Prominent Dalit theologian Raj Bharat Patta says, Life in its fullness is not a possession or a mere monopoly of a few, but it should be enjoyed by all

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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    Kottayam, Kerala: While presenting the theme ‘Renewal and Restoration of Creation: Attaining Life in its Fullness’ at the fourth thematic plenary session in the 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia, a prominent Asian Dalit theologian from the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church Rev. Dr Raj Bharat Patta stated “Life is not a possession or a mere monopoly of a few, instead it is something that should be enjoyed by all on earth. Life in the human worldview is concerned only about humans and not about the other forms of life. However, we need to be mindful that returning to the soil enriches the fullness of life because the soil is pivotal for the growth of life; from dust we came and unto dust, we return. Plants, animals, and humans share the commonality of depending on their life on the soil.”

    An ordained minister of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) in India, and a former Executive Secretary for the Commission on Dalits and Adivasis at the National Council of Churches in India, Dr Patta spoke from his grassroots experiences and added the context of lifelessness through elaborating on the three characteristics of de-ecologisation under the predominantly human-centric Anthropocene, namely, un-creatureliness, un-creation, and un-creativity. Un-creatureliness was humanity’s “othering” of the rest of creation, un-creation alienated and uprooted life from creation in favour of hatred, exploitation, and violence, and un-creativity was the direction to “un-till and un-keep the garden of God” towards the limitlessness of human greed. De-ecologisation takes place when we humans forget that there is a striking interdependence between all forms of life, which, if disrupted, will cause ecology to take a back seat. This happens usually because humans crown themselves as the most dominant or powerful of the rest of God's creation and hence all the other disruptions occur.

    Turning to “soil theology”, Dr Patta demonstrated the soil as an example of humility and complementarity, super-abundance and flourishing, and hospitality and inclusion. He ended with a brief verse, “Our life-giving earth’s womb is soon turning to be a tomb; Plumb and do not succumb to it. Save our earth; Our earth bleeds because of our greed, she’ll be pleased if we can take care of her seeds/needs.”

    Dr Patta also stated that we tend to complain and put the blame on a certain group of people thinking they are the only ones creating the disruption but in the actual sense, each human being is responsible for what is happening to our biodiversity.

    He went on to remind the audience that we humans always need to revive our minds. We humans forget that we are a part of the creation of God and not different from other creatures. When we humans forget this, we begin to exploit and destroy every life form for our very existence, which will eventually take us to our dead-end.

    Profoundly elucidating the need for returning to the call of the plants and to the birds so as to see the fullness of life and stressing the importance of birds, Rev. Dr Patta explained how the Holy Spirit chose to come down in the form of a dove indicating the importance of birds in human life; similar is the case of plants because these beings help provide balance in temperature and are agencies who provide us with a number of things.

    He concluded his presentation by showcasing for the audience a Tamil song ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ which provided a beautiful illustration of the people of the soil and how important soil is for the sustenance of humans. “The earth bleeds because of our greed”, quoted Rev. Dr Patta. Hence, we need to take care that everything falls back into place for the peaceful co-existence of all God’s creation.

    The thematic presentation at the same plenary session was on ‘Renewal and Restoration of Creation: Attaining Life in Its Fullness’; Prof. Dr Vicky Balabanski, the Director of Biblical Studies at the Adelaide College of Divinity in Australia shared that creation was the material and spiritual imprint of the Creator. The embodied, tangible world is where we experience God’s ultimate self-revelation, where we experience this life. In John 10:10, Jesus the Good Shepherd says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” However abundant consumption and abundant accumulation is being mistaken for the desire for abundant life.

    An ordained minister from the Uniting Church in Australia who has long-term connections with a remote Australian aboriginal community and works with indigenous writers who are developing their own hermeneutical approaches to reading the Bible, Dr Balabanski further added in her presentation that it was necessary to desire the abundant life of God.

    “As Christian leaders, our own desire and the desire of our communities must be shaped towards the abundant, shared life of God, rather than towards the market-driven illusion of “the good life” of abundant possessions. We can help shape desire towards ecological virtues and practices, by our teaching, by our worship leading, and by our example,” she declared.

    For more photos (photo gallery) please click here: Thematic Presentations 4 “Renewal and Restoration of Creation: Attaining Life in Its Fullness", 2 October 2023