- The 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia
- Theme and Logo
- Churcha – Interactive Sessions
- Pre-Assembly Events
- Stewards Programme
- Past CCA Assemblies
The General Assembly is the highest governing body of the Christian Conference of Asia and normally meets every five years. It is a special event when representatives of the CCA’s member churches and councils as well as ecumenical partner organisations come together for a celebration of faith and to reaffirm the unity of the fellowship in the Asian ecumenical movement.
- As the supreme decision-making representative gathering of its member churches and councils, the General Assembly celebrates the unity of the churches in Asia in worship, study, and action.
- It provides the opportunity for the representatives of the CCA members to express the common vision of the churches for the direction and mission of the CCA.
- The General Assembly reviews the programmes and assesses the work carried out by the CCA through its programmes for the past years. It is also an occasion to enunciate general directions and a common vision for the future mission and programmes of the CCA.
- The General Assembly elects the leadership of the CCA for the upcoming years. This includes the Moderator, Vice Moderator, Treasurer, and 17 members of the Executive Committee.
The CCA 15th General Assembly will take place in Kottayam, a historic multi-religious city in the southern state of Kerala, India. The last assembly in India took place in Bangalore in 1981.
The city of Kottayam is an important centre of the Syrian Christian community that traces its origin to St Thomas, the Apostle, who is believed to have visited Kerala in 52 CE and to have established seven churches on the Malabar coast.
‘Churcha’ is a common word in many Indian languages that means ‘conversation’ or ‘dialogue’. ‘Churcha’ opens up the space for sharing through workshops, exhibitions, networking zones, and other side events.
More information regarding the registration process for such events will be shared shortly.
Materials for the 15th CCA Assembly will be uploaded shortly.
The pre-Assembly events will include:
- Asian Ecumenical Institute (AEI)
- Women’s Pre-Assembly
- Youth Pre-Assembly
The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) invites applications from young Asians belonging to the CCA member churches and ecumenical councils in Asia to serve as stewards for its 15th General Assembly in Kottayam, India, from 27 September to 4 October 2023.
The stewards will also attend the pre-Assembly youth gathering along with dedicated sessions of ecumenical formation training and orientation. The arrival for the stewards will be on 23 September and departure on 4 October 2023.
The Stewards Programme will bring together a diverse group of 60 young people for the General Assembly of the CCA. Sixty young people (20 international, 20 from India, and 20 from the state of Kerala specifically) will be selected to work together with the CCA staff and local organising committees and will have various responsibilities during the General Assembly.
The Stewards Programme is an excellent opportunity for young people who are passionate about making a difference in their communities to work and collaborate in a multicultural context with other like-minded young Christians from across the Asia region, in a spirit of togetherness and friendship. It is also a platform where young people can interact with a wide range of participants at the CCA’s 15th General Assembly, including church and ecumenical leaders from around the world, theologians, missiologists, social activists, and interfaith scholars.
The working language of the programme will be English.
Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 as on September 2023. The deadline for applying is 17 April 2023. All applications must be submitted via the Google Form: https://forms.gle/v6RjUqYD3M7LWebSA
The Christian Conference of Asia is the first and oldest regional ecumenical organization in the world. It was constituted by the decision of Christian churches and national councils of churches or national Christian councils, whose representatives first met at Prapat, Indonesia, in March 1957. It was inaugurated at the 1959 Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The CCA was known as the East Asia Christian Conference (EACC) from its inauguration until the 5th Assembly in Singapore, in 1973.
The journey of the CCA from its inception to the present day can be traced through its General Assemblies and their themes:
14th Assembly: Jakarta, 2015
Place: Jakarta, Indonesia
Dates: 21 May–27 May 2015
Theme: Living Together in the Household of God
The Assembly took on a more holistic approach with its theme “Living Together in the Household of God pertinent to the message that the world was created by God was a ‘house’ where all of creation can depend on each other, and live together in peace and harmony.
Thematic presentations in the Assembly focused on theological, geopolitical and interfaith perspectives. In the theological reflections, a call was made for the churches to work together ecumenically and as one. Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…” was a constant reminder of the need for Christian unity and to together proclaim the prophetic and liberating message of Christ.
13th Assembly: Kuala Lumpur, 2010
Place: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Dates: 14 April–21 April 2010
Theme: Called to Prophesy, Reconcile, and Heal
“Called to Prophesy, Reconcile, and Heal” was the theme for the 13th General Assembly of the CCA.
The encouragement and call throughout the assembly were for humanity to grieve on the actions of the past that were filled with bitterness and hatred against each other. Christians in Asia, before being prophetic, must ask God first for the gift of tears that cleanses the eyes to be able to see the suffering and pain in the world which God has created.
The call to prophecy, reconcile and heal is addressed to the Church in the letter to the Corinthians by St. Paul. He reminds the various factions and groups in the church that they are called to be a community growing in reconciliation. In the assembly, this call was deemed relevant to the churches 2000 years apart.
In the first session of the D.T. Niles memorial lecture, it was highlighted that costly discipleship was the consequence of prophetic ministry and a component of it. The second session encouraged the idea that reconciliation and healing were not a “welfarist model of work” of the churches, but was a political engagement with people, ideologies, politics and identities.
The biblical reflections enriched the theme of the assembly with deep and relevant insights. The need to look back to the first-century church was highlighted as to how they lived up to a prophetic counter vision. The first church was sensitive to the needs of others and practised the ‘economy of sharing’. This praxis entailed an alternative economic vision which stood as a contrast to the dominant economic norm of the present era. Furthermore, the biblical reflections also focused on the Trinitarian state of being - of a perfect relationship between God, humanity and the entire creation. The bible studies proposed that reconciliation was more than a mere ‘conciliation’, it is a cosmo-theandric vision.
12th Assembly: Chiang Mai, 2005
Place: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Dates: 31 March–6 April 2005
Theme: Building Communities of Peace for All
Lectures were delivered on the broader theme of ‘Listening to the Voice of God’, and included ‘New Trends in the Ecumenical Movement’, ‘Building Communities of Peace’, and ‘Geopolitics in Asia: An Overview’. Bible studies were on ‘Visioning Peace in our Communities’, ‘Imagining God in Our Communities of Women and Men’, and ‘Breaking Down the Walls of Hostility’.
Excerpt from the Report of the Presidium:
“Asia is often named as a continent of peace-loving people. We are used to enjoying smiling faces as we travel around Asia, and warm hospitality extended by people who may not have the most resources to share with others. And yet, peace, so obvious a value we all treasure and a desire in all of us has come so far from sight in many of our communities. The threat to peace is something not unfamiliar to us…There is much room for us to envision peace and for the renewal of commitment to building it for the future of our communities, for the very precious lives of our families, women and children and the earth. This will be the task of this Assembly here…”
11th Assembly: Tomohon, 2000
Place: Tomohon, Indonesia
Dates: 1–6 June 2000
Theme: Time for Fullness of Life for All
Presentations were made on ‘Time for Fullness of Life for All’, ‘For Such a Time as This: Our Moment in God’s Time’, and ‘New Communities in the New Millennium’.
Excerpt from the Report of the General Secretary:
“Like the pioneers of the ecumenical movement, the pressure of God’s calling and of changing conditions ask us to think again of the nature and character of the ecumenical movement, the leadership it needs and should have, its people and constituencies, its role in a vastly changed and changing world, and its structure and its relationship with the churches. What does it mean for the ecumenical movement to be “of the church” and of ecumenical life as an expression of “being church” amidst all of Christ’s churches? What does it mean for the ecumenical movement and the church to be “of Asia”, changing vastly and reinventing itself, as some have said? What does it mean to be ecumenical in an intensely religiously plural work…what does it mean to be “the people of God amidst all God’s people”?...What would it mean in terms of our fellowship, our structures, our perception of mission, and our relationships, our social witness and the sources of our support? What does it mean to be ecumenical and to be the church in Asia at a time when the geoeconomic and political map of the world is being redrawn and where Asia is becoming in fact “world”?
10th Assembly: Colombo, 1995
Place: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Dates: 8–14 June 1995
Theme: Hope in God in a Changing Asia
Presentations were made on ‘Hope in God in a Changing Asia: Emerging Socio-Economic and Political Issues’, ‘Hope in God in a Changing Asia: A Theological Reflection’, and ‘Hope in God in a Changing Asia: Church Renewal’. A Lecture was delivered on ‘Religious Fundamentalism and the Culture of Non-Violence’. Bible studies were on ‘God makes No-People of the World as Partners in the Struggle for Justice’ and ‘Intact Communion of Christians: Pre-condition for being the True Bearers of Hope’.
Excerpt from the Report ‘Direction for the Future: Hope in God and Church Renewal’:
“Hope in God in a Changing Asia” is an important theme as the church approaches 2000. For people outside the church, do we represent hope?... Church renewal is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit’s divine power and human power combined in renewal. It is an ongoing journey, with personal and corporate aspects. The warning is that the church can be bound by tradition and structure and thus have difficulty in addressing current issues e.g. gender bias. Renewal will come as the church interprets its mission in the light of its response to social justice issues, such as child abuse, and exploitation of labour."
