Category Archives: CMS

A fearless Indian Bishop who took on the Prime Minister despite the threat of jail

Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma and Indira Gandhi, Prime Minster of India

On 25 June, 1975 –  nearly forty years years ago, Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977 (21 months). `

So what did the Emergency imply? Essentially, at the stroke of the President’s pen India ceased being a democracy and was converted into a virtual autocracy. Civil liberties were suspended, media was censored, state and parliamentary elections were postponed, and anyone who wrote or spoke against the Government was put behind bars. In the 21 months of the Emergency, 100,000 people were arrested and detained without trial. ~ www.thelogicalindian.com

Emergency declared by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution.

Under the Emergency rule, it was not easy to raise voices of critical opposition, in making even a mild-toned protest, one did so at considerable risk. Many kept silent because of the fear which spread among the people. Despite these pressures, some of the Christian groups made courageous attempts to express critical voices. It is significant to recognise that those who made the critical protests were not the representatives of the large institutional churches; rather, they were members of relatively small groups or of a minority group within the institutional church.

Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma was the only Church leader who wrote a letter to her disapproving it. The Metropolitan’s letter stated that he deemed the Emergency rule as a setback to democracy and demanded its speedy withdrawal as well as the release of the politicians arrested in this regard.

His earlier statement was drafted in Malayalam in the fall of 1975. Even though it was not an entirely critical protest, but raised in a modest way a critical question, it was refused publication in Kerala. Metropolitan has written a brief yet pointed letter to Prime Minister Gandhi stating clearly his concern for the political situation.

A vast number of people, and that growing numbers, feel the price we have to pay is costly. With people like Morarji and others in jail, and a press which has lost its freedom to write news and views, we feel a kind of depression. On behalf of thousands, I request withdrawal of Emergency by gradual stages. Immediate and altogether withdrawal is likely to have very bad repercussions. If the political detenus are released and’ freedom for press is given, it will be a great relief.

“I have one more request: not to have elections and constitutional changes during the time of Emergency. Hoping to be excused for this letter written from a sincere and painful heart.” ~www.daga.org.hk

He wrote that he was writing as a Church leader and a citizen. Mrs Indira Gandhi gave orders to arrest Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma. Mr. C. Achuthamenon was the Chief Minister at that time and with his interference the arrest was avoided. It was the Mar Thoma Church’s fight for independence and national integrity that echoed through Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma, a fearless commitment to the concerns of the people that is hard to find among religious leaders now. On September 9, shortly after he wrote this letter, he fell ill and died on September 27, 1976.

The Hindu front page after imposition of the Emergency.

The first edition of the Indian Express after the imposition of emergency consisted of a blank page instead of editorial. The Financial Express had Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high”.

28 June 1975 : Blank Edit  Page in The Indian Express Newspaper in Protest Against the Emergency

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

~ Rabindranath Tagore
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Explaining the Maramon Convention to Children (Free pdf)

Maramon Convention Kids

Children at the 120th Maramon Convention Pandal. Photo Courtesy: Photo Courtesy http://marthoma.in/maramon-convention

122nd Maramon Convention for Kids

A free pdf resource sheet for Parents / Sunday School Teachers to explain to their children facts and events chosen from the history of the Maramon Convention.

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World Sunday School Day: 6th November 2016 (Free Ebook – Robert Raikes and how we got the Sunday School)

George Romney's portrait of Robert Raikes, the newspaperman who popularised schooling on Sundays Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London

George Romney’s portrait of Robert Raikes, the newspaperman who popularised schooling on Sundays Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London

6th November 2016 : World Sunday School Day – The first Sunday of the Month of November is celebrated throughout the world as Sunday School Day. The Mar Thoma/ CSI/ CNI churches are celebrating Sunday, 6th November, 2016 as World Sunday School Day.

Robert Raikes (1735- 1811), an English Publisher, started the first Sunday School in the city of Gloucester in England in 1780. During the early days, reading, arithmetic and Bible was taught at the Sunday Schools.

In 1809, Church representatives of the Malankara Churches held a meeting at Kandanadu Church, near Ernakualam to arrange facilities to teach children in the Church about religion, prayers and sacraments. The India Sunday School Union was founded in 1876.The Mar Thoma Sunday School Samajam was established on 25 February 1905, at the Maramon Convention. 


