Initially scheduled for 2021 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the assembly will address several growing concerns facing Asian countries, setting priorities for the next five years.
"The implementation of some of our programmes has been delayed because of the pandemic, but by June this year, all programmes have been completed, and we are ready to set a fresh and ambitious agenda for the upcoming period", explains the CCA general secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara.
Since the 2015 assembly in Jakarta, member churches' operating circumstances have changed in several Asian countries. There are new concerns and plenty of old and new challenges for the ecumenical movement to address.
"In some cases, things have gotten worse and more problematic, for instance, the persecution of Christians, where local churches in Pakistan and elsewhere need support," explains Chunakara. "We also witness local struggles in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and West Papua, which cause grave concern and must be addressed."
In Chunakara’s home country, India, increased youth migration to economically developed countries in places such as Europe, has reshaped demographics and often left elderly parents to live out their lives alone at home. Local congregations find it increasingly difficult to pull in young people.
"For instance, in the past, young people returned home after a few years abroad as guest workers in the Arabian Gulf. Nowadays, they tend to emigrate for good, leaving their parents in empty nests. We don't know how to address that yet, and it is becoming a serious issue, which we need to discuss at the assembly," says Chunakara.
Internal migration from one province to another within India also raises language and crime problems.
Restoring God's creation
The assembly theme, restoring God's creation, will top the agenda. Urgent concerns are climate change and environmental degradation, such as illegal mining in areas populated by indigenous people.
"God's creation is at the heart of our mission and is closely related to environmental issues and global warming," Chunakara highlights. "It remains a top priority for the ecumenical movement in Asia to engage in these critical issues through tireless advocacy at different levels. The assembly is an opportunity to renew our commitment to sustainability – in God's spirit to restore the creation."
With a focus on the climate emergency, environmental issues, renewal, and restoration, and care for creation, different thematic plenaries will address the main Assembly theme as well as the subthemes, ‘Affirming the Will of God’, ‘Dwelling in Harmony with Creation’, and ‘Attaining Life in Its Fullness’.
On Thursday, 28 September, the 15th CCA General Assembly opens, and the following day, the general secretary shares his report on the CCA's accomplishments since 2015.
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches will inaugurate the Assembly in the afternoon on 28 September and deliver the thematic address.