More than 6,000 people were present at the diamond jubilee ceremony of the world’s oldest regional ecumenical organisation, the Christian Conference of Asia. The event, at the Franc Auditorium of the Baptist Church in Yangon, Myanmar, took place during the CCA’s Asian Mission Conference. The CCA brings together a large number of Churches in the Asian and Oceania area, including many Anglican provinces.
Dr Soritua Nababan, a bishop of the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP) in Indonesia, is the only living participant of the 1957 conference in Prapat at which the CCA was formed. He delivered a homily based on Acts 1:8.
The general secretary of the CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, stressed the importance of the ecumenical movement and provided a background to the formation of the CCA. He said in the message during the celebration that “We are grateful to God as CCA marks the 60th anniversary of its founding at Prapat in 1957, as the first regional ecumenical organization in the world,”
He added more “The diamond jubilee commemoration is a celebration of the journeying together of the Asian Churches and all members of the wider ecumenical family and fellowship.
“We are reminded at this time of the diamond jubilee commemoration of our past, of the continuity of our common journey, the virtues of our resilience, ingenuity, commitment and trust in God’s unwavering support and divine guidance through the past 60 years of CCA’s history,” he said.
A former general secretary, Mathews George, said: “Celebrating the milestone of 60 years with 600 participants for a week-long conference and 6000 attendees in a thanksgiving service is remarkable for an organisation.
“When a person reaches the age of 60, he or she completes one life cycle,” he said. “The number 60 means ending one cycle and starting a new cycle in many Asian cultures. This reminds us of our task and the continuation of our journey together in prophetic witness to the truth and light in Asia as CCA enters into a new phase of its life cycle.”
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said that the anniversary was “an occasion for both the CCA and the global ecumenical movement to celebrate our common ecumenical commitment in Asia.”
He described the CCA as a “vibrant and living forum continuing cooperation among the churches and national Christian bodies in Asia, within the framework of the wider ecumenical movement.”
He told the members of the CCA that they are “participating in the mission of God in Asia – and you are working for the benefit for the wider world.”
He continued: “You have been journeying together, and you are ready to move forward together. This is also the literary meaning of mission: To be sent, to move forward, out there, with the people, where God is present as creator, saviour, and life giver. That is where we shall reflect the light of God.”
Dr Tveit said that the ecumenical movement had the ability to bridge distances between different Christian groups: “There are so many forces dividing human beings, but also Christians,” he said. “It has been an era of profound contradictions, tensions, divisions, even conflicts and wars. There are so many powers and interests that are driving Christians apart, that are breaking down the bonds of fellowship, the qualities of relations among Christians.
“In this context we need to work together to achieve the goal of ecumenism and ecumenical movement.”