Historic virtual meeting of CCA Executive Committee takes major decisions

Posted on 2 December 2020

CCA Executive Committee Meeting-2020

CHIANG MAI:  The annual meeting of the Executive Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), adhering to the “new normal”, met virtually on 27–28 November 2020.

This was the first time in the history of the CCA that a high-level meeting was conducted entirely online and took several major decisions, including plans for CCA’s 15th General Assembly.

The Executive Committee meeting deliberated upon the shift in the style of functioning of many churches and ecumenical organisations, the development of the COVID-19 situation in Asia, and the future of the ecumenical movement in the context of the emerging “new normal” and the post-COVID-19 situation in the region.

Dr Mathews George Chunakara, in the General Secretary’s report to the Executive Committee, spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the Church and on the ecumenical movement, and also shared his thoughts on the “new normal”.

“The ‘new normal’ is applicable to the ecumenical movement but what shape this ‘new normal’ might take is not easy to foresee. The digital transformation of our systems and information, which we had assumed would happen sometime in the future, has raced even faster toward us or quickly accelerated and became our daily reality,” observed Dr Mathews George Chunakara in his report.

Starting from the end of March all the way up to June, the CCA office in Chiang Mai was under lockdown. During the lockdown period and in the subsequent months, CCA staff members were involved in organising and facilitating several programmes on virtual platforms despite the odds. The General Secretary pointed to one specific positive accomplishment: the Asia Sunday observance organised by the CCA on 25 May 2020 witnessed the unprecedented virtual participation of 22,000 people from across the world.

“It is becoming clearer that the impact on the ecumenical movement and its witness also will be long-lasting and complex. We can no longer consider returning to the normal functioning of the church and the ecumenical movement in most contexts, but we need to accept what is already becoming a ‘new normal’ situation or context. In every sphere of the socio-economic arena as well as in much of our life situations, we find ourselves faced with new norms and regulations,” added the General Secretary.

Given the onset of the pandemic, the Executive Committee noted the rapid transformation and evolution of the CCA’s programmes that were adapted and made suitable for online modes of delivery. The CCA’s Webinar Series on COVID-19, the Asia Sunday, different training programmes and consultations, and even the month-long Asian Ecumenical Institute (AEI) were conducted entirely online in 2020.

The Executive Committee heard reports of various activities and programmes conducted by CCA since August last year. It was reported that since the last meeting of the Executive Committee, 24 programmes and activities took place, including the Asia Sunday Zoom gathering, and the month-long Asian Ecumenical Institute.

The General Secretary reported that the initial preparations for the 15th General Assembly to be held in Kerala, India, with strong support from the CCA member churches in India as well as the National Council of Churches in India had reached an advanced stage before the pandemic disrupted all planning and preparations. It has been impossible to proceed due to the COVID-19 calamity.

The Executive Committee observed the direct and indirect impacts of the global pandemic on the plans to hold the CCA’s 15th General Assembly and resolved to change its date and venue.

The Executive Committee members affirmed that the safety and health of the delegates during international travel was of prime importance and opined that the final dates ought only to be confirmed once further clarity was obtained regarding the COVID-19 situation in the region.

As India was one of the most adversely affected countries by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the restrictions with regard to international travellers to and from India continue to be a major hindrance to the holding of an international event in the current situation, the Executive Committee decided to shift the venue of the 15th General Assembly to another convenient country in Asia with prospective options to consider either Indonesia or Thailand, and to hold the Assembly in May or June 2022.

The Executive Committee also received the report of the General Secretary with the recommendation from the Finance Committee to develop an office building on one of the four blocks of land owned by the CCA in Chiang Mai.

The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be held in in the first half of 2021.

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