Thought for the day
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8
Research is always for advocacy. Research is political. Research can never be neutral. Research has to be in the service of social justice. The commitment to challenge and question the existing frameworks is the mandate of theological research that is supported by the church of South India - These were some of the key takeaways presented by the General Secretary and the panellists who addressed Research scholars of the Church of South India at the Theological Colloquium that began today at CSI Centre, Chennai.
The keynote on Diversity and Intersectionality and the fluidity of knowledge by the General Secretary of the CSI Dr Rathnakara Sadananda, who inaugurated the Colloquium, set the trajectory for the panels to follow.
Speaking on "Disability as Diversity: Rights, Recreation & Livelihood" disability rights activists Dr Aiswarya Rao and Dr T.M.N. Deepak highlighted that design for access and breaking down of barriers to accessibility is a key challenge. Ability and Disability being part of the spectrum of diversity; the necessity to understand disability rights as rights and not as charity; ability meaning nothing without disability and the need to recognise that the church, though a forerunner in earlier times, has now sometimes lagged in disability rights and accessibility were other key points both these panellists stressed. Both panellists, however, acknowledged that the CSI DISHA initiative has set an encouraging precedent in recent years by engaging genuinely with the disability sector in various ways.
Panellists who tackled "Capturing Resistance, Resilience & Gender Justice in Research” spoke from different perspectives. Dalit women's activist and academic teaching sociology in Loyola College, Semmalar Jebaraj, challenged the research scholars to eschew tokenism of using puppet women leadership in the churches and asked those present to introspect if each was able to truly accept strong women's leadership that challenges, questions and tackles patriarchy within the church head-on. Does the church have a strategy to break the Varna system of Brahmiminicalpatriarchy? Or are we content to be tacitly encouraging the dowry system and arranged marriages that favour endogamous marriages and the preservation of the caste system were her strong critique of the mainline churches' praxis?
Dr David Joy stressed the importance of having to step out of protocol consciousness in research and stressed that the change in the researcher, what the researcher unlearns and whether the researcher develops a perspective were more important. He invited researchers to practice “Crisising in Hermeneutics, Deconstructing historiography, identify the politics of interpretation, identify native ideologies and practice a resistance hermeneutics. Dr Jathanna rooted the context of research in the Imperial colonized context and pointing out the tendency to domesticate Christ researchers were invited to dare to dream in their research. Affirming the necessity for non-conformism in research and pointing out that research was a political activity, Dr Jathanna highlighted the dominance of surveillance in the milieu of academic research that needed to be challenged. Pointing out that liberation theologians these days were “fascists on vacation”, the importance of framing the question and questioning the frame were seminal affirmations from the third panellist in this panel Dr Gladson Jathanna. LGBTQ Activist, motivational speaker and independent filmmaker Ms Sonal Giani dispelled frequently held misconceptions about those with different sexual orientations in the community.
"Our church now listens to us and consults us in decisions relating to us. After hearing from us about what we learned through CSI SEVA's Focus 9/99 initiatives to raise awareness on child rights and child abuse, our congregation now creates spaces for us to be heard. Heeding our challenge about our exclusion from the Eucharist, our church now distributes cakes as an alternative to bread and wine" - These were the highlights of the sharing from the journey of children, Mr Ezhil Joshua and Ms Karishma, who have been part of accompanying the CSI towards becoming a Child friendly Church through the Focus 9/99 Campaign and the Girl Child Campaign. They shared how they themselves now are ambassadors for girl child rights and the rights of children in their communities. Speaking eloquently to the research scholars in sign language, Amal Panyal from CSI School for the Deaf, Santhome, poignantly captured the yearning and vision of children with Disabilities about an inclusive and accessible church when he said "I dream of the day when every CSI congregation will have sign language for sermons so that we too will feel welcome in the church". He thanked the CSI for inviting him and children with Disabilities like him to forums like this so that they could both learn and voice their concerns. Joshua, Karishma and Amal comprised the panel on "Children: Protection and Agency" which concluded with a presentation of highlights of the draft CSI Child Protection Policy by Ms Jessica Richard, Coordinator, Campaigns & Advocacy, CSI SEVA.
Stressing the importance of enhancing their research through the opportunity offered in this Theological Colloquium, Rev. Solomon Paul, Director in-charge, CSI SEVA, urged the research scholars present to actively participate in the deliberations over the next two days of the Colloquium.
This Theological Colloquium is organised by the CSI SEVA's Gender Equity Enabling Timetable (GEET) Campaign, to infuse in theological students and educators with a gender justice perspective, awareness of the intersectionality of gender, disability and child rights and the necessity to sharpen theological research to become a tool of social transformation in the communities we serve. Starting today and ending on the 14th of August, this Colloquium will give space for over 42 researchers who have been supported by the CSI for their theological studies at the BD, MTh and DTh levels to present their research and get valuable feedback to sharpen their work in terms of gender perspective.
This Colloquium is coordinated by GEET Program Executives Ms Glory Thomas and Ms Merlin Jocebeth and assisted by Mr Daniel Solomon Raja, Ms Aruna Stephen, Mr Praveen Daniel, Mr George and Mr Jason of Team SEVA.
Ms Jessica Richard
Wednesday, Aug 14,2019
Monday, Aug 12,2019
Dalit Women Empowerment (Karnataka Northern, Madras, Karimnagar, North Kerala, South Kerala Dioceses
Resource Booklet on Protection of the Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
Resource Booklet on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal
Poster on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 201
Poster on CSI -GEET Campaig against Domestic Violence
CSI Lenten Campaign 2019 Against Human Trafficking and Displacement : Introductory Material
MY FATHER IS A FARMERBIBLE STUDIES
CSI Lenten Campaign against Human Trafficking and Bonded Labour 2018
Local Capacities for Peace (LCP)Do No Harm(a resource book for local peace initiatives)
To enable the congregations to give an account of their hope concerning the Biblical Vision of a New Heaven and a New Earth...and strive to build here and now, a just, egalitarian society that is sensitive to gender issues and other inequalities.
To transform communities through sustainable development and community empowerment.
To sensitize local congregations on social, economic, political, cultural and gender realities.
To build peoples' alliances and networking with movements on various campaigns related to Right to Education, Right to Information, Child friendly Schools, etc.
To strive for building peace initiatives in the church and conflict- ridden pockets in South India.
Dalit Women Empowerment (Karnataka Northern, Madras, Karimnagar, North Kerala, South Kerala Dioceses).
Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (East Kerala, Madurai-Ramnad, Nandyal, Dornakal, Trichy Tanjore Dioceses).
Liberative Livelihood Options (Tirunelveli, Krishna Godavari Dioceses).
Community based care and support program HIV/AIDS (Coimbatore Diocese).
Sustainable and Life- Giving Agriculture (Madhya Kerala Diocese)
Empowerment of Transgenders (Thoothukudi Nazareth Diocese).
Building Local Capacities for Peace (All Dioceses).
Girl Child Campaign: “Assuring her future” (All Dioceses).
Focus 9 / 99 Addressing Rights of the Girl Child (All Dioceses) Drafting a Child Protection Policy.
DISHA- Disability Intervention for Solidarity and Holistic Accompaniment (All Dioceses).
CARDIA - Congregation Accompanied Reformed Diakonia in Action (Madurai-Ramnad Diocese).