TODAY, Sep 27th, the Church of South India celebrates its 70th anniversary. The Vellore Link has a letter with some suggestions on how to celebrate this, along with 2 liturgies and the prayer cycle for Vellore. We also have our ‘Candles of Hope Christmas Gifts appeal and an advert about a young people’s visit to Vellore. Here is the letter from Canon Paul Hills, Co-Chair of the Link Committee:
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Church of South India
and 25 years of the link between
Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council and the Diocese of Vellore
The Church of South India began on 27th September 1947. This was a month after India gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Since the start of the century many of the Christians living in South India wanted to end the differences between denominations and to have a self-reliant and independent church. It took many years of negotiations and attempts at unity before the various parent bodies reached agreements on the final scheme for unity.
The Anglican, Congregation, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in South India joined together to form the Church of South India (CSI). There are 24 dioceses, each led by an elected bishop. CSI is the second largest Christian denomination in India.
The CSI works with some of the poorest people in South India, regardless of their faith. Central to its work is supporting dalit concerns, rights of women and children, equality and access for those with disabilities, and ecological concerns. The Synod Youth Board is very active and is the Women’s Fellowship. These concerns are shared with the dioceses of CSI.
The 70th anniversary of the Church of South India gives us a chance to celebrate with our brothers and sisters in India and to recommit ourselves to find ways to work together with Christians of all denominations for God’s mission.
The Diocese of Vellore and Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council Link was considered from the time that the Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council came into being, in 1990, and the first official visit was made to Vellore in December 1992.
Vellore Diocese was formed in January 1976, so is one of the newest dioceses in South India. It is a mainly rural diocese in Tamil Nadu. The town of Vellore is famous across the world because it is the home of the Christian Medical College, founded by Ida Scudder. In this century, it has also seen the birth of the Vellore Institute of Technology, an internationally acclaimed private engineering college, and The Golden Temple, which pilgrims come from all over India to visit.
The diocese has 78 pastorates (each pastorate may include several rural churches), plus 99 elementary schools, 5 high schools, 1 higher education college, 2 hospitals and a number of training institutes.
Over the past 25 years, many people have made the journey to Vellore and many churches have received visitors from Vellore. Through that exchange, people have found their faith reinvigorated, inspiration to make changes in their lives and the joy of fellowship with other Christians. At the moment, with Christian Aid, we are working with one another on issues of climate change.
The 25th anniversary of the Diocese of Vellore and Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council Link gives us the opportunity to rejoice at all that we have learned from one another of God’s love and hospitality.
So – celebrate!
- however you chose to celebrate these anniversaries, try to do them with Christians from other churches, in the spirit of the CSI and of our link!
- on the Diocese of Ely website (elydiocese.org) are two acts of worship – a CSI Communion Service and an act of worship produced by the CSI Youth Synod. Perhaps you could use one of these.
- a quick Google search will bring up lots of different prayers for the Church of South India, and compilations of prayers also include prayers from the CSI
- also on the Ely Diocese website is a monthly prayer cycle for the diocese of Vellore
- have a curry evening for your community, or serve Indian snacks after church
- invite someone from the Vellore Link Group, or someone who has visited our partner diocese in Vellore to come and speak about the experience
- as a church, a group of churches or even as individuals, support our partners in Vellore by giving a ‘Candle of Hope’ alternative Christmas gift
- look out for Lent materials on Climate Change produced jointly by Cambridgeshire and Vellore
VISIT – or support a visit
- we’re hoping to take a group of young people to Vellore in the summer of 2018. Encourage someone from your church to take part – and perhaps find a way to support them financially.
Revd Canon Paul Hills
Co-Chair of the Cambridgeshire – Vellore Link Committee
All the resources are going onto the Diocesan website. The Vellore landing page is http://www.elydiocese.org/mission/world-links/vellore-link and a special 70 Years page at http://www.elydiocese.org/mission/world-links/vellore-link/anniversary-church-south-india