The Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod constituted a commission to look into the working of the Church in general and the Theological Education Board in particular, and the commission felt the need to strengthen and widen the Ministry of the Church especially in the Society. A Commission was therefore set up by the Church to explore the potentiality of the Aizawl Theological College in fulfilling this need. The recommendations submitted by the Commission were accepted by the 1969 Synod meeting (VI Reports 5p. 15 of 1968). Among these recommendations there was a proposal to set up a Christian Social Front. But this particular proposal was not fulfilled immediately. In the year 1978 the Chhimphei Presbytery put forward an agenda to the Synod proposing that a Social Action Committee be set up. The Synod Meeting held in 1978 accepted this proposal, and entrusted the responsibility of constituting a Committee was placed in the hand of the Synod Executive Committee (SEC). This Committee was also directed to chalk out the various aims and objectives of the Social Action Committee (Gen. No. 1p. of 1978). The meeting of the SEC held on 12th January, 1979 handed over the responsibility of chalking out the detailed working of the new Committee to the Synod Officers Meeting (OM) (No 19 SEC 12.1.1979). The proposals made by the OM were presented to the SEC meeting of 2nd May, 1979. This meeting suggested that the matter needed more in-depth research. Therefore, it was suggested that the OM study the matter more exhaustively and present it again at the next SEC meeting. The name of the Committee, number of members and their tenure, duties and functions of the Committee and mode of implementation was then listed out in detail by the OM. This was again presented by the SEC at the 1979 Synod Meeting. The proposal was unanimously accepted by the Synod delegates and the Mizoram Synod Social Front Committee was thus set up in the year 1979.
The Synod Social Front Committee was set up as a sub-committee of the Synod Executive Committee and its members were selected by the SEC. The Synod held on 2002 resolved that the Synod Social Front be upgraded to a full fledged committee, which has been the status since the year 2004. At present the structureof the Committee is as below :
~ Chairman – Moderator
~ Secretary – Executive Secretary i/c Social Front
~ One member from each Presbytery of the Synod
~ 5 members nominated by the Synod.
~ Synod Secretary (Sr.)
~ Co-ordinator i/c Social Front
~ Director, Synod Rescue Home
Executive Committee :
~ Chairman – Moderator
~ Secretary – Executive Secretary i/c Social Front
Ex- officios :
~ Synod Secretary (Sr.)
~ Co-ordinator i/c Social Front
~ Director, Synod Rescue Home
~ 5 other selected members
Objectives of the Committee
The Synod Social Front strives for the prosperity, solidarity, and harmony of Church, Economics, Politics, Education, and Society in all its aspects.
~ To provide guidance and educate people on the issues of politics, economics, education, family issues in accordance with the Scriptures and Christian faith through Seminars, awareness campaigns, pamphlets and others.
~ To educate the masses on the interrelated dimension of Church and culture of the society.
~ To facilitate relief and rehabilitation work in case of need, by networking with donor agencies and other relief organizations.
~ To provide help and rehabilitation to the victims of alcoholism and substance abuse.
~ To take steps so that all the development programmes of the state is evenly distributed .
~ To take steps so that class and caste systems do not permeate the community.
Method of Carrying out the Objectives
In order to realize its objectives the Front organizes Seminars, Training, Workshops, Consultations, Awareness Campaigns, and Publication of related issues. The Front as far as possible makes use of its local resources in various capacities towards the fulfillment of its different projects. In order to fulfill the objectives efficiently and systematically, the Committee has six major Cells namely:
~ Education Cell
~ Alcoholism, Drugs & AIDS Cell
~ Political Cell
~ Economic Cell
~ Land reforms
The main aim of establishing these cells is to help generate awareness and take necessary action for the upliftment or eradication of the issues that it deals with as the case may be. In order to achieve its goals the Front organises campaigns and seminars etc. in various congregations and localities within and outside the State. As an outcome of these activities the Front has become an important instrument of social change and has contributed to the all round development of Mizoram. Among many such activities mention may be made of the following :
It has been the aim of the Social Front to conscientize the people on the values of education. The Synod meeting held in 1992 being acutely aware of the decline of education in the State of Mizoram voiced its concern which resulted in resolving that the Synod should find ways and means of collaborating with the State Government to solve this problem. For this purpose we have undertaken the task of promoting education by visiting schools and other learning institutions and meeting the concerned officials in this regard. We have also distributed leaflets and pamphlets and have made appeals to the local churches to organise their own education development programmes at the grassroot level. In doing this they have visited educational institutions in their respective localities, given awards to successful students and helped weaker ones in their studies.Several seminars and consultations have also been conducted to find ways and means of developing education in Mizoram and its findings have been submitted as recommendations and proposals to the Government of Mizoram. We can also say that the Social Front Committee is a major contributing factor in enabling Mizoram to attain the second highest literacy percentage in India.
