The Ecumenical Christian Centre (ECC) has rendered yeoman service in nation building and community development over the past five decades, Vice President M Hamid Ansari said on Saturday at an event in the Karnataka capital.
"The contribution of the ECC in promoting inter-faith harmony and greater understanding among all sections of society is commendable. The Centre has developed into a meeting place of people of all religious and political views," Ansari said at the Centre's golden jubilee celebrations in Bangalore.
Commemorating the birth centenary of the Centre's founder Reverend MA Thomas on the occasion, the vice president said the distinguished leader had the vision of promoting the fundamental unity of humankind.
"The work of Thomas in raising social awareness against ills afflicting our society is noteworthy. On this momentous day, we salute his selfless service in the cause of fellow beings," Ansari said.
Though representing different churches the world over, Ansari said ecumenism had promoted unity not just among Christians of different sects but also people of other religions, based on cooperation and the promotion of socio-economic and political understanding.
"The Centre has adopted the wider concept of ecumenism and endeavoured to promote unity of different faiths and humanity through its multifaceted work, oriented to the welfare of the people and the country," Ansari said.
Calling upon the gathering to follow the eternal message of Jesus Christ to eliminate conflicts and wars, the vice president said the excellent work of the Centre in spiritual and temporal spheres was inspired by the noble message of Christ and the tenets of Christianity.
"Christ, whom Mahatma Gandhi described as the greatest teacher, had preached the importance of selfless service and sacrifice in the cause of fellow beings. At a time when human folly continues to propel us towards hate and conflict in many parts of the world, Christ's message of love and compassion shows us the path to redemption," Ansari told the gathering.
Since its inception in 1963, the Centre in this city had emerged as vibrant forum for believers and non-believers to congregate and engage in a healthy dialogue on spiritual, moral and ethical values. It has also become an effective vehicle to bring about a socio-economic change and in building a harmonious society through concerted and concrete action.
Lauding the Christian community for its noted work in the fields of education, public health, charitable services and social activities for the uplift of the down-trodden, the poor and needy, Ansari said he was a product of a school run by the Irish Christian Brothers at Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, and of a college run by Jesuit priests in Kolkata.
"It is in this glorious tradition of service before self that the Centre has established itself as an important institution, rendering invaluable service in the cause of nation building and development," Ansari added.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman and senior Congress lawmaker P.J. Kurien said on the occasion that the ECC had helped promote communal harmony and mutual trust among all faiths in the country.
Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, who also participated in the event, quoted from the Upanishads to highlight the significance of humanity living as a single family, "Vasudeva kutumbam" (the world is a family).