Kottayam, Kerala: Recalling an earlier statement at the beginning of his tenure, the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) Dr Mathews George Chunakara in his report on the second day of the 15th General Secretary of CCA eloquently reiterated that “We need to recover our vision and passion for ecumenism, discerning in the depth of our faith. We need to recognise that as members of the Asian ecumenical fraternity, we must grow and progress in the quest for accepting the growing reality of our common belonging and our being in Christ. Let us keep travelling to reach the goal of our common witness in unity”.
The General Secretary’s report, which is considered a high point of the General Assembly, was a comprehensive account of the work of the CCA and its current contexts and challenges.
The CCA General Secretary described the General Assemblies of the CCA as being considered radiant mosaics, composed of the diverse hues of Asian Christian traditions, the interwoven threads of ecclesial unity leading to common action for wider ecumenism.
“Although the General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the CCA, it is also the largest representative ecumenical regional gathering of the Asian churches, where the pulse of the Asian churches resonates; it is also an occasion for assessing the visible manifestation of ‘life together’ of the Asian churches, a coming-together that resounds with hope and commitment to collective witness, service, and mission”, Dr Mathews George Chunakara added.
He described the 15th General Assembly as yet another historic milestone and an occasion for assessing the ecumenical journey of CCA during the past eight years.
According to the General Secretary’s report, during the post-Jakarta Assembly period, CCA’s programme areas were restructured and a new strategic programme plan was adopted. A total of 224 programmes were organised with 9,693 participants over the past eight years.
The General Secretary presented areas of concern that needed to be addressed by the ecumenical movement, specifically the large-scale migration or exodus of Asian Christians from their respective countries to places outside the region, leading to demographic changes in several communities.
The sustainability of CCA and the location of CCA headquarters in changing situations, especially shrinking space for the work of civil society and faith-based organisations in a congenial atmosphere, was also touched upon by the CCA General Secretary.
The Moderator’s Report was presented by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey. Bishop Canagasabey assumed office as the Acting Moderator from the December 2022 Executive Committee meeting, after the passing away of Archbishop Willem T.P. Simarmata from the Batak Christian Protestant Church in June 2022.
The Moderator highlighted the instances of global unrest that gripped the world, such as socio-political crises, a war in Europe, and tragic events in Africa and the Middle East, but there was an “even greater spectre that overshadows all of them––a spectre that threatens the well-being (Shalom) of our entire planet, which in the words of our Theme Study Document––‘strike at the very foundations of the creation that God created’.” This was the damage caused by human greed, arrogance, and violence on the health and sustainability of the planet.
The Moderator reminded the participants of the ‘heavy challenge’ of being co-partners with God in the work of sustaining the integrity of creation.
The Moderator thanked the General Secretary for his leadership and “spiritual drive to set CCA on a focused pilgrimage across the past eight years.”
The Treasurer’s Report presented by Augustine Dipak Karmakar of the Church of Bangladesh demonstrated the trends of income and expenditure over the past eight years and outlined points for self-reliance and ownership of the CCA by its constituencies.
The three key reports––the Moderator’s Report, the General Secretary’s Report, and the Treasurer’s Report––that were presented for reception by the Assembly, outline the journey of the CCA over the past eight years, from the 14th General Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia, to the present Assembly in Kottayam.
A special Programme Review deliberative session saw all Assembly participants enter group discussions to evaluate and provide feedback on the work of the CCA over the past eight years. The first group looked at the General Secretariat, Finance, Relationships, and Communications. The second group focused on Mission in Unity and Contextual Theology, Ecumenical Leadership Formation, and Ecumenical Spirituality. The third group examined Building Peace and Moving Beyond Conflicts; and Prophetic Diakonia and Advocacy.
Over five hundred participants are attending the week-long 15th CCA General Assembly in Kottayam, one of the ancient Christian centres in Asia
For more photos (photo gallery) please click here: 15th CCA General Assembly Business Session, 29 September 2023