Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ –
Greetings of Peace from the CCA office in Chiang Mai!
Hunger in North Korea
A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. (Jeremiah 31.15)
On May 18 the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCC Korea) sent 172 tons of flour to the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) in North Korea through the help of the Amity Foundation in Nanjing, China.
It took almost two months for Amity to purchase and transport the flour via Shineuijoo, a border city, to Pyongyang. The delivery was carried out as planned at the meeting of representatives from NCC Korea and the KCF in Beijing, China, on March 16, 20011.
We do not hear much about the serious problem of food shortage in North Korea, but KCF and the UN World Food Program representatives are saying there is hunger in North Korea. In the last three years Lee Myung Bak’s government has blocked any group from sending food or humanitarian assistance like medicine and milk to the starving people in North Korea.
This determination and action of sending flour through Amity has been widely reported in the Korean media, and has been warmly welcomed and supported by many people and churches. Now the South Korean government is unhappy at NCC Korea’s activity. It is even planning to sue for this ‘illegal activity’, deemed against the law of civilian cooperation and exchange between the North and the South Korea.
The Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula is appealing to all to call on the South Korean government to resume its humanitarian support to North Korea without any condition, if it really wants peace in the Korean peninsula.
More doors of humanitarian aid to North Korea need to be opened. More hearts and arms need to be opened, too, to open these humanitarian doors and corridors.
The Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula released an appeal to support the work of the churches in Korea in response to the humanitarian crisis in the North. CCA thus appeals to all touched by the compassion and love of Jesus Christ, especially for the cold and the hungry ones. You may email the Rev. Mrs. Heawon Chae (firstname.lastname@example.org), Executive Coordinator of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula to offer your support and prayers for humanitarian aid to North Korea, or to ask her what other concrete forms of support are needed – and what you can offer.
In a most recent development, the Rev. Kang Young Sup, Chairman of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) wrote to Rev. Kim Young Ju, NCC Korea’s General Secretary on June 6, 2011, expressing KCF’s support to the various efforts of the NCC Korea for justice, democratization, peace and reunification. He also acknowledged the cooperation of member churches and overseas ecumenical partners of NCC Korea.
Rev. Kang Young Sup further said that KCF has started the distribution of the flour that has finally reached the North to the kindergarten children based on an overall distribution plan for 3 townships. About 31,400 children would benefit from this shipment. The KCF asked NCC Korea to send additional humanitarian aid for 8 townships, specifically 480 metric tons of flour needed for 106,800 kindergarten children.
Before we lose our children due to hunger and weep like Rachel, let us do our best to help feed the hungry in Korea. Let us also earnestly pray for the churches in Korea and the entire ecumenical endeavour towards achieving peace in the Korean Peninsula.
The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica
The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica is an ecumenical consultation that marked the end of the Decade (2001 to 2010) to Overcome Violence declared by the World Council of Churches. The convocation featured Bible studies, reasoning workshop sessions and plenary presentations on Peace in the Community, Peace with the Earth, Peace in the Marketplace, and Peace among the Peoples.
Mr. Carlos Ocampo of CCA – JID helped organize two Reasoning Sessions: 1) Empire, Violence, and Interfaith Responses; and 2) Campaign for a Peace Treaty to Replace the Armistice Agreement in the Korean Peninsula. The first Workshop was conducted in collaboration with the Peace for Life Foundation, while the second Workshop was with the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea (PROK). Both Workshops are identified as priority areas for CCA’s Justice, International Affairs, Development and Service Programs.
The churches’ theological understanding of peace, market place, and globalization is a significant stride in the active search and advocacy for peace and human rights. Recommendations from the IEPC will be brought to the 2013 WCC Assembly in Busan, South Korea.
Dr. Erlinda Senturias, CCA Consultant for HIV and AIDS organized a Reasoning Session on HIV Competencies in the Asian Churches. She was one of the panelists of the Workshop on “Securing Safe Space – HIV and Human Sexuality” on May 20. She shared the journey of the Christian Conference in creating a safe space for discussing
HIV and AIDS in Asian Churches. (with reports from Carlos Ocampo and Erlinda Senturias)
Ecumenical Lectures series
May 9 -11m 2011, STT Sundermann, Nias, Indonesia
Dr. Hope Antone, CCA – FMU Executive Secretary, delivered a lecture on “Mission in the Context of Asia” for students taking up Missiology with Dr. Tuhoni, to around 60 students from the 4th and 5th years of STT Sundermann. Four church leaders and nine faculty of STT Sundermann attended the afternoon sharing. The afternoon session was with the faculty of STT Sundermann and church leaders.
Each session was followed by a time of questions and answers. The afternoon session ended with a shared meal at the campus attended by the faculty and church leaders.
Reaching out to the remote areas where our member churches are, and where their theological institutions are, is quite an important way of showing them that CCA cares for them. Nias island is located in the west of Sumatera island which was hit terribly by tsunami in 2009.
(with reports from Hope Antone)
May 24, 2011, Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW)
Dr. Liza B. Lamis, CCA Communications Consultant gave a lecture to around 25 theology students, faculty and church women on “Towards Healing and Wholeness: Ending Sexual Abuses in the Churches” sponsored by the Faculty of Theology. Practical questions were raised during the open forum like what can churches do to respond to abuse cases that are just ignored and continue to be allowed to happen.
To help the local churches, a sample policy on Sexual Misconduct (of the Presbyterian Church – USA, Chicago Presbytery) and the website address of a sample policy on sexual misconduct in the church was shared to the faculty as reference materials to help local churches take action towards ending sexual abuses. Liza also encouraged the school’s Faculty of Theology to work closely with local church women’s organizations in responding together to the issue of abuses. (with reports from Liza Lamis)
May 25, 2011, Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW)
Liza gave another lecture on the same topic as above to around 50 graduating theology students of Rev. Dr. Daniel Nuhamara, immediate past president of PERSETIA (organization of theological schools in Indonesia). The participants shared at the open forum that the issue of sexual abuses in the church is not new at all, but cases are always swept under the rug, so to speak. Some questions raised were related to risks in exposing abuses and how local churches should respond especially to victims and their families. Liza also challenged the students who will be pastors soon to be more deliberate and keen in responding to abuses as it is a social justice issue. (with reports from Liza Lamis)
Ecumenical Enablers’ Training
On May 23-27, 2011, an Ecumenical Enablers’ Training was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, where a total of 34 participants from different independent denominations, including Charismatic and Pentecostal groups participated. A number of them were currently serving as pastors, and many were youth and women students in universities in Kathmandu.
Resource persons were Rev. Dhanbir Rai, a doctoral student at the Serampore University and a faculty member of Clark Theological College in Nagaland, India; Dr. Limatula Longkumer, vice principal of Jorhat Theological College in Nagaland, India; and Dr. Hope S. Antone, CCA – FMU Joint Executive Secretary.
The program contents included daily morning worship led by NCC Nepal with Dr. KB Rokaya as General Secretary giving the reflection. On the first day a general introduction and theme exposition on “Living Together in the Household of God” was made by Dr. Hope Antone of CCA – FMU. This was followed by inputs on the different voices and perspectives – e.g. God’s creation, women, youth and children by Limatula Longkumer; people of different races/ethnicity/religions/cultures, the poor and oppressed, the sick and those with HIV and AIDS by Dhanbir Rai; different denominations and ecumenical organizations by Hope Antone.
With the importance of training like this already established, a suggestion was made to bring this training to the more remote areas of Nepal – not only in Kathmandu – in order to reach out to more people.
Having come to this training and listened to all the inputs, a number of the participants shared that they now have a new picture of NCCN and the ecumenical movement. They heard many other things about NCCN before but they now understand why NCCN is so involved in social/political issues.
The good thing is that there were a few participants who did not come from NCCN-related churches and who even had a negative or suspicious attitude to NCCN before attending the training. It is hoped that they will now be more open to relate and work with NCCN. (with reports from Hope Antone)
Basic Ecumenical Course in Indonesia
A total of 40 participants (10 women, 7 international participants from Malaysia and Timor Leste) from member churches of CCA and PGI completed the two-week program on 2-15 May 2011, held at the Guest House and Conference Center of Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana, Kaliurang, Yogyakarta.
