WITNESS AND NURTURE
Ecumenical Collaboration and Christian Discipleship
Emerging from the vision and mission of the NCCSL, the primary mandate and call of Council is to remain committed as well as to further enhance Ecumenical collaboration, Christian fellowship and Discipleship in all its engagements. The Ecumenical task therefore is the fulfilment of a greater vision, and the desire of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, objectives of this strategic priority are oriented towards promoting unity and commitment among the Constituent members. The Churches are called to witness through prayer and are encouraged to closely engage as well as extend services towards the empowerment and development of God’s children, particularly the poor and marginalized. The ecumenical collaboration will continue to focus on matters of social concern, where the intended initiatives are to further strengthen ecumenical united witness as well as to respond to the existing needs. This is believed to be a greater vocation and biblical mandate which invites churches to continue their ministry with wisdom, prudence and courage for the benefit of all people.
The year under review has been an extremely challenging period with the tragic Easter attack in April 2019, followed by a Presidential and Parliamentary elections and the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic resulting in curfew, lockdowns and social distancing. Congregations could not meet or assemble for the first time for a prolonged period, unseen even in the extremely volatile days in the nation. Yet the Church of Jesus Christ moved on strengthened in the faith and continued in its call to serve the people. Development and promotion of practical guidelines and tools for member constituencies for ecumenical collaboration, collective events to bring us ecumenically together in common witness and celebration, the active involvement in Christian Student Education initiatives across the country through radio and TV programming were the key highlights of the year. This key strategic area is further unpacked and reported through the following objectives.
- Prayer and worship
- Discipleship and renewal
- Learning and edification
- Ecumenical formation and leadership
- Accompaniment and collaboration
2 DISCIPLESHIP AND RENEWAL: To witness God, to express His calling and renewal through His Spirit to spread Good News to
humanity and to live by the values of God’s Reign
Radio programmes continue to serve as a key medium of activity of NCCSL. In the reporting Year the Council produced 542 regular Christian radio programmes, which has been a ‘spiritual
enrichment and edification’ of many listeners who eagerly look forward to it. The airtime for these programmes cover over 6100 minutes (102.2 hours) spread throughout the year consistingof Daily Thoughts, Sunday Meditations, Children’s programmes, ‘Sinagogaya’, ‘Kithunu Hamuwa’ and the Christian Half Hour, produced in all three languages. The temporary setback with the pandemic challenged the Council to adopt itself to innovative and alternative ways of reaching to its listeners which was well received.
The Christian Half Hour and Kithunu Hamuwa
This programme is aired in all three languages fortnightly on Sundays and during the year seventy-six (76) programmes were produced. The programmes which followed the liturgical calendar also addressed various other contextual themes such as Peace building, Environment and our responsibilities as stewards, Family and Life, recognition and appreciation for
the Differently Abled. The Sinhala version of the Christian Half Hour is also aired over the ‘Ruhunu Sevaya’ (Southern Regional Station of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation)
fortnightly on Sundays and the programme is titled ‘Kithunu Humuwa’. The Council places its appreciation towards the many who showed interest and contributed with meaningful and timely programmes.
Radio Programmes for Children
Programmes catering to young listeners in the languages of English and Tamil are produced by NCCSL and the Sinhala programme titled “Kithunu Lama Hamuwa” is produced by Back to the Bible Broadcast, on behalf of NCCSL. We express our gratitude to the dedicated team for their passion, skills and commitment in reaching out to the ‘little ones’; the expression of the Kingdom of God.
Daily Thoughts and Sunday Meditation
Daily devotional and meditational thoughts spanning three and half minutes are aired at the dawn of each day continuously for one week, fortnightly.The English version of ‘Thoughts for the Day’ titled the ‘Sunday Meditations’ is aired fortnightly. During the reporting period, 339
programmes have been produced and a key highlight of these programmes is that they are being followed by the wider community, including those of other faiths.
This programme relating to the biblical and historical traditions of the Christian faith in the current context is aired every Friday at 7.30 pm with the air time also being shared with the Roman Catholic Church on a quarterly basis. A highlight of this series of programme was the enlightening discussion on the theme ‘Fundamental Doctrines of God with the participation of our Heads of Churches and Prof J B Dissanayake.
