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FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 1
Contents
VOLUME 28 ISSUE 3 MUMBAI FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015 `.`.`.`.`. 100ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION
2 ...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 2PAGE 2 FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015
Thought for the FortnightThought for the FortnightThought for th...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 3
BLACK
is LACK of light,
while
WHITE
is light at its
HEIGHT!
The Protestant and the Carolin Ch...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 4
Ashik Bonofer
1. India has entered the
66th year of its life as a
Republic. What are your
hop...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 5
All India Council of Christian Women
An edifAn edifAn edifAn edifAn edifying exampleying exam...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 6
“.......you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”
RRRRReclaim the Collective...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 7
Lenten Reflections – 1
295
Mammen Varkey
One of the most painful incidentsOne of the most pai...
FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 8
First
KEEP PEACE
WITH YOURSELF,
then you can also
BRING PEACE
TO OTHERS
– Thomas A. Kempis
Th...
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People's reporter feb. 10 25 2015, vol. 28, no.3 obituary pravinaben patel

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People's reporter feb. 10 25 2015, vol. 28, no.3 obituary pravinaben patel

  1. 1. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 1 Contents VOLUME 28 ISSUE 3 MUMBAI FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015 `.`.`.`.`. 100ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION 2 Collective Priesthood Prof. Rajni Kothari’s life and work 3 Church in the Context of the Nation Anchor ecological sustainability in our styles of life and economy 4 A national view of our life and service Strive to preserve secularism 5 All India Council of Christian Women XI Quadrennial Assembly 6 Support equal opportunity through inclusion and participation Reclaim the Collective Priesthood 7 One of the most painful incidents And shocking too Inclusion and participation should play central role in social policy 8 WCC calls for protection of church leaders in Colombia Documents, information and pictures solicited Faith organizations assess COP 20 All India Council of Christian Women Call for a new paradigmCall for a new paradigmCall for a new paradigmCall for a new paradigmCall for a new paradigm of relationships, structuresof relationships, structuresof relationships, structuresof relationships, structuresof relationships, structures and ministriesand ministriesand ministriesand ministriesand ministries XI Quadrennial Assembly Front Row Newly Elected Office-Bearers of the AICCW The 11th Quadrennial Assembly of All India Council of Christian Women (AICCW) was held at Alpha Retreat Centre, Edakochi, Kerala, from 30 January to 1 Feb. The theme of the Assembly was ‘Frustrations in Life & Fullness of Life’. All India Council of Christian Women is the women’s wing of the National Council of Churches in India, a century- old ecumenical community comprising of 14 million members from 30 Protestant and Orthodox Churches, 17 Regional/State Councils and 24 Church related Christian organizations. Every four years, women leaders meet and deliberate on the foci, vision and mission of the AICCW based on the contextual needs. Around 200 women Church leaders from across India, attended the Assembly. Despite being a part of the NCCI, All India Council of Christian Women is autonomous. The autonomous status of the AICCW gives space, freedom and power for Church women in decision making. All India Council of Christian Women aims at gender mainstreaming, promoting Women’s and Children’sHumanrights.ItisengagedinAdvocacy to end violence on women and children, to promote child Protection and sexual harassment prevention policies in Churches and Christian organizations. Ms. Moumita Biswas, Executive Secretary, AICCW, introduced the theme and programmes of the Assembly and welcomed the delegates. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Kusumam Joseph, the State Co-ordinator of National Alliance of People’s Movements. Ms C. K. Janu was honoured in the Assembly for her leadership role in the historic struggles for the land-rights of Adivasis. The Rev Dr Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI, Ms Pearly Jos, Vice President, NCCI, Ms Alpana Kumar, President, AICCW, Ms Sosamma Mathew, Vice- President, AICCW, Mr Kasta Dip, Director, India Peace Centre, and others spoke at the Assembly. So far the AICCW is engaged in empowering women, women’s ecumenical formation and leadership development. But now along with women’s empowerment, the AICCW will also engage in empowering men-church leaders regarding gender justice through ecumenical formation trainings. This is essential as violence on women has increased frighteningly in India. Empowerment of women alone cannot solve this problem. – Reported by AICCW Please see page: 5 Editorial WSCF General Assembly Registered RNI No. 45550/88 Published on 10th and 25th every month MCN/209/2015-2017 Posted at Mumbai Patrika Channel Sorting Office, Mumbai - 400 001 on 10th & 25th every month.
  2. 2. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 2PAGE 2 FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015 Thought for the FortnightThought for the FortnightThought for the FortnightThought for the FortnightThought for the Fortnight No cause is helpless if it is just. Errors, no matter how popular, carry the seeds of their own destruction. – John W. Scoville Editor in Chief People’s Reporter, Post Box No.12, Mavelikara - 690 101, Kerala, India Phone : 09446916374, 0479 - 2300096, 2304355 E-mail : mammenvarkey@gmail.com, prprtr@gmail.com For Editorial and Business Correspondence: Prof. Mammen Varkey “.......you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” Collective PCollective PCollective PCollective PCollective Priesthoodriesthoodriesthoodriesthoodriesthood Israel Selvanayagam [The Rev Dr Israel Selvanayagam is former Principal of United Theological College, Bangalore. Currently he is Professor of Religions at Gurukul Theological College and Research Institute, Chennai.] Collective priesthood is one of the greatest and most distinctive but partially realized visions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. At a solemn moment of making the significant covenant the Yahweh God told his people whom he had just liberated: ‘Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Ex. 19: 6). But the original vision was lost in the subsequent developments. It is significant to note that ‘priest’ was not a category of Christian workers recognized in the early church. In fact, the original vision of collective priesthood was applied to the Christian community, but which was not immune to further distortion (1 Pet. 2: 9). We read of the alien priest- king of Salem Melchizedek who blessed Abraham and received from him a tenth of everything (Gen. 14: 18-20). As far as Abraham himself and his descendents were concerned the head (father) of the household played the role of the domestic priest when they built an altar wherever they pitched their tent and performed sacrifice (e.g. Gen. 13: 4, 18). In due course, mainly because of the influence from the neighbouring cults, a complex priesthood developed among the Israelites. The priests played multiple roles as mediators between God and people, performing sacrifice and interceding, teachers of law and consultants for decision making. Moses combined in himself a leader, priest, judge and law- giver. But perhaps he was influenced by his upbringing in the palace of Pharaoh; consequently he tended to be autocratic and authoritarian with no tolerance for criticism. Though stressed out, he was unwilling to delegate responsibilities to those seventy elders chosen long back. God had to remind him in a chiding tone. An interesting event happened. Moses gathered all the seventy to the Tent of Meeting but two remained at their own home-tents. When the Spirit filled them the two absentees were not exempted. When Joshua objected, Moses, as if enlightened in a flash, declared, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!’ (Nu. 11: 29). But the old Moses appeared ostensibly. Once his brother Aaron and sister Miriam questioned him saying, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us? But the ‘humble’ Moses took them for a task. He invoked God’s anger in his favour and the poor woman Miriam was punished with leprosy (Nu. 12). More horribly, Korah and his companions rebelled against Moses and Aaron reminding them, ‘You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?’ (Nu. 16: 3). Again Moses invoked God’s anger and all the rebels went alive to a mass grave. No doubt, such stories have helped enormously the priests who consciously resisted the challenging vision of a collective priesthood. Priests in all religions have tried to retain their supremacy over their religious community while carefully checking any counter movement. They can tactfully tamper documents of challenge and interpolate with words that would safeguard their vested interest. Let us refer to one example. In the popular psalm 51 the psalmist prays: ‘You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you will not despise’ (vs. 16-17). But the following and Contd. Page 6 Col. 1 ..>>> New turns in India’s foreign policy Although many a time India has yielded to the pulls and pressures of powerful nations to change her trade relations with countries, all these years after independence, the country has been upholding two basic tenets in her foreign policy. One, commitment to non-alignment; and two, refusal to be a party to any military block. But, on the eve of the 66th Republic Day celebrations, our government seems to have abandoned this sacred tradition. The joint statement signed by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it known that India would, no longer, be unchangeably committed to non-alignment. Also that, it would be a close ally of the evolving new military block in the Asia- Pacific. Almost at the same time, some quarters close to the government put forward the proposal for a discussion on dropping the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Preamble of the Constitution. For those who cherish India as a sovereign, secular, socialist and democratic republic and a non-aligned nation, these are matters of grave, deeply disturbing concern. There was, of course, strong objection to the invitation extended to President Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic day celebrations. Everybody knows that the US has toppled many democratic governments and put autocratic rulers in their places and also that it still provides economic and military support to many authoritarian regimes across the world. In fact, this was the reason that dissuaded all the previous governments from inviting a president of the US to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. Despite this, Mr. Narendra Modi welcomed President Obama with all fanfare. We always forget the fact that Britain exploited India during the colonial days, and thereafter, the US has been exploiting India. The US today, at the receiving end of the financial crisis, is in search of India’s large markets, for her own recovery. What the US needs most is a large, favorable defense and consumer market in India. As against this, there is not much India can gain from the US. The US is desperately moving to woo even small countries to contribute to its economic recovery. It is also because of such a compulsion that despite big humiliation, the US restored diplomatic relations with Cuba after 60 years. The big talks about the benefits from the US investments are exaggerations. All investors seek the highest returns; and they have, as such, no special concern for any country. Also the capability of the US to invest abroad is declining. Compared to the offer of China to invest $20 billion in the next five years, Mr. Obama’s offer of $4 billion investment is just a small amount. What is created is the false impression that Mr. Obama’s visit would bring great benefits to India. In fact, President Obama could appropriate many benefits from his visit to India. He got the assurance that India would open the economy more, to suit his desires and would step up the purchase of arms from the US. He could relieve the U. S. suppliers of nuclear plants, from the burden of paying compensation for nuclear disasters in India. In fact, the biggest score made by Mr. Obama is the agreement on the strategic defense framework that raises the military tie up with the two countries to a new level of closeness and the promise of India to be part of the strategic plan for the Asia – Pacific region. This discloses clearly the intention of building up a new military block with the partnership of the US, Japan and Australia with the purpose of countering the growth of China. While the US has been pressurizing India to join this block, China has been wooing India away from this group. When this military block becomes a reality, Indian Ocean will turn out to be a zone of perpetual conflict. Our failure to take serious and critical view of the project is bound to have disastrous repercussions in the future. NationalAlliance of People’s Movements PPPPProfrofrofrofrof. R. R. R. R. Rajni Kajni Kajni Kajni Kajni Kothari’s life and work will continueothari’s life and work will continueothari’s life and work will continueothari’s life and work will continueothari’s life and work will continue to guide and inspire Pto guide and inspire Pto guide and inspire Pto guide and inspire Pto guide and inspire People’s Movementseople’s Movementseople’s Movementseople’s Movementseople’s Movements “People’s movements are based on deep stirrings of consciousness, of an awareness of crisis that could conceivably be turned into a catalyst of new opportunities. They are to be seen as attempts to open alternative political spaces outside the usual arenas of party and government though not outside the State, rather as new forms of organization and struggle meant to rejuvenate the State and to make it once again an instrument of liberation from exploitative structures.” Rajni Kothari (Excerpts from the article ‘The Non-Party Political Process’) With lines quoted above, we remember Prof. Rajni Kothari as one of most influential public thinkers of our times who theorized the role of people’s movements in India and the third world and whose work continues to provide intellectual sustenance to the movements and the civil society at large. It is indeed a great loss to the people’s movements of India that Prof. Rajni Kothari is no more with us. Combining academics and activism, merging research and action, uniting intellectual and political work, Prof. Kothari’s contribution to the realm of people’s movements has been immense. Further, his critiques to established development paradigm and political systems accelerated his quest for alternatives that operated outside the framework of mainstream politics and brought him even closer to the space of people’s movements. His direct involvement in the resistance against the Emergency and later through People’s Union of Civil Liberty as well as constant involvement with struggles for people’s rights and civil liberties over decades speak volumes about his committed activism. – NAPM
  3. 3. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 3 BLACK is LACK of light, while WHITE is light at its HEIGHT! The Protestant and the Carolin Churches in Germany Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together? Anchor ecological sustainabilityAnchor ecological sustainabilityAnchor ecological sustainabilityAnchor ecological sustainabilityAnchor ecological sustainability in our styles of life and economyin our styles of life and economyin our styles of life and economyin our styles of life and economyin our styles of life and economy (Fourth and concluding part of excerpts from the document ‘Why we speak out together?’ drafted by Dr. Gerhard Wegner, Director of the Institute for Social Sciences of Protestant Churches in Germany and a team of Church Leaders, Social Scientists and Theologians, for the Protestant and the Carolin Churches in Germany) The Christian faith commits to treat the creation entrusted to us in a responsible manner. In the course of the massive global economic development, the limitations to our planet’s ecological capacity have become increasingly clear. Climate change has been at the center of this, which is endangering the basis of existence for the current generation and generations to come, as well as the creation as a whole. This affects the poorest countries and people particularly strongly. Climatic shifts and their consequences therefore need to be taken into account in developmental cooperation as well as in national policy, now more than ever before. Climatic researchers generally agree that if the warming of the earth were to continue unabated, it would lead to a tipping point in the climatic system, after which negative developments would mutually reinforce each other and irreversibly so. This would entail global catastrophic consequences. Climatic protection and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon emissions in particular, are therefore key political and societal tasks of our time. The last United Nations climate conferences have, however, shown how hard it is to find a consensus on this issue. Poor countries and the major emerging economies, and a number of old industrialized countries have often seen a conflict between climatic protection and economic growth. Economically weak countries are depending on growth as a means of freeing themselves from poverty and therefore reject a new and legally binding climatic protection treaty due to their understandable fear of negative economic consequences. There needs to be a global and fundamental transformation of styles of life and economy in order to make it possible for coming generations to enjoy a high standard of living. This demanding process of change can only succeed if the new goal of ecological responsibility is tied to conventional principles of market freedom and social balancing. This reflects the necessary yet tension-riddled plurality of aims in the ecological- social market economy. Economic growth will continue to be important in the future whether as the prerequisite for the financing of needed investment or of increasing social and health costs. Still, developmental pathways need to be found that detach economic growth from further increases in the use of resources and the environment, and which serve to contain the dangers of climatic change. A market economy geared toward sustainability would build more on qualitative increases in prosperity. Environmental protection, on the one hand, and the reduction of poverty and increase in social justice, on the other, serve together as guideposts for a sustainable economy. Germany and Europe need to play a leading role in the creation of an ecological-social market economy at the national, European, and global levels. Germany has already embraced this responsibility with its decision to shift its energy policy. If Germany now remains a competitive economy and the German social model of shared prosperity can be sustained in the long term, the ecological-social market economy can serve as an example and become a model for other countries to follow. The financing of the state pension fund will become increasingly difficult especially as a result of the disadvantageous combination of an increasing number of pensioners and decreasing number of contributors. This has led to various reforms introduced to take demographic developments more strongly into account and to use stable contribution rates to prevent Contd. Page 6 Col. 1 ..>>> earners from being overly burdened. This is automatically connected to a reduction in the net pension rate, which is the reason for the addition to the state pension of a second fully capital-funded pension pillar. This is, however, not obligatory and is often an unattractive option in cases that involve, for example, low pension Church in the Context of the NationChurch in the Context of the NationChurch in the Context of the NationChurch in the Context of the NationChurch in the Context of the Nation Jetti A. Oliver “Church is a peculiar organization that lives for its non-members” Church is the sign of the Kingdom of God. A sign to the people beyond the borders of ethnicity, gender, geography, faith, economy, social status , political affiliation and so on. A sign to lead people from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from wretchedness to repentance, from repentance to forgiveness. Therefore, the church has the onerous responsibility to be a shining example to the world communities radiating the love of Jesus, with the spiritual riches of possessing the gifts of the Spirit. [Dr. Jetti A. Oliver is Chancellor of SHIATS University, Allahabad.] As rightly described by the renowned Swiss theologian Karl Barth, “The Church does not exist for itself”. It exists tobeactiveinthemissionofGod for His creation. The gates remain wide open for the Church to be with the struggling people and their movements, to be contextual. The Church, in the context of the nation, needs, time to time revisit, lest it should lose its relevance. While the messags of love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and salvation remain the same; their expressions through the acts of mission vary from context to context. The subject attracts a vast domain of discourse. A few thoughts are recorded here as part of the discussion on the subject. There are historical churches otherwise called inherited churches. The emerging churches may not be with much history, yet, are manifesting great revival of the spirit of God rekindling enthusiasm among the faithful and attracting new believers. The historical churches over the years have focused on organizational set-up, infrastructural mechanisms, human resources development, working capital accruals and so on and have grown over the years like any other corporate organization resulting in some very good mission - advancing - instruments while others remained as maintenance - oriented - outfits. The Church as the community of God’s people, has the greatest potential for accompanying the people in their struggles for justice, peace and life of abundance. Most of the churches, as registered organizations, have set objectives and functions like other social or cooperative organizations, endeavouring to live and serve their constituency. Atleast, this is the image, the members of the church understand. It raises the hope and aspirations for opportunities of success in life, in secular settings. As William Temple described “Church is a peculiar organization that lives for its non- members”. How close we live to the mission thrust, a self study only could reveal. The Nation of India in the recent times has changed a great deal. We are grateful to the Father of our nation and his team of fighters, the church being part of it, who struggled for independence and brought us self - rule. This resulted in numerous opportunities to the people of the nation. This ought to bring in the dividends to the entire population of the country. But, in practice, we do not see this happening as the famous and the powerful who are adept in the art of politicking, grab power and wealth at the cost of the huge majority of fellow citizens, who are otherwise equally entitled for the fruits of Swaraj. The church from its very inception, in the nation, was geared to address the issues of ignorance, injustice, inaccessibility of opportunities, discrimination, empowerment and so on. The church accompanied the people’s groups in the fields of health, education and social action. The dignity and honour of the people who are deprived of their legitimate share of benefits from the progress and prosperity of the country also came on to the radar of the church movement. The ecumenical movements created facilities and platforms for the fragmented churches, denominationally divided churches, for accompanying peoples groups in their struggles for a just life. In many a case, this is a story of the past. The present scenario makes one wonder whether the sheen was lost, because of internal bickering or external pulls and pressures or the very fact of diminishing commitment. We feel so inadequate to rise up to the occasion, in many instances, are found to be wanting and out of context. Having become professional organizations, with delegated role-plays, the compassion element of the local church or a Contd. Page 4 Col. 1 ..>>> The 1997 Kyoto Protocol mentioned that the members of the community of nations had ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’. This reflects the ethical problem that those who have caused climate change are not the same as those who will bear the consequences of these changes. Indstrialized countries are particularly called upon to act, as they were not only responsible for a major portion of emissions in the past, but continue to be, today.
  4. 4. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 4 Ashik Bonofer 1. India has entered the 66th year of its life as a Republic. What are your hopes and anxieties about the nation, as a young person? India celebrating the 66th Republic Day is, undoubtedly, a great achievement, especially when hostile neighbours like Pakistan, China and others have always been waiting for a chance to breake this great nation into pieces. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto talked about “bleeding India to death by overt operations on the Line of Control and covert support to militant and secessionist elements not only in Kashmir but elsewhere in India.” India has come a long way in the last 65 years. Its economy has grown manifold. The general image of India, in the international arena, as being a land of beggars and snake charmers, is now changed into a powerful regional and global power. No more are Indians looked down in other countries. However, one cannot say that all is well in India. In major cities growth is visible, but one cannot say that India is having a sustainable growth. If the West sneezes, the Indian economy catches cold and suffers drastic imbalance in its pulse. Hence, for the younger generation, growth does not mean balanced development, but a quick rise in status at the first given chance and struggle for survival thereafter. Being a nation that has a large youth population, it is imperative that India should relook at its economic fundamentals. The service economy is not going to help this nation for long. Hence we need to start concentrating on production and agriculture. The concept of “Make in India” is still nascent. Will it transform to actual increase in production? One needs to wait and watch. In addition corruption will have to be dealt with seriously. 2. How far the Constitutional proclamations like sovereign, socialist, democratic Republic of India are realized so far? What is the state of India in relation to each of these? The framers of the Indian Constitution have taken great caution in adding the concept of sovereign, socialist, democratic Republic to the Indian constitution. If not for these noble concepts, the survival of India as one country would have been a big question. However, it is important to examine whether these concepts are practically relevant in the contemporary period. India being subjected to colonisation by the western powers for a long period was clear that it would not undergo yet another phase of western domination/influence. Soon after the Independence, the Indian leadership was stern that sacrificing India’s sovereignty was out of question. Hence, to great extent India resisted being influenced by the western governments. The creation of the Non Aligned Movement is an example of India’s assertion of its sovereignty. This scenario has changed over the years. Ever since India opened up its market, sovereignty seems to have become irrelevant. We are more concerned about saving international countries’ and multinational corporations’ interests than addressing local issues. Also calling 21st century India as a socialistic country is also a misnomer as over the years, capitalism has become the way of life. India is the world’s largest democracy. It prides on this factor. Especially when retaining democracy is a challenge to majority of the states in South Asia and also among other developing nations. However, to achieve the maximum of democracy, Indian society will have to free itself from corruption, nepotism, and fundamentalism. In the last few decades the Indian democracy has been challenged heavily by these afore said issues. Unless liberal ideas and approaches are propagated and followed sincerely, India’s priding itself as the world’s largest democracy could become short- lived. 3. The pillars of socialism and secularism of the Indian State are crumbling fast. Although these are vitally important and protective for the minorities, the role of Christiansinprotectingthese is conspicuously minimal. This may be because of the anti-socialistandanti-secular teachings of the Church. What is your comment in this regard? India is a land of contradictions. On the one hand we pride saying India is shining and we also have the world’s most expensive private house “Antilia” in the heart of the commercial hub of India. On the other hand, right next to Antilia, is the home of South Asia’s largest slum. Based on this context one needs to analyse the relevance of secularism in India today. The framers of the Indian constitution in their wisdom opined that India would have to remain a secular country or its unity could be threatened. Since the 90’s one finds that the earlier said threats are slowly becoming true. Religious minorities have come under attack from parties that support fundamentalism. In most occasions, the government, which is supposed to protect the minorities remain a silent spectator. President Obama’s remarks on secularism is a timely observation and a warning to the Indian leadership on the importance of saving Indian secularism. Christians like other minorities have been threatened in India. Especially, in the rural areas, by the fundamental groups. It is hard to pinpoint at one reason for the attack, but mass conversion has been shown as a major reason. Known for its liberal theology, Christianity addresses the concern of all the people cutting across all religions. However, smaller and individual Churches in order to gain maximum publicity and mileage have been involved in open conversion. They also do not subscribe to the liberal theology. Such promotional activities by smaller groups have also endangered the larger Christian community, who are also involved in social development work. Unless Christians address these aberrations, the fundamentalists would always find reasons to attack the church. – Dr. Ashik Bonofer is currently working as Assistant Professor at Madras Christian College, Chennai. His areas of research include International Relations, Ethnic Conflict and South Asian Affairs. Church in the Context of the Nation A national view of our life and serA national view of our life and serA national view of our life and serA national view of our life and serA national view of our life and servicevicevicevicevice believer seems to have lost the track. In the recent Hudhud disaster, a great number of the slum dwellers and other vulnerable groups lost their homes. The blessing is that they survived the devastation. The immediate accompaniment expected at its minimum was some gruel centers, drinking water supplies, which could have been opened by the churches in the vicinity to ensure the immediate emergency daily sustenance. But then, the response from the church leaders was that there is a specialized instrument for the relief and development and therefore, they await their arrival to extend the mitigation to the suffering of the people who were without food and water.The sensitivity of the community of God’s people to the suffering of the disaster affected who are also part of the “Household of God” was, at all time low. >>> Contd. from Page 3 Col. 5 This is one striking example for a great majority of people across the nation to question the relevance of a compassionate church, a serving church, a consoling church, a church that stands up for the cause of people in desperate need, as after all, church exists for its mission. Mission bridges the gap between the church and the Kingdom of God. The goal of the church is not seeking its own good or comfortable cross wearing but, to manifest the compassion and the rule of God at all levels of the body of the church. The nation on the other hand is fast progressing with the advancement of science and technology; networking; global sharing and so on. The sensitivity of the State to the plight of the poor and the excluded groups of population is yet to be seen in proportion to the need and urgency of the suffering brothers and sisters of our country especially the dalits, the tribals, the adivasis, the women, the employable youth and the innocent children. The church in its maturity and understanding is certainly endeavouring to conscientise itself and to conscientise the powers that are. Unfortunately, the church in the Nation is of late, experiencing hostile Governments. Anything done by the church is seen with suspicion. The exploitation of the dalits, the adivasis, the tribals continues even after almost 7 decades of self rule. The massive education, health institutions, theological seminaries; the church had set- up are unable to build enough human resources for the necessary preparedness to handle the emerging challenges on the national front. Mainstreaming of women and youth in socio-politico fabric with the people of other living faiths was not adequately addressed; all resulting in isolated life and service. Therefore, for the church to be in the context of the nation requires a new paradigm of “a national view” of our life and service. There is need to analytically understand as to who alienates whom. The ‘isms’ inherited from the missionary movements continue to be strong even much after the period of adjustment these united churches have set for themselves. Therefore, the dream remained a dream. And this will be so, for much longer time to come, unless, it dawns upon the leadership to be truthful and faithful to the calling of the mission. The instruments of exclusion that we created for ourselves, ignoring the fact of being one among the equals in the Lord’s vineyard, have badly damaged our image of servant- hood of the servant Lord. A defective leadership on one hand and a fragile ministerial formation on the other are the bane of our times. The growth without continuity is yet another diluting factor for our preparedness to be contextual. Aping of the world’s economic order, the social order and such other things are adding fuel to the ongoing fire of spiritual bankruptcy. Therefore, the call awaiting us, as churches, its institutions and the faithful atlarge, is to warm up for the shared values of God’s Kingdom, strengthening one another for the prophetic and missional tasks of our collective accompaniment, to strengthen people and their movements in the context we live and serve. For the church to be in the context of the nation requires a new paradigm of “a national view” of our life and service. There is need to analytically understand as to who alienates whom. Strive to preserStrive to preserStrive to preserStrive to preserStrive to preserve secularismve secularismve secularismve secularismve secularism Indian Republic Completes 65 Years In the context of the Sixty Sixth Republic Day Celebrations of the Nation, the People’s Reporter is approaching a few young people to know what they think of their motherland. In this column we are publishing their responses to our queries.
