WCC General Secretary Dr Jerry Pillay outlines signs of ‘poly-crisis’ or shocks being faced around the world

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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    Kottayam, India: The first thematic presentation of the 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) was delivered by Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, who outlined the signs of the times through the ‘poly-crisis’ or shocks being faced around the world today, such as geopolitical problems, and crises in the domains of energy, economics, and the climate. He noted the inability or unwillingness of political establishments to address such multidimensional and complex challenges.

    Dr Pillay stated that the theme of the 15th CCA General Assembly, ‘God, Renew Us in Your Spirit and Restore the Creation’, especially the words ‘renew’ and ‘restore’, implies that something had been lost and that we must return to what we should be. This was the first step to real transformation. The church was in as much need of restoration as the world, marked by injustice, corruption, deceit, and unrighteousness, he observed.

    “To be created in the image of God provides a great honour––and a great responsibility,” said Dr Pillay, providing several theological bases for why it was imperative for the Christian community to take the climate crisis seriously, being called to exercise responsibility and care.

    “Human beings, as moral agents and agents of social change, possess the power to make positive moral choices and engage in liberating actions aimed at the transformation of society in accordance with the moral norm of justice. Justice demands that we focus especially on meeting the needs of the poor and oppressed both domestically and globally. Justice must also be extended to non-human life. Thus, economic policies and systems must also be evaluated socially and ecologically on the basis of their benefits and harms to the well-being of all in our interdependent relationships. In harmony with divine purpose, the human being (especially the Christian) must be radically involved in the struggle for justice, and willing to suffer courageously for the redemption of the human community,” said Rev. Dr Pillay.“As General Secretary of the WCC, I observe on a daily basis how far we are from what God desires and wills for the world. God wants justice, reconciliation, unity, and peace. What we desire is disunity, discord, hatred, war, and divisions. It is not surprising that the world is in a mess – That is why we have to constantly pray, God, renew your Spirit in us, and restore your creation. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot do it by ourselves and that we need God’s Holy Spirit to help us. God’s spirit can do the impossible. Let us keep praying, walking, and working to restore God’s creation with God leading us. As we pray, God renews us in God’s Spirit and restores the creation; let us pray by saying: “Lord, start with me, and work in me, and through me to restore your creation,” said Prof. Dr Pillay in the first thematic address that offered enthusiastic encouragement to all Assembly participants at the commencement of the General Assembly.

    The 15th General Assembly was inaugurated by Prof. Dr Pillay in the presence of a galaxy of church and ecumenical leaders across Asia and participants who were specially invited to attend the celebrative worship service and the opening ceremony.

    The 15th CCA General Assembly is being held in Kottayam, India, from 28 September to 3 October 2023.

    For more photos (photo gallery) please click here: Thematic Presentation 1 Keynote Address, 28 September 2023