Special Programmes during the Christmas Season – Radio
Between 20th December 2019 and 1st January 2020, a total of 34 radio programmes were aired in all the languages. The programmes covering 18 hours of radio time included Watch Night Services aired from Methodist Church, Koralawella in Sinhala and Holy Emmanuel Church, Lockgate in Tamil. The morning New Year Service on the 1st of January 2020 was aired from
the Church of the Good Shepherd, Colombo 05, in English. The four-hour live programme ‘Rata
Wata Nathal’ (Christmas around the country) was aired from 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm on Christmas Eve (24th December) from St. John’s Church Gatambe, Kandy and St. John the Baptist Church Chundikuli, Jaffna. A live programme was aired on Christmas Day from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm titled ‘Vimukthiya Upatha’ covering the different aspects of the Birth of Christ with a panel consisting of Bishop Emeritus, Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe, Ven. Yatalamatte Kusalananda Thero and Mr Tennyson Cooray with Mr Givantha Arathasad.
Special Programmes for Easter – Radio
The pre-planned special annual radio programmes to be aired during the Lenten season faced an unforeseen challenge with the pandemic. As a result programmes were handled on a ‘case by case’ basis. We take this opportunity to recognize the efforts of the staff of the SLBC for their efforts during these challenging times and the clergy who supported with quality and contextual programmes often at very short notice. We thank God for their commitment and contribution to the ministry of the Council at this unprecedented time.
During the period from April 2019 to March 2020, NCCSL produced 06 TV programmes titled ‘Sudasuna’, aired in the months of April, June, August, October December in 2019 and February 2020. The ratings provided by The Sri Lanka Rupavahini’ in the reaching out of these programmes to the viewers have been very encouraging. The programmes so conducted are as follows
|Month||Type of Programme||Description||Produced/Presented|
|April 2019||Songs||Focused on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ||Baptist Women’s League|
|June 2019||Discussion||Reflections on the impact of the Easter Terror Attack||Rev. S.L.W. Pathmasiri|
|August 2019||Songs||Christian lyrics, to the Ghazal tunes||Salvation Army|
|October 2019||Feature NCCSL||Responsibility and care for Elders||NCCSL|
|December 2019||Drama||Importance of reconciliation with a Family||Christ Church – Kotte|
|February 2019||Discussion||Interview with Christian Composers, Ven. Devapriya De Silva and Mr T Sumith Perera||NCCSL|
Special Programmes for Christmas – Television
The focus during the Christmas season by the State Television evolved around the churches affected in the Easter attacks which contributed to the airtime being reduced; however The Christmas Service (Sinhala) was relayed live from The Methodist Church, Moratumulla by
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. However The Independent Television Network (ITN) facilitated two discussion programmes with Bishop Emeritus, Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe and Rev. Mihiri De Silva Salgadoe on the theme ‘What Christmas means to us in today’s Sri Lankan context’ and Revds. Saman Perera and Kusum Kumarasiri discussing on the topic ‘’ The relationship of peace and reconciliation with Christmas’. In addition, teams from St. Matthews
Church, Thalangama and St. Luke’s Church, Piliyandala joined the Roman Catholic Church, for Sinhala Christmas Musical programme titled, Gavalenen Eha, Manushathwaya Kara.’ (Humanity beyond the Manger) Nethra Channel relayed two Tamil discussion programmes during the season with Archdeacon of Jaffna Ven. Samuel J. Ponniah and Rev. S. Balasundaram respectively on the topic of historical and contemporary understanding of Christmas and the celebration of Christmas meaningfully. In addition, a musical programme featuring ‘All Saints’ Church, Pettah and Christ Church, Kandy’ was also aired
Special Programmes for Easter – Television
Given the pandemic restriction, two discussions were aired by The Independent Television Network. ‘The significance of Holy Thursday’ featuring Revds. M Sathivel and Pradeep Ruben in Tamil. ‘Easter Eve Observances (Paasku Pera Sandewa) featuring Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo and Brother Lionel Peiris in Sinhala. A Good Friday Meditation, conducted by Rev. Heshan De Silva was telecast over Rupavahini. In addition, The Easter Sunday Service with the participation of all Heads of Churches, as recorded at The Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, and aired over the on Easter Sunday. Our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Heads of Churches and the clergy who extended their cooperation to NCCSL, despite the lockdown situation. We also express our sincere gratitude to Swarga TV for their generous services in recording the said programme for necessary telecast.
