14TH ORDINARY SYNOD MEETING OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA
“ARISE AND BUILD: FOR I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS”
The 14th Ordinary Synod Meeting of the Church of North India (CNI) was held at the St. Thomas Girls Senior Secondary School, Mandir Marg, New Delhi from 6th to 9th October 2011. The Synod is the organ of the whole Church, comprising all the Dioceses, and which is the supreme supervising, legislative and executive body of the church. More than 400 participants consisting of all the CNI Bishops, Invitees, and Fraternal Delegates from Churches abroad and Elected Representatives from all the 27 Dioceses of the Church of North India participated in the four day Synod Meeting. The Synod meetings gave an opportunity to the Church as a whole to reflect, analyze, to evaluate and to plan the mission of the Church. It was a meaningful time to evaluate the programmatic approach for mission in the preceding three years. It was also an occasion for stock taking of the work done by the different wings of the Church such as the Dioceses, the Boards, Committees and Commissions. Experiences were shared of success and failures and intense discussions and deliberations evolved to draw out a strategic road map for the Church’s action plan in the forthcoming three years.
The 14th Ordinary Synod began with a procession from the St. Thomas Chapel led by Office Bearer’s of CNI Synod followed by the Fraternal Delegates and then by 27 Dioceses of the Church of North India. The Synod Delegates were welcome by the Diocese of Delhi represented by the Bishop, Rt. Revd. Sunil.K Singh, the Office Bearer’s and Presbyters of the Diocese. The Inaugural Worship on the Synod theme “Arise and Build: Fear not for I am with you Always” was a time of thanksgiving to God for the journey of the Church in the past three years. The Revd. Dr. Colin Cowan delivered the message on the occasion. He exhorted the delegates to stand against fear and claim the promises of God to arise and build, to become part of a life transforming community and to be participants in the design of a new architecture for an all inclusive community, where love would be the standard by which everyone is governed and peace is the experience of everyone without exception. A key highlight of the Inaugural Worship was the commitment by the Church of North India to stand in solidarity with the people’s struggles in places like Govindpur, Kodankullam, Chutka and Jagatsingpur where development is being promoted at the cost of displacement of the local people. The Church took a unique initiative with delegates signing a banner of solidarity for the people involved in the Anti-Posco struggles. The Synod partook in the Lord’s Table celebrated by the Moderator, the Most Revd. Dr. Purely Lyngdoh.
The Most Revd. Dr. Purely Lyngdoh in his address to the Synod shared his joys and concerns while leading the Church as the Moderator in the last three years. He said, “We are proud of our Unity in spite of our different backgrounds. We have celebrated 40 years of our united journey in October 2010 and our differences have not come in the way of our united efforts and cooperation in fulfilling the Mission of the Church.” The Moderator also shared his disappointment and pain due to the quarrels and disputes amongst some members leading to the tarnishing of the image of the church. He appealed and exhorted the Church “to put Christ in front of us and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
The highlight of the opening day was the much awaited report of the General Secretary which showcases the progress made by the church in the last three years. Mr. Alwan Masih presented a comprehensive and detailed report of the various activities of the Church and highlighted the mission engagements of the church. Beginning his address he said, “The mission of God has to be understood within the context of human struggles and sufferings. In a country where there is so much suffering caused mainly by human greed the mission of God cannot be anything but to do justice and to walk humbly with God.” Mr. Alwan Masih highlighted the achievements in the field of Theological Education, Rejuvenating Congregational Life at the grassroots, Ministry with Children and relationships with Partner churches in India and abroad. The General Secretary enthusiastically put before the Synod the unique initiative of the CNI Synod to encourage the youth which has led the church to be involved in a program to support youth of the Church for Civil Services Exams. The General Secretary emphasized his concern for the need for a spiritual revival within the Church and equally challenged the gathering to see that the local congregations are aware and involved with the communities of their context. He informed the house that the Church of North India in the past three years has been actively supporting the Dalit and tribal communities by direct engagement in the struggles of these communities. However, he expressed concern that much more needs to be done and that bringing to realization a life of fullness and abundance within these communities can only be possible with the support and participation of each member of the church.
The next three days of the Synod began with Morning Worship followed by a Bible Study. Both the Morning worship and the Bible study for each day was based on a sub theme, taken from the overall theme of the Synod. The first day theme, “Overcoming Fear of Dominance: Building Communities” looked into the issues of Dalit and Tribal Communities of the Church and society. Revd. Dn. Philip Peacock led in the Bible study on the theme. The theme for the next day, “Overcoming Fear of Violence: Building Justice” highlighted issues of women and children. Seven women Presbyters led the morning worship while Revd. Dr. Paul Swarup guided the delegates in the Bible study. The final day saw the issue of discrimination of youths under the theme, “Overcoming Fear of Discrimination: Building Resistance.” Revd. Upholding the objectives of the theme for the day the Morning Worship was led by the youth representing various Dioceses of the Synod. Revd. Dr. Sunil Caleb was the Bible study leader for the day. The Bible Study for the 14th Synod involved a unique methodology where the Bible Studies had been sent to all delegates in the form of a Booklet a month prior to the Synod. The delegates were encouraged to conduct Bible Studies within their congregations and to bring their shared experiences to the 14th Synod Meeting. After the presentations by each Bible Study leader the Delegates engaged in meaningful interaction in the Group Discussions that followed sharing experiences from their context based on the Bible Study theme.
The Acting Treasurer, Mr. Prem Masih presented the financial situation of the Church in the Treasurer’s report on the second day of the Synod Meeting. While presenting the Statement of Accounts the Acting Treasurer also put before house some of the strategic plans to overcome deficit of the Church. He especially thanked the Dioceses who have supported the Synod in implementing programmes by regular payment of Assessments. He especially challenged the gathering to work towards evoking special programs to enhance People’s Giving in all Dioceses of CNI. Mr. Prem Masih especially acknowledged the contribution of the newly formed Stewardship Ambassadors Ministry who in a very short span of time had been able to generate resources to support some of the key programme initiatives of the Church of North India.
The Synod Meetings also witnessed the enthusiastic participation of the Delegates from Partner Churches and Ecumenical Organizations from both India and overseas. Delegates brought greetings and good wishes from their respective Churches and organizations and were facilitated by the Synod for their prayers and support to the Church of North India.
The Synod was also a time when the 27 Dioceses presented their reports before the Synod of their journey in the last three years. The Assembly was informed about the progress made, challenges faced and plans of the Diocese for the next three years. Similar progress reports were also presented by the various Boards, Commissions and Committees of the Synod which was received which much appreciation by the house.
The Synod is as occasion for the Church of North India to come together in celebration and thanksgiving for all that the Church is and has accomplished in God’s name. To maintain the celebration mood of joy and cheer as delegates gathered as the body of Christ, the 14th Ordinary Synod provided time and space through a “Synod Hart” where the church could celebrate its different cultures and traditions with each other. Dioceses of the Church displayed for sale and exhibition artifacts, handicrafts etc from their rich culture and tradition. In order to take the celebration mood further Cultural Expressions during evenings of each day was arranged. The Cultural programmes of dance, drama and singing presented by the schools and institutions of Delhi and Agra Diocese enthralled the souls and minds of the delegates. The Cultural Evenings were highly appreciated and become a memorable event for all those who witnessed them.
The Synod Meeting witnessed the delegates setting time aside to develop the Mission Priorities of the Church for the forthcoming decade. Amidst serious discussions and deliberations the Synod proposed and approved key areas for the Church to work and engage in mission for the decade 2011-2020. Similarly the Synod Assembly also prepared a Statement by the Church from the members of the 14th Ordinary Synod which encompassed some of the mission concerns of the Church of North India.
The final day of the Synod Meetings was filled with anticipation as the Nomination Committee presented before the House the list for members who would be taking various responsibilities in the Boards, Committees and Commissions of the CNI Synod for the forthcoming three years. The report of Nomination Committee was received with appreciation and approved by the delegates as the new Committees, Commissions and Boards were assigned responsibilities to take forward the mission of the Church.
The final day also witnessed a change in leadership of the Church with Most Revd. Dr. P.P. Marandi being elected as the Moderator, and Rt. Revd. P.K. Samantaroy being elected the Deputy Moderator of the Church of North India for the next triennium 2011-2014. In a grand closing ceremony Most Revd. Dr. P. P. Marandi was installed into the office of the Moderator by the Most. Revd. Dr. Purely Lyngdoh. In his message on the occasion the ne Moderator said, “No member of the church should think they are alone rather they are equal stakeholders in the new mission priorities of the Church for the next decade. There is a need for a united action against systematic violence by all powers which deny God’s love and right to life and livelihood of communities, groups and individuals within the context of our churches.” With these words of encouragement the 14th Ordinary Synod drew to a close as the delegates departed to with a new zeal and vigor to fulfill the mission of Church of North India to witness through unity and service the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.