Rev. Dr. Tabita Kartika Christiani, professor of Christian Education at UKDW, served as dean of the BEC. Resource persons included leaders of PGI and theologians of Indonesia: Rev. Gomar Gultom, PGI General Secretary; Rev. Stefanus Christian Haryono, spirituality formation facilitator; Rev. Dr. Jozef Hehanussa, presentor on the history of Christianity in Indonesia; Rev. Dr. Andreas Yewangoe, PGI chairperson and presentor on the history of ecumenical movement in Indonesia; Rev. Dr. Kadarmanto Hardjowasito, Christian Education professor at STT Jakarta, presentor on the Global Ecumenical Movement and Contemporary Challenges; Rev. Josef P. Widyatmadja, former CCA executive secretary for FMU (URM) and presentor on Indonesian Realities and Ecumenical Agenda; Rev. Dr. Robert Setio, theology professor at UKDW and presentor on Indonesian Contextual Theologies; Ms. Anna Marsiana, coordinator of the Asian Women’s Resource Center for Culture and Theology and presentor on Feminist Theologies; Rev. Retno Ratih Suryaning Handayani, a local pastor from Solor and presentor on interfaith theologies; and Fr. Kirjito, a Catholic priest and presentor on Theologizing on Caring for Creation. Dr. Hope S. Antone, CCA-FMU Joint Executive Secretary, gave an introduction to CCA and Wider Ecumenism.
Ms. Olvi Prihutami, staff of the Koinonia unit at PGI served as co-facilitator. A local host committee consisting of students from UKDW helped during the two-week BEC.
As part of their reflections, participants were asked to personally write down their new understanding of ecumenism and ecumenical movement. Then they went to small groups in two rounds: based on the region they came from, and based on issues they were interested in (religious pluralism, feminist theology, ecology and natural disaster, reading the Bible with new eyes). Finally they personally wrote down their action plans for their church/ institution and presented them to all participants.
Participants from Timor Leste expressed that in all CCA programs they have attended, this was one where they fully understood everything and they felt confident to take back something with them. They also said that it was good for them to come as a team of 4 for it means that they could do more – both at the synod and congregational levels.
Participants from Malaysia said that even though they struggled so much with the language (bahasa Melayu being different from Bahasa Indonesia), it was a humbling experience for them to listen more rather than talk more. They felt that while it was more logical for Malaysians to join the Indonesian BEC (the two countries sharing similar realities), they hoped for a time when Malaysia would be up for its own BEC. They expressed the lack of ecumenical perspective in many churches and the need for more local pastors and seminary students to be exposed to the ecumenical sharing and perspectives. (with reports from Hope Antone)
Asian Christian Communicators Assembly and Forum
Dr. Liza Lamis represented CCA to the World Association of Christian Communicators – Asia Region Pre-assembly Forum and Triennial Assembly on May 15-21, 2011, in Jogyakarta, Indonesia. Fifty-one WACC Asia members, global officers and observers attended. The forum featured various presentations and workshops on “Communicating Climate Justice”.
It was CCA’s pride to have share at the workshop groups during the forum that it has a climate justice policy for its members and has also initiated a move to integrate ecological justice in church formation and theological education curriculum among the CCA members.
The participants issued a communiqué on Climate Justice. As climate change in Asia is falling hardest on poor and indigenous communities, Christian communicators should adopt the concept of “climate justice” as a way to advocate for solutions that do not reinforce corporate control and consumerism. Churches should also take a proactive stand on the issue by promoting awareness through traditional media and among congregations.
A new set of officers for the WACC – Asia Region was also elected for the next triennium, with Rev. Dr. Samuel Meshack from India taking a second term as Chair; Ramon Bultron from Hong Kong as Vice Chair, Lydia Ma Hui-Jen from Taiwan as Secretary, Carla Natan from Indonesia and Hla Aung from Myanmar as Members.
The heritage tour on May 18 was a visit and tree planting at the foot of Mt Merapi, where Liza planted two sengwon trees for CCA.
CCA is an active WACC member, and has contributed articles to WACC’s previous publications. (with reports from Liza Lamis)
Visit to CCA Member Churches in Central Java, Indonesia
Since Dr. Liza Lamis was already in Indonesia, she took time to visit CCA members in Java. She visited the Gereja Kristen Jawa (GKJ) in Salatiga on May 25, and met Rev. Eben Haezer Lalenoh as Rev. Andreas Untung Wiyono, General Secretary of GKJ had an emergency trip to Jakarta that day. They discussed about the current ministries of GKJ on organic agriculture that includes training of trainors of organic farmers and building farmers’ networks on inter-religious cooperation. As a result of the visit GKJ will explore sending students to the Asian Rural Institute for further opportunities on training pastors on life-giving agriculture or LGA. LGA is one of CCA’s priority programs under the JID cluster.
