Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Ecumenical Movement,
Greetings from the island of Creete, where the first meeting of the 2013 WCC Assembly Preparatory Committee (APC) is being held on November 19 to 24, at the Orthodox Academy in Chania, Creete. We were warmly welcomed by the Moderator of APC, His Eminence, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. After discussing the Term of Reference of the APC, the APC received the presentation of the Korea Local Planning Committee (KAPC), as the WCC 10th Assembly is planned to be held in Busan, Korea, on 2-13 October 2013.
The APC discussed, among others, the following: vision, ethos and character of the Assembly; possible themes for the Assembly; and style, size and shape of the Assembly. To familiarize the participants with the site of the Assembly the KAPC represented by Rev. Dr. Sam-whan Kim (Moderator), and Rev. Dr. Jong-hwa Park (Vice Moderator), presented information about the Assembly site, facilities available, as well as the extent of involvement of Korean churches in welcoming ands hosting the Assembly.
The discussion on the possible theme of the Assembly began with an introduction of the results of the preparatory process conducted by the WCC staff at different occasions and with different groups by Rev. Theo Gill, It was followed by presentations of the contribution of Korean hosts and the Asian region.
Dr. Jhong-wha Park presented the contributions of the Korean hosts, which were developed through a series of seminars and hearing sessions organized by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCC Korea) through its Faith and Order Committee. The proposed theme was: “Now Choose Life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
The presentation from Asia region is basically the result of a Theological Consultation organized by KAPC in partnership with CCA and the WCC Asia Desk which was held in Seoul, Korea, on 10-12 November 2010. The fifty-two participants invited came from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Korea, including seven Asian members of the WCC Central Committee, seven from CCA, resource persons, theologians, delegates from WCC member churches in Korea, delegates from NCC Korea member churches that are not members of WCC, and some theologians from the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in South Korea.
A theme proposal from the Faith and Order Commission of NCCK, “Now Choose Life!,” a presentation of different theological perspectives on Asian contextual challenges, interfaith initiatives, struggle for justice, and Asian spiritual traditions, enabled an extensive discussion resulting to an agreement to propose the following theme for the 2013 WCC Assembly: “Living Together in God’s Justice and Peace.”
It is a privilege for me as General Secretary of CCA and as a member of the APC, to present the report of the above-mentioned consultation on behalf of Asian churches. The result of this APC meeting will be presented to the next Central Committee meeting to be held in Geneva in February 2011, when the theme of the WCC 10th Assembly and other related matters on this Assembly will be decided.
These recent ecumenical meetings from Korea to Creete provided an opportunity for various ecumenical encounters. It was an enriching experience in my faith journey that on Sunday November 12, I was part of the worshipping community in Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul. On November 19, I joined the worshipping community of the Orthodox Church in Creete. Those worship experiences allowed me to taste the richness of the worship life of Christian communities around the world.
At the last day of the APC meeting yesterday, Nov 23, we were struck by the sad news about the rising military tension in Korean Peninsula. North Korea shelled the disputed Yeonpyeong island in South Korea on Nov 23, resulting to the death of two South Korean marines, and injury to 16 South Korean marines including three civilians. This incident immediately attracted the attention of the international community.
Let us hope that this tension will not escalate. In our prayers, let us remember the people of North and South Korea. May God strengthen the churches in North and South Korea to discern God’s guiding light and wisdom as they strive to achieve peace for all Koreans.
We were also disturbed by a bridge stampede during the Water Festival on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The chaos on November 22 killed 375 and injured 755 people. seen as the biggest tragedy for Cambodians since the Pol Pot regime. This is according to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
We yet have to hear from our member in Cambodia, the Kampuchea Council of Churches. Let us get down to our knees seeking God’s help and comfort as the people of Cambodia face this tragedy and loss. We extend our hand in solidarity and prayers that brothers and sisters in Cambodia will keep faith even in mourning and be able to move on in hope.
The GCF Asia Regional Meeting
CCA was a strong presence at the Global Christian Forum (GCF) Asia Regional Meeting on 12- 16 November 2010, hosted by Yoido Full Gospel Church and held at Yoido’s Choi Jasil Memorial Fasting and Prayer Mountain in Kyunggi Do, Paju Shi, an hour’s ride outside of Seoul, Korea.
