Ecumenical diakonia should be instrumental in developing a coordinated strategy to alleviate sufferings of vulnerable people, says CCA General Secretary

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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    Dr Mathews George Chunakara delivers the thematic address on ‘Ecumenical Diakonia and Sustainable Development'

    Medan, Indonesia: In a thematic address delivered at the opening session of the Asia Regional Training Programme on ‘Ecumenical Diakonia and Sustainable Development', the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) Dr Mathews George Chunakara stated, “Ecumenical diakonia should be instrumental in developing a more consistent, coordinated, and coherent approach and strategy to alleviate the sufferings of the most vulnerable people and communities, when the world experiences more fragmentation today.”

    The training programme is being organised jointly by the CCA and the World Council of Churches (WCC), and began on 29 April 2024 in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Thirty-five participants, mostly second-line church leaders from CCA and WCC member churches, ecumenical councils, and networks across Asia, are attending the training.

    The CCA General Secretary gave an overview of the concept of diakonia, its theological undergirding, and the development of ecumenical diakonia over the decades, as well as the issues that need to be addressed to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

    The CCA General Secretary outlined Christian faith responses to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ending poverty and hunger, health, inequality, education, climate, promoting gender equality, peaceful coexistence, and partnerships or collaboration.

    He emphasised the role of churches in attaining these SDGs and called upon them to be involved and participate in motivating people and communities to work together and achieve the SDGs.

    Referring to the SDGs and the church’s response, Dr Mathews George Chunakara said SDGs are calling the attention of all those who are concerned about humanity; it aims at ending poverty and other deprivations. When we think about the role of the churches in promoting and achieving the targets of the SDGs, we are reminded of the motivating factor for us, “For God So Loved the World” (John 3:16).

    “Ecumenical diakonia should involve more than the giving of money or good services, more than the sharing of resources and personnel. Diakonal support of Christians has no right to anticipate or expect feelings of gratitude or ties of obligation and dependence in the name of sharing of resources or personnel. In many contexts, our diakonal mission often creates resentment in other cultures, as they are forced to surrender their dignity for the sake of some funds. However, it is unfortunate that those interested in creating relations of dependence often use diakonia as a means of domination,” Dr Mathews George Chunakara further added.

    Dr Manoj Kurian, Director of the Churches' Commission on Health and Healing, extended greetings to the participants on behalf of the World Council of Churches. He referred to diakonia as a way of following Jesus and emphasised the need for capacity building in sharpening churches' witness through diakonia.

    The capacity-building initiative of CCA and WCC is aimed at providing opportunities for learning about ecumenical diakonia and sustainable development, and at enhancing the capacities of Asian churches in relation to ecumenical diakonia and sustainable development.