"Our churches are directly involved in upholding the dignity and rights of people and communities in Asia irrespective of their religious or faith identities", said Matthews George Chunakara, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, at the opening of the annual meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace Reference Group, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this Spring.
The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical partner supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment, which enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations.
"Although Christians in Asia are small in number, they are directly involved in peace building in various ways", added Chunakara.
The WCC's Reference Group for the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and Theological Study Group met in Thailand later this Spring, aiming to reflect on reports on the situation in Asia through the lens of the pilgrimage's global thematic focus on racism and Asia for 2019 and the cooperation with member churches, national councils of churches, the Christian Conference of Asia and other actors in the region.
For Dr Prawate Khid-arn, from the Church of Christ in Thailand and a regional secretary for the Asia Mission Association, the meeting is a unique opportunity also for local churches "to be part of a wider sharing of examples of promotion of justice and peace in the region", he said.
The world's largest continent, Asia is in the midst of rapid changes. Despite several achievements in various areas and a growing dynamism evident in many parts of the Asian continent, several countries and sub-regions in the continent remain caught up in protracted cycles of conflict, violence and threats to peace and security.
A wide array of problems continuously cause numerous challenges that affect the dignity and right to life of millions of Asians, hence peace and security are threatened, and justice is negated.
Within this context and in consultation with the Christian Conference of Asia and the national ecumenical organizations of some countries of Asia, the WCC has proposed a series of visits to member churches in Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the border between Thailand and Myanmar to listen, learn and pray prior to the meeting in Chiang Mai.
"The Pilgrim Team Visits have proven again the promise of a pilgrimage: it is a journey of faith that allows us to live transformation spirituality", said Rev. Dr Fernando Enns, co-moderator of the Reference Group. "Through personal encounters, celebrating the gifts of the good creation that we are able to be part of, the pilgrimage becomes an inspiring reality that empowers communities to engage in transformative actions."
World Council of Churches website
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