NCCI Assembly hears call for 'being the Gospel'

A clarion call to action was sounded at the recently concluded Quadrennial Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI).

There is a need for the Indian Church to "become the Gospel" to deal with the 'groanings' of people, said Rev Dr Taranath S Sagar, President of the NCCI.

"It is easy to preach the Gospel, but it is difficult to become the Gospel. We must become Gospel so we can be good news to the suffering," said Rev Sagar, who is also a senior Methodist bishop in India.

"We are sometimes just content with the proclamation of Gospel, but not really keen in making an impact, and not being the Gospel for the people. We must question if we are living for Kingdom values. It is high time to consider ourselves in a radical manner to speed up our response."

Rev Sagar was speaking on the theme 'The Gospel in a Groaning World'. Some 500 delegates from India and abroad attended the 27th Quadrennial Assembly of the NCCI.

"It is of significant importance for Church leadership to prioritise areas that require urgent attention, especially the pressing issues," observed Sagar, who also heads the Asian Methodist Conference.

"There is physical, mental and spiritual suffering among people. Gospel is the only panacea. As a community of Christ, it is our duty to identify the groanings among dalits, tribals, homeless, poverty stricken and others," the Methodist bishop said.

Meanwhile, the 27th NCCI Assembly re-elected Rev Sagar as the President for the next quadrennium. There were several resolutions passed unanimously including the demand to the Government of India to address the concerns of the people of Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, Jagatsinghpur in Orissa and Kashmir Valley and North East India in reference to the public security acts like AFSPA.

The keynote address for the Assembly was given by Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches.

"This 27th Quadrennial Assembly of the NCCI is a significant event in the ecumenical movement. This gathering represents a unique opportunity to renew the common call to be one for the sake of the world that needs a solid, substantial, sharp and sober Christian witness," he said in his initial remarks.

Explaining on the word 'groaning', Rev Tveit said it was a "mode of expression indicating solidarity and compassion, taking into account the status of the whole world, every human being, children and older people, woman and man, persons of every status or class or caste, of any religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other characteristic".

The NCCI, which will be celebrating its centenary in 2014, represents some 13 million Christians from Protestant and Orthodox traditions across India.