Archive for September, 2012

Journey of a Faith movement into 3rd century that radically changed Travancore 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is indeed a proud moment for all who are part of the CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese as we prepare to celebrate the 200th year of missionary advent into the land of God’s own country, Kerala. Thomas Norton was the first missionary who came to Alleppey in Kerala in 1816 to begin a benign movement inspired by the cheerful message of the gospel of Christ. Following Thomas Norton, many like Bishop Speechly, Hentry Baker, Joseph Peet, Painter, Benjamin Bailey etc came to Kerala as missionaries. Historians consider the role of CMS missionaries as praiseworthy and unique. Nevertheless their task of being and becoming part of this land and its people were not an easy venture that many of us today would want to do. In a world where our instinct is to conquer and accumulate, we are invited through this celebration to re-orient towards a message of sacrifice and self-emptying love that was shown through the work and life of missionaries. Our heritage is that of being a missionary diocese. We have several mission fields and hundreds of mission schools and other institutions spread across all over India. There are several prestigious institutions that are part of our diocese. To cite -few examples, we boast about the likes of CMS College, CMS Press, and Industrial School; all pioneering institutions of its kind in India itself. However, I find the role of 150 CMSLP Schools spread over the five districts in Kerala which played a major role in shaping the generations of our land. Missionaries understood the need to have formal education for the masses to build a strong and enhanced community and hence they started these schools. Women’s education was a big leap in the education movement in Kerala. Unimaginable to many sections of society 200 years ago; missionaries made possible women to stand on their feet through women’s education. If some of us are talented and educated and hence working in foreign countries as high ranked professionals, we should primarily thank our missionaries who were visionaries in imparting basic education to our forefathers and mothers. Kerala is ranked among the top states in India having achieved several high social indicators of development of which education is being regarded as the basis. We cannot but forget the ardent tasks and sacrifice that were put into action by CMS missionaries who made these possible in Kerala 200 years ago. It will be callous if we don’t recognize their role in our historical journey. The very compulsion that motivated them to be highly spirited and committed to come to an alien land was none other than the message of the gospel of Christ. This invites us to raise a question today: A diocese that has grown leaps and bounds in the last two centuries and at present spread all over the globe with its presence all across India, North America, Middle East, Singapore, Australia, & Europe; what should be our mission priority today? I believe there is only one answer; the same spirit of sharing the resources to the unreached and the commitment to serve communities around us.

Keeping all these historical facts that paved the basis of an enhanced community in Kerala, the Diocese of Madhya Kerala, torchbearers of this missionary heritage has decided to celebrate and recognize the 200th year of the advent of CMS missionaries to Kerala in 2016. As our Bicentenary theme ‘Journey of a Faith movement into 3rd century that radically changed Travancore’ suggests, we would want to follow the same pursuit through social interventions by involving and initiating projects that will be beneficial to the needier sections of our society. Diocese is envisioning several projects net worth of 25crores ($50, 00000). Home for the homeless, Scholarship for 200 poor students, special economic aid for the financially weaker sections, agriculture projects, group farming, co-operative societies, health insurance for the needy, counseling centers, 1200 biogas plants, group insurance for all the presbyters and church workers of our diocese, development of village churches, renovation of mission bungalows etc are to mention a few among the intended projects. Memorial for Rev. Thomas Norton, Bicentenary stamp and a book that elaborates the work of missionaries will be released as part of Bicentenary Celebrations. Moreover, by 2016 we should be able to send 200 missionaries and start 10 new mission fields.

The inaugural function of the Bicentenary Celebrations will be held on October 23rd, 2012 at Alleppey. Bicentenary Celebration is envisioned to be a Five Year long celebration concluding in 2016. I urge all of you to kindly remember this program in your fervent prayers and support the program. CSIMKD Diaspora community has always been keen to support each and every program of our diocese. Our good Lord has blessed you and your generations in a unique way. I firmly believe that you all will come forward to support this program with rigor and passion. I would specially like to see our youngsters living outside Kerala to witness this event to know and understand our missionary legacy. Even if you are outside Kerala or outside India, I request you to kindly arrange well in advance to be part of this historical celebration of our diocese. Make our Missionaries and our Diocese proud; Make the unceasing love of our Lord felt and available for future generations through this novel venture and to uphold the message of sacrifice and adoration for the gospel. May His choicest blessings be upon all of you.

In Christ

Rt. Rev. Thomas K.Oommen

Bishop, CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese