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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Christian Leaders meet Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, Government of India, New Delhi

A delegation consisting of Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical Church leaders had a meeting with the Finance Minister of the Country, Shri Arun Jaitley on 23rd May, 2014 at his residence and it is lasted for one and half hours. The finance minister apprised the leaders about the various steps taken by the Government for the safety and protection of the Christian Community. He stated that neither the BJP nor its government support attacks against the Christian community. 

The Christian leaders also raised the following concerns of the community with Mr. Arun Jaitely: The status of the SIT probe on Church attacks in Delhi as well as different parts of the country, irresponsible and provocative statements made by leaders of BJP, fringe elements and Sangh Parivar, the issue of anti-conversion laws, Government stand on granting Schedule Caste status to Dalit Christians, proposal to have a Christian Memorial in Delhi and unwarranted interference of Government through Child Welfare Committee (CWC) on Christian Orphanages. 

The meeting was a confidence building measure by the Government with Christian community. He also promised to designate a nodal point within the cabinet to address the concerns of the Community.  The discussion was cordial and positive. We hope that Government will pursue the measures it has promised. 

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

Monday, 18 May 2015

Movements for the Cause of Palestine

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Vatican would soon sign its first accord with Palestine, two years after officially recognising it as a state.  The Vatican said that the "bilateral commission of the Holy See and the State of Palestine" was putting the final touches to the treaty.The treaty states that the Holy See favours a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel and allows the Vatican to oversee aspects of Roman Catholic life in the areas President Abbas controls. Israel has however expressed disappointment with the treaty, which uses the term "Palestinian state". 

“The Vatican is not just a state. The Vatican represents hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, including Palestinians, and has vast moral significance,” said Husam Zomlot, a senior Palestinian foreign-affairs official. Also, Pope Francis has canonised two 19th century nuns who lived in Ottoman-ruled Palestine, making them the first Palestinian saints in modern times.  The move speaks volumes about his commitment to revitalise the diminishing Christian presence in the Middle East. 

Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement, launched in 2005 by the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, B.D.S. calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, ending its institutionalized racial discrimination, which fits the UN definition of apartheid, and upholding the right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted and dispossessed in 1948.

A government led by a prime minister who rejects Palestinian statehood and publicly race-baits Palestinian citizens of Israel and whose key partner, the Jewish Home, advocates for creating Palestinian Bantustans will make it much more difficult to defend Israel in the court of world public opinion.

(inputs from the <>, <>, <> and information service of Badayl.aternatives edited by Ranjan Solomon)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Bishop Desmond Tutu writes an open letter to the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag

Concern for justice and solidarity with the suffering:
Letter of Bishop Tutu to the German Churches

Please see below  a copy of the letter written by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to the German Churches. especially to the people who are attending the forthcoming Kirchentag.  His letter challenges our churches also as we take a stand for justice and pray for meaningful peace. 

Open Letter to Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentage 
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

I send very warm greetings from Cape Town to you all.

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag is a special organization that occupies a special place in this old man’s heart.

It has played an exemplary and prophetic role in gently nudging modern Germany, with its powerful economy, towards using its power actively and compassionately for justice.

I remember how, in the 1980s, you struggled with your consciences over taking “a clear stand” against apartheid – and ultimately acted on your impulse to do the right thing, closing your accounts at Deutsche Bank over its dealings with South Africa. Thank you.

MPs protest held at Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises : Joint Statement by Parliamentarians

Regarding the communal situation in the country and the fear among Religious Minorities in wake of Hashimpura Judgment, some MPs organiized a signature campaign followed by a protest. Many MPs participated in the protest at Gandhi Statue in the Parliament premises on 7th May, at 10 am.  The successive state Government’s negligence and failure in producing evidence before the court of law denied justice to the victims. Whereas promulgation of executive order in 1950, 10th August by President without the approval of Parliament amounted to denial of equal opportunity and choice of Religious Freedom not only to Dalits of the country but also to the Religious Minorities.  This was to voice their concern to ensure the citizenry in upholding Constitutional mandate of Social Justice beyond Religion.

The Demands were:
  1. A thorough investigation under the supervision of sitting Supreme Court judge to ensure confidence among Citizenry on the governance and the justice delivery system beyond delivering Justice to the victims. The Union Government and the State Government should take every possible effort in bringing the culprits to the book.
  2. We demand the Union of India to Extend the Scheduled Caste Status to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin.

Fr. Devasagayaraj                                               
Secretary, CBCI Office for SC/BC           

 Mr. Samuel Jayakumar 
  Executive Secretary, CoP, NCCI 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

From Red Roses to Health, Healing and Fullness of Life: Celebrating Mothers Day

NCCI-AICCW invites churches to Promote Reproductive & Sexual Health Justice and Rights of Mothers

'Mother's Day' is celebrated every year in the month of May.  Mother's Day is also commemorated in many churches in India and celebrated by women's fellowship in churches.  On this day Women's fellowship members are invited to lead and conduct the worship.  Very beautifully virtues of unconditional love, sacrifice, kindness of mothers are highlighted during the worship and integrated in the liturgy.  In many churches Sunday School children gift mothers in the congregation beautiful handmade cards or crafts with Bible verses written in it.  Roses are distributed and gifted to mothers as a token of appreciation.

