Go beyond denominations to tackle social problems: Church leader


By Matters India Reporter

Manado, April 2, 2019: Churches need to create space for their people to intervene in Asia’s social complexities on time, says general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA).

Observing that Christians in Asia live amid complex social situations that affect their lives, Reverend Mathews George Chunakara urged Churches in the region to help their people go beyond their congregations to offer timely help for people to overcome the difficulties.

Such intervention is a prerequisite to participate meaningfully in God’s mission, said the general secretary in his message to the Indonesian Church leaders’ five-yearly conference on ‘Church and Society.’

The March 28-31 conference was organized by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, in collaboration with the regional council of Churches in North, Central and Gorontalo (Suluteng) at Manado in North Sulawesi.

More than 300 Church leaders and representatives of 89 member denominations and regional councils attended the program. Also present were special invitees from Christian organizations, universities as well as prominent Christian leaders in Indonesia.

The CCA general secretary, who sent a message to the conference, that noted an unprecedented scale of cataclysmic changes now affect societies and cultures as well as challenge Christian faith.

Reverend Jung Eun Moon, program coordinator who represented CCA, delivered the general secretary’s message at the opening session
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Reverend Chunakara noted that various parts of Asia now witness extreme violence because of religious, communal and ethnic conflicts. He also regretted that religious intolerance and hatred now create more enmity among traditionally tolerant and peaceful communities of the region.

Churches should address this more seriously than ever before. “Communalism, an attempt to ascribe common political interest to a religious community and thus organize people politically along religious lines, is a growing trend,” he explained.

Christians, who are connected to God and living amid all God’s people, need to study the Church’s role in such societies and seek ways to seriously intervene and discern God’s will amid such challenges, he said.

“Our lives often distract us and pull us away from making our presence felt or our responses heard amid all God’s people. We often fail to respond to cardinal social issues affecting our communities and societies. It is in this context that the Churches needs to be alerted, sensitized and reprioritize its role from time to time,” the CCA official said.

Reverend Chunakara also regretted that advancement of modern technology further fragment once closely-knit societies. “We now live in an age of digitalization and at the same time an era of compartmentalization and fragmentation of our societies and communities.”

Christians struggle with the technology while fighting the temptation to use gadgets to augment their comfort zones.

“Even inside churches, we tend to post messages and at the same time open apps to read the Bible/liturgies available online or stored in our devices. All such multiple exercises make matters easy but they disrupt our concentration and relations and lead to an experience of disconnected compartments, a process that wreaks havoc even in our spiritual nourishments,” the Asian Church leader explained.

Another challenge is changing family in Asia. The family in “many societies is unable to perform its traditional role; children are even deprived of the parental care that is rightfully theirs,” he regretted.

“It is ultimately God’s call and God’s mission is the impetus for our participation and intervention in responding to the challenges in society. We are called to demonstrate our prophetic witness amidst adverse realities that warrant our response,” affirmed CCA official.

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