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

Daily Reading

EXODUS

3:1-22



  • NIFEA Campaign Planning Meeting and Workshop on Just Taxation and Reparations Ecological Concerns

    The 4th meeting of the Ecumenical Panel on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA) – a panel of experts in theology and economics convened by the World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission and the Lutheran World Federation – held in Durban, South Africa, during 16th- 20th March 2019, underlined two critical consequences of the current financial and economic system: the widening wealth gap and climate change. The consultation suggested Taxation as an important tool for sharing wealth equitably within and across countries as well as for holding corporations and citizens accountable. Consultation demanded that the ecological damage caused by the developed countries has to be compensated by the developed countries. Churches have therefore called for the transfer of resources from affluent nations to impoverished ones as well as for debt cancellation as reparations for irreversible loss and damage arising from a warming climate. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Hon. Director of CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns participated and presented his views in the four-day workshop.

    Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad
    Hon. Director of Ecological Concerns,
    CSI Synod

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    Green School Programme Held in the Malabar Diocese of CSI Ecological Concerns

    The Green School training Programme training for the Malabar Diocese was held at CSI Retreat Centre, Calicut, on the 27th March 2019. Rt. Rev. Royce Manoj Kumar Victor, the Bishop of Malabar Diocese, presided over the function. Prof. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad, the Hon. Director of the Ecological Concerns Department of the Church of South India (CSI) Synod, gave leadership for the one-day training programme. Rev. Joy Masilamony, the Convener of Malabar diocesan Ecological Committee, and Mr. Rejo T Eipe, Green School facilitator, coordinated the programme.

    Feed back of the programme:
    1. Ms. Anitha Harisan B. E. M. UP School, Chombala: “Excellent speech, very motivational and useful class for sustainable living and green school programme. We will do these activities in our school also” .2. Ms. Needha Janardhanan B. E. M. H.S.S Parappanangadi: “The class was very good and inspiring. Some programmes are already implemented in our school like biogas, plastic less compound etc. I will encourage my fellow teachers to avoid things mentioned by Dr. Mathew Koshy sir”. 3. Ms. Benita Elizabeth M.C.C H.S.S Calicut: “The sessions led by Dr. Mathew Koshy were indeed an interesting one. It was really an eye-opener for us. We will try our best to compliment this and pass this knowledge to other people too”. 4. Ms.Mereeta Lani B. E. M. L.P.S Madayi: “The class were very useful to us. We will follow the instructions given by Mathew sir. Our school will be a green school in the coming academic year”. 5.Ms.Lynchu Merin B.E.M H.S.S Palakkad: “It was an interesting programme. It helped me to recollect the theories which I have studied. I understand that it is time for me to act and workout for sustainability. Being a teacher, and a guide captain I have planned to implement some programmes". 6. Ms.Princy Heldad B.E.M U.P School Codacal: “This programme was a useful one. A different experience. The second session was interesting and more informative. We will discuss with the school authorities and do necessary steps to promoting green school programme”. 7. Ms. Jimcy C.M.S H.S.S Arapetta, Wayanad: “Good class and good message. We will make our campus plastic free and eco-friendly. We plant more plants in our campus and encourage eco club activities”. 8. Rev. Babu Dayanandan, CSI Christian Muller Church, Chompala: “It was an interesting class. We will do some projects in the coming days. I appreciate your effort in this regard and the synod ecological department”.

    Prof. Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad
    Hon. Director, Department of Ecological Concerns

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    Dr. Mathew Koshy Addresses All Africa Conference of Churches on Ecological Concerns Ecological Concerns

    All Africa Conference of Churches(AACC) is in the process of preparing a road map for congregations for an Economy of life and ecological justice. For that they convened a meeting of the departmental heads on 15th March 2019, at AACC headquarters in Nairobi. AACC is an ecumenical fellowship that represents more than 120million African Christians in 173 national churches and regional Christian councils.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Hon. Director of the CSI Synod departmental ecological concerns addressed the meeting. Bishop Arnold Temple, President of AACC, Rev. Dr.Fidon Mwombeki, General Secretary of AACC, Ms.Agnes Aboum, Moderator of the central committee of WCC and Ms. Athena Peralta also addressed the gathering. The participants appreciated the ecological activities of CSI.

    Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
    Hon.Director of CSI Synod Ecological Concerns

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    Dr. Mathew Koshy Represents CSI in the Fourth Environmental Assembly of the UNEP Ecological Concerns

    Nairobi: Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackad, the Hon. Director of the Church of South India’s (CSI) Department of Ecological Concerns shared “stories of commitment and hope from India, inspiring us with the breadth of the response to climate change in the Church of South India”, in the first day of the UN Environment Assembly from March 11th to March 15th, 2019 and the Sustainable Innovation Expo. Over 100 delegates are registered from faith organisations in the faith for Earth session. The UN extended the invitation to the Church of South India, through the World Council of Churches considering the credible work in promoting sustainable development. It is notable that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Alliance for Religions and Conservation (ARC) have honoured the ecological contributions and long term commitmentof CSI in protecting the life in this planet by giving an award on 3rd November 2009. The award was given by Dr. Baan Ki Moon, Secretary General of UN in presence of Prince Philip in a function organized at Windsor Castle, London.

    Over 4,700 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and civil society representatives gathered in Nairobi for a meeting of the world’s top body on the environment, where they will take decisions that move global societies to a more sustainable path under the theme Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

    It is the biggest gathering in the Assembly’s short history, with attendance almost double the last event in December 2017. Prominent world leaders will attend, including the Presidents of France and Kenya, Emmanuel Macron and Uhuru Kenyatta, and CEOs from major corporations.

    Bold decisions and outcomes are expected as the delegates negotiate late into the night over five days. Resolutions are on the table to push harder for sustainable consumption and production patterns, commit to the protection of the marine environment from plastic pollution, reduce food waste, and advance technological innovation that combats climate change, and reduces resource use and biodiversity loss.

    The Assembly’s status as the only UN body outside the General Assembly where all member states convene, and its power to bring together all sectors, means that the global environmental agenda is defined here. Decisions have a profound impact on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as paving the way towards the UN Climate Change Summit 2019 and impacting the overall UN agenda.

    Ahead of the meeting, UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director, Joyce Msuya, appealed to nations to step up and start delivering real change.

    “Time is running short. We are past pledging and politicking. We are past commitments with little accountability. What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today,” she wrote in a policy letter.

    As delegates come to Nairobi for the Assembly, UN Environment is deeply saddened by the news of the Ethiopian Airlines accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected. We are following developments closely.

    A UN Environment background report for the Assembly, which serves as a basis for defining problems and laying out new action areas, makes a strong case for urgent action. The report puts the value of lost ecosystem services between 1995 and 2011 at$4trillion to$20trillion; shows how agricultural practices are putting increasing pressure on the environment, costing an estimated$3trillion per year, and estimates pollution-related costs at$4.6trillion annually.

    “As never before, the time to act is now,” said President of the UN Environment Assembly and Minister of Environment of Estonia, Siim Kiisler. “We know we can build more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive societies with sustainable consumption and production patterns that address our environmental challenges and leave no one behind. But we will need to create the enabling conditions for this to happen. And we will need to do things differently.”

    The Assembly will also see new research launched by UN Environment, including the latest edition of the world’s only comprehensive global scan of the environment: Global Environment Outlook 6, which was produced by 252 scientists and experts from over 70 countries. The International Resource Panel’s Global Resources Outlook, meanwhile, takes stock of material extraction, including the future outlook and recommendations on how to use natural resources more sustainably.

    “It’s clear that we need to transform the way our economies work, and the way we value the things that we consume,” said Msuya. “The goal is to break the link between growth and increased resource use, and end our throwaway culture.”

    The Assembly is not just about the resolutions and science. Side events and exhibits provide the opportunity for attendees to form partnerships and make deals that benefit people and the environment.

    The Sustainable Innovation Expo acts as an innovation hub, with over 40 environmental technologies and innovations on display.

    The One Planet Summit – co-organized by the governments of France and Kenya, and the World Bank – is also being held around the edges of the Assembly, focusing on Africa’s environmental challenges.

    The UN Science-Policy-Business Forum, convened in advance of the UN Environment Assembly, launched initiatives on using big data, machine learning, and green technology startups, to solve major environmental problems.

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    ‘GREEN CONFESSIONS’ A Lenten Call For A Disposable Plastic-Free World Ecological Concerns

    ‘GREEN CONFESSIONS’

    A LENTEN CALL FOR A DISPOSABLE PLASTIC-FREE WORLD

    CIRCULAR BY THE MODERATOR

    Most Rev. THOMAS K. OOMMEN

    To all the Bishops in the Church of South India and to all who read or hear this Circular,

    Mercy and Peace!

