Cambodia, a country where the Church and Christianity was completely erased from history and was forbidden until the early 1990s became the venue of the Christian Conference of Asia’s (CCA) annual executive committee meeting last week.
The General Secretary’s report to the executive committee recollected the experiences of the church’s and the ecumenical movement’s complete obliteration in Cambodia during the brutal rule of the communist dictator, Pol Pot (1975-1979), who was also responsible for a genocide that killed more than two million people.
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, CCA’s General Secretary stated, “The meeting of the CCA Executive Committee in Cambodia in the first time in the history of CCA is a very important and timely action as we try to find ways to continue ecumenical accompaniment in Cambodia in its new context.”
The history of Christianity and ecumenism in Cambodia has undergone several changes, especially after the country witnessed a new political beginning following the Paris Peace Agreement in 1992.
Archbishop Dr. Willem T.P Simarmata, the moderator of CCA in his opening address said, “We have many things to learn from the experiences of Cambodian Christianity and the Cambodians who have undergone traumatic experiences. The churches in Cambodia need more support and accompaniment, and the churches from other Asian countries should come forward to be in solidarity with the Cambodian Christians.”
“It is not easy to recognize from today’s developed conditions in and around Phnom Penh that this country has had a dark past, and that the people still possess horrific memories. The Cambodian church we see here is brand new, and can be traced only after 1990. Today, the Church in Cambodia is growing, and it has become a missionary battlefield. At the same time, there exists more disunity or competition among the Christians,” commented the CCA General Secretary.
Held at Dvythin Hotel in New Phnom Penh, the executive committee arrived at several major decisions that included organizational/programme evaluation; theme and venue of CCA’s 15th General Assembly; CCA Headquarters building project; policies and guidelines to deal with Conflicts of Interests; Code of Conduct for Organisational Management and Governance; guidelines for processing new membership applications; a consensus model of decision making; and the staff rules and regulations.
The pan-Asian members of CCA’s decision-making body also visited the headquarters of the Kampuchea Christian Council (KCC), which was founded in 1997 with the support of the CCA.
A joint meeting of the CCA Executive Committee members and representatives of the KCC member churches was addressed by the Minister of Religious Affairs of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Him Chhem, and the Vice Minister, Mr. Phlok Phan.