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90th birthday Mar Chrysostom

25 April 2007

April 2007 

Your Eminence,

On the eve of your 90th birthday and the Navathy Celebrations, it is my great pleasure and privilege to greet you on behalf of the World Council of Churches. I understand a large number of people from all walks of life will gather at the headquarters of the Mar Thoma Church on 27 April to thank God Almighty for his abundant mercies upon you throughout the years and to pay their respects to their shepherd and spiritual leader. It is with profound happiness that we join them in this joy, express our best wishes to you, and thank God for your life and ministry. 

Your Eminence, your long ecclesiastical leadership started with your ordination as a priest in 1944, subsequently your consecration as Bishop in 1953, Suffragan Metropolitan in 1978, and finally, your enthronement in 1999 as the 20th Malankara Mar Thoma Metropolitan to occupy the Holy Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas after the re-establishment of the episcopacy in the 17th century. Your much appreciated long years of service to the Church and humanity in so many ways, spanning more than half a century as a Bishop, and also at the helm of ecclesiastical affairs, are unique and unparalleled in recent ecclesiastical and ecumenical history. You have been providing leadership, not only to the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, but also to the ecumenical movement as a whole. Your leadership as President of the National Council of Churches in India, your participation at the Christian Conference of Asia Assemblies and programmes, as well as your participation and leadership at the Evanston and Uppsala Assemblies of the WCC and at other world ecumenical events, have been deeply appreciated and valued by the international community.  

Although I have only had two opportunities to meet you personally in the past, including my recent visit to India, Your Eminence, I have had opportunities to hear about you and your valuable contributions to the Church and society in various ways. You have been known for your gift for dialogue with people from all walks of life with great human sensitivity; your ability to discover the value and uniqueness of each person with whom you come into contact every day, sharing and celebrating the joy of love as an act of the presence of God; your strong convictions for placing hope in the minds of people who are in despair; your passion and concern in building bridges between churches and promoting unity. Like the 4th Century Church father St. John Chrysostom (who was known as "golden-tongued"), your God-given oratory skills - truly and brilliantly golden - have illuminated the minds of people and have been a blessing for many. 

As you celebrate your birthday, I pray that God's richest blessings may continue to strengthen you in your life and ministry. 

Yours in His Service,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary