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Dr Kunchala Rajaratnam

Condolence letter to the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India

09 April 2010

Rev. Augustine Jayakumar
Executive secretary
United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India

Geneva, 9 April 2010

Dear Rev. Augustine Jayakumar,

It is with great sadness that we received the news that Dr Kunchala Rajaratnam, an outstanding church and ecumenical leader, passed away. The World Council of Churches joins you all in thanking God for the life and witness of Dr Rajaratnam and for his leadership in the church and the ecumenical movement over the years.

We well remember that Dr Rajaratnam provided outstanding service to the church and the ecumenical movement at various levels during his long years of activity. He served as the Asia Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, the Executive Secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India and the President of the National Council of Churches in India. He gave new vigour to the Indian Christian Dalit movement and was instrumental in initiating ecumenical endeavours to highlight Dalit liberation within international ecumenical and ecclesiastical circles. As chancellor of the Senate of Serampore University and director of the Gurukul Lutheran Theological Seminary, Dr Rajaratnam provided significant contributions to theological education and leadership development in Indian churches.

Coming from a Student Christian Movement background, Dr Rajaratnam was deeply committed to ecumenism and to the agenda of the ecumenical movement for social and economic justice. As a trained economist, he was able to articulate his concerns regarding economic disparities and injustices in development polices of governments and international financial institutions as well as in their economic policies.  He believed in and advocated for a people-centered rural development approach, and his deep commitment to challenging inhumane economic and development policies led him to found the Centre for Research on a New International Economic Order (CreNIEO) in the early 1980s.

As we mourn Dr Rajaratnam’s passing, the WCC recognizes his invaluable contributions to the church and to society.  Let me take this opportunity to express our deep condolences to his bereaved family and colleagues. In this Easter season, we pray that they will find comfort and peace in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

May the Lord bless his memory, and empower us to continue his work.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary