Asian Inter-Religious leaders underscore the necessity of dwelling in harmony

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, India: At a special interfaith panel session during the 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), leaders from six religious traditions, namely Buddhism, Christianity Hinduism Islam, Jainism, and Sikhism affirmed the necessity of dwelling in harmony with creation as essential to restoring and renewing the whole creation. 

    Ven. Kekirawe Sudassana Thero, a Sri Lankan Buddhist Bhikku, from the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka profoundly remarked, “What is lacking in the world today is loving-kindness or goodwill. Material gain in itself can never bring lasting happiness and peace. Peace must first be established in man’s own heart before he can bring peace to others and to the world at large.” 
    To overcome contemporary challenges and tensions between environmental protection and economic development, Ven. Kekirawe presented four principles of Buddhist philosophy: human morality, spiritual development, a non-attached and non-confrontational attitude towards the natural world, and a balanced relationship between humans and nature. 

    His Holiness Dr Swasti Shree Bhattaraka Charukeerthi Pandithacharyavarya Mahaswamiji, an eminent Jain sage who holds the seat of the Bhattaraka, stressed the importance of tolerance and education to promote global development and harmony. The nine fundamentals, or nav tatvas in Jainism, describe the relationships and responses a person has with the outer world. One could avoid the influx of bad karma and stay in peace while living a worldly life by developing friendship or amity towards all living beings, admiring their success, accompanying them in distress, and leaving them alone when they do not understand what is right or wrong. 
    Dr Sardar Sajjan Singh, the Convenor of the Sikh Heritage Foundation, who is deeply involved in the promotion of Sikhism and Sikh philosophy said, “As weak beings, we are full of attachments and desires. In a world of illusion or Maya, we forget the Creator, while engrossed in His Creation. It is only with His Grace and complete surrender to His will that one can overcome evils like anger, greed, attachments, and desires,” shared the Sikh scholar. Dr Singh provided several excerpts from the Jaap Sahib and the Guru Granth Sahib which demonstrated that the Sikh concept of ultimate reality or God was more akin to the Judaic notion of an Almighty person than to the Aryan concept of an imminent neutral principle. 

    Swami Narasimhananda, a Hindu monk of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission explained the Hindu perspective on dwelling in harmony with creation. Swami Narasimhananda illustrated that Hinduism is a religion that places a strong emphasis on the harmony between nature, human needs, and spirituality. The interconnectedness of all things is at the core of Hindu Dharma, which promotes balance and harmony between all aspects of creation. The natural elements as well as the sun, moon, and rivers acknowledge the interconnectedness of humans and nature. This helps human beings to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural world and our place within it. Hinduism also promotes a balance between individual and communal needs which promotes dwelling in harmony.

     Dr Citra Fitri Agustina, a Muslim leader from the largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), and a mental health specialist, introduced NU, and its practice of the values of tasamuh (tolerance), tawassuth (moderation), I’tidal (consistency), and tawazun (harmony). Although Islam has multiple interpretations, a humanitarian interpretation, focusing on Rahmah, loosely translated as ‘love and compassion’ was emphasised. 

    The panel session was an opportunity for the rich exchange of ideas, core values, and opinions from different Asian religions, which provided nuanced perspectives to the participants of the 15th CCA General Assembly on dwelling in harmony with creation and the necessity of interfaith actions for the ecological crisis. 
    The interfaith panel session was chaired by Bishop Dhiloraj R. Canagasabey, and he underscored the Christian values of the unity and harmony of all God’s creation.

    For more photos (photo gallery) please click here: Thematic Presentation – III “Interfaith Perspectives on Renewal and Restoration of Creation: Dwelling in Harmony', 30 September 2023