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The Church of South India (CSI) is the second largest Christian church in India based on the number of members and is result of union of Anglican and number of Protestant churches in South India.[4] The Church of South India is the successor of a number of Anglican and Protestant denominations in India, including the Church of England, the British Methodist Church and the Church of Scotland after Indian Independence. It combined the South India United Church (union of the British Congregationalists and the British Presbyterians); the then 14 Anglican Dioceses of South India and one in Sri Lanka; and the South Indian District of the Methodist church.[1] With a membership of nearly four million,[2] CSI is one of four united churches in the Anglican Communion, the others being the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh.[5]

Church of South India
Church of South India.png
Logo of the Church of South India
ClassificationAnglican and Protestant
OrientationUnited and uniting
PolityEpiscopal[1]
ModeratorThomas K. Oommen
AssociationsAnglican Communion,
World Council of Churches,
World Communion of Reformed Churches,
Christian Conference of Asia,
National Council of Churches in India,
Communion of Churches in India
RegionAndhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Sri Lanka (CSI churches in North India are under the respective CNI bishops. CSI churches in Europe are under the respective Anglican Bishops)
Origin27 September 1947 (Day of Union, not date of establishment)
Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu
Separated fromChurch of India, Burma and Ceylon
Merger ofAnglican and Protestant including some Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist
SeparationsAnglican Church of India
Congregations14,000[2]
Members3,800,000[2]
Ministers11,214[3][citation needed]
Hospitals104[2]
Secondary schools2000 schools, 130 colleges[2]

The inspiration for the Church of South India was born from ecumenism and inspired by the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John (17.21). Just like the United Church of Christ (Congregationalist), one of their forbearer denominations, their motto is:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.'

"That they all may be one" is also the motto of the Church of South India.[2]

Contents

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

Four different church traditions were brought together in the CSI; Anglican (Episcopal), Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist. All these churches had been established in India through the missionary work of churches in Europe, America and Australia, which had started their work in India at different periods from the beginning of the 18th century.

The Church of South India Scheme was the first practical attempt of its kind towards a union, on the basis of the following points enunciated in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral:

  • The Holy Scripture of the Old and the New Testaments as containing all things necessary to salvation and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
  • The Apostles' Creed as the Baptismal Symbol and the Nicene Creed as sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
  • The two sacraments, ordained by Christ Himself — Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with the unfailing use of Christ's words of Institution and elements ordained by Him.
  • The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying need of the nations and people called of God into the union of His Church.[6][7]

The first three points could be accepted without any controversial question. But the fourth became contentious, as the Anglican Church maintained episcopal polity within the historical episcopate and believed that all its bishops and priests could trace an unbroken line of succession from St. Peter; whereas the rest of the churches in the negotiations had other ecclesiastical polities and did not subscribe to the Anglican views on apostolic succession. After extensive dialogues, an agreement was reached that all who were already ordained in any of the uniting churches would be received as ministers in the united Church; provided all new ordinations after the union, would be conferred by episcopally ordained bishops of the united Church, with the imposition of hands. The intention was to introduce an episcopate in historic succession (from Anglicanism) into the new united Church and to ensure its maintenance in the future, by keeping all subsequent ordinations episcopal.[8][9][10][11][12]

The Church of South India as it exists today came into being with the perseverance and committed efforts of Rev. Vedam Santiago, who for a long period of time took leadership of the SIUC, the South Indian United Churches, which later, with the joint efforts of Rev. V Santiago and Bishop Azariah became the Church of South India.

FormationEdit

The Church of South India union ceremony happened at St George's Cathedral in Madras on 27 September 1947, a month after India achieved its independence from the United Kingdom. It was formed from the union of the SIUC, (South India United Church itself a union of churches from the Congregational Presbyterian and Reformed traditions); the southern provinces of the (Anglican) Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon; and the Methodist Church of South India.[13] The inaugural service was presided by Bishop Rt. Rev. C. K. Jacob, of the Anglican diocese of Travancore and Cochin.[14] As part of it, nine new bishops, drawn from all the traditions, were consecrated to serve with five Anglican bishops already in the office.[15] Each new bishop was ordained with the imposition of hands by the presiding bishop, along with two more Anglican bishops (Rt. Rev. A. M. Hollis and Rt. Rev. G. T. Selwynthe) and six presbyters from the uniting Churches, also laying hands.[16] This reconciliation of the Anglican views with those of the other uniting denominations, on the doctrine of apostolic succession, realized in the formation of the Church of South India, is often cited as a landmark in the ecumenical movement.[17][18][19][20]

 
RT.Rev.Dr.C. K. Jacob presiding the Church of South India Inaugural Service
 
St George's Cathedral

Edit

The logo of the Church of South India consists of a Cross superimposed on a stylized Lotus flower in a white backdrop; around which the motto and name of the Church, is embossed.[21] It was designed by Prof. J. Vasanthan of the American College, Madurai.

The imposing central position of the Cross denotes the foundation of the Church and its faith, while its four arms of the same length promulgates equality. The Lotus flower, called Pankaj meaning "mud-born" in Sanskrit, has been of great spiritual and symbolic significance in India, since ancient times.[22][23] Its placement in the Logo, proclaims the indigenous nature of the Church of South India and its dependence on the grace of God, just as a Lotus that blooms at sunrise and closes at sunset, depends on the Sun. The stylized rendering, makes the Lotus petals simultaneously depict the fiery split tongues of the Holy Spirit. The motto of the CSI embossed on the logo, which is an excerpt of Jesus's prayer in John 17:21, is used as an inclusive affirmation of the need for the unity of all people.[24][25][26]

Beliefs and practicesEdit

The Church of South India is a Trinitarian Church that draws from the traditions and heritage of its constituent denominations. The Church accepts the Chalcedonian Chistological Definition,[27][28] as well as the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. Both creeds are included in the Church liturgy as the profession of faith.[29][30] The Church practices infant baptism for children born in Christian homes and adult or believer's baptism for others. Baptized children are members of the church and share in the privileges and obligations of membership so far as they are capable of doing so.[31][32]

The Church of South India practices the rite of Confirmation, by which the confirmands (those being confirmed) upon profession of their Christian faith, obtain confirmation of their baptisms and thereafter, gets to partake fully in the privileges and obligations associated with Church membership. Secondarily, this is also a coming of age ceremony. Confirmation is almost always administered by a Bishop with the imposition of hands and occasionally by a Presbyter who is authorized to confirm.[33][34][35]

Social issuesEdit

Regarding ordination and social issues, the CSI has a tendency to be more liberal than other churches in the Global South. In 2013, the CSI consecrated its first female bishop, Eggoni Pushpalalitha.[36] Likewise, relating to human sexuality, the CSI is more accepting of diversity of opinion. "The Church of South India (CSI) [is] a relatively liberal Protestant church which has, since 1984, allowed women to become pastors. 'CSI has been liberal on these issues. It has taken up issues of gender, dalits and landlessness. It has to address the issue of sexual minorities too'".[37] In 2009, the Rev. Christopher Rajkumar spoke out in favour of gay rights.[38] Also in 2009, Bishop V. Devashayam "gave a favorable impression" of gay rights arguing that sexual orientation is genetic.[39][40]

Moreover, in 2015, St. Mark's Cathedral in Bangalore hosted an event, co-led by the Rev. Vincent Rajkumar, aimed at denouncing homophobia.[41] CSI clergy, working with the National Council of Churches in India, also co-led a consultation speaking out against homophobia.[42] Currently, the Church of South India is also listed as among the Anglican provinces open to blessing same-sex couples.[43][44] In August 2016, the CSI's publication expressed concern that the "Christian church and Christian mission to a large extent are homophobic. It has excluded the gender minorities from the church and its worship".[45]

In 2016, a seminary affiliated with the CSI offered a seminar on LGBT issues. "The Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in Madurai held a two-hour seminar on gender and sexuality..."[46] The National Council of Churches in India, of which the CSI is a member, supports the legalisation of same-sex relationships in India.[47][48]

On transgender issues, the Diocese of Madras has a ministry specifically for transgender people.[49] Moreover, the CSI has opened up ordained ministry to transgender clergy.[50] In 2012, the denomination invited a transgender pastor to preach.[51] The CSI also published resources for special Sunday celebrations for transgender people including an invitation for transgender members to preach in churches.[52]

