Chiang Mai: Kottayam, a historic city in the southern Indian state of Kerala has been chosen as the venue for the 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), scheduled to take place from 27 September to 4 October 2023.
About 500 participants from across Asia are expected to gather for the General Assembly and will reflect on the theme, ‘God, Renew Us in Your Spirit and Restore the Creation’
The Executive Committee of CCA, which met online on 2 December 2022 took the decision unanimously about the new dates and venue of the next Assembly, which had earlier been postponed.
The General Assembly is the supreme body of the CCA, which normally meets once in five years; the Executive Committee resolved in 2019 to hold the General Assembly in India in September 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic added to the uncertainty of organising the Assembly as per the original schedule, and subsequently, it was twice decided to postpone it till the situation became conducive.
The CCA General Secretary of the CCA Dr Mathews George Chunakara reported to the Executive Committee that the heads of five CCA member churches in India’s southern state of Kerala and the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) had welcomed the CCA Assembly to be held in Kottayam. They offered their wholehearted support to the plan of organising the General Assembly in the historic multi-religious city, where Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam live together in harmony for centuries.
The CCA General Secretary added that the next step of the preparations for the Assembly will begin in consultation with the NCCI and with CCA member churches that have their parishes in Kerala.
Besides being the host city for the triennial summit of theologians, namely, the Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS), Kottayam will also be the venue for pre-Assembly events for women, youth and for the physically challenged.
A special ‘in memoriam’ prayer was offered for the late Archbishop Willem T.P. Simarmata, who had been elected as the CCA Moderator at the 14th General Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia, and who faithfully served in that position till his untimely demise on 17 June 2022.
To fill the vacancy of the posts of CCA Moderator, and also of the CCA Vice-Moderator, Rev. Diana Tana from New Zealand, who relinquished the position, the Executive Committee appointed the Executive Committee members Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey from the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka as the Acting Moderator, and Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as the Acting Vice-Moderator till the next General Assembly in 2023.
While expressing happiness about the decision of the Executive Committee to appoint two prominent Asian Christian leaders to fill the vacuum in the CCA Officers’ team, the CCA General Secretary Dr Mathews George Chunakara stated that he had great confidence in the newly elected officers, Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey and Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, both of whom are illustrious ecclesiastical and ecumenical leaders who have faithfully served the Church and Asian ecumenical movement in various capacities for decades. Both, Bishop Canagasabey and Bishop Marigza have been serving on the Executive Committee of CCA since 2015.
The Executive Committee also heard reports of the various programmes and activities that were held across the past year, including in-person programmes from August 2022, as the COVID-19 pandemic subsided in Asia.
After three years of online meetings, the Executive Committee will meet in person from 3 to 7 March 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.