Bangalore: Mor Coorilos Geevarghese presented the theme address on"Search for a New Ecclesia", organized by the Christian Institute forthe Study of Religion and Society (CISRS). The National EcumenicalConsultation was held at the Evumenical Christian Centre, Bangalorefrom 14-16, June, 2011. About 40 church leaders, including bishops, moderators, theologians and activists attended the Consultation.
“A COMMON SEARCH FOR A NEW ECCLESIA”
A CONVERSATION AMONG CHURCH LEADERS, THEOLOGIANS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS
14 – 16 June 2011, ECC, Bangalore.
We, 40 participants from different Ecclesial Confessions Leaders, Theological Fraternity and Civil Society Activists came together to deliberate on the theme “A Common Search for a New Ecclesia” at the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Whitefield from 14th to 16th June 2011. This National Conversation was jointly facilitated by CISRS, ECC, Globe Ethics, BTE-SSC and NCCI who are engaged in different ministries in the Church, Confessional Communities and Society as Bishops, Church Leaders, Theological Educators, Research Scholars and Social Activists, Media, Youth and Women. After several brainstorming discussions and sessions on the need and necessity for a New Ecclesia in our Pluri-faith context delving into the historical development of the church and also listening to those from the margins such as Dalits, Women, Tribal, Agricultural Labourers, Youth and Children’s perspectives, the need for a ‘New Ecclesia as Just and Inclusive’. The participants resolved to disseminate the following message to the leaders and members of different Ecclesial Communities, Indian / Asian theological fraternities and research institutions and Civil Society organizations, Ecumenical Organizations and movements who work among communities of people and leaders and members from different faith, ideological and confessions to be partners in envisioning a “New Ecclesia”.
Affirming the inclusive nature of the church, we extend an open invitation to all to initiate localized activities or join hands with local activities that involve themselves in building ‘Neighborhood Ecclesial Communities’ which would be Just and inclusive in nature.
We therefore recognize that there are people with different faith and ideological backgrounds and confessions as communities who need to be included in ecclesial concerns. The basic faith affirmation of, all people and human communities is that they are created in the image of God irrespective of faiths, ideologies and confessions, rejecting the attitudes of discrimination. We fear that, these Christian’s negative attitudes distort the understanding of God’s purpose of being as human communities. The God who embraced flesh in Jesus Christ and lived among people and communities is the ground for us to love our neighbours and to celebrate lives of diversities without envy, hatred and abuse in our celebration of faith and confessions. Thus God invites us to experience “ecclesia” as the fulfillment of the reign of God by our commitment to just-love with respect and acceptance.
Therefore, we invite the theological fraternities and research institutes to develop a systematic, practical and inclusive programme that include a systematic study, experiment and expression with training manuals and publications to impart this perspective to all.
We envision the Ecclesia to be platform for the ostracized who thirst for livelihood, equality, dignity and solidarity, and to join in their struggles to enable them to live out their God given lives.
Therefore we suggest that theological fraternity and Church communities with the Civil Society movements, to reciprocally join hands with each other to develop a comprehensive and relevant diaconal model which will provide opportunities to equip and facilitate the work of the ecclesial communities with justice.
We believe that the Church as a ‘Just and Inclusive Community’ is called to become a community without walls and be learning and a listening community. We do realize that, the existing Christian models of ecclesia needs to be reviewed and reoriented. We confess that, the Church today is not a ‘dissenting’ Church, so the members seek other options to express their grievances which damage the witness, call and commitment of the Church.
Therefore we suggest to the Churches and Ecumenical organizations such as NCCI and UELCI to enable the Churches, Synods, Conferences and Assemblies to evolve a new governance model that would move from representative model to participatory and collective governance model that enables it to be transparent, accountable and responsible. Also to explore and work towards for a new structure of leadership in the churches.
We consider this exercise of searching for a new ‘ecclesia’ invites all the faith communities to be in partnerships in mission. We are deeply concerned to foster a new understanding of partnership. Partnership in mission need to be with our own fellow pilgrims of faiths, with people in pain and struggle for lives, livelihood and identity and with the Peoples movements, activists and artists including the people and communities from the margins such as Dalits, Women, Tribal, Agricultural Labourers, Youth and Children, People with different sexual orientations, People with disabilities and so on..
We join our hands in hope and prayer that the God of all peoples and communities would bless our endeavor to grow into the fullness of life by being together as communities and to transform our faith communities into a new and a wider ecclesial space for all.
In conversation for ‘a common search for a new ecclesia’.
ECC, Bangalore - 16 June 2011.