The church, via its monthly publication, has also taken a stance of solidarity with the Dalit community, women, and the LGBT community. One ministry, led by a priest, "took a session on 'working towards an inclusive Church' with special reference to the transgenders", and the church celebrates the "self-liberation" of the Dalit community.[53] Additionally, the church's publication stated that "the Church leaders expressed their concerns about the neglected people such as LGBT and those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS...[and] urged the listeners(Church Leaders)...[to] not only show solidarity but also moving beyond in accommodating them".[54]

The CSI also opposes the death penalty.[55]

LiturgyEdit

The CSI Synod Liturgical Committee has developed several new orders for worship for different occasions. The order for the Communion service, known as the CSI Liturgy, has been internationally acclaimed as an important model for new liturgies. The committee has also produced three different cycles of lectionaries for daily Bible readings and "propers", and collects for Communion services. In addition, the committee has also brought out a supplement to the Book of Common Worship. Cherishing the reformation principle of worship in the native language, the CSI liturgy and church services are completely in the vernacular, in all the different South Indian states and Northern Sri Lanka, which comprise its ecclesiastical province.[56][57][58]

Observances and FestivalsEdit

ConstitutionEdit

The most important part of the CSI Constitution is “The Governing Principles of the Church” which sets out 21 governing principles on which the other chapters of the Constitution and the rules contained therein rest. While amending any part of the Constitution can be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Synod, amending the Governing Principles requires a three-fourths majority.

EcumenismEdit

AdministrationEdit

The church accepts the Lambeth Quadrilateral as its basis and recognises the historical episcopate in its constitutional form.[3] Like Anglican and most other episcopal Churches, the ministry of the Church of South India is structured with the threefold offices of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.[64][65][66]

SynodEdit

The church is governed by a synod based in Chennai and headed by a presiding bishop bearing the title of Moderator who is elected every three years. The ordinary session of the synod is held once every three years Since 2017 synod at Kottayam. Before that it was two years.[citation needed]

The current Moderator of the Church of South India is the Most Reverend Thomas K. Oommen, Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese. The Deputy Moderator is the Right Reverend V. Prasada Rao, Bishop of the Dornakal Diocese.[citation needed]

The church runs 2,300 schools, 150 colleges and 104 hospitals in South India. In the 1960s the church became conscious of its social responsibility and started organising rural development projects. There are 50 such projects all over India, 50 training centres for young people and 600 residential hostels for a total of 50,000 children.[2]

DiocesesEdit

AffiliationsEdit

Theological educationEdit

The church recognizes theological degrees granted by institutions affiliated with the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College. These include:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/church-of-south-india". Oikoumene.org. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Church of South India International Resource Center". 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "World Council of Churches – The Church of South India". Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  4. ^ Author:Sushil Mittal, Gene Thursby -Religions of South Asia: An Introduction
  5. ^ "The Church of North India (United)". Anglican Communion Office. Retrieved 17 September 2018. Along with the Church of South India, the Church of Pakistan, and the Church of Bangladesh, it [the Church of a North India] is one of the four United Churches.
  6. ^ Davidson, Randall Thomas (1920). The five Lambeth Conferences. London : S.P.C.K.
  7. ^ "The historic episcopate in Anglican ecclesiology the esse perspective". Consensus. 12 (1). 1986. ISSN 2369-2685.
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  9. ^ "Some Comments on the South India Scheme". anglicanhistory.org.
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  11. ^ "The Lambeth Conference and the Union of Churches in South India. --". biblehub.com.
  12. ^ "Church of South India Contributes to Anglican Communion". www.anglicannews.org.
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  15. ^ "The Order of Service for the Inauguration of Church Union in South India (1947)". anglicanhistory.org.
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  18. ^ "The Church of South India and Reunion in England" (PDF). biblicalstudies.org.uk.
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  20. ^ "The Order of Service for the Inauguration of Church Union in South India (1947)". anglicanhistory.org.
  21. ^ "CSI SYNOD". csisynod.com.
  22. ^ "The Lotus Flower". Facts about Hindu Religion. 2 September 2011.
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  36. ^ ACNS staff. "Church of South India appoints first female bishop". episcopaldigitalnetwork.com. Episcopal Digital Network. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  37. ^ "Rising cases of sexual abuse within the church in Kerala force clergy to rethink on homosexuality". indiatoday.intoday.in. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
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  39. ^ deepak. "Church pressed to rethink and embrace the LGBT community". www.efionline.org. Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
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External linksEdit