MESSAGE FROM THE XIV ORDINARY MEETING OF THE SYNOD OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA

We the members of the Church of North India from 27 Dioceses along with Fraternal Delegates and friends gathered at St. Thomas School, New Delhi for the 14th Ordinary Meeting of the Synod of the Church of North India to engage in the process of discernment and deliberation by being exhorted in the opening worship to Arise and Build, overcoming fear through a empowering faith. The causes of fear today are legion and demonic (Mark 5:9), both imagined and real, on the one hand we recognize that the present rulers of the earth (Ephesians 6:12) seek to perpetuate a culture of imagined fear through twisting the logic of development, security and peace in a way that denies the masses of their fundamental rights and creates a totalitarian system of control that suppresses all dissenting voices and occupies all democratic spaces. In the logic of the dominant forces, security is twisted to become the means to seize freedoms, development the means to seize land and peace the means to seize control. 

This Synod was characterized by an overwhelming spirit of camaraderie, a deep gratitude to God, for 41 years of His faithfulness with an emphasis on the deepening of the spiritual life and engagement in mission. Agreeing with the Psalm-writer of Psalm 127 there was an emphasis on the dependence on the Holy Spirit, upon God’s Word, prayer and fasting. It was felt by all that the time has come for the C.N.I. to turn away from our inward-looking disposition to discipleship, sacrificial giving, and reaching out in love with the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the prophet Zechariah would aptly sum up our aspiration in the words, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:8

These imagined fears are however strengthened with the genuine systems of exploitation, exclusion and suppression through which violence is painfully unleashed on our people and our communities. We have all been witness to the institutionalization of greed and envy that has become the bedrock upon which our economic system is based. Placing the profit of a few before the life of many, we are witness to the violence of the accumulation of the rich at the cost of the literal starvation of millions in our country. While the powers that boast of an increasing percentage of growth the poverty line has been re-adjusted to Rs. 32 per person per day in urban centers more than amply indicating that increasing inequalities are not merely symptomatic of our economic ills but are inherent to them. Unaccountable governance, abuse of the bureaucratic system and the state sponsored violence have affected social and spiritual life of our communities. 

Newer forms of exploitation are however perpetuated with and through ancient hierarchies; caste and untouchability continue to haunt us. This practice of untouchability and notions of purity and pollution are used to dominate certain communities and people and to keep them locked into logic of fear and servitude. The all-encompassing ideology of purity and pollution continues to have a strangle hold on Indian society, influencing each and every aspect of life. Caste denies the right to life and dignity of Dalits. Everyday Dalits are murdered, assaulted and their houses burnt, their children are denied education, the women are vulnerable to rape and sexual assault.

We were also made painfully aware of the statistical discrepancy in the sex ratio with 86 missing women for every 1000 men, the situation made worse with a higher mortality rate for women receiving less health care and attention. The patriarchal structure of society not only devalues women’s labour but excludes them from full participation and decision making processes. The subjugation of women is painfully reinforced through socialization process and violence both inside and outside of the family. 

The most vulnerable are children and young people who are not only excluded from decision making but are also rejected on the basis of age. Patriarchy not only marginalizes women but also younger and weaker males. In such a context age becomes a determining factor for social hierarchy and privilege, when age combines with caste and gender it becomes a formidable force which silences and subjugates.

But it is in the context of fear that God calls us to listen, to have a empowering faith, to arise and build. God is calling us today to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches (Revelation 2:7), to our church in our here and now. To listen to the voice of God implies that we drown out the dominant voices and hear the still voice of God which comes to us in silence (2 kings 19: 12, 13), it comes to us in the outcry of the girl who has been trafficked, it comes to us in the outcry of the Dalit women who has been raped, it comes to us in the outcry of bodies broken by the goons of Multi-National Companies that have been sent out to crush dissent.

God is calling us to listen, to see, to judge and act, to discern the signs of the times and speak truth to power, naming the evil powers, making low the powerful and high the simple (Luke 1: 52). To be the sign of the Kingdom where the first shall be made last and the last shall be made first (Matthew 20:16). God is calling us to stand in solidarity with people’s struggles, to stand with those in Gobindpur, Koodankulam, Jaitapur and Chutka who are resisting principalities and powers in the struggle for life and livelihood and for the struggle of life, over death (Ephesians 6:12).

Our response to the call of God is a life of faith, a faith that is not just the affirmation a creedal formula, but it is the entirety of the human response to the whole of God, it involves committing ourselves to be obedient Disciples of Christ (Matthew 28: 19). To have faith means that though we may be afflicted in every way we will not be crushed, that though we may be perplexed we will not be driven to despair, that though we are persecuted we are not forsaken, though we are struck down, we are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8)Such faith is empowering, it implies that we believe in the face of the impossible, that we hope in the face of disappointment, that we rise in the face of defeat and that we have faith even in the midst of fear. It is a faith that calls us to arise and build in spite of all odds.

And we believe that this is what God is calling us to do in such a time as this, that believing in the power of the resurrection we arise and build (Nehemiah 2:20). That out of the fear of dominance we shall arise and build communities, that out of the fear of violence we will arise and build justice, that out of the fear of discrimination we will arise and build resistance. 

 

  • We therefore affirm that the means of resistance of the evil powers of the earth is through true solidarity with those who have been disinherited, dispossessed, excluded, marginalized and are vulnerable through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • We affirm that all creation is groaning and awaits the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ which will break the barriers of discrimination and bridge the gap of prejudice.

  • We affirm that it is through a process of listening and discerning to the quite voices of the oppressed that we will be able to hear what the spirit is saying to the churches.

  • We commit to a life of costly discipleship which seeks to reconcile relationships and transform the world through Prayer, Fasting and sincere engagement.

  • We commit to building communities of healing and reconciliation through working with the children, women, Adivasis and Dalits. 

  • We commit for developing structures which are open inclusive and participatory involving youth, women, children, aged and differently abled. 

  • We commit to building structures of transparency and accountability which will exhibit the reign of God.

  • We therefore commit to the preaching of the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed for the fullness of life for all and that it is through a faith in the power of the resurrection that we will be able to overcome fear and arise and build.