CCA Consultation calls for faith communities to intensify voices of PLHIV, advocate for awareness and acceptance

Programme Review and Programme Direction

Two key deliberative sessions during the 15th CCA General Assembly are the Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions.

The Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions will both be conducted in three groups relating to the CCA’s programme areas, namely, (i) General Secretariat (GS), (ii) Mission in Unity and Contextual Theology (MU) and Ecumenical Leadership Formation and Spirituality (EF); and (iii) Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflicts (BP) and Prophetic Diakonia (PD).

Assembly participants will have the option to join one of three groups for both the Programme Review and Programme Direction sessions. For the sake of coherence, the assigned group will remain the same for both sessions.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat oversees the coordination of programmatic, administrative, and financial activities of the organization. The GS comprises various departments such as church and ecumenical relations, relations with ecumenical partners, finance, administration, and communications, which provide crucial support and services for the implementation of programs and contribute to the overall functioning of the CCA.

Programmes: Relations with member churches and councils, ecumenical partners; advocacy at the United Nations; ecumenical responses to emerging issues in solidarity; income development and finance; and communications.

Mission in Unity and Contextual Theology (MU) and Ecumenical Leadership Formation and Spirituality (EF)

Under the MU programme area, the CCA accompanies Asian churches to strengthen their mission and witness in multi-religious contexts, revitalise and nurture church unity and the Asian ecumenical movement, and develop contextual theological foundations.

Programmes: Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU); Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS); Asian women doing theology in the context of wider ecumenism; contextualisation of theology in Asia and ecumenical theological education.

The EF programme area focuses on nurturing and developing ecumenical leaders in Asia. The programme aims to enhance spiritual formation and theological understanding, enabling people to actively engage in ecumenical dialogue and collaboration.

Programmes: Ecumenical Enablers’ Training in Asia (EETA); Asian Ecumenical Institute (AEI); Youth and Women Leadership Development; Ecumenical Spirituality and Nurturing of Contextual Liturgical Traditions; Asia Sunday

Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflicts (BP) and Prophetic Diakonia and Advocacy (PD)

The BP programme area is dedicated to promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation in Asia’s diverse contexts. Through training, advocacy, and dialogue, the programme addresses the root causes of conflicts, empowers communities, and fosters sustainable peacebuilding initiatives.

Programmes: Pastoral Solidarity Visits; Churches in Action for Moving Beyond Conflict and Resolution; Young Ambassadors of Peace in Asia (YAPA); Ecumenical Women’s Action Against Violence (EWAAV); Eco-Justice for Sustainable Peace in the Oikos.

The PD programme area focuses on promoting justice, human rights, and social transformation in Asia. Through advocacy, capacity-building, and raising awareness, the programme addresses systemic injustice, empowers marginalised communities, and advocates for prophetic actions and meaningful change.

Programmes: Human Rights advocacy; Migration, Statelessness, and Trafficking in Persons; Asian Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network; Asian Advocacy Network on the Dignity and Rights of Children (AANDRoC); Ecumenical Solidarity Accompaniment and Diakonia in Asia (ESADA); Health and Healing; Good Governance; Action Together to Combat HIV and AIDS in Asia (ATCHAA).

No preference updated.

    Day 3 of the ATCHAA Regional Consultation: Session on Addressing HIV and vulnerabilities,Stigma and Discrimination–Role of Church and Faith Organisations

    Bangkok, Thailand: Church workers, healthcare workers, social activists, representatives of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) networks, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) discussed community-led strategies for effective responses to combat HIV and AIDS in Asia.  

    The three-day regional consultation, organised by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), which concluded on 7 April 2024, was attended by about 60 participants from across Asia.

    Sunshine Dulnuan, a professor of systematic theology and dean of students at St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary in Manila, underscored the importance of sharing the stories of people living with HIV and AIDS and advocating for awareness and acceptance. For her, these stories have the potential to ignite significant change and foster greater understanding and compassion within our churches and beyond.

    Ms Dulnuan, during her theological reflection session on the text from John 4:1–42, made the following observations: “Despite being initially ostracised, the Samaritan woman’s actions bridged divides and brought reconciliation. Her journey symbolises redemption and the transformative power of encountering Jesus. Parallels can be drawn to individuals living with HIV who, like her, can become agents of change within their communities. By sharing their stories and advocating for awareness and acceptance, they embody empowerment and transformation.”

