Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ –
Greetings of Peace from Chiang Mai.
Strengthening the relationship with CCA member churches and councils is one of the priorities of CCA at this moment. Between July 19-29, 2011, I visited seven CCA member churches in North Sumatera, Indonesia, namely:
• Batak Karo Protestant Church (GBKP) in Kabanjahe;
• Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Tarutung;
• Protestant Christian Church in Angkola (GKPA);
• Indonesia Methodist Church (GMI), Medan, Indonesia;
• Christian Church (HKI) Pematang Siantar;
• Indonesia Christian Protestant Church (GKPI) Pematang Siantar; and
• Protestant Christian Church in Simalungun (GKPS), Pematang Siantar.
Although they are all located in one province the distance from each other is quite far. The visit to the headquarters of each is something special for the member church, as for all of them this is the first visit of the CCA General Secretary (GS) to their headquarters. For me as CCA GS, it was also special as I was able to spend more time learning about each church, their ministries and challenges, and meet more church leaders. In HKBP and HKI for instance, I was able to attend their morning service, thus allowing me to meet most of the staff of the church and introduce CCA. I heard their concerns and suggestions to CCA. We also discussed the present situation of CCA, the financial challenges and the need for support from CCA constituencies.
I am grateful that the churches visited expressed their commitment and will do their best to support CCA. I also learned that some of them are struggling to find financial support for their own ministries. I visited the deaconess school of HKBP in Balige, a training institutions for the deaconesses who will be doing the social ministry of the church. From North Sumatera, I went to Bandung West Java to visit another member church, the Christian Church of Pasundan (GKP).
Then I travelled to Bangkok to attend a consultation on “Peace and Security in Asia: Ecumenical Challenges” organized jointly by the World Council of Churches and CCA’s Justice, International Affairs and Development and Service (JID) on August 2-4, 2011. Thirty-five participants from various Asian countries attended the consultation where each shared a paper on their country situation. Resource persons were invited to enrich the discussions. Special attention was given to the situation in Myanmar. The consultation came out with a communiqué which includes a plan of action and will be sent to all member churches and councils to seek their attention and response. It is hoped that each church will address the concerns as they may find relevant to their respective context.
The Program Area Committee (PAC) of JID met immediately after the consultation on August 4-5, 2011, to discuss the JID program for 2011-2013. Mr. Carlos Ocampo, JID Executive Secretary facilitated the meeting and gave an input on program implementation.
Let us remember in our prayers the victims of floods, typhoon and other calamities that hit many places in Asia and the world today. As we are increasingly impacted by various ecological problems, we as churches are called more than ever to work for the healing of all creation.
We need to continuously pray for the church and the people in Norway in their grief as they come to terms with the violence that gripped this country recently.
August 10 is Black Day in India
August 10 is a Black Day in India – in protest of the unjust paragraph 3 in the Presidential Order 1950, which is instrumental in pushing the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims from the Scheduled Caste list. The huge gathering at the Hunger Strike to demand the repeal of this clause took place in New Delhi in July 2011. It was then decided to observe August 10 as Black Day since in the year 1950 the Presidential Order was produced on this day.
CCA supports this campaign and urges its members to do the same. More details and pictures on the Hunger Strike can be accessed from Face Book under the name, “Commission on Dalits_National Council of Churches in India”. You may also visit the NCC India website: www.nccindia.in or email Rev. Sunil Raj Philip, Executive Secretary of the NCC India Commission on Dalits (email@example.com). (with news from Sunil Raj Philip)
Appeal for food for North Korea
CCA has appealed to its members and friends to respond to NCC Korea’s plea for help to extend assistance to people in dire food situation in North Korea. Please send your contributions directly to NCC Korea or through the CCA Emergency Fund (Acct. Name: Christian Conference of Asia, Hang Seng Bank, Acct No. 295-4-709594, Hankow Road Branch, Kowloon, Hong Kong, Swift Code – HASEHKHH; Account Type: Multi-Currencies Account), on or before 31st August 2011.
We offer prayers to our sisters and brothers in North Korea but we would also like to extend our generosity by helping raise funds for the food shipment through the NCC Korea.
In a related news, a joint prayer for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula was prepared by the NCC Korea and the Korean Church Federation the occasion of commemorating Liberation Day on August 15th. The prayer can be accessed in English and in Korean versions from this webpage – http://ecuforumkorea.org (with news from Carlos Ocampo)
More on the Aotearoa New Zealand visits and lectures
Part of the reason for the visits to churches in Aotearoa New Zealand was for CCA-FMU executive secretary Hope S. Antone to give a seminar on Asian Ecumenical Theology to a group of Presbyterian ministry interns of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. She conducted the seminar with them at Grafton Hall in Auckland on 7 July.