One very important factor which has been very influential in changing the political scenario of Mizoram is the Social Front’s Political Education. Right from the time of its inception, the Political Education program has been followed up zealously and effectively for the purpose for which it was set up. The Church itself has always taken as it’s responsibility to reverse the downward trend in which politics is developing in the State. To revert this trend an intensive campaign was undertaken by the Committee. This campaign aimed at educating the masses on the ethical and basic meaning of the term ‘politics’, what it encompasses, how it should function, what political rights we have as citizens of the country. Emphasis was also laid on the demerits and dangers of party politics, the need to elect candidates on the basis of personality rather than party affiliations, one’s duty to exercise one’s franchise, the obligation of every citizen towards the State etc. The Committee has more or less covered the whole of Mizoram with this programme. Only some of the more remote and inaccessible areas are yet to be reached. We can say that the campaigns have been successful and it has greatly influenced the political attitude of the people of Mizoram in general and the minds of politicians in particular. The motive of doing this is to inculcate in the people the right concept of politics and encourage them to refrain from dirty party politics with the main focus being, bringing about the sovereignty and Kingdom of God in life in all spheres including politics.
In the year 1992 the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod announced that the next ten years would be known as the “Decade for Self-Sufficiency.” To fulfill this resolution the Synod Social Front also started an intensive self-sufficiency drive from that year itself. Campaigns, seminars, workshops, and consultations were utilized effectively for this purpose. In this matter the Committee collaborated with the Government of Mizoram in several agricultural research projects. As such, recommendations have been made towards encouraging terrace farming, giving priority to rice plantations, using organic fertilizers as far as practicable, using indigenous methods of storing agricultural products and introducing “Contour Trenching” combined with “Hedging” as a new method of farming. As a result of the self-sufficiency drive there has been a phenomenal increase in the production of agricultural goods in the land. On the other hand a problem arose on how to dispose the surplus products. In the wake of this welcome development the Synod Executive Committee in consultation with the Synod Officers’ Meeting found it necessary that markets be initialized for the sale of these agricultural products. Following this incentive the Committee has approached leading companies and Government Agencies outside Mizoram in search of suitable markets. These agents and companies have on their part happily conveyed their willingness to help and aid the Social Front in every possible way and to provide any necessary suggestions and steps that could be taken to further the economic development process in Mizoram. For enhancing steps, the department has issued circular to all the local churches in the year 2007 to initiate Self Help Groups for upliftment of the poor in the area of every local church. The Self help groups as conceived by the Committee are mainly empowerment oriented. Many local Social Front Committees have already taken steps in starting the groups and seek the ways and know-how about it for themselves. The local churches have organised, inspired and encouraged the people to rise up and start working and to be content with whatever reward comes their way. This has been considered by the people as a kind of moral renewal among the people with the help of the church. The number of Self Help Group is still increasing.
Alcoholism, Drugs & AIDS
Being acutely aware of the inroads made by Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and the AIDS menace that has penetrated the State in particular and the country in general, the Social Front started confronting this menace at an early stage. This has in a way prevented the problem from escalating to an uncontrolled proportion. To tackle such life threatening social disease the Front has conducted several researches on the causes within the State. Acting on these findings strategic campaigns have been organised. For these campaigns the Committee has been very busy for the past several years. In mainstreaming with the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society, the Committee has covered many villages with it’s message. Apart from the association with the Society the Committee have also organised awareness campaigns on its own. So far it has covered more than a hundred and forty villages from the date of its inception. The Committee also liaises with other private and governmental rehabilitation centres working with alcoholics and substance abuse addicts with the purpose of having a well-organised network in prevention. It also organises training for counsellors in Substance Abuse Prevention. This is a one-week intensive certificate training course which was started in 1998. So far 130 counsellors have been trained. New and more relevant AIDS awareness and prevention slogans and hoardings have also been submitted to replace the old ones. One very important developmental work of this Committee which we cannot but mention is the “Mizoram Total Liquor Prohibition Act” which was implemented due to the Committee’s repeated request. The Front, realising that the success of this implementation requires support from every corner has been working hard for the same. A research is also currently under way in relation to the above mentioned.
