[ACNS] A senior bishop of the Methodist Church in India, Dr Taranath Sagar, a leading figure in the country’s ecumenical movement, has died this week after a heart attack.
The Church of South India described Dr Sagar as “one of the tall ecumenical leaders from India who was a proponent of wider ecumenism.” They say that he “worked diligently for that goal during the past three decades through various ecumenical and ecclesiastical organisations in India, Asia and at the global levels.
“The encouraging move from the Methodist Church in India to initiate the discussion to be part of the Communion of Churches in India (CCI) was the result of his envisioning.”
Dr Sagar was elected twice as the president of National Council of Churches in India. He has been a member of the executive committee of the Christian Conference of Asia, and the central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) where he worked to revise the organisation’s rules and constitution.
He was the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Bishops Conference in India, and president of the Asian Methodist Bishops Conference. He served several ecclesial and ecumenical organisations in various capacities during the past several years including as the president of ECLOF India – a not-for-profit microfinance organization; chairperson of the Ecumenical Christian Centre in Bangalore; secretary of the Maharashtra Christian Council, and in the executive committee of the United Theological College in Bangalore.
Paying tribute, the General Secretary of the Church of South India (CS), the Revd Dr Ratnakar Sadananda, said he had been friends with Dr Sagar for more than 20 years and described his abilities as a leader with vision and determination.
“Bishop Sagar's contributions to the life of the Church and ecumenism in India and abroad are invaluable,” Dr Sadananda said. “His concern for the marginalised communities was genuine and he was always willing to raise voice for the rights of those communities".
The CSI Moderator, the Most Revd Dr Dyvasirvadam, said that he and the CSI’s officers expressed their “deep condolences” on the news, and offered their prayers “that the presence of the comforting Spirit of the Lord be upon his wife, Mrs Padma Sagar, and his son and daughter and their families.”
Tributes were also paid by the WCC General Secretary, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who spoke of his “great sadness” at the news of Dr Sagar’s death. “Bishop Sagar was one of the church leaders who was strongly rooted at the local level and yet had a strong global presence which carried much influence,” Dr Tveit said. “Not only churches in India and Asia but also Christians around the world will miss this dynamic ecumenical leader.
“We remember Bishop Sagar as a friend and brother with great commitment to his tasks as a church leader and contributor to the one ecumenical movement. The WCC prays that his memory will inspire many and his legacy will continue.”