In a changing Asia, the following issues affect the church renewal:
- the rapid change in society;
- a need for security as people move from rural to urban areas, expressed in clinging to traditional ways and worship;
- presenting an authentic understanding of the gospel and theology in a modern context;
- the church should be integrated with and not separate from society;
- the fear expressed by adults in dealing with understanding youth.
9th Assembly: Manila, 1990
Place: Manila, the Philippines
Dates: 4–12 June 1990
Theme: Christ Our Peace: Building a Just Society
Three lectures were delivered on ‘Toward a Convivial World’, ‘Women and Men in Community: Rhetoric or Reality?’ and ‘On Being a Christian and Asian in the Present World Economic Order’. Bible Studies were conducted on ‘The Concept of Shalom in the Old Testament’, ‘Peace and the New Human Community’, ‘Called to be Peacemakers’, and ‘The Kingdom of Peace and the Ministry of the Church’.
A report from the Assembly reads:
“The facts that Christianity is an Asian religion and that it has had, since the first century AD, some roots in our soil, are often overlooked and ignored. Particularly in those countries of Asia with a colonial history, the Church (and Christians generally) are still looked upon as “vestiges” of past colonial masters and often treated with suspicion and derision. Christians, especially where they are found in minority situations, are also often associated with some covert design running contrary to the mainstream of Asian thought, aspiration, and values. It is amidst these perceptions (right or wrong) that the issue of the Asianness of the Church or an Asian Christian Identity is to continue to be a serious search for the Church in Asia.
“A genuine and sensitive ‘Asian Christian’ identity as a manifestation of the unity of the Church in Asia will contribute to the quality and the strength of the larger Asian people’s identity. The Asian Christian identity (encompassing within itself various differences in creative tension) will, in turn, be a credible and authentic component of the larger Asian perspective and reality of unity amidst diversity.”
8th Assembly: Seoul, 1985
Place: Seoul, Korea
Dates: 26 June–2 July 1985
Theme: Jesus Christ Sets Free to Serve
A report from the Assembly reads:
“Christ sets us free from idols into the freedom to believe in the God who created us, and made the ultimate sacrifice that we may truly be what we are. We affirm this in the face of situations where it is forbidden to believe other than what society or culture provides. This is an affirmation that must be made in the midst of worldly powers—political or religious—that bar the recognition of the Father of our Lord Jesus.
“Christ sets us free to worship God and acknowledge him as the most worthy of adoration and praise. We make this affirmation in the face of cultural values that push us to worship the things God has created and to turn away from God himself. Christ has set us free to claim and renew what is of value in our culture and societies and incorporate them into the new life and the new future that we have in him.
“Christ sets us free to love and care for our peoples, particularly those who are poor, oppressed, exploited, marginalised, and to struggle with them to find the new life that is promised in Christ. We must affirm this in the midst of Asian societies in the clutches of an ethos of greed and domination, where the great power and wealth of a few are made possible through the misery of the many.
…The ground of our freedom is the holy, loving, and righteous God who became incarnate in His Son Jesus Christ and dwelt among us, and struggled with and showed his great love for us by his crucifixion, and conquered the evil powers that enslave and oppress, by his resurrection. To have faith in this God open us to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all the truth about ourselves and our world, and about the life that shall be ours in the Kingdom of God. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the future as we exercise our freedom in Christ in service to the least of our brethren.”
7th Assembly: Bangalore, 1981
Place: Bangalore, India
Dates: 18–28 May 1981
Theme: Living in Christ with People
Programmatic work was discussed under the groups ‘Confronting the structures of power’, ‘A call to the community’, ‘For the renewal of the Church’, and ‘Meeting Asia’s emerging challenges’.
A report from the Assembly reads:
“It is Christ who calls us to the community. It is Christ who is the centre of Christian communities, and in faith, we also believe that no human community is outside the love of Christ. If that is what we believe, then, every Christian community at all levels—local, denominational, national, and international—is, at the same time, part and parcel of the broader human community.
“We are called to a fully and truly human community only through Christ because in Him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female”. People who are really in a community are people who belong to one another, care for one another, and share with one another. Through creative interaction and tension, the community draws together despite differences.”
6th Assembly: Penang, 1977
Place: Penang, Malaysia
Dates: 31 May–9 June 1977
Theme: Jesus Christ in Asian Suffering and Hope
Lectures and bible studies revolved around the theme and discussions centred on the theme, ‘Jesus Christ in Asian Suffering and Hope’.
Salient issues raised at the Assembly include:
- The need to develop an Asian theological framework within which Asian Christians may pursue their social tasks creatively and interpret the Asian realities of the present time.