The Synod Rescue Home
The major project of the Social Front, is establishing the rehabilitation centre for substance abusers, it was established on 21st September 1987. It is situated in a quiet and peaceful surrounding at Durtlang, about 10 kms. from the heart of Aizawl. Functioning under a Director at present there are 25 staff working under various capacities. We are proud to say that this is the only Rehabilitation Centre that furnishes three separate units for the patients i.e., Detoxification Unit, Rehabilitation Unit and After Care Unit. But these units still needs infrastructure developments.
It also has a 25 bedded wing for women patients who are victims of the abuses of the society or have fallen into the trap of addiction of alcohol, substances and sex. This wing started functioning in the month of October, 2000. Therapy is administered to the patients through three foundational approaches :- Christian Approach, Psychological Approach and Physical Approach. These foundational approaches are used in personal and group counselling, work therapy, physical exercises, games, worship and Bible studies.After several years of experimenting with different approaches of administration, management and care we can now say that the Synod Rescue Home has finally settled down to a well patterned and organised system of functional setup. In the mean time much work needs to be done for strengthening the infrastructure. Work is also in progress for the same among which mention may be made of the construction of a new After Care Unit and staff quarters.
The Synod Social Front has been making an effort to facilitate the Government for the even distribution of land throughout the state and to rectify the policy of acquisition of fertile land by the Forest Department since it has been found to be an obstacle against the economic activities and upliftment of lives of many people, who are agriculturist and depend on the land for their livelihood. The Synod Social Front has the Land Ceiling & Land Reform Cell to implement the steps suggested by the committee and a seminar has already been conducted in this matter and has also published a booklet on land reforms in the year 2006.
The Synod Social Front is responsive to changes that has taken place in the environment. Environment has come to be of big importance since the issue has been found alarming with pollution posing a health hazard to the people. In an attempt to impart people with an awareness for the need to prevent environmental destruction, the Social Front has published a booklet on environment written by Mr. C. Lalduhawma, one of the Environment Cell members and the booklet is distributed freely.
The major project of the Social Front, rehabilitation centre for substance abusers, it was established on 21st September 1987. It is situated in a quiet and peaceful surrounding at Durtlang, about 10 kms. from the heart of Aizawl. Functioning under a Director at present there are 25 staff working under various capacities. We are proud to say that this is the only Rehabilitation Centre that furnishes three separate units for the patients i.e., Detoxification Unit, Rehabilitation Unit and After Care Unit. But these units still needs infrastructure developments. A new 25 bedded wing for women patients has been recently installed and the same was inaugurated on the 12th of September 2000 by the Synod Moderator Rev. K. Lungmuana. The new wing started functioning in the month of October, 2000. A lady counsellor, a staff nurse and two IV Grade staff have also been newly recruited.
Therapy is administered to the patients through three foundational approaches : Christian Approach, Psychological Approach and Physical Approach. These foundational approaches are used in personal and group counselling, work therapy, physical exercises, games, worship and Bible studies.
After several years of experimenting with different approaches of administration, management and care we can now say that the Synod Rescue Home has finally settled down to a well patterned and organised system of functional setup. In the mean time much work needs to be done for strengthening the infrastructure. Work is also in progress for the same among which mention may be made of the construction of a new After Care Unit, new Director’s quarters and Staff quarters.
Apart from what has been written above the Social Front has certain ongoing projects such as the counsellors training programme, monthly out reach programmes, awareness campaigns, seminars and consultations on contemporary issues etc. The Tribal Development Division of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department has appointed the Social Front as one of the Inspection & Monitoring Body of the Non-Governmental Organisations in Mizoram. The Front is also a member at the State Mental Health Authority. It also works hand in hand with the Mizoram Social Defense and Rehabilitation Board, the official organ of the State Government. The Front has also conducted a questionnaire based research on the “Economic Disparity Problem” of the rural and urban areas of Mizoram. These findings have been submitted to the State who in turn will be taking up necessary actions.
Work is also in progress to take up a systematic research on the personal, social, cultural and religious effects of substance abuse especially alcohol. It also works hand in hand with the different NGOs and Para-Church organisations and acts as a facilitator for some of their projects in the cause of developing the land and the people of Mizoram
SYNOD SOCIAL FRONT
Synod Office (Synod Conference Centre)
Mission Veng, Aizawl – 796 001,
Telephone – 91 0389 2326372
Email us email@example.com
Contact person Upa H Lalhmingmawia