CHIANG MAI: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) held virtually on 9–10 August 2021 provided further direction for the planning of the CCA’s 15th General Assembly.
Given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and slow vaccination processes in most Asian countries as well as international and domestic travel and mobility restrictions, the Executive Committee, which is the highest decision making body of the CCA in between General Assemblies, decided not to conduct the next Assembly any sooner than mid-2023.
The General Secretary of CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara in his report to the Executive Committee shared the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and said, “The number of infected people in most Asian countries has been increasing drastically and the government restrictions with regard to international travels, airlines operations, and other health-related warnings are still in place. Proof of vaccination or of recovery from infection is increasingly being demanded, not just for international travel but also within countries.”
The General Secretary further informed the governing board of CCA saying, “Foreseeing the possibility of a major Asian gathering in any Asian country which involves international travel is unrealistic at this stage. This warrants the need for us to think about changing the date of the Assembly from mid-2022, preferably to 2023.”
The Moderator of CCA Bishop Willem T.P Simarmata opined that postponing the General Assembly to 2023 would be more realistic and it will provide ample time to develop preparations that adhered to COVID-19 protocols and enable the delegates to travel and meet in-person.
The Vice Moderator Rev. Diana Tana also suggested that the safety and wellbeing of the delegates, other attendees, and the organisers be given prime importance rather than conducting the General Assembly in a hasty manner.
The new venue of the 15th General Assembly was considered and shortlisted as to be held either in Indonesia or Thailand, with the Executive Committee authorising the General Secretary to make the necessary negotiations with churches and councils in prospective host countries.
The Executive Committee decided to reconvene for a special meeting to deliberate upon the final choice of venue for the Assembly.
The 2019 Executive Committee’s decision was to hold the Assembly in September 2020 in Kerala, India, but this decision was revisited last year. In the context of the spread of COVID-19, the Executive Committee in its meeting in November 2020 agreed that the proposed dates and venue would have to be determined in lieu of the travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements, and the health and safety of all delegates and participants while they travel.
The latest decision of postponing the General Assembly to mid-2023 was mainly due to the absence of any sign of substantial improvements in the COVID-19 situation in most Asian countries.
The Executive Committee, which is the governing board of CCA, conducted its meeting online, for the second time in the history of the CCA.