    1. LENT: ECOLOGICAL REFLECTION

    1.1. The term lent is the abridged form of Lenten, derived from the word lengthen. During the winter season, which according to the ecologists is the ‘hibernal season’, the whole nature goes dormant. Since the days are short, the sun rays that fall on the earth are very less, and hence the earth freezes. To survive the harshness of winter, animals hibernate or migrate, and trees shed their leaves. Nature suddenly becomes lifeless. However, as the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley asks in his poem ‘Ode to the West Wind’, “O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”. The spring season that follows winter has long days, and hence more sunrays fall upon the earth, melting the ice, reviving life. The long days in spring become a time of true festival for animals and plants to celebrate life. Hence, Lenten days remind us of nature calling us towards ‘life’.

    1.2. Therefore, to observe a meaningful lent, one needs to engage in the ministry of reviving life. This season is a time for the Church to recommit herself to join hands with nature and fight against all forces that thwart life around us. Jesus was a man who believed in bringing springs in others’ lives. He bloomed spring in those who were stripped of their life: the blind; the paralysed, the sick; the poor; the marginalised; the widows; the sinners, the discouraged; the defeated; and the dead. In Saint John 1010, Jesus says, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ Further, as Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman beside a well, He becomes a well-spring of life to her and says, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty (St John 413, 14).’

    1.3. Today, one cannot think about life only in terms of its anthropological dimension. The current (geo) political and (socio) cultural debates as well as academic and economic discourses about life are rewriting the matrix of life in the light of current ecological crises. God is not only concerned about human life, but also about the whole of creation, as it is mentioned in Matthew 626, ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.’ The Bible teaches us that, ‘the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now (Romans 822).’ This paradigmatic shift of considering life from with its anthropological dimensions to ecological dimensions calls us too to make this season of lent not only to repent our ecological sins that exploit life and life forms but also to resist all forces that destroy ecology and participate with God and His creation to ‘spring’ ecological life.

    2. THE PLASTIC CATASTROPHE: OUR SIN

    2.1. We have learned in our history classes that historians and archaeologists have divided periods of human history as Stone Age, Bronze Age, or Iron Age. This classification is based on the technologies or materials that made the most significant impact on society. If so, what age are we in now? According to some researchers, we live in the ‘Plastic Age’.

    2.2. The world is currently producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic each year. Although plastic is a useful product, many of these products are created for single-use; with an estimated 50 per cent of plastic used once and thrown away. More than half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year. Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer. India may not be a top global consumer of plastics, but it has reduced rates of waste management. Sadly, the recycling sector of our nation is informal and unregulated. While India generates 33.1 million pounds of plastic waste every day, only 19.8 million pounds are collected and recycled. Rest of the plastic trash is left uncollected, and they pollute water, clog drains, kill cows and degrade soil.

    2.3. Plastic affects human health. The burning of plastic in the open air leads to environmental pollution due to the release of poisonous chemicals. The polluted air, when inhaled by humans and animals, affects their health and can cause respiratory problems or cancer. Plastic is harmful also because it is 'Non-Biodegradable'. When thrown on land, plastic makes the soil less fertile. When thrown in water, plastic chokes our ponds, rivers and oceans and harms the sea life. Toxic chemicals that leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, congenital disabilities, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments. Two broad classes of plastic-related chemicals that are of critical concern for human health are bisphenol-A (BPA); and additives used in the synthesis of plastics, which are known as phthalates.

    2.4. Plastic spoils our groundwater. Toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants.

    2.5. Plastic attracts other pollutants. Chemicals in plastic which give them their rigidity or flexibility (flame retardants, bisphenols, phthalates and other harmful chemicals) are oily poisons that repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris. So, the toxic chemicals that leach out of plastics can accumulate on other plastics, and this becomes a serious concern as increasing amounts of plastic debris collect in oceans. Fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants absorbed from the marine environment, accumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity.

    2.6. Plastic threatens wildlife. Wild animals and birds, confused with plastic, eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young. Over 260 species, including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, are reported to have been consuming plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death.

