Peacebuilding in the Midst of Crisis

The Diocese, in collaboration with CSI-SEVA, organized a two-day program for young people of the diocese at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School on the 06th and 07th of September 2022. A total of 27 young people participated in the two-day event. The theme for the event was ‘Peacebuilding in the Midst of Crisis’. The programme’s objective was to equip young people to move beyond the walls of the church with a holistic approach by involving and integrating fellow religious acquaintances.

The Diocesan Assistant Secretary, Rev. Christopher Samuel shared greetings and welcomed the gathering. The Bishop of Karnataka Central Diocese, The Rt Rev. Dr Prasana Kumar Samuel, graced the occasion with his presence. In his inaugural speech, he chose the scripture portion for the day, Matthew 5. Bishop spoke about the modern-day inequalities in economic, and education and how that is interlinked to the suicide situation in the country. He also highlighted the significant work of Desmond Tutu (a South African Anglican bishop and theologian). Bishop highlighted the mission of Peacebuilding and restoration of broken relationships. He concluded by encouraging young people to face the crisis situation as Jesus Christ faced it in the world.

The Director of CISRS (Director at Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society), Rev Dr Y T Vinaya Raj in his keynote address spoke on the contemporary interreligious position in the country. He started by connecting Religion & Peacebuilding, the intersectionality that exists in the context. Speaking about the core value and essence of different religions in India and linking the similarities. He also highlighted the role of religion in promotion of peace. To deepen the understanding of the participants, the speaker shared few instances where Religion was a causative factor to instigate violence. He concluded by instigating the young people towards envisaging inter-religious platforms, (i) Dialogue, (ii) Social Praxis, (iii) Hermeneutics of conviviality, and (iv) Eco-spiriting our faith and religion.

In the afternoon session, Adv. Robin Christopher Joseph, Director, Litigation and Intervention from Alliance defending freedom India. The speakers’ broader theme was on the Constitutional benefits for freedom ofreligion/belief. He started his session by stating the importance of Indian Constitution and how it is to be looked at as a social contract for every citizen. He highlighted the significance of 1950s presidential order and its benefits along with some specific cases on freedom of religious acts. He shared some examples of how some Indian states brought in the Anti Conversion law from thereon.He concluded by stating the importance of filling FIR, Right ToInformation (RTI), he also shared the mechanism.

The young people from the four regions of the diocese came together and led the morning devotion on the second day. The devotion was followed by the session on the ‘importance of Interreligious activism’ which was dealt by Rev. Solomon Paul, Director, Department of Disability Concerns, KCD. He broke down the session by speaking on the definition and importance of activism by giving real life examples, Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Malala, Meda Patkar, and Greta Thunberg. He also spoke on the different kinds of activism that young people can involve themselves in, (i) political activism, (ii) Internet activism, (iii) Economic activism, (iv) Art activism. He moved on to speak on ‘Jesus the Activist’ by stating various examples from John 18: 22-23, Matthew 5: 38-41, theory of pacifism, sermon on the mount. He then linked on to the overall theme ‘interreligious activism’ by brining in the context and enlightened the need to be open & willing to learn, to have conscious act of dialogue, to have an attitude of accepting & respecting. He concluded by involving young people through an activity, case stories were given, and young people shared their insights on how they would intervene in the particular conflict by using different modes of activism.

The final session was carried forward by Rev. Immanuel Nehemiah, Director, Department of Youth, KCD. He spoke on the importance of Youth & Communal Harmony. The youth director helped the participants to understand themselves by starting with an activity. Each person was given a piece of paper and were asked to bring in four vocabulary that best describes them. Then they were asked to form groups of two and shared about the same. The speaker then brought a situation of depriving them from those skills/talents and stated the importance of understanding the meaning of life in failures. He went on to speak about the meaning of soul & soulful and relating them to the overall session theme.

As part of way forward, the director of CSI-SEVA, Rev. Benjamin Inbaraj explained the major objectives of the program, the role that each individual and the groups have once they get back to their respective dioceses. He also shared some ways in which they could get themselves involved in, like, creating neighbourhood peace groups, involving as groups in different levels of activism, undoing religious fundamentalisms through protests and Bible Study. The CSI-SEVA Programme Executive, Mr. Praveen Daniel specified the importance of working together as groups in each of the four regions and also encouraged them to come up with plan of actions by the end of September 2022.

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