We encourage our readers to read and share this Free 4 page PDF Ebook Resource for your Sunday Schools and children’s services:  Robert Raikes and How We Got Sunday School


Inscription on the tomb of Robert Raikes.

Inscription on the tomb of Robert Raikes.

27 September, 1947: Formation of the Church of South India (Video & Rare Photos)

CSI Church logo

27 September, 1947: Formation of Church of South India (CSI) in 1947, as a union of Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches. The idea of a Church union was proposed in 1919 at a conference held in Tranquebar (now Tarangambadi) in 1919. After 28 years of discussions various denominational churches in South India established by different Missionary societies agreed to the formation of the Church of South India in 1947 after India attained independence. The inaugural ceremony was held at St. George Cathedral Madras (Chennai).

Today the Church of South India is one of the largest Protestant churches in India and is a member of the Anglican Communion and its bishops participate in the Lambeth Conferences. It is also a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the National Council of Churches in India.

The Church of South India (CSI), Church of North India (CNI), and Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India jointly formed the Communion of Churches in India (CCI) in 1978 for mutual recognition of the ministry and leaders, inter communal relationship, and to explore possibilities of working together and other areas of cooperation in the fulfillment of the mission of the Church in India.

At the inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

At the inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

The presiding bishop of the inaugural function was the Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob of the Anglican Diocese of Travancore and Cochin. A vast congregation gathered in the cathedral at Madras from all over the world. The following historical declaration was made by Bishop Jacob at the inaugural service.

“Dearly beloved brethren, in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ the head of the church, who on the night of his passion prayed that his disciples might be one, and by authority of the governing bodies of the uniting churches whose resolutions have been read in your hearing and laid in your prayer before Almighty God; I do hereby declare that these three churches, namely – the Madras, Madura, Malabar, Jaffna, Kannada, Telugu, Travancore Church councils of the South India United Church; the Methodist Church of South India, Trichinopoly, Hyderabad and Mysore districts; the Madras, Travancore and Cochin, Tinnevelly and Dornakal dioceses of the Churches of India, Burma and Ceylon; are become one Church of South India, and these bishops, presbyters, deacons and probationers who have assented to the basis of union and accepted the constitution of the Church of South India, whose names are laid upon this holy table, are bishops, presbyters and deacons of this church. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” ~ wikipedia

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration procession of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Inauguration service of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Presiding Bishop Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob at the Inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Presiding Bishop Rt. Revd. C. K. Jacob at the Inauguration of Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Clergymen from 5 Protestant faiths attending the inaguration of the Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

Clergymen from 5 Protestant faiths attending the inaguration of the Church of South India. Photo by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine)

St George's Cathedral, Chennai (photo credit - wiki)

St George’s Cathedral, Chennai (photo credit – wiki)

CSI Diocese Map (image credit - www.csimichigan.org)

CSI Diocese Map (image credit – http://www.csimichigan.org)

 

July, 1889- Seminary Case: Division of the Mar Thoma Church and Jacobite Church (with Video)

Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV)

Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV) Photo from The Indian Christians of St. Thomas by William Joseph Richards (1908)

12 July, 1889: Seminary Case Judgment. In 1879 a case was filed in the district court of Alleppey by Bishop Joseph Mar Dionysius against the then Metropolitan of the Church Most Rev. Thomas Mar Athanasius.

Mar Dionysius prayed to the court to declare him as the rightful Metropolitan of the Malankara Church and also requested the court to evict Mar Athanasius and his followers from the Old Seminary building in Kottayam. The final verdict of this case came on 12 July 1889 from the Royal Court of Travancore. Two Judges decreed that Joseph Mar Dionysius was the rightful Metropolitan of the Malankara Church as he expressed allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch. One Christian judge gave the verdict in favour of Thomas Mar Athanasius because of his conviction that the Malankara Church has been an independent Church from the beginning. The Majority view prevailed and Thomas Mar Athanasius had to leave the Old Seminary and the properties of the Church, because he upheld the autonomy of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. This led to the formal division of the church into two sections: the Mar Thoma Church and Jacobite Church.

The followers of Mar Athanasius got the Kottarakkara church without a duel, they got the Maramon and Kozhencherry churches through court decision, and was given the right to conduct services on alternate Sundays in five other churches. They put up small sheds in other places to hold worship services.

To learn more about Mar Thoma Syrian Church History – watch this Special Documentary with rare footage on the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church – (English/Malayalam) produced in 1986. It offers a peek into the history, rich culture and heritage of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

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21 May, 1921: V. Nagel, author of “Samayamaam radhaththil” passes away. (Rare Photos)

Volbrecht Nagel

21 May, 1921: V. Nagel, author of “Samayamaam radhaththil” passes away. Born in Germany on 3 November, 1867, he came to India in 1893, as a missionary. Along with his wife Harriet, he worked in Kunnamkulam, North Paravur, Trichur and Kumbanadu.

He has written more than 100 hymns in Malayalam that is still sung by all denominations and churches in Kerala.

Hymns written by him in the Kristheeya Keerththanangal (Hymn Book of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church) are – Nos. 57, 144(135), 153(143), 155(145), 203(392), 214(199), 223(208), 238(216), 239(217), 242(220), 244(222), 287, 294(280), 298(284), 300, 301, 325(319), 374(257), 380(260), 382(262), 390(269), 402(294) ,405(353) and 411(354).

The song has been translated into 17 languages though it was originally written in Malayalam and even incorporated in a film.The song depicts the journey of ones life…but it is mistakenly interpreted as many as just a funeral song…but actually its just a song about ones journey from birth …to home ie heaven.

Read below about the great hym writer Volbrecht Nagel from an account by his son Karl Heinrich Nagel.

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The Story of Volbrecht Nagel

By his son, Karl Heinrich Nagel

This account of Volbrecht Nagel was found in an exercise book belonging to Karl Heinrich Nagel and was probably written in the early 1980s when Karl was in his 70s, was ill and his memory was failing. It has been written up by Karl’s daughter, Pauline Munns. February 2007

Volbrecht Nagel

Volbrecht Nagel was born to Heinrich Peter Nagel and Elisabeth May Nagel on the 3rd November 1867 in the village of Stammheim, Hessen, Germany. He was baptised on November 17th in the Lutheran church and Volbrecht Nagel II was his godfather. He appears to have lost his parents at a young age and to have been taken over by a Mr and Mrs Bindewald, who educated him. He was brought up according to the Lutheran Church. He appears to have been ordained as a Pastor at the early age of 20 and to have been sent as a Lutheran missionary to Cannanore, Malaba (now Kerala State). He served the Lutheran Church until about 1892 when he left them owing to doctrinal differences. He had no money at the time and began to walk barefoot, trusting the Lord to lead him to the place where he could start a work for Him.

Volbrecht Nagel

Harriet Sabina Mitchell Nagel

Eventually he came to a place called Kunnamkulum, in Cochin State, where he met a small group of Christians, who called themselves Brethren, and worshipped God in a simple manner without a pastor. He believed that this was where the Lord would have him work for the time being. It was while he was here, building up the church, that he met and married Harriet Mitchell, on 1st April 1896, who gave him his first two sons, Samuel Frederick (1.1.1898) and Theodore Ernst (10.3.1899).

When he saw that the believers were well established and capable of carrying on by themselves, he moved with his wife and two sons, to a place called PARUR, also in Cochin State, and began a work for the Lord there. Here his third son, Gotlob Volbrecht was born on 8.8.1900 and his first daughter Olive Margaret on 31.12.1901. About this time my mother decided that she should take a nurse’s training so that she may be more qualified to work as a missionary’s wife, so she went to Madras and qualified in a short midwifery course, and returned to the family at Parur.

Considering that the believers were well established in the faith, my father moved, with his family, to British Cochin. Here his fourth son, Karl Heinrich was born on 17.11 1905. Two [other]children were also born, Wilfried Adolf and Elsa Hope but they died as infants and were buried in Hosur Road cemetery, Bangalore.

The Volbrecht Nagel Family
With Harriet’s sister, Josephine Mitchell

Seeing that the work was well established at British Cochin, my father decided to move, with his family to Trichur in Cochin State. The time had now come for the education of his children, and as there were no English schools in Trichur, he made arrangements for the four older children to go to Bangalore for their education. I was sent to school in Bangalore in January 1914. During these years my father developed the work at Trichur. Besides the assembly work, he opened a girls’ orphanage, which still flourishes.