    2.7. Plastic poisons our food chain. Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating micro plastics and absorbing their hazardous chemicals. The little, broken down pieces of plastic is displacing the algae needed to sustain larger sea life. Contaminated plastics, when ingested by marine species, present a probable route for the POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) to enter the marine food web.

    2.8. Therefore, we should understand that we are not only living in the ‘Plastic Age’, but also that we are causing/facing a ‘Plastic Catastrophe’. In 2018, during the World Environment Day, the Central Government made one of the farthest-reaching commitments by any country to tackle the plastic catastrophe by announcing that India would by 2022, “eliminate all single-use plastics from our beautiful country.” This announcement builds on state-specific bans on the manufacture, supply, storage and use of plastics. Many breakthrough moves have already been initiated by various states like Sikkim, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Tamilnadu to cut down plastic consumption and manage the real waste across their jurisdiction. The Church of South India appreciates this bold initiative, and we urge all other States also to follow the same.

    2.9. As Christians, how do we address the plastic catastrophe? Is it just another ecological challenge? We need to consider the plastic catastrophe as a result of our ecological sin. It is a sin: a sin of irresponsibility; a sin of insensitivity; a sin of insensibility; and a sin of incorrigibility. As we actively or passively become part of plastic pollution, we are irresponsible and unaccountable to the Creator God, insensitive to rest of the creation, insensible to the wisdom that calls us to care nature, and we are engaging in a sin that cannot be corrected by any corrective/compensative measures.

    3. LENT: A TIME FOR GREEN-CONFESSIONS

    3.1. Forty days of Lent is often related to Moses' 40 days on the mountain with God, the 40-year journey of the Israelites in the desert, and Jesus’ 40-day period of fasting and temptation. The Church of South India, joining with the universal Church, observe 40 days of Lent, from Wednesday, March 06, 2019 to Saturday, April 20, 2019, as a time to reflect on God’s purpose for our life as well as to repent and reorient our lives to accomplish God’s will. Further, during Lent, through abstaining from certain habits and fasting, we engage in self-examination and penitence, preparing ourselves for Easter, the victory of life over death.

    3.2. As I have already shared, this year’s Lent should become a time to repent our ecological sins that exploit life, a time to resist all forces that destroy life and to recommit ourselves to revive life. For such a Lent, one needs to take an uncompromising position to make at least 10 ‘Green Confessions’ particularly concerning our excessive use of plastic that destroys all kinds of life on earth. I urge all our dioceses and congregations to use these 10 ‘Green Confessions’ as part of their liturgy during these 40 days of Lent.

    4. GREEN-CONFESSIONS

    4.1. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic bags, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic bags in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.2. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic bottles, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic bottles in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.3. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic flex, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic flex in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.4. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic packages, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic packages in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.5. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic straws, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic straws in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.6. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic toys, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic toys/items in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.7. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of disposable plastic crockeries, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid disposable plastic crockeries in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.8. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of balloons, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid balloons in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.9. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic microbeads, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic microbeads in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    4.10. Lord, we repent and confess that by our unlimited use of plastic fabrics, we have destroyed life. We pray that You would give us the determination to avoid plastic fabrics in our houses, churches, shops and streets.

    5. CONCLUSION

    These ‘Green Confessions’ are not only to be prayed, but also to be practised. If we live a life committed to avoiding all kinds of disposable plastics, the manufacturers would be forced to avoid all disposable plastics, and thus we would be contributing towards a lesser carbon footprint. If lent is a time we think upon how to foster life, rather than destroying life, it is our spiritual commitment to avoid plastics since it ‘kills’ life. As I hope that this year’s lent would be a meaningful time to reflect, repent, reorient and rededicate our lives to accomplish God’s will, I ardently pray that God would enable all of us to continue our life in an eco-spiritual pilgrimage fighting against all causes of ecological catastrophes, particularly the disposable plastic catastrophe. To begin with, let us during this Lenten season avoid all disposable plastics, especially flex, plastic bottles, cups and plates, and instead use cloth banners, steel plates and glasses. For a total ban of disposable plastics, we urge the Central Government to formulate strict laws and ensure the systematic and strong implementation of their pledge to ban disposable plastic materials.

    (You are encouraged to translate this to your regional language and publish it in your Diocesan journal or in appropriate forums.)

    1551330351Lenten_Circular_from_the_CSI_Moderator_2019.pdf
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