- The role and place of women and youth in churches and in international ecumenical gatherings.
- A greater emphasis on the cultural and religious aspects of our societies in Asia.
- A greater emphasis on the vital role of worship in the nurture of the community of faith.
- The problem of cultural imperialism.
- The need to develop closer relations with minority churches in special situations.
- The need to highlight the central task of appropriating and proclaiming the gospel message.
- The development of more mature ecumenical relations between Asian churches and their overseas partners.
A message from the Assembly profoundly reads:
That people are not to be wasted, people are valuable.
Made in God’s image,
Redeemed by the Christ who died for them,
People have his promise of abundant life, not wasted life.
Therefore, we affirm
That God is a living God, the God of love and acceptance;
That the Spirit of God works with his people in freeing and uniting them;
This is our message.
To share our new life by Word and Action;
To share His lifestyle through style;
To offer His hope by offering ourselves in proclaiming the Gospel;
To share Christ thus is our mission.
5th Assembly: Singapore, 1973
Dates: 6–12 June 1973
Theme: Christian Action in the Asian Struggle
Participants: 289 participants
The 5th Assembly was a landmark Assembly in the life of the organisation, it was when the East Asia Christian Conference (EACC) formally changed its name to the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). It was also the first time that insistence was made about spreading out the representation at the Assembly among church executives, laity, women, and youth under 27 years of age.
Sessions at the Assembly included ‘The Asian Struggle’, ‘Christian Action in the Asian Struggle’, ‘The Struggle for Justice, Liberation, and Development’, ‘Renewing the Church for Christian Action’, and ‘Forward in Ecumenism’. Further issues on ‘Message and Communication’, ‘Life and Action’, and ‘Justice and Service’ were considered in groups.
A message from the Assembly on ‘Message and Communication’ reads:
“We believe that the purpose of God for the church in Asia is life together in common obedience to Him for the doing of His will in the world. We also affirm that His purpose for us is that we are involved in the struggles of Asia—struggles of poverty, injustice, and oppression. In the midst of this Asian situation, we have sought to hear God’s call to us toward unity, mission, and communication.”
Another message from the Assembly on ‘Justice and Service’ reads:
“How is the Christian responsibility for justice and the struggle towards it to be concretely manifested in such situations? What priorities are to be set forth for the variety of service programmes among people who are becoming self-aware? What visible international concern of the Christian church is to be found in the struggle of the afflicted people of Asia? And to what extent, in the midst of all this, should the churches also continue to respond to the perennial needs of people who suffer under natural calamities and disasters, which recur so frequently, and the victims of a human conflict whose visions are often limited by circumstance to survival and existence?
“These questions call for a continuous and drastic re-examination of the orientation and content of the service programmes and social projects of the churches, and for the courage and openness to participate alongside the struggling people in the process of humanisation. The era of great statements is over: now is the time for action. Christian action in the Asian struggle will take place concretely as Christians participate in the struggles of the peoples of Asia for the total liberation and fullness of life promised by God.”
4th Assembly: Bangkok, 1968
Place: Bangkok, Thailand
Dates: 30 January–8 February 1968
Theme: In Christ, All Things Hold Together
The Assembly made its primary concern the addressing of ' a divided church in a broken world' through topics such as ‘the Christian presence in a broken world’, ‘making the Christian presence effective’, ‘the divided church’, ‘absent brethren’, and ‘ecumenical cooperation’. Other issues dealt with economic development, politics and international affairs, corruption, war, society and culture, family life, urban-industrial and rural life, youth, laity, and education.
3rd Assembly: Bangkok 1964
Place: Bangkok, Thailand
Dates: 25 February–5 March 1964
Theme: The Christian Community within the Human Community
Participants: 164 participants
The Assembly convened around the theme ‘The Christian Community within the Human Community’. In the opening address, Bishop E.C. Sobrepena, Chairperson of the EACC, chose as his theme the scriptural calling to ‘a unity of the spirit’. “It was a demand,” he said, “for full obedience from the churches to manifest their oneness in every way open to them.”
The two major concerns during the Assembly were ‘the problems arising from the dialogue of the Church with the world’ and ‘the issues which the Churches must face in their call to renewal’.
Keynote lectures were on ‘Making Jesus Known’, ‘Understanding the Tides of History’, ‘The Joy of the Kingdom of God’, and ‘The Cultivation of the Christian Life’. Bible studies centred around ‘the discipline of worship’, ‘the discipline of faith’, ‘the discipline of service’, and ‘the discipline of love’.
