As CSI’s commemoration of Reformation 500, and CSI 70, the Church of South India is organizing seven consultations on Rethinking Ecclesia under the theme “Being and becoming Christ communities – towards a borderless Church”. The theme will be discussed from a) Biblical perspective, b) Theological and Ethical perspective, c) Liturgical and Missiological perspective, d) Prophetic diaconal perspective, e) Empowerment and Educational perspective, f) Healing and Reconciliation perspective, g) National Ecumenical perspective and h) Global Ecumenical perspective.
The seventh of these 8 Consultations was held on 18th & 19th September 2018 at CSI Centre, Chennai and exclusively looked into the theme "Rethinking Ecclesia: Being and Becoming Christ Communities towards a Borderless Church" from National Ecumenical Perspective. This consultation brought together theologians from other Christian denominations and Ecumenical partners of CSI with a listening group for a comprehensive reflection and discussion.
Rev. Dr. Rathnakara Sadananda, in his initial remarks, said we are in between truth and experiment, prescription and description and vision and reality. It is in this context we are called to explore the revealed truth through scripture and tradition in a very responsible way. He remarked that the church or the Ecclesia was always meant to be a movement, on a pilgrim journey but is also caught up with many borders with rules and regulations. His initial remarks highlighted how there were trajectories in both the Old Testament and New Testament resonating the nature of borderlessness at the same time the faith community being bordered through various aspects. Very remarkably his speech pointed out about how the disciple community who were perplexed in fear and compulsion, on one hand, were also called out to speak another language of love and inclusivity through their lives in John’s gospel. His remarks vividly explained how the people of a faith community in the biblical times had to struggle with the two entities of vision and reality. He was urging the participants gathered to find a new creative imagination, to find a new language of equality, justice, dignity and peace doing everything in love as Jesus did by transforming the ‘rock of salvation’ as the ‘cup of salvation’ only to be shed and broken for the life of many. In conclusion, he encouraged the participants to express the truth in our experiences, express that which is prescribed through our descriptions and live out our visions in our contextual realities.
10 Scholarly papers were presented by resource persons for meaningful discussions on both these days paving forward a new vision towards a borderless church.
The list of Resource persons who presented their reflections were:
Mountains shall drip Sweet Wine and they shall drink it.” Borderless Church and its vision in the 21st century Indian context: Dr. Jesurathnam
Rethinking Ecclesia from Prophetic Witness and Critical Leadership: Dr. Mathew Chandran Kunnel
Rethinking Ecclesia: Being and Becoming Christ Communities – towards a Borderless Church from the Education and Empowerment Perspective: Dr. Ms. Ella Sonawane Maben
Rethinking Medical Mission in India today: Dr. Suranjen Maben
Towards a Borderless Church: Role of Theological Education: Dr. Lalrini Diki
Rethinking Ecclesia: the challenges of being a borderless church in India Today: Dr. Joseph George
Faith Love and Hope; Paradigms of Borderlessness: Dr David Rajendran
Ecclesia or Pastorate - A Few Theological Considerations: Dr. Moses Manohar
Ecclesia 'Christified' – Ecclesia that Breaks Down Walls of Separation: Dr. Sahayadhas
Reclaiming Ecclesia in the context of Empire: Rev. Dr. Y. T. Vinayaraj
At the end of the consultation, Most. Rev. Thomas K Oommen, in his closing remarks, spoke about the new vision the church needs in the face of atrocities and injustices against the minorities in India. He remarked that the theology that we speak and ‘do’ should instil hope and courage in people to stand firm to the values of the Gospel in these changing times. He urged the resource persons and the participants to explore new ideas and visions for the faith community for a faithful exercise of our calling.