A thanksgiving worship service to commemorate the 70th formation day of C.S.I. at St. George’s Cathedral, Chennai from 9.30 am onwards on the CSI formation day. This worship service, which was the initiation of the second day of the pastors conference in connection with the 70th formation day, was led by the Most Rev. Dr. G. Dyvasirvadam; Moderator of the Church of South India, Most Rev. Dr. P. K. Samantaroy; Moderator of the Church of North India, Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Rt. Rev. Thomas K. Oommen; Deputy Moderator of CSI and the Chairperson of the Pastoral Concerns Department, Rev. Dr. Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary of CSI, and Rt. Rev. George Stephen, the bishop in Madras. It was indeed an ever- memorable occasion, to which more meaning was added when more than 700 new believers were baptised during the thanksgiving worship service. The worshippers felt that this is a milestone in the history of Church of South India, as the commemoration service was reminding the church communities about the early church communities’ fellowship of sharing and faith experiences.
In this special occasion the exhortation was delivered by the Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy. He highlighted the importance to talk about the community and the need to have a longing to be related or united and how these aspects were learnt by our early church communities especially out of their struggles of their faith journey. And he pointed out the need of the today’s church to repent and to return to the experiences of being related and united especially in the context of violence, terrorism and the social evils such as atrocities against women. Also, he raised a few constructive questions: why the clergy are getting alienated from the people? Why we are concerned about creating more space for ourselves as excluding us from the people? He concludes his speech by calling the church to feel the pain of others and attempt to connect the church communities of all denominations irrespective of language, traditions and cultures.
In a brief session of felicitation speeches, Most Rev Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan highlighted the need of the church continuing as a witnessing church and called the church to re-dedicate herself in the mission of God. He also emphasised the humble nature of the church and insisted to be in mission with all humility.
Rev. Dr. Thomas K Oommen drew the attention of people to the importance of rural churches and their contribution, and reminded the church that its emergence was the result of missionary movement and call the church to continue its nature as mission movement. He also proposed for a wider union of the church which can symbolise her as a transformed body.
Rev. Dr. Rathnakar Sadananda gave emphasis on the re-visualized church with a purpose of new unity. He also said that the Church of South India is a people’s movement engaged in uniting people from all corners and boundaries, but with the mind of Jesus’ option towards the marginalised. He invited the church to undergo Rehoboth experience to be a foretaste for God’s forgiveness and reconciliation.
Mrs. Ramani Dyvasirvadam told that the church emerged with 4000 members and the journey of the church involved with various ups and downs, struggles and challenges and was consistent in her Journey by the help of the Holy Spirit, the result of which is today’s church which has crossed around 4 million congregation.
More than a Thousand of people participated in the Holy Communion. The Almanac for the year 2017 and two books of sermon outlines- Jijnasa I and Jijnasa II- were released during the worship service.
The second session began at LITE from 3 PM onwards. The session began with singing lead by the Chennai diocese. Mrs. Ramani Dyvasirvadam, the President of the CSI Women’s Fellowship, chaired the session lead by Rev. Dr. Jaya Chitra, New Testament Faculty from Tamilnadu Theological Seminary. The speaker spoke on the theme “Forgiveness and Healing in the context of Violence against women.” She began with highlighting the violence that the movies and television serials portrays. Biblically she articulated the story of Hagar and Ismael as the representative of violence indulged against children and women. She emphasised the patriarchal structure which always gives importance and power to male community. However, when it comes to Sarah and Hagar, the male (Abraham) submits his power to Sarah and portrays himself as powerless. The power relation within the family is always prominent among the men and subtle. She challenged the gathering with a prominent question saying ‘how far can the society/church/family participate in promoting justice to the victimised women and children?’
Followed by the presentation, the pastors commission was held under different departments in which the SEVA, diaconal ministry of the Synod and the directors of different departments lead the session and encouraged discussion for the further development of the ministry. The day was ended with cultural programs performed by the students of Bains School, Chennai Diocese and different dioceses.
(More photos can be viewed in the following album: