WCC delegation to visit India, Sri Lanka

 WCC delegation to visit India, Sri Lanka

India and Sri Lanka, two South Asian countries that have seen alarming levels of violence in recent months and years, will receive a 16-23 October the visit of a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation headed by general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia.

The visit comes less than a month after the WCC executive committee had stated its concern "about the alarming trend of growing communal violence and religious intolerance in India" and "about the escalation of the war and all kinds of armed violence" in Sri Lanka.

"Religious tolerance has been the basic tenet and hallmark of India's ancient civilisation and history," the WCC executive committee recalled in a 26 September statement that condemned the recent attacks on the Christian minority, especially in the state of Orissa.

Kobia comes to the subcontinent at the invitation of the Church of North India. He thus completes a round of visits to all WCC member churches in India which had already taken him to the southern part of the country in February 2007.

On Friday, 17 October, Kobia will give a keynote address at the Synod Meeting (General Assembly) of the Church of North India, which is taking place in Pathankot, in the northwestern state of Punjab, 16-21 October.

The visit's agenda also includes meetings in Delhi with the leadership of the Methodist Church in India, the Catholic Bishops' Conference and state officials.

In the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, the delegation will meet the heads of churches and executive committee of the country's National Christian Council (NCC), as well as the leadership of WCC member churches.

During an ecumenical celebration at Colombo's Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour on Sunday, Kobia will co-celebrate the eucharist with heads of the NCC member churches and will preach the sermon.

An encounter with the Congress of Religions in Sri Lanka is scheduled for Monday, 20 October. The Congress of Religions includes representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim communities as well as the NCC and the Roman Catholic Church.

On Tuesday, the delegation will travel to the central district of Kandy for meetings with Buddhist and Catholic leaders and a dialogue with students and staff at the Theological College of Lanka in Pilimatalawa.

For more than 25 years, the island nation of 19 million has suffered from ethnic conflicts and civil war between governments dominated by the Singhalese majority and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of the ethnic Tamil minority, who claim the right to self determiantion for the Tamils.

The WCC has been accompanying the people and churches over the past years in their efforts for peace and reconciliation in this war torn country.

An ecumenical "Living Letters" team, who visited Sri Lanka on behalf of the WCC in August 2007, had called on churches worldwide to "bring Sri Lanka back to the forefront of the international efforts for peace making."

Source: WCC

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