As my brother Samuel and Theodore’s futures had now to be considered, my father took them to London, presumably about March 1914, to apprentice them there as engineers. That was the last his three younger children saw of him. On his way to London he called at Stammheim with my brothers for a few days. After seeing that they were settled in London, he went to the Bible School at Berlin, intending to visit his relatives once more before returning to India. Unfortunately for him, World War 1 broke out, and, being a German, he was not allowed to return to India. The problem now arose of joining the German army, which was compulsory, a thing he said he would never do, being a Christian. He prayed about the matter and asked the Lord to open the way for him to cross over into Switzerland, which was neutral. He made the attempt one night, and the Lord undertook by making the frontier guards very sleepy, so that they carelessly examined his passport and allowed him through.

Volbrecht Nagel

When the war ceased in November 1918 my father sought permission to return to India but was refused. He therefore went back to the Bible School. (The Bible School had moved [from Berlin] to Wiedenest. He obtained a position on the staff until about February 1921 when he had a stroke of apoplexy. They cabled to my mother in India and she left immediately. Ironically the English government gave him permission to return to India just then but it was too late. My mother nursed him until he passed away on May 21st, 1921. He was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Bible School. My brothers Samuel and Theodore went from England to attend his funeral. Mr and Mrs Bindewald,who brought him up also attended because, they said, he was the means of their salvation.

A Mr. Kocher, a missionary from India, also attended as he was in charge of a girls’ orphanage at Irinjalakuda, very close to Trichur, during my father’s time there. After the funeral my mother visited his relatives at Stammheim and stayed with them for a short while before returning to India.

Ted, Harriet, and Sam @ Volbrecht’s funeral

Reproduced with kind permission from https://revisitingthepast.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/the-story-of-volbrecht-nagel/

Valiya Noyambu – Lent begins on Wednesday 10 February 20164

Lent starts on Sunday 10th February 2016 and ends with Easter Sunday on 27th March 2016. We are expected to set apart a time for serious reflection, self-examination and renewed commitment with fasting and prayer during the Lent season. Our Church observes 50 days as the Lent period including the 40 days in which our Lord fasted and 10 days commemorating His passion and crucifixion.

Lent (Illustration from jesuitinstitute.org)

Lent (Illustration from jesuitinstitute.org)

Maramon Convention 1922: The price of meals

Bill

One British Rupee 1920

One British Rupee 1920

Fourteen meals for One rupee. During the early years of the Convention, restaurants and hotels were not in existence. Kappi Kadas (coffee/tea shops) and Chottu Kadas (rice shops) were the only available eateries at the Manalpuram (river bed) venue of the convention.

One of the famous chottu kada’s was managed by Kunjan Varkey Chetten from Edathua. He would serve 14 full meals for just one rupee and 228 full glasses of black coffee (Chakkara Kappi) also for Rs.1 in the early 1920’s.

meal

Having lunch at Maramon Convention. (Photo courtesy Facebook Group)

Chai shop (www.chaiwallahsofindia.com)

Chai shop
            (www.chaiwallahsofindia.com)

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1799 – Formation of the Church Missionary Society

12 April, 1799: Formation of the Church Missionary Society. Founded in 1799, CMS has attracted more than nine thousand men and women to serve as mission partners during its 200-year history.

The Society was founded in Aldersgate Street in the City of London on 12 April 1799. The founders of CMS were committed to three great enterprises: abolition of the slave trade, social reform at home and world evangelisation.

“The contribution made by the society in creating and maintaining educational institutions in Kerala, the most literate state in India, is significant. Many colleges and schools in Kerala and Tamil Nadu still have CMS in their names. The CMS College in Kottayam may be one of the pioneers in popularising secondary education in southern India.”

“Benjamin Bailey was appointed to the Kottayam CMS mission in the Indian state of Kerala. Benjamin Bailey translated the complete Bible to Malayalam language. Also Authored the first printed Malayalam-English dictionary and the first Malayalam-English Dictionary. He is considered as the father of Malayalam Printing.”

Today there are about 150 mission partners in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. A budget of £7.02 million a year is needed to maintain and expand this work.

A daily scene at Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum, Kerala, India). Patients waiting outside the CMS dispensary. (Photo Credit: chestofbooks.com)

A daily scene at Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum, Kerala, India). Patients waiting outside the CMS dispensary. (Photo Credit: chestofbooks.com)

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