Statements issued by the Assembly included:
- The Christian Community within the Human Community
- Christian Encounters with those of other beliefs
- The Call to Holy Living
- The Call to Renewal in the Church of Asia
- Asian Mission
- Confessional Families and the Churches in Asia
- On Relations with Roman Catholics
2nd Assembly: Kuala Lumpur, 1959
Place: Kuala Lumpur, Malaya (Malaysia)
Dates: 14–24 May 1959
Theme: Witnessing Together
Participants: 176 participants
“‘Therefore ye are my witnesses,’ said the Lord”: these words from Isaiah formed the text for the concluding sermon preached by Rev. Frank Short at Prapat in 1957, as the delegates of the first Assembly dispersed to their home churches after adopting a plan to propose the establishment of a regional body to be called the East Asia Christian Conference as ‘an organ of continuing fellowship and cooperation among the churches and Christian councils in East Asia’. Pursuing this call to mission and unity, the 2nd Assembly of the EACC met under the theme ‘Witnesses Together’ and reaffirmed their utter dependence on Christ, to whom they witnessed, and their inescapable need for one another as members of their one Lord’s body.
Different sessions dealt with the Church’s call to Mission, to Unity, and to Service. The speakers dealt with the different pathways of action within the ecumenical and missionary movements as ways of obedience to this call. They sought also to understand the implications of this call for the churches of Asia, and to show the relation of the same to the development of self-hood. Background addresses also touched upon the themes of a new understanding of the world, a Christian interpretation of the development of nationalism in Asia, the resurgence of ancient religions, and the Church’s mission in Asia in terms of the new forms of church interdependence.
Delegates discussed in groups programme areas in relation to witness of the laity, inter-church aid in Asia, Christian literature and mass communication, and the nurture of youth through biblical and theological education.
Ending the Assembly, Dr D.T. Niles spoke of the good news in Christ in terms that the ordinary man-in-the-street could appreciate and understand, and related how at times the Church’s theological affirmations required simplification for getting the basic message across to the ordinary person.
The Kuala Lumpur Assembly sent a special message to its member churches and councils, a portion of which reads:
“...Christian people must go into every part of the life of our peoples, into politics, into social and national service, into the world of art and culture, to work in real partnership with non-Christians, and to be witnesses for Christ in all these realism. It means that every Christian must recognise that his primary service to God is the daily work he does in the secular world. It means that we must give our minds to the task of understanding what God is doing in this world, so that Christians engaged in these secular tasks may have guidance and help in the decisions they have to make, and so that the Churches may be ready, when necessary, to speak a prophetic word of warning and encouragement to those in authority and to the peoples.”
1st Assembly: Prapat, 1957
Place: Prapat, Indonesia
Dates: 17–26 March 1957
Theme: The Common Evangelistic Task of the Churches in East Asia
Participants: 107 participants
Prapat is a small fishing village in North Sumatra, Indonesia, on the banks of the beautiful crater lake Toba in the mountains. Prapat itself means ‘coming together’.
The theme of the Prapat Assembly, ‘The Common Evangelistic Task of the Churches in East Asia’, was not a definition of a goal to which the churches were to move, but was a starting point as they manifested in their life and mission the already-given unity because of their common membership in the body of Christ. The Bible Studies during the Assembly focused on the ministry of the Apostle Paul, centring especially on the meaning and content of the total Christian mission, helping to re-emphasise the nature of the common task of churches all over the world. The Prapat Assembly was therefore an act of faith and obedience on part of the churches in Asia and the rest of the world.
The Assembly spent most of its first two days surveying the situation of the churches in Asia. The circulated reports from the different churches and questions during each session on surveys helped the delegates to get a general idea of the variety of the total Christian situation in Asia.
In his speech, Dr D.T. Niles of Ceylon, who was elected as the first General Secretary of the CCA, spoke of churches and ‘missions’ as instruments of evangelism. The unity of the church was determinative in its mission.
Relations between the regional and the ecumenical, between churches and missions, between service, fellowship, and proclamation in the total Christian mission, organisation, and community, the form and content—all these were very much in the minds of the churches and councils which sent their delegates to the Prapat Assembly.
As the first Assembly drew to a close, the Batak congregation of 200 members at Panahatan brought the first contribution to the East Asia Christian Conference as it presented a small bullock brought all the way in a boat across the lake to the assembled conference members. In an atmosphere of drums and gongs along with local dances, Dr D.G. Moses, the Vice-Chairman, responding on the behalf of the delegates was led to say that the young calf, very much alive and kicking, portended well for the life of the organisation which was being born at the Assembly. A gift coming from ordinary members of an ordinary congregation in an Asian country symbolised the spirit of mutual sharing which was hoped to be characteristic of the future activities of the East Asia Christian Conference.