In order to strengthen and obtain professional support in the production of radio and TV programmes of NCCSL, an orientation workshop was held in February 2020. External resources were identified with groups for script writing, lyric writing, singing and technical expertise. A core group was formed and they have pledged their support to the future work of the Council.
5. Accompaniment and Collaboration: To enhance Christian Unity and nurture relationship through collective mission and witness
“Dharmaprabashwara” Salutation 2019
NCCSL partnered with the National Catholic Center for Social Communication (NCCSC) and the Department of Christian Religious Affairs (DCRA) in conducting this annual awards ceremony, where Roman Catholic and Christian artists in the field of music, theatre, architecture, writing, etc. were felicitated at different levels and categories. This was the first time NCCSL partnered in this ceremony and given the opportunuity to nominate four (04) persons from our constituencies for such achievements.
Life Time Award to:
Rev. Arupalam Stephen – for his contribution to Christian Literature
Special Jury Awards:
Givantha Arthasad for his contribution to Christian communication through the mediums of Art, Photography, Writing skills, Printing, Stage drama, Cinema, Radio and TV over the past 52 years.
Joseph Danister Cooray – for his contribution to Christian Literature, and Creative Writing
Mr. Godridge Samuel – for his contribution made in the field of Architecture
PROMOTE AND STRENGTHEN
Justice, Peace and Reconciliation
Justice is the pre-condition for peace, and peace, the pre-condition for justice. The Christian scriptures makes justice the inseparable companion of peace and this Biblical imperative leads to healing, reconciliation and transformation. Hence, the ecumenical calling of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, to promote justice, peace and reconciliation.
This ministry calls for ecumenical engagement by the churches with the purpose of addressing social injustice, hatred, inequalities and discrimination, focusing on restoring unity and promoting a harmonious relationship and mutual understanding amongst communities and religious groups. The NCCSL continues to work with Inter-faith leaders as well as with different religious groups with the aim of fostering dialogue, addressing ethnic and religious tensions and thereby promoting Unity. The Council recognizes the important role of civil society and continues to initiate collaborative activities focusing on empowerment and social mobilization,
supporting dialogue among ethnic communities, confidence-building measures and the promotion of trust and positive communication. Particular emphasis was given to interventions
aimed at bridging the inter-ethnic and Inter-faith divide at the local and national level through advocacy during this period when the ethno – religious fabric of the nation was extremely fragile.
This key strategic area is further unpacked and reported through the following objectives.
- Interfaith initiatives for community Cohesion
- Peace Building, peace education and spiritual formation
- Healing and transformation Ensuring Human dignity and security of marginalized and vulnerable communities
- Advocacy on contemporary socio, economic and political issues
5 Advocacy on contemporary socio economic and political Issues: To provide a voice, create awareness and be involved in advocacy and education for contemporary socio-economic and political issues that affect the life and security of our people
including working for good governance, accountability and creating a corruption free society.
Telefilms on Peace Building
Two telefilms, one in the form of a ‘drama’ and the other in the form a ‘documentary’ was produced by NCCSL, on the theme of ‘Reconciliation’. The documentary titled “Verkonda
Valimai’ (rooted strength) was produced by renowned film producer King
Ratnam depicting stories of victim families, survivors, by – standers and eye witnesses to the blast. The documentary talks of the impact caused by the devastating bomb attack, the
emotions, pain and anxiety of the people, devoid of anger, hatred or revenge
in a multi religious city ‘Kochchikade’ in Colombo. ‘Verkonda Valimai’ was aired over Vasantham TV on 21st April 2020, to commemorate the first anniversary of the Easter Terror 2019.
On the other hand, ‘Premaya’ (love) was the title of the Sinhala teledrama scripted on the lines of love and reconciliation in a family. It speaks of the impact or the disruption caused due to family break up; the distancing, loneliness and the subsequent reconciliation. ‘Premaya’ was a joint production with Christ Church, Kotte and was telecast on the 22nd December 2019 at 6.00 pm over Rupavahini.
Journalist Movement for Media Ethics and Social Justice (JMMESJ)
Regular meetings were held with discussions on the following: ‘Christian response to Easter Terror in the North’ – Ven. Samuel Ponniah ‘Democracy and the General Election 2020’ – Mr. Sanath Fernando The e-newsletter ‘JMMESJ’ launched in August 2019 has now been streamlined, with articles, poems and stories. The group initiated a project to support and work with school children on the lines of media and communication which will be implemented following re-opening of schools.