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Sound the Bamboo
[CCA Hymnal]



Basic Ecumenical Course

22 November 2012

Participating in God’s Holistic Mission of Reconciling the Whole World

“Ecumenism is not a subject to be studied but is a matter of life” says Rt. Rev. Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus, Suffragan Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Church and former member of WCC Central Committee. Delivering the key note address at the inauguration of the Basic Ecumenical Course in the Ecumenical Christian Centre (ECC), Bangalore, he said that Ecumenism is the affirmation of life and in the midst of the escalating realities of the destruction of life, like exploitation of children and nature, churches are urgently called to promote peace and justice for all – as reflected in the theme of the coming WCC Assembly in Busan in 2013 “God, lead us to Peace and Justice.”  In the midst of brokenness of our world today, he emphasized a critical need for a paradigm shift from being man-centered to a life-centered praxis. 
The two-week ecumenical course jointly organized by the CCA Program Unit on Faith Mission and Unity (FMU), National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Indian School of Ecumenical Theology (ISET) of the Ecumenical Christian Centre (ECC) was inaugurated on November 20, 2012. After, an eco-friendly worship service that was held in the garden of ECC, Rev. Dr. Cherian Thomas, Director of ECC and Rev. Dr. Reji Samuel, the Dean of ISET warmly welcomed the participants and the resource persons. Prayers and greetings were brought by Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, retired Bishop of the Church of Ceylon, and Bible Study leader of the course. Rev. Dr. Henriette Hutabarat Lebang conveyed greetings from the CCA members and appreciated NCC India and ECC for their wonderful collaboration in organizing this program. 

As part of introduction to the ecumenical movement in Asia, Dr. Henriette Hutabarat Lebang shared the CCA life and ministry and Dr. Kambodji, CCA consultant for HIV and AIDS, presented the Challenges of HIV/AIDS to the Ministry of Asian Churches today. In the sessions on Ecumenical Journey of Churches in India, Dr. D. Arthur Jeyakumar, a church historian presently teaching at the Gurukul Theological Seminary, presented a paper on the ‘Indian contribution to the Ecumenical Movement,’ and  Fr. Dr. Sebastian Payyappilly, CMI, lecturer at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram a prestigious Catholic Institution in Bangalore presented the   Roman Catholic Church perspective.  Prof. Dr. Ninan Koshy, former Director of WCC Churches’ Commission on International Affairs presented the Ecumenical Movement in Asia.  In concluding this first phase of the course, the participants will discuss the emerging and challenging issues in churches’ mission today and identify the sign of hope for the reconciling mission of the churches in Asia today. 
Several lectures addressing some of the critical issues are scheduled as part of this course,  such as, ‘Understanding People of Other Faiths’ by Prof. Dr. P.S. Jacob, former Principal of Ahmednagar College; ‘Religion and Politics’ by Dr. Ninan Koshy; ‘Displaced People’ by Prof. Dr. Rini Ralte from United Theological College (UTC) ; ‘Ecological Problems: the Importance of Conservation’ by Rev. Dr. Allan Palanna from UTC; ‘Subaltern Issues: On Fragmentation of Society (Dalits/Tribals)’ by Rev. Bharath Patta, General Secretary of India SCM; ‘Children At Risk – on Child Trafficking’ by the Director of Don Bosco, ‘Gender Justice and Transgender Issues’ by Prof. Dr. Sr. Puspha Joseph from Madras University, ‘Vision of Unity in Plural and Diverse Context’ by Rev. Dr. K. C. Abraham, former Director of SATHRI the research wing of the Senate of Serampore University. 

As part of the efforts to familiarize participants with the life of communities in India, exposure programs to selected religious centers, worship with local congregations in Bangalore and a visit to Mysore city, a historic and important place in Karnataka, have been included as part of the course. The five Bible Studies during the course are led by Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera and Prof. Dr. Evangeline Rajkumar (Rev.) from UTC Bangalore. 
By the end of the second phase , the participants will have an idea of the Ecumenical movement in India through lectures on the following topics by eminent theologians and ecumenists:  ‘Ecumenical Journey of NCC India – Towards a Wider Perspective’ by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCC India; ‘Witness of Reconciling Mission in India’ by Rev. Dr. David Selvaraj, Director of Vishtar and Rev. Dr. Mohan Lalbeer, (Secretary of the Board of Theological Studies of Senate of Serampore College), Rev. Lee Hee Woon, a missionary of Presbyterian Church of Korea stationed in Bangalore, and Rev. Vincent Rajkumar, Director of Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, CISRS.  Pastors, theological educators, missionaries, NGO activists in India are invited to attend this one day seminar that has its focus on a new vision as theological educators and pastors in overcoming division, adopting servant-ship as an agent of change and being channel of God’s grace.  This is considered as a critical role and responsibility of the churches today.     
 The Ecumenical course also known as the Institute on Ecumenism, is being held at ECC Bangalore from November 19 to December 1, 2012, and is attended by 31 participants representing member churches of CCA in India, NCC India and beyond, and networks of ECC.  In order to give a regional perspective to this national course, one participant from Korea and one from Bangladesh attend this course. As an integral part of the course, the participants are requested to write their reflection titled “My Ecumenical Response – Journey to the Future”and connect it with their personal experience, and commitment, which will reflect as their plan of action.

posted by communications on Friday, November 23, 2012  

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