The World Council of Churches (WCC) is mourning the loss of Bishop Barnabas D. Mondal, know for his support of theological education in South Asia, and for being the first national bishop and the former moderator of the Church of Bangladesh. He passed away on 29 June in Dhaka.
Known by many as a promoter of religious tolerance and understanding, Mondal was one of the initiators of the South Asia Theological Education Solidarity Fund, the founding of which was facilitated through the coordination of the WCC.
Mondal was also known for his leadership in developing ecumenical theological education in Bangladesh, and advocated for the development of a united theological education platform in the country. He initiated the Bangladesh Ecumenical Foundation and Association for Theological Education.
He also served on various committees of the East Asia Christian Conference, the forerunner of the Christian Conference of Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ordained as a priest in the former Anglican Church in East Pakistan in 1964, he was consecrated as the first national bishop of the Church of Bangladesh on 16 February 1975. The Church of Bangladesh came into being as an independent church after Bangladesh became independent in 1971.
As the bishop of Dhaka diocese and moderator of the Church of Bangladesh for almost three decades, Mondal’s contributions in laying foundations for the present structure of a united church in the country have been widely recognised. In particular, Mondal consistently encouraged more active participation of the lay leaders in the congregations of the Church of Bangladesh.