Cambodian church leaders affirm commitment to strengthen ecclesial and ecumenical unity

Programme Review and Programme Direction

Two key deliberative sessions during the 15th CCA General Assembly are the Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions.

The Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions will both be conducted in three groups relating to the CCA’s programme areas, namely, (i) General Secretariat (GS), (ii) Mission in Unity and Contextual Theology (MU) and Ecumenical Leadership Formation and Spirituality (EF); and (iii) Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflicts (BP) and Prophetic Diakonia (PD).

Assembly participants will have the option to join one of three groups for both the Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions. For the sake of coherence, the assigned group will remain the same for both sessions.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat oversees the coordination of programmatic, administrative, and financial activities of the organization. The GS comprises various departments such as church and ecumenical relations, relations with ecumenical partners, finance, administration, and communications, which provide crucial support and services for the implementation of programs and contribute to the overall functioning of the CCA.

Programmes: Relations with member churches and councils, ecumenical partners; advocacy at the United Nations; ecumenical responses to emerging issues in solidarity; income development and finance; and communications.

Mission in Unity and Contextual Theology (MU) and Ecumenical Leadership Formation and Spirituality (EF)

Under the MU programme area, the CCA accompanies Asian churches to strengthen their mission and witness in multi-religious contexts, revitalise and nurture church unity and the Asian ecumenical movement, and develop contextual theological foundations.

Programmes: Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU); Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS); Asian women doing theology in the context of wider ecumenism; contextualisation of theology in Asia and ecumenical theological education.

The EF programme area focuses on nurturing and developing ecumenical leaders in Asia. The programme aims to enhance spiritual formation and theological understanding, enabling people to actively engage in ecumenical dialogue and collaboration.

Programmes: Ecumenical Enablers’ Training in Asia (EETA); Asian Ecumenical Institute (AEI); Youth and Women Leadership Development; Ecumenical Spirituality and Nurturing of Contextual Liturgical Traditions; Asia Sunday

Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflicts (BP) and Prophetic Diakonia and Advocacy (PD)

The BP programme area is dedicated to promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation in Asia’s diverse contexts. Through training, advocacy, and dialogue, the programme addresses the root causes of conflicts, empowers communities, and fosters sustainable peacebuilding initiatives.

Programmes: Pastoral Solidarity Visits; Churches in Action for Moving Beyond Conflict and Resolution; Young Ambassadors of Peace in Asia (YAPA); Ecumenical Women’s Action Against Violence (EWAAV); Eco-Justice for Sustainable Peace in the Oikos.

The PD programme area focuses on promoting justice, human rights, and social transformation in Asia. Through advocacy, capacity-building, and raising awareness, the programme addresses systemic injustice, empowers marginalised communities, and advocates for prophetic actions and meaningful change.

Programmes: Human Rights advocacy; Migration, Statelessness, and Trafficking in Persons; Asian Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network; Asian Advocacy Network on the Dignity and Rights of Children (AANDRoC); Ecumenical Solidarity Accompaniment and Diakonia in Asia (ESADA); Health and Healing; Good Governance; Action Together to Combat HIV and AIDS in Asia (ATCHAA).

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    Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Christian witness in Cambodia faces severe crisis today due to multiple factors affecting the Cambodian churches and related organizations. This was the concern expressed by a group of church and ecumenical leaders during their meeting with a pastoral solidarity team from the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) visited Cambodia from 16 to 19 May 2024.

    The representative group of Cambodian Church and ecumenical leaders, who belong to different generations of the post Khmer Rouge era Cambodian Christianity, told the CCA team about the current situation of the church and ecumenical organisations in the country.

    The church leaders, who gathered for a meeting after a long gap, affirmed their commitment to strengthening common witness in unity and evolved a plan of action to strengthen the defunct ecclesial and ecumenical organizational structures at the local, provincial, and national levels in the country. A fifteen member ad hoc working committee was formed to undertake the task of promoting unity and of strengthening the organizational structures, including at the provincial levels.

    Leadership conflicts, increased communication gap among the leaders, lack of transparency and accountability in resource management in churches and organisations and competition for leadership positions were pointed out as the reasons for polarization within the small Christian community in the country.

    Aggressive styles of evangelization tactics promoted by certain overseas missionary groups working under the labels of denominations and confessional organizations in different parts of Cambodia intensify conflicts and fragmentation among the local Cambodian Christians, the church leaders explained.

    Christianity in Cambodia has emerged from the dark period of Khmer Rouge tyranny., and present-day Cambodian Christianity traces its history back to the period when the country was opened after the Paris Peace Agreements (Comprehensive Cambodian Peace Agreements) were signed towards the end of 1991.

    The church leaders who met with the CCA delegation included some of the first Christian leaders who returned to the war-torn Cambodia from the refugee camps, and who took initiatives in organizing Christian fellowship groups for first time in the country after the Pol Pot era.

    The church leaders who have been in the leadership of the defunct Kampuchea Christian Council (KCC), the member council of CCA in Cambodia shared their anguish and disappointments regarding the disunity precipitated among KCC members due to a small piece of landed property acquired by CCA for the use of Cambodian churches in the 1990s.

    The Kampuchea Christian Council, the first national ecumenical body formed in Cambodia after five years of intensive work of the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Council of Churches from 1993 to 1998, was officially inaugurated in 1998. The property was originally registered in the name of a former officer of the KCC, due to legal impediments in registering immovable property in the name of religious organizations; but the ownership of the land still remains with a former office bearer of the KCC.

    The KCC was the first Christian organization registered under the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Cult of the government in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia.

    The Pastoral Solidarity Team Visit was headed by CCA General Secretary Dr Mathews George Chunakara, along with Prof. Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, member of the CCA executive committee, Rev. Jung Eun Moon, and Dr Ronald Lalthanmawia, CCA programme coordinators.

    The solidarity visit was organized as part of CCA’s accompaniment with member churches and councils in Cambodia who are going through difficult situations especially in areas of developing integrity leadership, mutual accountability, and good governance in managing church and ecumenical bodies.

    For more photos, please click here: Photo Gallery (Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) pastoral solidarity team visited Cambodia, 6-19 May 2024)