Founded in 1923, GKJ has a current membership of approx. 250,000 with 306 churches in 32 districts. GKJ hopes to continue to actively participate in CCA activities as co-organizer or host of CCA activities held in Indonesia.
On May 26 Liza visited Persatuan Gereja Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI or the Mennonites) in Semarang and met its young General Secretary, Rev. Timotius Adhi Dharma. GKMI has a membership of 15,000 (baptized adults only) with 60 mission posts. It has a strong ministry among the youth in the area of peace advocacy. Its diakonia ministry is impressive as GKMI is very much involved in inter-religious dialogue and cooperation and disaster response.
Rev. Adhi Dharma will be contributing an article on the GKMI’s Youth for Peace program for the August 2011 CCA News issue focused on youth and children.
Liza connected the GKMI youth leader Mark Ryan to CCA youth leaders, namely Rev. Retno Ngapon and Johanna de la Cruz, and to the NCC India youth department. Mark is very interested for GKMI to reach out to a wider ecumenical youth circle.
In the afternoon of the same day Liza visited the Gereja Isa Almasih (GIA) also in Semarang. She met the General Secretary, Rev. Jairus Hasugian, together with two other pastor leaders. GIA is interesting as it professes to be pentecostal, ecumenical and is also actively involved in inter-religious cooperation.
Rev. Hasugian epxressed his appreciation for the visit, and requested CCA to someday conduct ecumenical lectures at the GIA seminary in Semarang.
Founded in 1946, the GIA has approximately 100,000 members in eight districts with 400 pastors. It has its own seminary located in the outskirts of Semarang with a population of around a hundred. The GIA will be celebrating its 65th anniversary on July 22 this year.
Touching ground gives us an opportunity to hear the sentiments and needs of CCA members, and to strengthen relationships and expand our ecumenical network. (with reports from Liza Lamis)
Ecumenical Consortium for Japan
A Japan Emergency Meeting convened by the Church Forum in Northeast Asia on behalf of CCA was held on May 6 – 7, 2011, in Seoul, Korea. The meeting was chaired by Rev. Andrew Chang, the General Secretary of NCC Taiwan, the incoming chair of the Church Forum in Northeast Asia.
Coordinated by Mr Victor Hsu, the meeting requested NCC Japan to set up an ecumenical consortium. The NCC Japan Executive Council overwhelmingly approved the proposal and as a result, the Japan Ecumenical Disaster Relief Office (JEDRO), housed at the same building where NCC Japan holds office.
CCA was represented by the Rev. Po Kam Cheung, CCA Executive Committee member and General Secretary of the Hong Kong Christian Council.
The meeting presented good initiatives from churches in the region and ecumenical partners. This model of ecumenical cooperation reinforces CCA’s future approach in responding to disasters and emergencies in Asia. A statement issued by the meeting participants can be accessed from the CCA website, www.cca.org.hk (with reports from Carlos Ocampo and Victor Hsu)
Recruitment of CCA Executive Secretaries
This is a time of transition in the life of CCA. Some Executive Secretaries will complete their terms of service at different times this year. The recruitment process has already begun. A letter has been sent to the member churches and councils inviting applications for two positions, namely: Executive Secretary for Faith, Mission and Unity (FMU) and Executive Secretary for Ecumenical Formation, Gender Justice and Youth Empowerment. Further information can be found in the CCA website (www.cca.org.hk)
In the recent past, CCA used to have joint executive secretaries for each program cluster. Due to the present CCA financial challenges the General Committee in its March 2011 meeting decided to have only one executive secretary for each program cluster starting January 2011. Likewise, the General Committee has also decided that the position of Associate General Secretary for Finance and Relationships (AGS) will not be filled in the near future.
Let us pray that God will send us persons with integrity who are suitable for these positions and committed to the ecumenical ministry in Asia.
As we celebrate Pentecost, let us also pray that God will grant us the Holy Spirit to empower the churches in Asia to walk in the path of truth in our endeavors to witness to Christ who comes to the world so that all may be healed and be reconciled.
Yours in Christ,
HENRIETTE HUTABARAT LEBANG
CCA General Secretary