Another part of the reason was for her to make a solidarity visit to Christchurch on 8-10 July, where she was hosted by Garth and Elizabeth Cant. This visit included meeting with the Church World Service staff led by Pauline McKay. On 9 July she listened to an ecumenical panel on the topic, “After the earthquake, churches working together.” After listening to the panelists (Katrina Hill of CWS, Bob Anderson of St. Ambrose Church, Bob Turnbull of Baptist Church, and Michael Earle of Anglican Church), she was invited to make a response.
Using the framework of the four shifts towards the wider ecumenical vision, she tried to weave the learning points shared by the panellists:
The disaster can help Christchurch move from competition to cooperation among churches – the idea of doing and being church differently is a good example here. Should Christchurch build a denominational cathedral or an ecumenical cathedral?
The disaster can help Christchurch move from isolation to collaboration with movements for justice and peace – the expressed need to take the government on social justice is a good example – knowing that the most affected by the quake and liquefactions come from the poorer area.
The disaster can help Christchurch move from condemnation to dialogue with other religions. It was shared that some Buddhists in ANZ did give a substantial donation for the quake victims. Knowing that many immigrants to ANZ are people with religions other than Christianity, it is important to consider this component of the wider ecumenism.
The disaster can help Christchurch move from disintegration to integrity of creation – for while we cannot understand why disasters happen, we know that the earth is ageing and has changed so much as a result of our actions. It is time to think of befriending creation instead of conquering it. It is also time to think about our roles as guests and hosts of the household of God – two words which are the two sides of the word ‘hospitality’.
The visit to Auckland and Christchurch brought Hope Antone into contact with former officers and staff of CCA, as well as some program participants of CCA from ANZ. (with news from Hope Antone)
South Asian Christian Youth Network
The South Asian Christian Youth Network or SAYCN came into being following the 1st South Asian Christian Youth Conference in May 2002, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was further strengthened by the second conference in June 2005 in Bangalore, India. Both conferences had around 200 participants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
Key youth leaders from the conference have met regularly since then along with other leaders from partner churches to carry forward initiatives, link up and plan for the future. Some of the key events besides the two major conferences of 2002 and 2005 were various youth leadership development and conflict resolution workshops and joint advocacy for youth on justice and peace issues.
SAYCN aims to motivate and enable South Asian young people from the region’ churches to link up, overcome barriers and work together to spread the good news and strengthen the Christian youth movement in South Asia and help South Asian Christian Youth to be regionally and globally connected with other youth, mission, church, faith and advocacy networks and initiatives. SAYCN members come from the Church of South India, Church of Bangladesh, Church of Pakistan, Church of Ceylon, National Churches Fellowship of Nepal, Churches in Bhutan, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church of India – Mizoram Synod, and the Syrian Orthodox Church.
Mr Kasta Dip from the Church of North India and former intern of CCA EGY is SAYCN coordinator. To strengthen SAYCN and link up with other churches in South Asia and other youth networks, Ms Moumita Biswas, Executive Secretary of EGY represented CCA in the SACYN meeting in Bangkok in 2009. Ms Devashrie de Silva, CCA General Committee member represented CCA in the SACYN Core committee meeting held in Colombo on 1-5 August 2011, to further facilitate SACYN linkages with other member churches of CCA in South Asia and enhance ecumenical relations and networking.
CCA-EGY seeks the partnership of SACYN to network with EASY Net in organizing the Asian Students Youth Gathering to be held in India in 2012 where more than 150 youth from all over Asia are expected to attend. (with news from Moumita Biswas)
CCA-FMU executive secretary Hope S. Antone carried out some ecumenical lectures at two separate programs of the Association of Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA) and the Association of Theological Schools in Indonesia (PERSETIA). Her presentations and workshops at the ATESEA Teachers’ Academy held on 13-14 July in Bangkok, Thailand was on the theme, “Teaching Theologians to Teach” while her lectures at the PERSETIA Summer School for Graduate Students held on 25-29 July in Salatiga, Indonesia were on “Wider Ecumenism.” (with news from Hope Antone)
World YWCA holds Summit and Council Meeting
CCA Communications Consultant Dr. Liza Lamis, as volunteer Advisor on Feminist Theologies of the World YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) was facilitator and resource person during the International Women’s Summit and 27th World YWCA Council Meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 10 – 17, 2011. She facilitated and gave a synthesis on the break-out session on “Young Feminist Theologians’ Perspectives on Sexual, Reproductive and Human Rights, HIV and Violence Against Women (VAW)”. She also presented a Theological Reflection on Violence and Justice in another group session with the World Day of Prayer women from the U.K.
On July 17 she and her group of young women theologians from Romania, Indonesia and Argentina proceeded to Geneva where the world headquarters of YWCA is located, to familiarize themselves further with the work of YWCA, and to explore possibilities in helping the YWCA articulate its feminist theologies. Liza learned from the officers and staff of YWCA that it is important for YWCA to articulate its feminist theology\ies in its attempt to mobilize women to create a safe world for women especially for the young. ICCO – Kirk in Actie, also an ecumenical partner of CCA, is supporting YWCA this endeavor.
In 2009 CCA also gladly ‘shared’ Liza to the YWCA Regional Training Institute in Bali, Indonesia, where she facilitated four morning worships and theological conversations on VAW, HIV and AIDS, and Sexual and Reproductive Rights. That started the partnership between CCA and the World YWCA. (with news from Liza Lamis)
Ecumenical Creative Workshop for Youth and Students
The Ecumenical Creative Workshop of Youth and Students in Asia and the Pacific based on the theme, ‘Justice and Peace Now!’ was held in Tao Fong Shan, Hong Kong, on 25- 31 July 2011, where 25 youth leaders from CCA member churches and EASY Net participated.
Organized by CCA – EGY in partnership with the Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC) and EASY Net, the workshop aimed to create a common platform for youth church leaders/students from Asia and the Pacific to articulate and demonstrate peace and justice concerns through alternative creative art forms; develop theological understanding to uphold and affirm life in its fullness in the context of an unjust society (world); strengthen revive/revitalize Asian youth ecumenical networking and promote youth involvement in prophetic ministry of peace, justice, healing and reconciliation; and produce a resource material/book to help mobilize and revitalize ecumenical youth groups in grassroots communities and local churches.
Featured were creative workshops on dance and spirituality for justice art therapy, healing and reconciliation, and participatory Bible studies using Asian contextual hermeneutics in re-reading the Bible. Participants shared how they celebrated the International Year of the Youth and their efforts in advocating for recognition of the youth participation in the decision making processes in church and society. (with news from Moumita Biswas)
Free Space Process Strategy Caucus in Amsterdam
Dr. Erlinda Senturias, CCA Consultant for HIV and AIDS, participated in the Free Space Process Strategy Caucus, organized and supported by the International Civil Society Support at Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam on 21-22 July 2011. She was requested by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) to represent the regional network. CCA is a member of the EAA.
The participants discussed the Strategic Investment Framework and the Theory of Change, and agreed on the following:
2. Participants however expressed concern regarding the potential flaws and/or gaps in the community and civil society components of the framework, including the assumptions in costing models that have been used.
3. Participants therefore call on Bernhard Schwartländer as head of the Investment Framework Study Group, for a meeting that would look into the concerns expressed in relation to the assumptions and costing models used. The aim of this meeting would be to establish full understanding of the assumptions, costing and other modelling that underpins the framework and to agree on an improved next iteration of the framework if deemed appropriate. Alvaro Bermejo, David Barr and Mat Southwell will prepare a request to this end with support of ICSS.
4. Participants will express their support for the principles as well as the need for additional work on the framework to UNAIDS (Michel Sidibe) and will call for his leadership in moving this forward. This message will include a request to UNAIDS to financially facilitate the follow up meeting between Study Group and representatives from civil society.
5. The outcomes of this meeting will determine to which extend participants can fully endorse a next (improved) iteration of the strategic Investment Framework. (with news from Erlinda Senturias)
Asian churches zero in on tourism impact
Two ECOT (Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism) Consultations in Chennai and Shillong in India put a sharp spotlight on the uncritical view that tourism is good for the poor.
The Chennai Consultation responded to ECOT’s challenge to incorporate tourism concerns within the theological curriculum of churches. Shillong in North East India deliberated on tourism linked by the Indian government to a high profile ‘Look East’ development strategy.
The Chennai meeting organized with the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) urged theological institutions including the Senate of Serampore (University) to address tourism within the framework of theology and ethics, pastoral care, creation, and as an important missiological concern in developing societies faced with the effects of commercial tourism driven by profit, pleasure and enjoyment. This curricular work would be shared with other regions in the world.
Rev. Dr. Wati Longchar, dean of the Senate of Serampore (University), said in light of the negative impacts of mass tourism on economy, environment, culture and communities, the belief that tourism is good for the poor is a ‘myth’. The consultation with Catholic and Protestant theologians from various parts of Asia called theological communities and civil society in Asia to challenge this myth “from the justice perspective”.
In Shillong, representatives of North East Indian churches agreed that the development model pursued needs to be “revisited” by churches, communities, and relevant groups and governments. They stated that “as responsible people grounded in the call of the gospel and its values, we reject the kind of development that is being touted as good for the people of the region.” The full statements are available from ECOT (firstname.lastname@example.org) (with news from Caesar de Mello)
Blessings of peace and joy to you!
Yours in Christ,
HENRIETTE HUTABARAT LEBANG
CCA General Secretary