  5. 5. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 5 All India Council of Christian Women An edifAn edifAn edifAn edifAn edifying exampleying exampleying exampleying exampleying example of ecumenismof ecumenismof ecumenismof ecumenismof ecumenism XI Quadrennial Assembly Set before us an exemplary model of Christian Discipleship Roger Gaikwad The Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI, lights the lamp at the Opening Session. Dear sisters, On behalf of the NCCI, I greet you all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Lord and Liberator. Each one of you present here has had an experience of Jesus in your life. Each one of you has a vision of what God has called you for. Each one of you is an important representative of your respective churches and ecumenical bodies. Now as the AICCW you are very important. You represent 50% of the demography of the NCCI. Without you the NCCI is neither complete nor effective. In 2008 the NCCI recognised you as its autonomous body . You therefore have your own Executive Committee, your own authority to take decisions, and your own space for creativity on service. While we all live in a patriarchal society, I urge you to give us a new paradigm of relationships, structures and ministries in the contemporary world. May you set before us an exemplary model of Christian discipleship in today’s church and society. May you bless us with an edfying example of ecumenism. Rise up above our differences Saramma Varghese Beloved members of the AICCW, I greet you all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour. Let us all come together to love each other and to serve each other. Let us rise up above our differences and strive together to help the needy and the suffering. Let us become one through our prayers and share our joys and sorrows. May we be like lamps emitting light to brighten up our homes,our churches,our society and our country.May God’s guidance and blessings be with us all in our future work. [Dr. Saramma Varghese is the newly elected President of the AICCW.] Wail and Break the Silence to Weave Justice and Peace Moumita Biswas Introducing the theme of the Assembly, Ms. Moumita Biswas, Executive Secretary of the AICCW, said, “Let us celebrate life together and share testimonies of how God gives women hope in the midst of frustrations to engage in prophetic ministry.Also share our stories of breaking the silence and puncturing status quo to strive for justice and peace. Let us Wail together and make our voices heard to protest against gender based violence.” Ms. Moumita added, “Indian Christian women and Churches in India cannot remain silent when violence on women and children are increasing in leaps and bounds in India. Religion plays a very crucial role in building the conscience of the people.” She said that the AICCW promotes spirituality of justice and builds the conscience of people to end the culture of violence on women and children, and equips them with thorough training and advocacy. Stand on the ramparts for our people Lillemor Persson The theme of this conference, ‘Frustration of life and Fullness of life’ is based on the Book of Habakkuk and John 10:10. Frustration of life! I think that we have quite a lot of frustrations in our daily life. But we can also be frustrated over situations in our neighbourhood, at work, in our congregations. Habakkuk is also crying out for his people. In the beginning of verse 1 he says, How long must I call for help……..1:1. At the same time Habakkuk says in chapter 2 “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts:……….”. We who are gathered here can do the same as Habakkuk. We can stand on the ramparts for our people. We can rely and trust that Jesus is with us in all situations of life. We are not alone. We have His promise that says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28: 20. We who have had the grace to receive salvation in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, are called to spread the light into this world. “You are the light of the world”, said Jesus. His light is seen through His people. May you be encouraged day by day to shine His light to those you meet. Isa. 60:1-6 – Mrs Lillemor Persson represented the Swedish Evangelical Mission at the AICCW Assembly. Delegates to the Assembly Morning Worship AICCW - New Chief Office-Bearers President: Dr Saramma Varghese Vice President: Ms Zohmangaihi Treasurer: Mrs Neerja R. Prasad Executive Secretary: Ms. Moumita Biswas
  6. 6. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 6 “.......you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” RRRRReclaim the Collective Peclaim the Collective Peclaim the Collective Peclaim the Collective Peclaim the Collective Priesthoodriesthoodriesthoodriesthoodriesthood concluding verses of the psalm mention the prosperity and strength of Zion, burnt offerings and sacrifice of bulls! Priesthood in Israel came to be hereditary gaining political support depending on the alliances. The prophets challenged them along with the false prophets for their irresponsible life-style, greed, misjudgment, deceit, godlessness, wickedness and pronouncement of false peace (Is. 28: 7; Jer. 6: 13; 8: 10; 23: 11). In Jesus’ time the Jewish priesthood had a sway on people and the priests were authorized to issue certificate of any one being clean from leprosy etc (Mt. 8: 4). Also he, as usual, reviewed the past traditions with a critical eye. For instance, when his disciples were criticized for plucking corns and eating grain on a Sabbath, he pointed out a radical event: the hungry David and his men entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which was meant for the priests and unlawful for the laity (Mt. 12: 3). The high priests had some political power as the leaders of the Jewish ruling council and they were regarded as the guardians of the religious tradition. Though Jesus did not single out the priests in his critical discourse, the high priests were venomous in their dealing >>> Contd. from Page 2 Col. 4 with him during his arrest and trial. His disciples too had to face their hostility. As we noted at the beginning, in the New Testament there is no place for priest in the ministry of the church. To avoid any tendency of its creeping into it, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews has given a comprehensive reflection on Jesus as the high priest. He identifies him with Melchizedek with a stress on his non- ancestry. For him Jesus was sinless and therefore the only one qualified to enter into the sanctuary and perform sacrifice. As the one who was both the priest and victim of the sacrifice, he was compassionate having solidarity with all people, particularly sinners. Above all, he sealed the tradition of priesthood by the perfect sacrifice he offered. One of the ideas on which Martin Luther initiated his reformation was church as a ‘holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet. 2: 5). But later development of several denominations did not clarify the practical expression of the collective priesthood. Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans have continued to use the word ‘priest’ for those ordained. The Protestant Churches use the term pastor, presbyter and minister though in some churches they are treated as priests coming in the line of the Hebrew/Jewish priests. To make the situation worse, in some areas they use the term of the Hindu priests (e.g. Iyyar). Actually, the Protestant understanding of ordination is centred around the idea of confirmation or attestation and they are supposed to coordinate worship services and mission by involving all members of the congregations. But there is so much confusion in understanding the status (change of nature or functional commitment) and his/her responsibilities. Along with the proper title for the minister, true to the biblical meaning of disciple and servant, clerical uniform needs reconsideration. Aspiring for extravagant vestments reveals the unredeemed psyche. It seems the white cassock/gown, imported from Europe has come to stay. It is important to ask, in what way the long robes of our pastors/ presbyters/ministers are different from those worn by religious leaders that Jesus criticized. Is it possible to device an Indian uniform which will be un-alienating the ordinary people and symbolizing servanthood? One may argue that the idea of ‘collective priesthood’ should be reclaimed and changes made accordingly for the sake of clearly communicating the unique gospel in a pluralistic world. Simultaneously, members of congregations should be educated about the meaning of living as sacrifices and belonging to the kingdom of priests (Ro. 12: 1; Rev. 1: 6; 5: 10). We have some best models around the ecumenical world where the ministers are not the central players in a worship service, but coordinators involving the congregation not only for reading the scriptures and leading the main prayers but preaching as well. Of course, identifying gifts and graces, training and coordinating people is harder than the minister himself doing everything! The Protestant and the Carolin Churches in Germany Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together? SupporSupporSupporSupporSupport equal opport equal opport equal opport equal opport equal opportunitytunitytunitytunitytunity through inclusion and parthrough inclusion and parthrough inclusion and parthrough inclusion and parthrough inclusion and participationticipationticipationticipationticipation >>> Contd. from Page 3 Col. 5 entitlements, as they are deducted from the basic provisions for old age. In order to prevent pension levels from falling too far, moreover, it was necessary to increase the length of people’s working lives and to raise the retirement age to 67. Much needs to be done, however, to ensure that all earners are able to reach this age cut-off, as the reform would otherwise only mean a decrease in pension for many retirees due to individual reductions. This can be particularly difficult for lower income groups as they more rarely have other reserves and are more frequently pursue employment that is particularly hazardous to their health. The increasing need to be flexible in one’s work (both mentally and geographically) requires that work be geared more strongly toward individual lives. This includes, for instance, the ability to be more flexible with regard to working times during certain phases of life, including taking into account considerations of family situation and age. The need for further training or complete retraining several times in the course of one’s working life also needs to be accommodated more. Lifelong learning needs to be viewed as a task for the social state and public support. People who have yet to achieve adequate professional qualification also need to be taken more strongly into account, as the fight against poor education is also an important instrument when it comes to overcoming poverty in general. One may have had the impression in the past that many social problems have been managed but not actually solved. The goal of continually equipping people to take as much responsibility as possible for their own lives, has sometimes been lost from sight. We now know that the efficacy of social state services needs to be continually reevaluated and, if necessary, readjusted, both for the sake of recipients and for budgetary reasons, and the social reforms of the past ten years have in fact pursued this goal. Despite clear successes as in the reduction of unemployment, this reform policy continues to be controversial in the public arena. This is also due to the fact that the necessary changes have also led to new problems, including, for example, an increase in atypical employment situations. Social inequality has risen in general over the past 30 years both in Germany and in most other OECD countries. The reasons for this are manifold, connected to such issues as whether the particular social circumstances are equitable. Inequality has thus become a matter of political debate under the aspect of distributive justice. We do encourage as well, however, that the discussion on social policy not be limited to the issue of distributive justice, as certain urgent social questions would then not be considered. We would therefore like to suggest extending the sociopolitical discourse to include a discussion in social policy more strongly geared toward opportunity, which would all help improve the analysis of social problems and the efficacy of social state action. Inclusion and participation should serve as ethical concepts that inspire this type of opportunity-oriented discourse in social policy. This applies in particular to the legislation, design, and implementation of employment services. Fundamentally, this is about the participation of all our country’s people in the widest range of areas of life. It is part of a person’s dignity that his or her particular individual gifts are supported as well as possible. Lifelong learning plays a particularly salient role in this regard. In view of the demographic change and the lack of experts already present in a number of regions and fields of endeavor, German society can, now less than ever before, afford to allow talent to go to waste. Even if much improvement has come about in this regard, there remain much too many cases of discrimination and frustrating obstacles both in people’s working lives and in their lives together in society. This affects a wide variety of social groups. Women continue to be kept out of leading professional positions much too often, as mothers and fathers do not have the sufficient means to balance their careers and family lives. People with an immigrant background, including those of the second or third generation to live in Germany, too frequently continue to be denied equal social recognition. It is not only a political matter but a task for society as a whole to meet these challenges in the spirit of inclusion and participation. This of course presupposes that each individual is willing to participate actively in society. Both equal opportunity and personal initiative will be necessary to make the ambitious project of comprehensive social inclusion a reality. For individuals to be able to take their own initiative, they also need to have a real and fair chance to participate actively in society, using their particular individual gifts. It is a challenging task for social policy to make equal opportunity a reality. This involves allowing people with poorer social beginnings to receive the support they need, from early childhood onward. Inclusion and participation should Contd. Page 7 Col. 1 ..>>> In the New Testament there is no place for priest in the ministry of the church. To avoid any tendency of its creeping into it, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews has given a comprehensive reflection on Jesus as the high priest. He identifies him with Melchizedek with a stress on his non-ancestry. For him Jesus was sinless and therefore the only one qualified to enter into the sanctuary and perform sacrifice. As the one who was both the priest and the victim of the sacrifice, he was compassionate having solidarity with all people, particularly sinners. Above all, he sealed the tradition of priesthood by the perfect sacrifice he offered. Social inequality has risen in general over the past 30 years both in Germany and in most other OECD countries. The reasons for this are manifold, connected to such issues as whether the particular social circumstances are equitable. Inequality has thus become a matter of political debate under the aspect of distributive justice.
