Yesterday we completed a two days consultation on partnership between German Member Churches of Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) and the Church of South India (CSI) under the theme “Life affirming mission of God: Towards building living communities”.
Representatives and Bishops from all the Dioceses who are in partnership with German member churches of EMS took part in this consultation. It was organized by Rev. Solomon Benjamin as the Liaison Secretary for India in EMS and Rev. Christopher Dhar Ma Raj as the Regional Support Officer in CSI. The representatives from the Dioceses and guests from the Protestant Church in Baden (EKIBA) who have been on a visit to their partners reported about the long history and outcome of this relationships. Sharing of life concerns, solidarity actions, exchange of personnel (including youth volunteers), consultations on specific themes, youth programs and support of projects are regular parts of the relationships.
As the President of EMS I was invited to give the keynote address. It was based on my following five thesis’s (the whole keynote can be downloaded as pdf-file at the end of this blog):
1. Christian faith is renewing in inculturation and is always trying to overcome denominational borders! “That they all may be one” is a strong commitment!
2. It’s all about participating in God’s mission to the world!
3. Mission is the answer to the Gospel of humanity in sharing our life concerns and demanding our struggle for social justice and human rights for all people of God’s creation.
4. Mission considers the differences among people because of confessions, religions and world views and because of ethnical, cultural and national diversity. Such kind of mission is committed to a peaceful coexistence in diversity.
5. Mission challenges all members of the body of Christ, young and old to take action. We can no longer stay silent on the issues, that dishonor Christ and contradict his teachings. In all our considerations we are guided by God. Every day can become a day of the Lord’s favor. Now is the time to act!
In our Churches and in EMS we are on a path to overcoming the contrast between the „old“ and „new“ churches. This is indeed not easy, because we still have these images in our heads: of the givers and the receivers – of the historic churches of the Reformation and the “new” churches in the countries of the South – of the theology of the Reformers and the enculturated theologies of the South. We have started a journey to develop mutuality and participation as central aspects of our relations. Perhaps instead of „partnership“ we also need to look for a new term for our togetherness in an inclusive and equal relationship. Some now speak of a „companionship“ (Weggemeinschaft) in which members bear each other’s burdens, learn together and journey together in joy and sorrow.
Relations between Dioceses of the CSI and German Churches in the EMS family:
Coimbatore Diocese – Protestant Church in Baden (EKIBA), Deanery of Pforzheim
Malabar Diocese – EKIBA, Deanery of Breten-Bruchsal
South Kerala Diocese – Protestant Lutheran Church in Württemberg (ELKW), Deaneries of Degerloch and Schwäbisch – Gemünd
Tirunelveli Diocese – ELKW, Deanery of Waiblingen
Karnataka Northern Diocese – Protestant Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (EKKW), Church District Melsungen
Karnataka Southern Diocese – EKIBA, Deanery of Villingen and Schwenningen
Krishna-Godavari Diocese – Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN) – Deanery of Giessen-Land (Former deaneries of Grünberg, Hungen and Kirchberg)
East Kerala Diocese – EKHN, Deaneries Büdinger Land (former deaneries Nidda and Büdingen) and Vogelsberg (former deaneries Alsfeld and Vogelsberg)