Chennai: Members of the Church of South India, who came down to Chennai in large numbers from the five Southern States of India, marched towards the YMCA Grounds in Royapettah to attend the public meeting that was organized to commemorate the formation of the united Church of South India 70 years back. They were singing and dancing along with the various groups of drummers and dancers who came from different states. The joy of the celebration of this great unity was reflected in everybody’s face.
In the afternoon of 27th September 2017, neglecting the scorching sun, people walked from the St. George’s Cathedral in Chennai after the thanksgiving Holy Communion worship service to witness the cultural events that showcased the folk-art forms and to hear the speeches from the Church leaders at the YMCA grounds. They were enthusiastic and spirited to see all the 24 bishops of the Church of South India attend together in a public meeting, a first, in the history of the Church.
The public meeting got underway with the prayer and the ‘Thappattam’ by the presbyters from the Coimbatore Diocese. A Bharatanatyam by a hearing-impaired girl was mesmerizing. Rev. Dr. Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary of the CSI, welcomed the gathering.
In his Presidential Address, Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, the Moderator of the Church of South India, pointed out the fact that the very existence of the CSI offers an alternative to the monolithic culture promoted by the fascists forces in India. India is a land of diversities and therefore our nationalism also should be founded on diversities. CSI itself is a Church of diversities. The Church believes in unity through the harmony of all of these diversities. For the past 70 years CSI could exist as a united church, a ‘rainbow’ of traditions and cultures. And he called the nation to take this rainbow model as a paradigm to be followed.
New projects of the CSI Synod were presented before the people in this public meeting. Announcement and launching of Seven major consultations on re-thinking about the roles of the Church which will take place in the span of one year, Formation of the Bible study groups commemorating the 500 years of reformation, Youth DARE to DREAM programme focusing on ‘sharing through borderless witness and service’, Regional Synods (Koinonia), and the ‘One Church; One Web’: CSI official common website for the synod and the 24 dioceses caught the attention of the people.
Global and Indian ecumenical partners brought greetings from their respective Churches and organizations.
All the Bishops and their wives were honoured in the function. The delegates who attended the Global Partners meet were also honoured. Rt. Rev. Vadapalli Prasada Rao, the Deputy Moderator of the CSI, and Adv. Robert Bruce, the Hon. Treasurer also spoke at the public meeting.
Programmes by the physically challenged and the mentally challenged school children, and cultural programmes such as ‘Sinkari melam’, ‘Benjara Dance’, ‘Parai attam’, ‘Karakaattam’, ‘Veeragaatha’, ‘Kaliyal’, traditional drums, folk dances, and skits by artists representing five different states added colour to the meeting.
The Public meeting came to a close with prayer and benediction by the Moderator.