  7. 7. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 7 Lenten Reflections – 1 295 Mammen Varkey One of the most painful incidentsOne of the most painful incidentsOne of the most painful incidentsOne of the most painful incidentsOne of the most painful incidents And shocking tooAnd shocking tooAnd shocking tooAnd shocking tooAnd shocking too If you want to DO and WIN keep all your WINDOWS open The Protestant and the Carolin Churches in Germany >>> Contd. from Page 6 Col. 4 Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together?Why we speak out together? indeed play a central role in social policy as, despite all other improvements, one important goal in social reform has yet to be fulfilled sufficiently: that of improving the social opportunities of those at the lower social margins of society. Poor people in Germany remain poor much too often, and poverty is much too frequently passed on from one generation to the next within families. We as churches cannot accept this situation as it is. In our commitment to a preferential option for the poor, we call for our society to fulfill its responsibility to the weak in the future better than it has in the past. Poverty is a lack of economic, social, and cultural resources, and does not only entail financial problems for those affected, but also involves their exclusion from important societal areas of life. Our social state too frequently follows a model featuring a one- dimensional type of care that only alleviates the material side of poverty. One therefore needs to focus more closely on the social and cultural dimensions of poverty than has previously been the case. Social policy in the spirit of inclusion and participation is geared toward opening up social opportunity, thereby making freedom possible (again). Social policy, in this sense, views those in need not as mere passive recipients of social services, but takes them seriously as individual human beings. Social assistance must therefore always be provided in line with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. This means that assistance provided in community solidarity must be provided in a manner, and within a financial framework, that allows recipients to feel like full-fledged members of society. This community of solidarity must, however, also be able to expect and demand that recipients actively play a role in the betterment of their own situations, to the extent that their individual abilities allow. It is also the task of the social state to ensure that each and every aid recipient is provided with opportunities to participate in this way. This corresponds with our understanding of an enabling and inclusive social state and the society that goes with it. The social state should continue to develop its methods in this vein. This year, the Lent begins on 18 February. This period of forty days is especially a time for self-critical reflection, repentance and renewal. A deep reflection on the verses from 32 to 45 (Mark Chapter 10) will reveal to us some essential elements of human nature. Also, it will inspire us to have an incisive inward look, and to have genuine repentance and renewal. These verses (Mark 10: 32- 45) record one of the most painful incidents occurred during the public ministry of Jesus. Ahead of them Jesus and his followers were on the road to Jerusalem. Unshaken by the threats and unnerved by the things to happen in Jerusalem, he walked ‘ahead of them’. The disciples and the other followers were amazed at his courage, conviction, determination and haste to confront the reigning religious and political powers and their ‘kingdom’, in his effort to usher in ‘the kingdom of God’. But ‘those who followed were afraid.’ Mark 10: 32. In preparation To prepare and equip them further, the Master Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise.” Mark 10: 33, 34. According to Mark, it was not the first time that Jesus shared with them about the things that were waiting for the at Jerusalem. In fact, it was the third time. The response of two of the most prominent disciples If what is narrated in the next verses is a response from John and James, to their Master’s words about the certain death that awaited him in Jerusalem, it is, really, shocking; no, it is heart- rending. James and John “came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you…..” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Mark 10: 37. It is most saddening that these words came from James and John. Who were they? About John, it is said that the Master loved him most. It was to him that he, , lying on the cross, entrusted his mother. In the previous chapter (Mark ch. 9) it is recorded that when Jesus went up the mountain, where he was transfigured, he took along with him only three disciples – Peter and James and John. Mark 9: 2- 8. If Jesus chose those three disciples on such a critical occasion, those three must have been the most worthy of the disciples. So James and John were two of the three most important disciples, specially chosen by Jesus. As it was pointed out, according to Mark, the two disciples placed the demand before the Master immediately after they were told that he would be killed in Jerusalem. It is the most shocking aspect. It would appear that it was the special consideration the two got during their days with the Master and the special privilege for accompanying the Lord to be witnesses to his transfiguration, that emboldened the two, James and John, to go ‘forward to him’ and ask for the seats on the right and on the left when their Master would be seated in glory! The seats on the Mount of Transfiguration drove them to ask for seats on the right and on the left!! Hard questions We need to reflect deeply on this. Do the special favours, positions and privileges that we get, only intensify our craving for more powers and higher positions? Or do these strengthen us to carry the cross to greater distances and to go up the hills? We need to ask to ourselves these questions during this Lent. “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise’.” “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking…….’ …..” Mark 10: 32 – 45. Inclusion and parInclusion and parInclusion and parInclusion and parInclusion and participationticipationticipationticipationticipation should play central role in social policyshould play central role in social policyshould play central role in social policyshould play central role in social policyshould play central role in social policy Obituary: Pravinaben Natubhai Patel (1935-2015) Pravinaben Natubhai Patel passed away on January 1, in Vadodara. She was 79. Pravinaben was a highly gifted and courageous lady with tremendous sense of humour and great will power. She was a dignified, hardworking, compassionate, helpful person who found something good in every human being. She always stood by young couples ostracized by the community for their inter-caste and inter-religious ‘love marriage’ and came forward providing moral and material support exhibiting great personal courage. She would always confront anyone who made sexual innuendoes in the street, bus, train and in public places. She would loudly respond, “What is wrong with your hands? Why are they moving in a wrong direction?” Pravinaben will live in the hearts of all those who knew her as an example who did great service to the community, even in her death by donating her body and eyes. As per her wish, no rituals were observed. –V.P.
