Indian churches unite for Peace and Justice Sunday

News Service

September 21, 2010

 

Indian churches unite for Peace and Justice Sunday

 

Kolkata, India—The Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar Mandali (BJCPM), one of eight member churches of Mennonite World Conference in India, celebrated its annual conference day on August 22.

           

But this year, according to BJCPM General Secretary Ravindra Raj, the tradition was expanded through thematic focus. Instead of asking churches simply to pray for BJCPM pastors and collect money for a general fund, denominational leaders asked churches to explore “God’s Justice and Peace” both locally and regionally.

“Millions of people in India and other parts of the world are under some sort of exploitation, oppression or injustice,” Raj wrote to the pastors and worship leaders. “They need our prayers and action for liberation leading to peace.”

           

In their worship that Sunday, most of the more than 110 BJCPM congregations, read from Isaiah 58, heard similar sermons, and prayed for vulnerable communities in India. These included exploited tribal groups and oppressed Dalits (‘untouchables’) and Muslims across the country; Christians of Kandhmahal, Orissa, who were recently persecuted by Hindu extremists and forced to flee their homes for hastily set-up squalid government refugee camps; and people with leprosy and mental illnesses.

           

BJCPM Sunday, Raj reported, “was a reminder that if churches decide to do things together, especially pray, things are bound to happen in the spiritual realm.” The fact that the congregations observed the day was a reward in itself. One particular highlight was that the largest collection came from a small 23-member congregation in Kolkata.

           

The BJCPM is still collecting the donations but projects a total of Rs. 40,000 (about $900). Part of the money will fund workshops for pastors and leaders on the biblical basis for God’s justice and peace. Two workshops have already been planned for November, among leaders of Andhra Pradesh Conference and Zion Fellowship in Orissa. Other workshops will likely follow.

           

With a membership of over 7,000 BJCPM (India United Missionary Church), headquarterd in Kolkata, is spread across six regional conferences in eastern and southeastern India, and represents six language groups. Except for those in Kolkata and other cities, BJCPM congregations tend to be small, rural or semi-rural, and facing economic challenges.

 

Byron Rempel-Burkholder

MWC News Service

 

 

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Mennonite World Conference is a communion (Koinonia) of Anabaptist-related churches linked to one another in a worldwide community of faith for fellowship, worship, service, and witness.