    “Empowered by her transformative encounter, the woman became a catalyst for change within her community,” Ms Dulnuan added. She then emphasised that people living with HIV possess a wealth of transformative narratives capable of profoundly impacting communities. She stressed that people living with HIV and AIDS can also become agents of transformation themselves.

    In the session ‘Addressing HIV and vulnerabilities, stigma, and discrimination’, three young voices narrated the role of church and faith organisations in advocating for the rights of the muted and discriminated PLHIV.

    Rev. Joseph San Jose, a pastor from the OpenTable Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Manila, Philippines, explained the significance of inviting people living with HIV and AIDS into the churches to share their experiences and struggles. “Show their face and let their voices be heard. Do not talk about them without them,” said Rev. San Jose during his talk.

    He pointed out that churches must be willing to unlearn and learn and must look at doctrine, morals, and theology in new and different ways, realising the gospel in today’s context. “Our commitment is to Jesus Christ, who is also embodied in each person living and struggling with HIV or AIDS,” said Rev. San Jose as a conclusion to his sharing.

    Arisdo Gonzalez, an activist and member of the Pelangi Nusantara and Pesona Bumi Pasundan Foundation, clearly emphasised that silence and neutrality on stigma and discrimination are wrong acts. He called on the participants from faith organisations to take sides with the vulnerable, especially the people living with HIV and AIDS.

    “As Jesus touched lepers and Lady Diana touched people with HIV, we need to reflect on ourselves together to do the same: to break down walls, embrace the vulnerable, and love them sincerely,” shared Gonzalez, whose organisation’s advocacy work is centred on amplifying voices in defence of human rights, sexuality and faith, and sexual health through social media content.

    Dr Inba Ignatius from the National Ecumenical Forum for Gender and Sexual Diversity (NEFGSD) in India shared about the importance of providing opportunities and open spaces for people as a means to empower people, even those who are marginalised, especially transgender people and PLHIV. Dr Ignatius talked about how faith organisations can impact the lives of the vulnerable by affording them respect, friendship, and support, especially from family, friends, the church, and society.

    Dr Inba Ignatius, who represents the Snegidhen and Snegidhi Trust, conveyed how the organisations she belongs to have responded to the spiritual and practical needs of transgender people and PLHIV through the founding of the Trans Shelter, a care facility for the elderly and HIV-positive transwomen, and the Trans Chapel, which serves as a free space for the faith of transpeople to grow and be affirmed in their belief in God. She also mentioned providing training in tailoring, opportunities for cattle farming, and the opening of tiffin centres.

    Points of action that emerged during group discussions in the sessions on ‘Pastoral Care and Accompaniment: Strategies for Effective Response’ and ‘Health, Healing, and HIV: Communities Leading Action to Combat HIV and AIDS in Asia’ included:

    • Education initiatives, with more encounters with PLHIV to humanise and familiarise experiences, as well as incorporating topics on gender, sexuality, and HIV into seminary curricula;
    • Ecumenical efforts, such as initiating conversations within church communities about HIV, learning from each other’s experiences, and continuing conversations between groups to evaluate and communicate effectively;
    • Encourage awareness and prevention meetings, partnering with NGOs, and engaging in dialogue on HIV issues within churches;
    • Ensure people-centred approaches with zero discrimination and stigma, and advocating for government policies prioritising HIV prevention, treatment, and support services;
    • Enable safe spaces within churches for sharing stories, fostering empathy, and combating discrimination, along with implementing psychosocial interventions to support people living with HIV;
    • Embrace different standpoints, theologies, and beliefs that churches hold, while acknowledging that all can still serve and care together grounded in God’s inclusive love.

    The Asian Regional Conference on ‘Let Communities Lead: Faith Perspectives to HIV Response’ from 5 to 7 April 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand, is part of the ongoing programme of the CCA’s Action Together in Combating HIV and AIDS in Asia (ATCHAA), which is geared towards equipping member churches and councils to effectively respond to HIV and AIDS issues particularly in Asia, home today to 6.5 million people living with HIV and AIDS.

    For more photos (Photo Gallery), please click here: Day 3 of the ATCHAA Regional Consultation on ‘Let Communities Lead: Faith Perspectives to HIV Response’ from 5–7 April 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand.