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Church of South India celebrates 70th anniversary

Church of South India celebrates 70th anniversary

©Sunil Raj Philip/CSI

29 September 2017

The Church of South India (CSI), the largest united church in India, marked its 70th anniversary with celebrations which lasted more than three days in Chennai.

The celebrations opened with a  Global Partners meeting on 25 September with the intention of strengthening CSI’s link with global partners. This was followed by a meeting of the Executive Committee on 26 September.

The final day (27 September) was marked by a thanksgiving eucharist service which drew thousands of worshippers from 24 dioceses the very same day the CSI was born 70 years ago in St Georges Cathedral, Chennai.

“We are gathered under the same steeple of St George’s Cathedral where it all began,” said CSI general secretary Rev. Dr Ratnakara Sadananda. “Anglicans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Methodists in South India decided to redraw their ecclesial borders to form a united church based on national and cultural identity. We are gathered here as a church called to be salt and light to become the parable of unity and a foretaste of the kingdom”.

Recalling that CSI was the fruit of negotiations that lasted 28 years, CSI moderator Rev. Thomas K. Oommen  acknowledged God’s grace in enabling the church to grow over the last 70 years. Calling the journey of the last 70 years a pilgrimage, the moderator reflected how CSI has, through the strengthening of the spirit, been united in its witness, serving everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Calling on the church to be on the forefront of the struggles for justice and peace, the moderator urged the CSI to be prophetic in its witness through its solidarity with the marginalized.

Rev Dr. Peniel Rajkumar, programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches, also reflected on the last 70 years of the CSI. “The efforts of the CSI to pioneer concrete and contextual movement towards visible unity is a testimony to the fact that the one who has called us is faithful,” said Rajkumar.

“Being part of these celebrations reminds me that the strength of ecumenism lies in its embodiment as a grassroots movement which generously lives out the hospitality of the triune God – the perfect union - in whom, as the church, we are called to live and move and have our very being”, he added.

The celebrations culminated in a large public function that showcased the cultural riches of the various CSI dioceses.

WCC member churches in India