Together with Joint Executive Secretary of CCA-FMU Dr Hope Antone, I represented CCA to this meeting. A number of NCCs and churches which are members of CCA were also represented – e.g. NCC Australia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Laos and Thailand. Three CCA Executive Committee members were present there: Dr. K B Rokaya of Nepal, Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri of Malaysia, and Rev. Po Kam Cheong of Hong Kong. There were around 60 participants.
The meeting included the sharing of faith journeys; hearing reports from four countries (Philippines, Nepal, India and Indonesia) on efforts that have brought together ecumenical, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups. Part of the meeting was also to share ideas for the forthcoming GCF to be held in Indonesia in 2011, during which around 200 participants from all over the world are expected to attend.
Time was given for brief sharing by the four main groups represented in the GCF: CCA, FABC, AEA and Asia Pentecostal Society (a regional body of the Pentecostals). Dr Antone gave the sharing on behalf of CCA using a powerpoint presentation.
This GCF meeting affirmed the efforts of CCA and FABC to foster unity through the Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU) since 1996 and through the subsequent gatherings in1998, 2001, 2007. They were happy to note that this program has been open to the Asia Evangelical Alliance since 2007, following the Asia Regional Meeting of GCF in 2006, which CCA hosted at the Bangkok Christian Guest House. They recommended that the next AMCU gathering (1-5 December 2010) should be open also to the Pentecostals in Asia.
CCA have sent an invitation to the Asia Pentecostal Society (the only regional structure so far among the Pentecostals) through Rev. Dr. Joseph Suico to send someone to the AMCU V in Bangkok, Thailand on 1-5 December 2010. We hope that they can indeed send someone to be a voice of the Pentecostals at this gathering despite the short notice.
CCA has a lot to do to disseminate its understanding of wider ecumenism among its constituents and also with others. There is a need to share our understanding of wider ecumenism – and to expound the rich meaning of OIKOUMENE as the whole household of God, including the whole humanity and the whole creation. There is also a need to point to the danger of making ecumenism captive to the church – it should be beyond the church and beyond all the expressions of the ecumenical movement. (with reports from Hope Antone)
Free Space Process Strategy Caucus agreed to a Common Advocacy Agenda
The Steering Group of the Free Space Process that has existed since five years held a Strategy Caucus involving Country, Regional and Global level participants of the ten networks: Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), World AIDS Campaign (WAC), Global Network of People Living with HIV (GPN+), Global Network of Sex Workers Projects (NSWP), International HIV/AIDS Alliance, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), Global Forum on MSM (MSMGF), International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD). The partnership is supported by the International Civil Society Support based in Netherlands.
There were 37 participants in the meeting that was facilitated by an independent consultant, Robin Gorna and rapporteur, Mr. Jeff Hoover. The Strategy Caucus was held at Swissotel Nai Lert Park on November 21-22, 2010. The Steering Group, which set the agenda met on November 19, 2010 and as of this report is currently meeting to refine the outcome of the caucus.
The aim of the meeting was to develop a shared, comprehensive, global civil society HIV/AIDS advocacy agenda and to map activities to identify opportunities for collaboration, establishing synergies and efficiencies as well as removing redundancies.
The HIV/AIDS Advocacy Priorities which the ten networks could subscribe are:
1) Positioning HIV/AIDS as a key priority within a rights-based movement for Universal Access and Global Health;
2) Accessing and sustaining Anti Retroviral Scale Up;
3) (Protection of) Human Rights as a leading concept in the development and implementation of HIV/AIDS services;
4) Community-led combination prevention that is targeted, holistic, comprehensive and that fits the needs of key populations, e.g. women, sex workers, people who use drugs and MSM; and
5) Strengthen community systems at global, regional and country level.
CCA is a member of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA). Dr. Erlinda N. Senturias, Consultant on HIV and AIDS in CCA is a member of the HIV Strategy Group and represented the regional concerns of EAA in the Strategy Caucus of the Free Space Process. (with reports from Erlinda Senturias)
Meetings of INERELA+ and AINA
INERELA+, the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally affected with HIV and AIDS, convened the first meeting of the Asia Pacific Regional Reference Group at the Bangkok Christian Guest House on November 19-20, 2010. It also hosted the meeting of the Governing Committee of the Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS (AINA) on November 21, 2010.
The first agenda was to prepare for the Interfaith conference prior to the 10th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), in Busan, Korea on August 26-30, 2011. CCA, that facilitated the birth of AINA helped organize two interfaith pre-interfaith conference events in Colombo in 2007 and in Bali in 2009.
The INERELA meeting was attended by Dr. Erlinda N. Senturias, CCA Consultant on HIV and AIDS and invited member of the Regional Reference Group of INERELA, two Salvation Army soldier and officer active in HIV work in Seoul, Korea, INERELA secretariat, Dr. Asavari Herwadkar, Fr. Philip Kuruvilla and Mr. Baiju Joseph, and members of the reference group from India. Rev. J. P. Heath, Actiing Executive Director of INERELA+ facilitated the process of the meeting. Present also in the meeting were Ms. Dawn Foderingham of UNAIDS Regional Office in Bangkok, Dr. Myun Hwan Cho, Co Chair of the 10th ICAAP in Busan and Mr. Sungchal Yu, Executive Secretary for the ICAAP secretariat.
The theme of the 10th ICAAP is “Diverse Voices, United Action”. Strategic advocacy for the Interfaith Participation in the ICAAP were raised to the congress organizers such as providing a visible and meaningful presence of faith communities in the Plenary Sessions, Prayer Room for multi faith participants and an Interfaith Space in the Asia Pacific Village. Religion is one of the tracks for the 10th ICAAP.
Early registration already started on 1 November 2010 and will end on 28 February 2011 and late registration is on 1 June 2011 – the time of the ICAAP. The cost of early registratino is USD 450 and late registration is USD 650.00. The regular registration period is on 1 March 2011 – 31 May 2011 and the cost is USD 550.00. Young People from 16-26 years old can apply for scholarship and a youth forum is planned for August 24, 2011.
INERELA+ of the Asia Pacific Region and the Asian Interfaith Network (AINA) will organize a multi-faith event prior to the ICAAP and will also participate in community fora organized before the 10th ICAAP to listen to the voices of key populations. The importance of contacting the churches and pagoda in Korea was considered a priority.
On November 20, the INERELA+ Asia Pacific Regional Reference Group met. Dr. Erlinda N. Senturias was voted by the Asia Pacific Regional Reference Group of INERELA+ to the Global Board of INERELA, which will hold a meeting in Nairobi on January 6-8, 2011. Dr. Prawate Khid-arn, immediate past general secretary of CCA, was voted as the new Chair of AINA. (with reports from Erlinda Senturias)
NCC Korea elects new GS
The Rev. Dr. Kim, Young Ju, an ordained minister of the Korean Methodist Church(KMC) was recently elected general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCC Korea) at its 59th General Assembly that took place on Monday, 15th of November, 2010, for a four-year term.
Prior to being selected as the General Secretary of the NCCK, Rev. Kim Young Ju has been working for the Korea Peace Foundation, a civil organization pursuing and preparing unification of Korea since 2007, as director of its board. He was director of the NCC Korea Human Rights Committee for 1989-1992; Church Unity Committee for 1992-1998; The North and South Sharing Movement; the Planning Committee for Jubilee Celebration toward peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula, and the North and South Human Chain Movement for Peaceful Reunification. He worked for the Korean Methodist Church as director of the KMC Education Center (2000) and as the General Secretary of the Education Department of the KMC Assembly office (2002-2006).
He graduated from the Graduate School of Theology of Methodist Theological University in 1984 and further studied and received a Ph. D. at the University of North Korean Studies. Ordained as a minister on 1980, he has a long years of experience as local pastor at the Gasoowon Church, Hwachun Church, Songak Church, and Hyungjae Church (1975-1989).
CCA warmly welcomes Dr. Kim, Young Ju, and prays that God’s continuing benediction of grace and wisdom be his for this enormous task.
ACISCA re-elects Chair
Dr. John Zechariah was re-elected Chair of the Association of Christian Institutes of Social Concern of Asia (ACISCA) for 2010 – 2014 in its recent General Assembly held in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 10, 2010.
ACISCA is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2010. It has been working closely with CCA and Global Oikosnet. The composition of ACISCA includes Academies, Lay Centers and others (Rural Development Centers, Promoting Community Health, Education, Agriculture, Secularism and People’ movement). Its primary focus is on Lay Training, Leadership Formation and Ecumenical Learning. ACISCA believes in balancing spiritual action and social action.
There are many challenges for ACISCA to face like funds and drop in membership. Let us remember Dr Zechariah and the new Executive Committee members in our prayers as they strive to make ACISCA a vibrant organization in Asia and in the global Christian community. (with news from John Zechariah)
Annual FABC – OSC Bishops’ Meet
The 15th Annual Bishops’ Meet of the FABC Office of Social Communications was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 15 – 20 November 2010, with the theme, “Communication Formation for Priestly Ministry in Asia”. Dr. Liza B. Lamis, CCA Communications Consultant represented CCA at the meeting, where she briefly shared on the communications work of CCA.
The challenge for the ecumenical movement in Asia is foundational need to articulate a communication theology and for an integration of this theology in theological formation and in our ecumenical work. Additionally, effective communication happens when we are truly a ‘communicative’ community that cares a lot about how the ‘good news’ is being communicated, what to do with the communicated message received, and how to maximize the use of high communication technologies in the service of the least and the afflicted.
CCA and FABC have various partnerships and collaborative works that started in 1993, aimed at promoting Christian unity in the Asian region. Areas of cooperation between CCA and FABC include the Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU), the Asian Ecumenical Committee (AEC), the Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS), Joint Asian Ecumenical Courses, Asia Conference of Theology Students (ACTS), and Joint Staff Meetings, among others. (with news from Liza Lamis)
Welcoming the refugees
MEPP or the Mekong Ecumenical Partnership Program, together with SDSU-CCT (Social Development and Service Unit, the Church of Christ in Thailand) provided emergency assistance to Burmese refugees who fled to Thailand at the Three Pagodas Pass, Sangklaburi District of Kanchanaburi.
Prior to a national election in Burma on 7 November 2010, conflict broke out between the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. The fighting affected the people living in Myawaddy town of Burma, opposite Mae Sod town of Thailand. Twelve thousand people fled, crossed to Thailand in Maesod. Within 48 hours most of them were repatriated back to Burma on Nov 9.
However, the situation further south remained tense as fighting continued in Pyaduangsu, the town opposite Three Pagodas Pass, causing another exodus into Thailand. Around 3,000 refugees stayed in school, temple and church premises.
Thailand already shelters over 150,000 Burmese refugees who fled the fighting in their homeland over the past 26 years. It also has about 2 million migrant workers from Burma.
MEPP and SDSU-CCT were able to raise an emergency fund of USD 700 to buy food, milk, mats and tents for about 300 refugees welcomed by a local church. Most of them were children, women and elderly people.
MEPP and SDSU-CCT met with TBBC (Thailand Burma Border Consortium), COERR (Catholic office for Emergency Relief and Refugee) and CWS (Church World Service) to discuss the situation in Burma and the concerns in preparing emergency assistance to be provided for future refugees. (with news from Janejinda Pawadee)
Meeting with Act for Peace
The CCA Staff, through the leadership of Rev. Dr. Rienzie Perera, AGS for Finance and Relationship, met with Ms Janet Cousens, International Program Coordinator of Act for Peace (AfP). AfP is the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, and works to reduce poverty, prevent conflicts, protect refugees and empower communities.
The meeting on 22 November 2010 at the CCA Office was mainly about knowing more about AfP and its work, and sharing on CCA programs that could be areas for potential partnership between CCA and AfP.
CCA looks forward to a fruitful partnership in mission with AfP by 2011.
Henriette Hutabarat Lebang