Partners’ Consultaion Meeting 2012 of Church of Bangladesh held on 1-2 November, 2012

12 November 2012

A two-day long consultation meeting of Church of Bangladesh took place from 1 – 2 November, 2012 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.The consultation was of two phases. First day was for Church in general and the second day was exclusively for social development programmes of the Church. The theme of the first day was “Hope for Fullness of Life” and the second day’s theme was “Building a New Society: Challenging of Empowering the Deprived”. The first theme paper was presented by Rt. Rev. Paul S. Sarkar, Bishop of Dhaka Diocese and Moderator of Church of Bangladesh and the second theme paper was presented by Michael A Roy, member of the Executive Board of Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme (CBSDP) and Asia Facilitator of Anglican Alliance. First paper discussed the Fullness of life from different perspectives and concluded it is a gift of God and that can be achieved through owning Christ and it is a process that may undergo severe suffering, but ends with abundance of love for sharing with others. Upon the key issues of the papers small group based discussion took place and that came up with the following recommendations for Church of Bangladesh as well for the partners towards addressing the emerging crises. The recommendations are:
1. Raising awareness that we are all involved in God’s mission and not leave it to others
2. Integration of mission and diaconal work of the Church
3. Focusing on leadership building at all levels in all ministries, with major focus on youth, particularly women beyond the fellowship activities
4. Need to develop bible-based comprehensive spiritual programme
5. Need to ask the children and the young people what they want from the church, what they feel they need
6. Building capacity of the clergy and staff of the church
7. Creating a new mindset that people contribute to the church; not the church contributes to the people
8. Need to change from ‘charity’ mindset to ‘development’ mentality
9. Help the rising middle class to take the responsibilities in society
10. Nurturing children and youth with the facility to have the access to electronic media and social network
11. The Church of Bangladesh must focus on the spiritual development of the young people to counterbalance the influence of materialism and consumerism
12. Need self-reliance urgently depending upon the resources that COB has. This needs to be an ongoing process
13. Reviewing of the mission, vision, and values of the church
On second day Bishop Paul S. Sarkar welcomed the development partners and in a brief presentation highlighted the present crises in development, particularly for climate changes, food crisis and uncontrolled global market. He stressed on to review the present partnership needs to address those issues with due roles from developed and developing countries. He further emphasized on sustainability of the impact of the development activities and felt the need that it is to be critically considered from now onward.
The theme papers on “Building a New Society: Challenging of Empowering the Deprived” was presented defining first the feature of the new society and later discussed the poverty situation of Bangladesh, empowering process, the challenges in empowering process, approaches being confined to faith and rights based approaches and finally ended with a conclusion.
The paper raised a strong debate over the dichotomy between faith and right based approaches. The theology scholars attended the consultation found there is no dichotomy between the two. But the lay people found there is, particularly in the understanding of many development partners and the institutions. The paper, in terms of basic elements of empowerment of the people, emphasized on people’s participation at all levels of development initiatives.
A detailed follow-up report on Last evaluation & progress of organization development and reconstruction process presented in the consultation meeting by Mr. Thomas M Das, Director, CBSDP. The report concluded with an urge to form a consortium of partners for assisting CBSDP in implementing its upcoming strategic plan more coordinated manner.
The long-term (2013 -2018) strategic plan of CBSDP which is in the process to be completed by December 2012 was presented in the meeting. The plan has included six thematic areas to intervene, these are: Food and Livelihood Security, Community Health and Hygiene, Education, Right and Social Security, Securing and Promoting Ethnic Culture, and Climate Change and Disaster Risks Management.
Upon elaborate group discussion the partners of CBSDP agreed to form a consortium to assist in implementing the social development plan of CBSDP.
Partner representatives attended the consultation meeting include, ICCO & Kerk in Actie, PCN The Netherland/New Delhi; USPG, UK; Methodist Church, UK; Church of Scotland; United Churches of Christ, USA; Church in Wales; Church of North India; Anglican Alliance, UK; Mennonite Central Committee, Bangladesh ; Church Mission Society, UK; Tearfund, UK; Bread for the World, Germany; KNH, Germany; Christian Aid, UK.