The Vellore Christian Medical College (CMC) Foundation conducted the Second Annual Virtual Ecumenical Leadership Forum on October 16th, 2020. The main aim of this forum was to enable the Foundation’s partner faith-based organizations to come together in the spirit of exploring God’s priorities and paradigm shifts in global mission.
Our speakers included clergy, educators, and physicians from a broad spectrum of Christian faith communities, including CMC. The topics of interest were 1) Response of Christian organizations during a crisis, 2)Impact of a Christian-rooted education on the preparation of future doctors, 3) Empowering medical ministry in modeling Jesus’s examples to support the needs of others, and 4) Mission-driven volunteerism for medical and non-medical professionals.
Reverend Dr. Benjamin Chan (Area Director for East and South Asia, American Baptist International Ministries) and Reverend Dr. Anna Thomas (Senior Pastor, Beverly United Methodist Church, NJ) highlighted the fact that as Christ-centered communities we are called to be “New wine in new wineskins” (Mark 7:22). In this light, the church is called to come together in one spirit to be a source of encouragement, support, and prayer. Reverend Chan also stressed the necessity to understand the implicit harmony between Christian faith and science.
On the right, Dr. Meredith Hawkins leads a prayer during one of the Foundation’s virtual prayer gatherings in 2020.
Dr. Anna Pulimood (Principal of Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India) and Dr. Hudson Kibuuka (Associate Director, Liaison for Higher Education and Advisor to Southern Asia, Seventh-day Adventist Church) spoke about excellence in education through teaching the virtues of compassion, sacrifice and commitment. They both emphasized that these can only be taught through words in action.
Dr. Anu Rose (Program Director for Jawadhi Hills and Model Villages Project, Department of Community Health and Development, CMC) and Scott Engelsman (Supervisor of Marketing Disaster Response, Reformed Church in America Mission in Europe and the Middle East) explained how transformative and reciprocal relationships are an opportunity to partner and amplify each other’s work as seen in capacity building through CMC in the entrenched communities of Jawadhi Hills and church planting carried out through the Reformed Church of America global mission network.
Reverend Deenabandhu Manchala (Southern Asia Area Executive, Global Ministries, United Church of Christ) and Neethi Prasad (Sevika Sanghom, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Diocese of North America and Europe) spoke about searching for new ways to be engaged in mission and shared examples through which their organizations invest in cross cultural mission work. One such example was the “Sevika Sanghom” or the Women’s Auxillary of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
The opening invocation was given by Reverend J.P Sundararajan (Director of Global Missions, Reformed Church in America) and ended with a beautiful rendition of Dr. Ida Scudder’s favorite hymn “Be Thou My Vision” by Jacklyn Walker (Area Specialist, Presbyterian Mission Agency).
Last but not least Dr. Kibuuka challenged us with this statement:
“God knocks on each individual heart, how we interpret and respond to the knocks makes a difference”