Representatives of HIV-positive networks, churches, and FBOs dialogue on advancing inclusion in communities

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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    Day 2 of the ATCHAA Regional Consultation: Session on Community Participation in Combating HIV and AIDS

    Bangkok, Thailand: Representatives of churches and faith-based organisations from across Asia continued intensive discussions and conversations on the second day of the Regional Consultation of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) on how to broaden inclusion in communities towards addressing the HIV and AIDS pandemic in local and national situations.

    The Asia Regional programme with a focus on ‘Let Communities Lead: Faith Perspectives on HIV Response’ is underway in Bangkok, Thailand, from 5 to 7 April 2024.

    “We are called to follow the role model or example of Jesus in our response to HIV and AIDS, showing compassion and care for those affected by the virus, challenging discrimination and stigma, building justice, and advocating for access to proper treatment, prevention, and other services,” said Rev. Jimmy Sormin from the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) during a theological reflection session.

    With a biblical-theological reflection centred on Galatians 4:14, Rev. Sormin talked about the importance of compassion, empathy, and action, and seeing the presence of Christ in others, whoever they were. He stressed the need for treating all people, especially those living with HIV, with love and kindness, as one would love and serve Christ.

    “Our love for God and others should be consistently implemented in the way we overcome together the HIV and AIDS situation in our society. Where there is love and charity, God is there. When we treat people like we serve Christ, then our faith and witness as believers will shine,” said Rev. Sormin.

    The session on community participation in combating HIV and AIDS was led by Ms Ines Sarmento Lopes, executive director of ‘Estrela+’, which advocates for and promotes the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS in Timor Leste.

    The advocacy programme of Estrela+ includes media monitoring for responsible reporting about HIV and AIDS, along with care, support, and ensuring the right treatment for PLHIVs. One of their main areas of concentration is to engage with religious leaders to eradicate stigmatisation and discrimination.

    Hiramani Sitaula from the Nepal National Association of PLWHA in Nepal (NAP+N) shared their best practices of close coordination with the local and national governments to improve the quality of life of PLHIVs.

    Mr Sitaula also affirmed that communities, including faith-based and secular organisations, can lead programmes to end the AIDS pandemic. He then mentioned the organisation’s ministry in lobbying for policies for treatment services, livelihood support training, and enrolment in the free health insurance programme.

    Pyi Aung Hein from the Myanmar Positive Group shared experiences on effective communication and alignment with the national government in implementing the Stigma Index 2.0 by contributing to evidence-based responses. He also elaborated on the work of advancing community-based HIV initiatives ranging from HIV care, support, testing, counselling through the phone, and facilitating clients for antiretroviral drugs.

    Manuel Ilogon Velasco, of Dawaw Mindanao Advocates Association based in Davao City, Philippines, centred his presentation on the ALTER Project (Alternative Linkage to Treatment and Retention): Reconnect and Recharge, a community-led programme that works with treatment hubs in Davao City to support people living with HIV who have stopped receiving treatment.

    Timotius Hadi Wijoyo from the Jaringan Indonesia Positif/Indonesian PLHIV Network openly shared about their active and meaningful engagement led by the community that focuses on utilising data, thus contributing efforts to improve and advocate the quality of health services.

    Dr Rajni Herman, project director of the Emmanuel Hospital Association, which provides palliative care to people living with HIV and AIDS, talked about providing holistic care to patients by addressing the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of each patient and their families.

    Dr Chawnglungmuana, from the SHALOM Society–Aizawl in Mizoram, Northeast India, affirmed that churches possess the capacity to impact the social and spiritual well-being of people living with HIV and AIDS, and he left them with a challenge to address the stigmatisation and discrimination. “The collection of small efforts can bring positive changes in the lives of families affected by HIV and AIDS,” added Dr Chawnglungmuana.

    Deaconess Nadia Marunung, who works as an HIV counsellor for the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) AIDS Ministry, shared that the HKBP has been engaged in the HIV and AIDS ministry for three decades since the first case was reported in one of the church-owned hospitals.

    Rev. Francis Loh and Ms Rebecca Ang Li Yuan jointly shared in a session on the ministry to people living with HIV and AIDS by the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCM) in Malaysia and Malaysian CARE.

    Mahesh Somasundaram from the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka told the participants about their approaches as a faith-based organisation to reducing the stigma and marginalisation of people living with HIV and AIDS, awareness building to address the spread of the disease, testing, and close coordination with various interfaith communities.

    Leya Bristy Mollick from the National Council of Churches in Bangladesh (NCCB), shared that the ministry of NCCB involved church leaders through joint initiatives to raise awareness, provide support, and combat stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS, contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate society.

    “The National Council of Churches in Bangladesh is trying to set the light on the path forward, weaving a narrative of solidarity, education, and empowerment in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” added Ms Mollick.

    Sharing about the work of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Prof. Sunshine Dulnuan pointed out that the SAVE (safer practices, access to treatment, voluntary counselling and testing, and empowerment) approach has been an integral part of the HIV and AIDS project since it began.

    Various sessions in the Regional Consultation stressed the role of communities in collaboration towards addressing the end of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as the continuing advocacy to end the AIDS pandemic through a joint effort made by a network of government and civil society organisations.

    For more photos (Photo Gallery), please click here: Day 2 of the ATCHAA Regional Consultation on ‘Let Communities Lead: Faith Perspectives to HIV Response’ from 5–7 April 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand.