CCA organises national women’s leadership development training in Laos

Programme Review and Programme Direction

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

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

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

General Secretariat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Participants of CCA's Women's Leadership Development Training in Laos–2023

    Sabaidee! Hallelujah!” was the collective voice of greetings by about fifty women leaders from eight provinces of the Lao Democratic People’s Republic (Laos) who gathered at the Nakham Church in the capital city, Vientiane. They greeted each other with joy and excitement after a long period of disconnection since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The women had gathered for a national-level training programme organised by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in conjunction with the Lao Evangelical Church (LEC) at the Nakham Church, Vientiane, from 16–19 January 2023. The training was organised under the CCA’s Ecumenical Women’s Action against Violence (EWAAV) programme.  “We are again brought together by the power of the Holy Spirit and obliged to witness Jesus in all the corners of Laos,” stated Rev. Maneewan, President of the Women’s Association of the Lao Evangelical Church.  Rev. Jung Eun (Grace) Moon from the CCA led a session on the importance of women's leadership in the church and society and their increased involvement in churches’ mission.  While reflecting on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Rev. Moon said, “Although we meet many women in the Bible who were nameless, voiceless, weak, and marginalized, and even though many of them were wounded and lived in pain, anger, loneliness, shame, and zero self-esteem, their encounter with Jesus changed them into new beings. The stories of women in the Bible who encountered Jesus in the middle of their agonies and sufferings show us how to be renewed as new beings in the love and grace of God. We are not weak but we are strong; as the Bible says, ‘strength is her clothing’ (Proverbs 31:25). Thus, develop your capacities and keep going with your passion and vision.” Adjarn Willai, the vice-director of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) Women’s Association, in a Biblical reflection stressed the importance of stewardship to keep and sustain the beauty of God’s creation. Rev. Dr Sirirat Pusurinkham, former President of CCT’s Women Association, encouraged the participants to strengthen their capacities as leaders and begin with lessons from the Bible in doing mission with their God-given talents for families, children, friends, churches, and community members.  Adjarn Thappyavone shared the LEC women’s involvement in ‘mission and evangelism movement’ in Laos and how the women’s contribution to the ministry had fruitful outcomes. “Our faith urges us to raise our voice and stretch out our helping arms to our sisters in our villages. Witnessing the Gospel does not require big talk. Caring for others could move them to feel the warmth of Jesus’ love,” said the church leader. Sharing the status of women and gender issues in Laos, Siamphone, one of the younger participants, commented that Lao women worked harder than men, especially in the rural regions, and had the double burden of housework and farming. Despite the reliance on their labour in and outside the house, they did not have any voice in the family.  “As women, we feel powerless and have no confidence in ourselves. But this training has made us learn and accept ourselves as blessed to be women and enjoy our being together,” she said.  Kimphone Lovan shared that some tribal women were not acknowledged as citizens of Laos and there were many taboos on some minor tribals and more discrimination against tribal women.  “Very often we underestimate our capacity as leaders and our faith in Jesus encourages us to perform our leadership in better ways with stronger confidence in ourselves. We are happy to be part of this training which provides good tools to develop our leadership capacities,” added Ms Lovan. Lao Evangelical Church is the only CCA member church in the country and the only officially recognised protestant church. The LEC is the fastest-growing Christian church in Laos with over one thousand congregations. Although the LEC is one of the newly growing Christian churches in Asia, the church is sending its missionaries and mission teams to neighbouring nations like Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand to witness the Gospel.  It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of total LEC members are women. The women's leadership development training with LEC was conducted to strengthen women's leadership and their capacities while enhancing their biblical-theological understanding and ecumenical perspectives, which will extend their ministries in serving their communities.