The Council for World Mission (CWM) South Asia Region – Members Mission Forum (MMF) was on 8-12 May 2023 at Holiday Inn Dhaka City Centre, Bangladesh, bringing together a delegation of 20 participants, resource persons and guests from member churches and partners. It served to foster dialogue, collaboration and synergy among member church delegates as they explored effective strategies and approaches to address modern slavery in South Asia’s social, economic and cultural context.
During the inaugural worship on the first day, Bishop Samuel Sunil Mankhin, Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh (COB) brought greetings and extended a warm welcome to the delegates. The first day featured a keynote address by Dr Faustina Pereira, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, who spoke on Modern-Day Slavery in South Asia: Role of Church and Church-related Organisations. Rev. Suchitra Behera, the newly ordained priest of COB led a bible study on “Visiting the Old Road with New Vision”.
One of the highlights of this year’s mission agenda was a safe space created for youth delegates where open and honest dialogue took place. They said, “We believe that meaningful engagement and understanding between generations are essential to keep young people actively involved in the church. By listening to our voices, valuing our perspectives, and involving us in decision-making processes, the church can create an inclusive and vibrant space where the next generation feels valued, heard, and inspired to contribute to the life of the church. Closing the generational gap is not only crucial for our continued participation but also for the long-term sustainability and relevance of the church in a rapidly changing world.”
The MMF also brought attention to the pressing need for member churches to establish counselling and ecology desks within their structures, addressing environmental concerns and providing support for the mental wellbeing of individuals affected by modern-day slavery.
The MMF South Asia event concluded with a sense of renewed commitment and determination among the participants. The event provided a space for meaningful discussions, networking, and sharing of experiences, which resulted in a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding modern-day slavery and the importance of promoting life-flourishing communities.
Going forward, the participants expressed a strong resolve to take concrete actions in their respective contexts to combat modern-day slavery. These actions included raising awareness, strengthening community support systems, advocating for policy changes, and collaborating with relevant stakeholders to address the root causes of exploitation and vulnerability.