National Ecumenical Seminar on Adivasis

Critical Challenges facing Adivasi Society & the role of the Church

A National Ecumenical Seminar on Adivasi Concerns was held on 10-11th April, 2007 to deliberate on the theme: The Role of the Church in the wake of Critical Challenges Facing the Adivasi Society today. The purpose behind the Seminar was to sensitize the Adivasi Churches to look into and to be concerned towards the challenges now being faced by the Adivasi Community as a whole in India. The need of such a seminar was inspired and prompted by the perception/experiences that the Churches in India seem to be quite apathetic and indifferent towards the cause of the society that constitutes the very being and existence of the Church, and that too in a situation, when Adivasi fate is being challenged and threatened in many ways from all respects.
The Seminar was attended by about 35 representative delegates from different church denominations involving major churches like the Roman Catholic Church, Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church, Church of North India, Chotanagpur diocese, North Western GEL Church, official representatives of All Churches’ Committee, various church-based institutions/organizations, and also from small churches. Besides, the seminar had delegations from Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church ( Adivasi Christiya Samaj/ACS part ) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh.
Proceedings: Opening of the seminar was blessed by the invaluable presence of the Moderator, GEL Church Rt.Rev.Nelson Lakra, who led the devotion, Bishop Dr.Nirmal Minz, who inaugurated the event, Dr. K.Rajaratnam who gave the introductory speech, His Highness Cardinal Telesphore P.Toppo, Arch Bishop, Catholic Church who delivered the Keynote Address. Besides, among other dignitaries present were Rt.Rev.P.D.S.Tirkey, Bishop, NW GEL Church, Rt.Rev.A.J.Ekka, Rev.C.D.Jojo, Chairperson, All Churches’ Committee, Mr.Dhiraj Lakra, Secretary, Jharkhand Council of Churches, Prof. Rev.Jesudas Athyal, Gurukul Theological college, and the Registrar, Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration, Rev.Raj Bharath Patta, Executive Secretary, NCCI, Dr.William Stanley, Director, DSA/UELCI and others to name the few. The honorable guests present at the inaugural session were ceremonially given welcome by the Women Fellowship of the Headquarter Congregation, Ranchi.
The resource persons consisted of the Adivasi intellectual elites having expertise in different areas of concerns. They were Rev.Fr.Dr.Beni Ekka, Director, Xavier Institute of Social Service/XISS, Ranchi, Rev.Fr.Savarimuthu, Director, Alert Centre, Mr. Dominic Bara, Director, Vikas Maitri, Rev.Dr.Jhakmak Niraj Ekka, resource person from NWGELC, Mr. Ratnakar Bhengra, Advocate, Jharkhand High Court, Sr. Jema Ekka, an Woman Activist. Other Persons who addressed included Dr. William Stanley (on Developmental issues), and Rev. Raj Bharath Patta (on NCCI perspectives on Adivasi and Dalit concerns). However, preceded the seminar presentation, were the Bible Studies led by Bishop Dr.A.S.Hemrom and Rev.Raj Bharat Patta.
*Resolutions Taken during the Plenary Session:
Following Resolutions were taken unanimously-
  1. Constitution of Ecumenical Adivasi Regional Action Forum: In view of the problems and challenges being faced by the Adivasi society in the region mainly populated by indigenous population covering the areas of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal it was thought of / resolved to constitute the said forum with a view to address the Adivasi concerns as Part of Church’s advocacy.
    In this context it was further resolved that two persons each from different Church denominations existing in different regions be incorporated in this forum as authoritative representatives.
    It was also resolved that Rev. Raj Bharath Patta, Executive Secretary NCCI, Ms. Awala Longkumer Executive Secretary Adivasi Concerns NCCI, Dr. William Stanely, Director DSA, UELCI be officially incorporated in the capacity of regular members to this forum. Besides it was resolved that Dr. K. Rajaratnam and Dr. Nirmal Minz be incorporated as Patron Members.
    It was resolved that Bishop Dr. A.S Hemrom be authorized to play the role of Convener of this forum.
    It was resolved to invite the names of authoritative representatives from the Churches to formally constitute the forum in the meeting sometimes to be convened in the third week of June 2007.
  2. Publication of News Bulletin: It was resolved to publish an occasional newsletter with a view to mutually share issues, problems and concerns affecting Adivasi society in different regions.
  3. Publication of Seminar Papers: It was resolved to publish the Seminar Papers presented by the resource persons be published.
  4. Financial Resources: In order to meet the expenses to run the various programs and meetings of the forum it was resolved to build up a fund out of local resources. In this regard it was further resolved that the National Christian Council of India, United Evangelical Lutheran Church of India also be requested to help arrange and contribute to this fund.
  5. Circulation of the resolutions: It was resolved that the report of the Seminar along with the resolution taken be circulated to the church authorities concerned for their comments, suggestions and approval of the same.
  6. Seminar Finance: The total amount of Rs.2, 00,000(Two Lacs) was sponsored jointly by NCCI, UELCI/ IRDWSI to meet the expenses of the seminar. It was resolved that the money left over after meeting the expenses be kept aside and be spent to meet the forthcoming needs of the forum. Both the donors are requested to agree and approve to this proposal.

Concluding The Seminar was concluded with a Convocation ceremony organized by GEL Church, in which Rev.Dieter Hecker and Rev. Mrs. Ursula Hecker were awarded with Doctorate in Divinity (Honoris Causa) by Dr. K Rajaratnam on behalf of The Acadamy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration, Gurukul, Chennai for their long term service provided to GEL Church in different capacities.NCCI-COD

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