On Sunday 5 December, Methodists in Britain are backing a call from India to show solidarity with discriminated-against Dalits across the world.
There are 300 million Dalits outside the caste system who face discrimination in Indian society and in many other parts of the world.
Dalit Liberation Sunday is a joint initiative of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI).
Caste discrimination is the largest systemic human rights abuse in the world today, say campaigners.
While it has been abolished under the Indian Constitution, discrimination and prejudice against Dalits remains widespread.
Thousands of Dalits were evicted from Delhi to remove slums from the sight of visitors to the Commonwealth Games.
The Rev David Gamble, ex-President of the Methodist Conference, recently attended the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Church of North India.
He commented: “I am very pleased to see that the Indian Churches are addressing the caste question, for example at the recent National Council of Churches Conference on Justice for Dalits. Anything that can be done here to support their efforts, by prayer and action, will contribute to the Gospel call to mission in today’s world.”
“Caste discrimination is still a major problem both inside and outside the Indian Churches,” said the Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dalits.
The churchman declared: “I warmly commend Dalit Liberation Sunday and hope very much that churches of all denominations will include the Dalits of India in their prayers on that day.”
Churches are encouraged to have special prayers on the day, to preach sermons related to the theme, and to observe the occasion in a range of creative ways.