“Dalit Christian Women are the most oppressed and marginalised community in India. They are forced to face gender-based discrimination, caste-based discrimination, and because they exercised their right to choose their religion, they are discriminated on the basis of their religious faith. This is really a tragedy of errors”, stated Rt. Rev. Dr J. George Stephen, the Chairperson of the Dalit and Adivasi Concerns Department of the Church of South India Synod and the Bishop in the Madras Diocese, while addressing the Dalit and Adivasi Women from the 24 dioceses of the CSI who have been attending the Leadership Training Camp. Bishop inaugurated the three- day Camp, at the CSI Synod Centre in Chennai on the 26th of June 2019.
Adv. Robert Bruce, the Hon. Treasurer of the CSI, reiterated in his speech that the Church of South India is a Dalit church and the Church leadership takes the onus of standing with the downtrodden and the marginalised Dalits and the Adivasis in the Church. The seven- decade long struggle of the Dalit Christians for the constitutional rights should be addressed by the concerned authorities, he added.
Rev. Sunil Raj Philip, the Director of the Dalit and Adivasi Concerns of the CSI, welcomed the gathering and explained the concept behind the Leadership Training Camp.
The Keynote Address was given by Rev. Hemalatha John, an ordained minister from the Karnataka Central Diocese of the CSI.
Dr Vedha Kani spoke on ‘A Biblical Perspective on Caste and Gender and Dalit and Adivasi Christian Women’. Rev. Jacqueline, a Presbyter from the Madras Diocese of CSI, presented a paper on ‘A Sociopolitical Approach to the self- esteem, resistance and resilience of Dalit Tribal Women.’ Regional sessions were led by Rev. Dhivya Priya (Vellore Diocese), Rev. Sooraj Thomas (Madhya Kerala Diocese), Rev. Hemalatha John, and Dr Vedha Kani.
An outing was organised in the evening for the delegates.