  8. 8. FEBRUARY 10 - 25, 2015PAGE 8 First KEEP PEACE WITH YOURSELF, then you can also BRING PEACE TO OTHERS – Thomas A. Kempis Theviewsexpressedinthispaperarenotnecessarilythoseoftheeditors. Printed and Published by Vattukalathil Chacko John G-1, Sujatha Niwas S.V.Road, Bandra (West) Mumbai - 400 050 for and on behalf of New Education and Welfare Service Trust and Printed at Anita Art Printers, No. 29, 30, Oasis Industrial Estate, Nehru Road, Vakola Masjid, Santacruz East Mumbai - 400 055 and Published at G-1, Sujatha Niwas S.V.Road, Bandra (West) Mumbai - 400 050 Phone : 022 - 26422343 Editor Mammen Varkey The Ecumenical Christian Centre Whitefield, Bangalore The Ecumenical Christian Centre, Whitefield, Bangalore, invites applications for the following posts: The Director, Ecumenical Christian Centre, P.B.No.11, Whitefield, Bangalore 560 066 E-mail: director@eccbangalore.org/ cthomas2315@gmail.com Tel:08028452270/28452653.Mob:9483501416 Sam Pynummoodu, noted social activist of Kuwait, is working on the History of Indian Expatriates and Migration to Kuwait. He intends to record the contributions & sacrifices of the community in Kuwait, especially of the early migrants. This is an extensive work and Sam plans to release his work in 2015. He solicits any information, which would help him to widen the horizon, and to enrich the contents, of the work. Those who possess any worthy non-controversial information regarding “Significance of the name of the country-Kuwait, The ruling Dynasty, Details of important Rulers, Modern Kuwait, Iraqi Invasion, Migration of Indians to Kuwait for work, Indian Arts Circle, Indian Community School, Cultural & Political Organizations, Presence of Christian Dioceses, India-Kuwait bilateral relationship and cultural exchange, Indian Investors and their initiatives in Kuwait, Bilateral visits of prominent leaders of both countries, Current developments in Kuwait, English Publications on Kuwait etc. are requested to kindly share it with Sam Pynummood. History of Indian Migration to Kuwait Documents, information andDocuments, information andDocuments, information andDocuments, information andDocuments, information and pictures solicitedpictures solicitedpictures solicitedpictures solicitedpictures solicited Phone Number: 66656642 e-mail: sampynummoodu@gmail.com 1. Dean for the Indian School of Ecumenical Theology (ISET), a programme unit of ECC, Bangalore. The qualification for the appointment shall be a Ph.D. degree in a theological discipline from a reputed university. 2. Programme Executive: The qualification for the appointment shall be a post graduate degree in Sociology/a theological discipline from a reputed university. 3. Finance Officer: The qualification for the appointment shall be an M.Com graduate or an MBA and experience in managing Finance and accounts preferred. The posts of the Dean and the Programme Executive are a term appointment for a maximum period of 5 years. Those who are appointed are required to stay on the campus in the accommodation provided. Salary is negotiable. 4. Those interested may apply to the Director with bio-data, attested copy of the educational qualifications, testimonials related to Church affiliation, work experience and character in the following address on or before March 20,2015: Faith organizations assess COP 20 O u t c o m e s , disappointments, as well as encouraging signs from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20) and the Peoples Summit held late last year in Lima, Peru, were discussed at length by representatives of faith communities in a panel hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The event on 27 January in Geneva, Switzerland, featured, among others, panellists Valeriane Bernard of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Curtis Doebbler, an academic and lawyer from International-Lawyers.org, Budi Tjahjono, advocacy officer for the Franciscans International and Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice. The speakers, invited by the Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights shared experiences, best practices, strategies and lessons learned concerning how they may rejuvenate efforts for global climate justice ahead of the COP 21 to be held by the end of this year in Paris. The panel was moderated by Beatriz Schulthess from Costa Rica, co-president of Religions for Peace and president of the Indigenous Peoples Ancestral Spiritual Council. In her remarks at the session, she highlighted the work done by Religions for Peace in Lima, including a joint side event held by the organization in cooperation with the WCC. Speaking about the outcomes of COP 20 in Lima, Guillermo Kerber said that despite certain disappointments with the outcome reflected in the “Lima call for climate action,” there are still “signs of hope” triggered by civil society and religious organizations who are calling for concrete actions towards an effective and binding climate agreement to be approved at COP 21 in Paris. Kerber highlighted the commitments made by the European Union, China and the United States to reduce carbon emissions, contributions towards the Green Climate Fund, and the relevance of loss and damage associated with countries vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as well as calls by the UN Special Procedures and civil society to include a clear reference to human rights in the draft for Paris. Kerber also expressed appreciation for the role of youth, especially the Latin American and Caribbean Secretariat of the World Student Christian Federation, the Methodist and other local churches, as well as the Inter-Religious Council of Peru. These organizations, he said, hosted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, including a one-day conference at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, with a round table on eco-theology and interfaith cooperation, and an interfaith celebration in front of the Saint Francis Basilica in Lima. Valeriane Bernard emphasized the side events organized by faith based organizations and the interfaith coordination at COP 20, trying to bring various faith based initiatives together, including the Fast for the Climate campaign. Curtis Doebbler made a detailed analysis of the “Lima call for climate action,” citing both its positive and negative contents. He also stressed the hard work to be done by ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action), part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process. World Student Christian Federation GeneralAssembly The General Assembly of World Student Christian Federation will take place from 27 February – 5 March 2015 in Bogota, Colombia. The theme of the Assembly is We are Many, We are One – Sent out to Build God’s Peace. Christine Housel, General Secretary World Student Christian Federation Inter-Regional Office, Ecumenical Centre 5 route des Morillons, P.O. Box 2100 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, +41 22 791 63 58, www.wscfglobal.org WCC calls for protection of church leaders in Colombia Serious death threats to human rights defenders, many of whom are church leaders, have been made by a paramilitary group in Colombia. The World Council of Churches (WCC), among other international organizations, has called on Colombian government to protect their lives. On 14 January, the WCC’s Commission on International Affairs office received a message from the church leaders in Colombia regarding death threats hurled at them by a paramilitary group. The message stated that on 11 January, 39 human rights activists, renowned for their long time commitment and work on rights, land restitution and promotion of the peace process, were individually named in a list issued by the Aguilas Negras, a paramilitary organization, and was posted online, later reported by the Columbian newspaper El Heraldo. The paramilitary group explicitly stated their intention to eliminate them. Among the human rights activists mentioned, are also a number of prominent Colombian church leaders, such as Agustin Jimenez from the Mennonite Church; Fr Fernando Sanchez from the Anglican Church; Jairo Barriga, German Zarate, Rev. Milton Mejia of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and Fr. Fernando Gary Martinez from the Roman Catholic Church. “The Church representatives appearing in this list are highly respected members of the international ecumenical movement with whom WCC member churches have worked over the years,” said WCC’s acting general secretary Georges Lemopoulos, in a letter addressed to the Colombian President Dr Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. The WCC, in solidarity with the churches and civil society in Colombia, has called on the Colombian government “to take all necessary measures to effectively protect the life and physical integrity of the Church leaders and all other human rights defenders under threat; to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the authors of these threats with due trial and appropriate penalties.” – WCC News

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