeling that the Central Government is not doing enough to reassure the minority communities in the country in spite of the continued orchestrated and systematic attack and vandalism on Churches which included miscreants, breaking open the Churches and desecrating hol y objects and also setting a church on fire.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Christians protest in Delhi against continuous Church attacks

Christian communities are now more frequently targeted for violence.  In Delhi, in less than two months five Church buildings have been vandalized or burnt down.  The police have not solved most of the cases and it has created a sense of fear among the Christian Community in India.

The Christian community had peaceful protest in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral on 5th February, 2015 against Government inaction on Church attacks. However, Protesters were dealt very roughly by the Delhi police. Many of the priests, lay men and women, were dragged into police van and detained at the Parliament street police station. Around 500 protesters were taken to the Police station.  The police was not even allowing them to protest inside the Church and not allowing protesters to meet the media.

Later, the Christian leaders met the Union Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh and demanded that the Government take urgent and effective measures to restore the Rule of Law, curb the acts of targeted and communal violence. The guilty must be traced, and action under the law should be taken. Police officers must be held accountable for communal crimes in their jurisdiction. In Delhi, a special investigating team should be set up to investigate the five acts of violence against the Catholic Churches monitored by the High Court of Delhi.
The Home Minister assured that he would not tolerate any discrimination. He promised an independent investigation into the Church attacks and he has asked the police to ensure the security of Churches and other places of worship.

Samuel Jayakumar
Executive Secretary
Commission on Policy, Governance and Public Witness - NCCI

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Chhattisgarh Unity Convention presents People's Manifesto on rebuilding Chhattisgarh

News from Chhattisgarh: Please find here below the People's Manifesto on rebuilding Chhattisgarh prepared and presented by the Chhattisgarh Unity Convention of Secular - Democratic - Progressive forces.


Unity Convention of Secular-Democratic-Progressive Forces

“Threats from Fascist & Imperialist Forces in India, Challenges & Strategies” 

January 22 & 23, 2015 (Thursday & Friday): Gondwana Bhawan, Raipur: Chhattisgarh 

People’s Manifesto On Rebuilding Chhattisgarh

We, the participants at the Chhattisgarh Unity Convention of Secular-Democratic- Progressive Forces held on 22nd & 23rd of January, 2015 at the Gondwana Bhawan, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) representing people’s organisations, political parties, social movements, trade unions, social and cultural action groups, NGOs and progressive intellectuals, who believe in the Vision of a Socialist-Secular-Democratic India and, in turn, work for the realization of such a Vision, reaffirm our faith in and commitment to the Constitution of India, which avowedly declares in its Preamble:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a
and to secure to all its citizens
 JUSTICE, social, economic and political; 
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; 
and to promote among them all 
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation]” 

We express our deep concern that, for the first time in the electoral history of India, the religious fundamentalist forces (with a declared historical agenda for “Hindu Rashtra”) trying to gain political control over the State, thus, posing grave threats to the very core and content of the Constitution of India.