All India Council of Christian Women invites churches and Women's Fellowship to explore different ways to celebrate 'Mother's Day'.  This year AICCW invites churches to promote health, healing and fullness of life of mothers especially to promote mothers sexual and reproductive health rights.

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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Rev. Dr. Somen Das passed away

Rev. Dr. Somen Das, from the Church of North India, prominent theologian, prolific writer, teacher and ecumenist, passed away at the age of 75 in Mumbai today May 5, 2015.

After his B.A (Hons.) in English Literature and B.D from Serampore College, Rev. Dr. Somen Das pursued his further theological education in USA for his M.Th and PhD in Christian Theology and Ethics in Princeton and Boston Universities in 1967 and 1978 respectively. He was an ordained minister of the Church of North India, and taught Christian Theology and Ethics for 34 years in various Theological Seminaries – Serampore College (1969-70), United Theological College, Bangalore (1970-88) and Bishop’s College (1989-99). He served as Acting Principal at UTC, Bangalore (1987-88), Principal of Bishop’s College (1989-99), Visiting Professor at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland; Andover Newton, USA and Heidelberg University, Germany. From 2000 onwards he lived in Serampore and offered his services to Serampore College as well as the North India Institute of Post-Graduate Theology Studies (NIIPGTS). He wrote several books and published numerous articles in leading journals. Rev. Dr. Das also served as chairperson of Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) from 1985 – 1989. He contributed greatly as resource person in NCCI programs and his support for the ecumenical movement is well-known.

It is a great loss to the Church, seminaries and the ecumenical movement. We thank God for His life and contribution. His contributions will always be remembered and will provide the inspiration for continuing work in the spirit of commitment and faithful service. We extend our heartfelt condolence and pray for God’s comforting presence to strengthen the bereaved family.

NCCI Communications

CASA's Response to the Earthquake in Nepal

The killer earthquake that hit Nepal on the noon of April 25th, 2015 has devastated human lives and property. It is believed to have killed over 7,000 people and left more than 12,000 injured, and several thousand houses flattened. The apprehension is that the death toll may rise to 10,000. Further, it is estimated that about eight million people are severely affected in the Himalayan region by this devastating earthquake.

Immediately following the above disaster, Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) has pressed its Emergency Relief Team with vehicle into action for providing immediate relief to the affected people. Having completed initial damage assessment, CASA's team has started providing immediate relief to the earthquake affected people in the identified areas.

In its immediate relief phase:

  • CASA intends to support 5,000 families affected by the earthquake.
  • This number is for the immediate relief phase only and will cover the activities namely provision of relief kit, food support, non-food items, temporary shelter (tarpaulins) and hygiene kits to meet the immediate needs.
  • Initial estimated budget for this immediate relief intervention is Rs. 4 crores.
With the kind support of its resource partners and well-wishers CASA envisages deploying bigger quantum of financial, material as well as human resources for providing relief and rebuilding lives of the Nepal earthquake victims in the coming days.

In order to ensure a fast & fruitful response to the situation, CASA solicits compassionate contribution and support of all its partner churches, institutions, individuals & well wishers from within the country and even from overseas to the best possible extent. All such donations would be accepted under Section 80G of I.T. Act and be acknowledged in CASA's reports. A copy of CASA's APPEAL to this effect is attached.

CASA has deputed 4 staff with United Mission to Nepal (UMN) a network partner of CASA in Nepal. They intend to send 6 more staff to assist UMN in carrying with real time humanitarian assistance.  They have sent some medicine and fuel.  CASA has also deployed a vehicle with UMN.

CASA have started mobilizing the following food and non food items:

a)    Food (mainly rice)
b)    Silpaulin Tarpaulins
c)    Blankets
d)    Wash kit

Initially these supports are mobilized for 1500 families. These materials would be transported to Nepal.  CASA shall scale up its support depending upon the resources which CASA would be able to raise.

(Source:  Email to NCCI from Dr. Sushant Agrawal Director, CASA)

Monday, 4 May 2015

"End Scandal of Discrimination!" Message from NCCI- AICCW pertaining to World Labour Day

World Labour Day is commemorated every year on 1st May. With reference to this important celebration, the All India Council of Christian Women, the Women’s Wing of National Council of Churches in India sent messages to churches, church based organizations, institutions, church leaders and communities that there should be no discrimination between men and women in the work place in terms of wages and facilities for same job.

The scripture endorses there should be no discrimination of women. According to Galatians 3:28 there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. However many times our theology gets tainted by patriarchal interpretations that portrays women as the ‘second sex’ weaker than men. Such interpretations often and legitimizes and sanctions discrimination of women not only in society but even work place. Jesus never discriminated women and was compassionate and had full understanding of the challenges women face in society.