diakonia & solidarity
The WCC Asia Desk works closely with the regional ecumenical organisation, the Christian Conference of Asia. There are annual CCA-WCC joint liaison group meetings, and the Asia Desk participates in CCA programmes and coordinates a CCA Round Table. The Desk implements several programmes in collaboration with CCA; these include a Dignity of Children Programme, an Ecumenical Enabler’s Team in Asia (EETA), and capacity-building programmes. It also liaises between CCA and other WCC desks and teams on programmes in Asia.
The overall objective of WCC regional groups is to facilitate analysis, coordination and sharing in order to promote a comprehensive and collaborative response to the social, economic, political and ecumenical situation of the region. Regional groups assist WCC member churches and partners to strengthen their reflection, coordination and joint action in diakonia and international ecumenical development cooperation. They provide the WCC with regional analysis, identifying priorities for future ecumenical action in the region. They fulfil, when necessary, a mediation role among ecumenical agencies and partners on policy or other important issues.
Churches in Asia have shared a common ecumenical vocation and solidarity for many years. The aim of this programme is to promote dialogue and consultation on issues of concern to the Asian churches, including cross-cultural exchange and exposure visits, inter-faith dialogue, peace and reconciliation, conflict resolution, human rights issues and strengthening of civil society.
WCC Asia Desk co-ordinates the round table programmes and ecumenical
sharing mechanisms of the following ecumenical and church-related bodies:
The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) is a fellowship of churches and national councils of churches in 18 countries in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The CCA Round Table, coordinated by the WCC Asia Desk, facilitates the ecumenical partners' and Asian churches' resource-sharing, and helps CCA to strengthen the Asian ecumenical movement and to encourage the spiritual enrichment and unity of the churches in Asia. The CCA Round Table is an ecumenical platform where activities, programmes and core budget are discussed, and full information on all aspects of CCA work is shared.
addresses the following issues and programmes :
The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) replaces the former Bangladesh Ecumenical Relief and Rehabilitation Services, launched by the WCC in 1972. Since its inception, CCDB has worked for poor and marginalised people in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in Asia.
CCDB activities include:
Other matters of concern in this flood-prone country include disaster- preparedness, and the inter-relationship between emergencies, rehabilitation and development.
At a round table meeting in 2002, the construction of a long-awaited training centre, the HOPE Centre, was approved. Its construction began in January 2003. The centre will serve the training needs of CCDB’s own staff and reference groups, including other NGOs, as well as the needs of Bangladesh's churches.
The Churches' Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) is the social development arm of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). From its inception, CASA has served poor and marginalised people. Its core work is strategic intervention in empowerment and societal change. This has two strategic components: Planning, Human Potential Development (HPD), and People’s Action for Transformation (PAT).
CASA's programme covers 4,844 villages spread over 12 states. Having completed the 1992-2002 programme cycle, CASA has drafted an action plan for the next decade.
Amongst its many activities, CASA runs post-disaster rehabilitation and capacity-building programmes in the cyclone-affected villages of Orissa, the flood-hit regions of West Bengal, and the earthquake-devastated districts of Gujarat.
After decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar remains closed off from the rest of the world because of the policies of its authoritarian military regime. Its people and churches continue to suffer very difficult living conditions. The Myanmar Council of Churches Round Table aims to promote:
- capacity-building and ecumenical formation;
- long-term development programmes;
- mission and evangelism;
- theological education, including opportunities for exposure overseas;
- programmes for participation by young people and women.
The NCCP Round Table came into being at the time of the churches’ struggle against the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos. From the beginning, it has worked on
- peace initiatives and political reform,
- a new interpretation of mission and evangelism, and
- churches’ involvement with human rights and environmental concerns.
NCCP work on Philippines internal peace initiatives, the environment, and gender development has been very much welcomed by churches both inside and outside the country.
NCCP programmes were recently restructured, and its staff structure modified accordingly; during a December 2002 meeting in Geneva of NCCP partners, it was reported that the NCCP had regained credibility and prestige as an institution with a clear agenda for transformation.
Current NCCP programmes include: Ecumenical Education and Nurture; Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations; and Faith, Witness and Service.
Since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, Indonesia has continued to face socio-economic and political crises and religious conflicts. Thousands of people have been killed in religious violence in various parts of the country. With power divided between a diminished presidency and a military prepared, for now, to take a political back seat, Indonesia continues to wrestle with social and political instability, economic crisis and religious conflicts. Churches are in the midst of these conflicts.
The PGI Crisis Centre was created to help member churches scattered around the country to coordinate their positions and actions.
The PGI Crisis Centre aims to provide:
A database on conflict situations in Indonesia was created with information from journals, newspapers, and interviews. Reconciliation and peace workshops and training were organised, and the Centre helped regional crisis centres - in Ambon and Central Sulawesi - to provide local capacity-building in mediation or conflict resolution. A quarterly bulletin describes the Centre's activities and provides news on the Indonesian situation.
An Ecumenical Forum on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – formerly called the Indochina Round Table - was the resource-sharing mechanism for the ecumenical family’s involvement in Indochina. Over the years, its emphasis moved from material aid to a concern for peace and reconciliation, and ensuring local churches’ participation.
Until 1994, the WCC was operationally present in Cambodia; after 1994, a number of church-related agencies continued to promote long-term development there, and - with an inrush of outside churches and missionaries in the wake of the Paris Peace Agreement - tried to build up the capacity of the young Cambodian churches.
In the changed political climate, work in Indochina continued through the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Forum and CCA contacts with churches - which finally culminated in the founding of the Kampuchea Christian Council in 1998. In 2001, it was decided to wind down the Forum and create an alternative resource-sharing mechanism to continue the partnership with churches in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Together with CCA, the WCC Asia Desk has prepared the foundations for the Mekong Ecumenical Partnership Programme (MEPP), to include Thailand, Myanmar and the Yunan Province of China, along with the three Indo-Chinese countries - Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The new programme will be officially launched at an October 2003 meeting of the ecumenical partners and churches from these six countries.
In 2002, it was agreed that WCC and CCA in cooperation with South Asian national councils of churches, ecumenical development agencies, and churches from the North should launch a South Asia Ecumenical Partnership Programme as part of the global ecumenical family’s commitment to developing decentralised capacities for sharing and solidarity.
SAEPP promotes coordination and cooperation among churches, NCCs and ecumenical partners in the South Asia region to allow a more effective ecumenical response to the pressing issues and needs.
SAEPP will focus on:
Enablers' Team in Asia (EETA)
The capacity-building programmes work in :
The capacity-building programmes work in :
Current programme in Asia
Asia regional consultation
B. Networking - strengthening Dignity of Children networks through the following consultations
World Social Forum seminar
In January 2004, the WCC Diakonia and Solidarity Team facilitated a seminar called "Building an alternative world: affirming the dignity of children". This seminar gave space for inter-faith reflection on the following questions: