Slavery was a social evil which prevailed all over the world including what is now the state of Kerala in India. According to the 1836 census there were 164,864 slaves in Travancore vis-à-vis a total civilian population of 12,80,668.
Slaves were treated like animals and the cost of one slave was that of an ox, cost of an ox was 5 (big para) measures of Paddy or Rs. 10/- only. Slaves were chained and sold like animals in markets.
Kottayam, Changanasserry, Thirunakkara, Alleppey, Kayamkulam, Kollam, Attingal, Chirayinkizh, Kaniyapuram, Pettah and Kovalam were the notorious slave trade markets of the time. Churches in Cochin were used as godowns for the slaves except for Sundays. Slaves were exported out of the kingdom. There was no one to speak on behalf of these unfortunate people.
With the arrival and the teachings of the CMS (Church Missionary Society) missionaries, people became aware of this social evil. In 1819, Munro Island was given to the missionaries, by the then Travancore Government along with the slaves residing there on the Island. Munro Island is located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada River, in Kollam district, Kerala, India.
In 1833, England passed the Slavery Abolition Law. CMS missionaries, Benjamin Bailey and Joseph Peet made a historic declaration on 8th March 1835, giving freedom to the slaves in Munro Island.
The declaration read as follows:
“We the undersigned, acting as trustees of Munro Island, do hereby declare that… who has hitherto been a slave of the soil, is from this time liberated by us and made a free man and that his wife and offspring are wholly and forever free and are regarded by us only as hired servants and that no one has any right to bring them into servitude again. At the same time we declare that we do not consider ourselves as released from any claim which he or his wife or offspring may have upon us according to custom, privilege or law in consequence of their having been slaves.”
8 March 5. Sd/- Benj Bailey Sd/- Josh Peet,
In 1847, Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma became the King of Travancore. The same year CMS missionaries submitted a memorandum to the King requesting him to stop the slavery in Travancore. In 1853, by royal declaration slavery was abolished in Travancore forever. In 1864, the Kingdom of Cochin also made a similar declaration abolishing slavery.
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.
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
17 September, 1917: Birth of M. E. Cherian, author of “Anugrahaththin Adhipathiye”.
Cherian was the son of Kuriannoor Thannikkapurathuttu T. M. Easow (Kunjachen Upadeshi) and Ayroor Kanjeettukara Panamthottathil Aleyamma. At the age of 9 he accepted Jesus as his personal saviour. He taught at the Noel Memorial School in Kumbanad for a few years, and from 1943 onwards he started full time gospel work.
He has written more than 300 hymns and 13 books. Hymn nos. 92, 93, 94, 95, 233, 236, 238, 239, 241, 245, 248, 304, 364, 365, 379, 385, 386 and 409 in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church Hymn book (Kristheeya Keerththanangal) are written by him.
He was called to his eternal home on 2 October, 1993 while he was on a gospel trip in Muthukulathoor Village near Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
20 March, 1852: Abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, daughter of the famous Congregational minister Lyman Beecher, publishes Uncle Tom’s Cabin (which had been serialized in an antislavery newspaper).
The book sold one million copies and was so influential in arousing antislavery sentiment that Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said upon meeting Stowe in 1863: “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this Great War!”