INDIAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CENTER PHILADELPHIA
Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ:
We are indeed happy to bring to your attention plans and objectives of the proposed Indian Community Center in PA of the EFICP. As you are aware, it has been over a year since the EFICP announced plans to build ICCCP. A Project Committee was appointed by the EFICP General body solely for this purpose. And, ever since, the committee has worked tirelessly to make this dream a reality.
We would like to point out that there is no other place in America where the Malayalee Indian immigrant community has taken on such an ambitious a project. The various Indian immigrant Christian denominations in Philadelphia share close bonds of love and mutual respect with each other and, under the banner of EFICP have always come together to work for the good of the whole community. This congenial atmosphere is a true blessing from God and makes it possible for us to embark on a project of this magnitude. A lot of people have come forward offering support and help in this endeavor; but it seems there are still a number of people who do not have enough information regarding this undertaking.
Following are the main aims and purposes of the proposed Community Center:
1. Adult Care Center:
The first generation of Indian immigrants are mostly retired and in the later years of life. With nothing to look forward to or engage themselves in, they are forced to spend their time within the four walls of their houses. A culturally appropriate place where they can come together to socialize and spend time has become the need of the community. Such a place where they can talk to each other in Malayalam, read newspapers in Malayalam and enjoy Malayalee food will greatly ease the loneliness and hopelessness of old age. A place that caters to the needs of the senior generation will also be a God-sent for the younger generation that constantly worries about their parents who are left home alone.
2. Youth Center:
Similarly, our youth will benefit if they had a safe place where they can convene to play and spend time. Our children now are members in local clubs and recreational centers that are not conducive to the spiritual and moral values of our Indian culture. A community center which upholds the Indian traditional values will definitely be a better and safer place for them. Facilities and programs for their physical as well as spiritual well-being can be made available at the Center
3. Education Center:
A Community Center will be the right place to conduct culturally appropriate trainings and classes, for both youth and adults, in languages, use of computers, health education, Bible studies, yoga, meditation, music, dance and painting. We have among us academicians, scholars, artists and spiritual leaders, whose skills and expertise may be taught to the younger members of community. A community Center will provide the ideal setting for this exchange
4. Physical and Recreational Center:
Men and women need facilities for physical exercise. Walking trails, swimming pools, courts for games, physical fitness equipment are all necessary for children, youth adults and seniors alike. If all these amenities are available in a culturally appropriate place, it will encourage a higher number of people to utilize these.
5. Child Care Center:
This is evidently an immediate need of our families, especially for the working parents. Studies in America reinforcing the value of good childcare in the growth of the child have made us aware of the importance of this service. Dependable child care service provided by suitably credentialed trusted staff, following typical Indian value systems will be greatly appreciated by the young working parents of our community.
6. Counseling Center:
The need for a Counseling Center steeped in Indian values is another immediate need for our community. As an immigrant community we have experienced ‘culture shock’ and its resultant issues as value systems of the native land clashed with the value systems of this land are quite familiar to us. Issues within families stretch across all denominations. There are at least twenty spiritually trained clergy within the EFICP whose Counseling expertise may be tapped for resolving these issues in our families
It is time that we paid serious attention to these issues. Indian immigrants are among the most financially and socially sound immigrants. It is sad that we have not tried to address our issues so far, despite having the wherewithal to address them. At the same several non-Christian communities have already achieved these before decades. It is ironic that we have spent millions in building churches that are not used more than two times a week, but have not even considered building a community space that will be of use to every member of our community, every day of the week. Of course we need churches; no one can dispute that. We have raised millions of dollars for the construction of churches: our families have only been strengthened because of them. Just like that, a space where the community can meet together is also important for our all-round well-being.
Every year, we continue to support charitable causes in our motherland through donations of millions of dollars. But we have conveniently forgotten that there are charitable causes that will benefit the community here. The truth is, we have not used even a small amount of our God-given resources to improve the lot of our community here. Our community here has needs which we have to meet.
Roughly there are about 3,000 families as members of the 21 parishes in Philadelphia. The majority of these families are economically stable and sound and each family can easily afford to donate $ 1,000.00 to the building of the community center. We have the resources: all we need is the willingness to donate. God has blessed us abundantly in this land; let us give a portion of the wealth He has given us to this just cause. Once the community center starts functioning we shall become eligible to numerous kinds of financial assistance from Government agencies.
It is natural that there will be pessimists who are hesitant to undertaking an endeavor of this magnitude. But this is not a one-man show. The entire Malayalee Christians of Episcopal background are behind this noble attempt. Ecumenical Fellowship has a large group of dedicated and efficient lay leaders and clergy who can make this dream a reality trusting in the Lord. The Executive Committee will consist of the vicars of all the members-parishes (21) and one lay member from each parish.
We have great pleasure in presenting this plan to you, for your consideration and whole-hearted support. We warmly invite you to become part of this great endeavor by volunteering to be on the various committees that will be formed at the Banquet on Nov 24th at the Ascension M T C Auditorium at 5.00PM. We look forward to seeing you at the Banquet.
GOD BLESS YOU!
Fr. K. K. John Fr. M K Kuriakose
EFICP Chairman ICCC Project Coordinator