Saturday, March 31, 2012

Indian Orthodox hierarch discusses ecumenism

Dr. Yakoob Mar Irenios, Metropolitan of Kochi
(Indian Orthodox Herald) - HG Dr Yakoob Mar Irenios, Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese and the present Chairperson of the Faith Unity Mission Commission of the NCCI, demits office by April end. It is for the first time that a Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Metropolitan gets to become the Chairperson of the Faith, Unity and Mission Commission, which is of great importance.

As Chairperson since 2009 and member of Executive Committee, Dr Mar Irenios, outlines the work he did and explains how the Orthodox Church can play an effective role in future with better planning strategies.

Mar Ireanios took charge as Metropolitan of Kochi diocese on April 1, 2009. Earlier, His Grace was the Metropolitan of Madras diocese from 1997. Earlier, in 1993 Mar Ireanios was elevated to the rank of Episcopos and became the Assistant Metropolitan of Malabar diocese.

Excerpts from an email interview. Exclusive to IOH.

Q: After you took over as chairman of faith unity mission commission, what were your plans and programmes? How much were you able to achieve during your tenure.

A: The NCCI, by the grace of God, is slowly recovering from a very difficult financial situation, which was caused by lack of proper financial management for a few years. Now things are back on the rails, thanks to the dedication and prudential financial management of the treasurer.

I shall try to answer your questions rather generally; since it is group work at all levels of NCCI activities. As you know the Orthodox Church is a small part in this institution, where the large majority is Protestant.

Unity, Mission and Evangelism is a wing of the NCCI among others. Every such unit has an Executive Secretary, who is on the staff of NCCI. With the concurrence and direction of the Chairperson, organises programmes. He or she is a kind of CEO, which means the Chairperson has precious little to perform! But the Chair gets involved in several ways. We had an exploratory session immediately after the new Chairpersons took over, and prepared a chart for the several programmes to be implemented during our tenure. For instance the Centenary of the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference in 2010 was an occasion for arranging several รก “revisit” programmes at different centres.

The main focus of course, was on the aspect of unity at different levels. These were conducted in the North East, Central India and the south. In fact The Orthodox Church hosted a dialogue programme for Churches in the South at Kochi. Such occasions the different churches and confessions a lot to understand each other better. The Protestant members were very curious to learn about the Orthodox Church and its understanding on unity and mission. Of course, there are some differences in the way these concepts are understood and explained by the Orthodox Church and the Protestant block.

It was the consensus that the western missionary models were outdated and not of much use in modern India. The Orthodox members were trying to convince the rest that mission means much more than ‘proselytisation’.

I myself was a resource person at the consultation on ‘Tradition and Modernity’ at Chiang Mai, Thailand organised by the WCC, CCA and the NCCI. I presented a paper on this which was widely appreciated and acclaimed. They were told that ‘Tradition” has a very dynamic meaning than what they had actually thought about!

Q: As member of the executive committee, what was the role you performed.

A: As a member of the Executive Committee, we attended the meetings which mainly deal with administrative matters. Here programmes are reviewed and discussed in detail. I could contribute my mite and make the Orthodox presence felt in such assemblies...
Complete article here.

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