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Hope in a new world

· The Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India ·

“The theme chosen is significant, and much more in the Indian context, of all God’s creation groaning amidst daily threats, tribulations and toil with the hope of a new world in which justice and peace will prevail and the life of all [be] affirmed”. With these words Methodist Bishop Dr Taranath S. Sagar introduced the 27th Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India (ncci), held in Bangalore from 25 to 28 April. The theme: The Gospel in a Groaning World, considered important for deepening the ecumenical dialogue in India and the relationship of Christians with society, is also, he emphasizes, intended to set the stage for the Tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches which will meet in Busan, South Korea, in 2013.

The Bishop feels that the purpose of the meeting represents above all a period in which “the hope of the Gospel propels us to recognize and reaffirm all signs of hope through which the groaning world will attain its glory”. The ncci, which will be celebrating its centenary in 2014, includes more than 13 million Indian Christians, Orthodox and Protestants, as well, as groups and ecumenical associations that work to foster the unity of the Church through a series of initiatives and reflections among which are the definition of educational and social programmes to promote equality, justice and peace. In particular, the Assembly, which is held every four years, is an opportunity to evaluate publicly and collegiately all that is done to live the unity of the Church in the diversity of the Christian traditions that coexist in the country, and to define the draft of the programmes for the coming four years, choosing priorities that take into account the most common requests of the ecumenical movement and the ever closer relations with the Catholic Church in India. Taking part in the Assembly are more than 500 delegates, several of whom represent international ecumenical bodies. The programme — that among other things provided for an intervention by Pastor Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary General of the World Council of Churches — included a series of round tables on specific topics, such as the current state of the ecumenical dialogue, with special attention to the situation in Asia, and testimonies of the increasingly active role of defending human rights in society.

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