Global exec’s first trip to India continues 200 years of mission history
When the Rev. James Moos spends three weeks in India and Sri Lanka this month, the United Church of Christ national officer carries with him the legacy of more than 200 years of partnership. From Feb. 9 through Feb. 27, Moos and Deenabandhu Manchala, Global Ministries’ area executive for Southern Asia, will be advocating for the equality of women and working to advance interfaith relations for their Christian partners in two countries where that religion is the minority.
Global Ministries, the shared overseas ministry between the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has a variety of partners in India and Sri Lanka in the healthcare, education and advocacy fields. This is Moos’ first trip to India, where he plans to witness firsthand the growth of mission work that is two centuries in the making.
“For me, one of the exciting things is to see how the original work has matured and thrived under Indian leadership,” Moos said. “There is a local medical college that has been an enormously successful hospital. It began as a mission hospital and is now operated by Indian doctors.”
India was the first missionary destination for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission, the predecessor body of UCC Wider Church Ministries, which was founded in 1810.
While Global Ministries maintains ecumenical relationships in India, which has a 2-percent Christian population, Moos is eager to expand interfaith dialogues, given recent concerns on attacks against the Muslim community, which accounts for about 13 percent of the population. Moos also hopes to address the status of women in Indian society during his trip, as well as the discrimination and segregation of Dalits—sometimes called “untouchables” in the Indian caste system.
Emerging from conflict in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, a 25-year civil war finally ended in 2009, which in some ways marks the beginning of a new journey for Global Ministries, as it works to help rebuild the country.
“Our church partners are of the Tamil community, and though the country is in a post-war phase, it is not post conflict,” Moos said. “There is still a lot of tension and there hasn’t been the reconciliation needed. Our partners are still recovering from the devastation of war.”
Global Ministries’ efforts in Sri Lanka involve study programs for lay leaders and clergy, and vocational training for veterans who have few skills outside their military knowledge. The ministry also recently concluded disaster relief to help Sri Lanka recover from a 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
“I’m excited to see and explore the ways to fully share our gifts with our partners,” Moos said.
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