The Bishop in Madhya Kerala, Thomas Oommen, has been chosen to be the new moderator of the Church of South India. He was elected by an overwhelming majority at the CSI Synod meeting at Kottayam in the state of Kerala. Bishop Thomas had been the deputy moderator. He succeeds Bishop Govada Dyvasiryvadam who is stepping down after three years in office. Bishop Thomas will divide his time between his diocese and the CSI office in Chennai.
Speaking after his election, the Bishop set out his vision for the church which focuses on the importance of Christ surpassing boundaries.
“The boundaries of the denominations of the Christian Church must become thinner in order to proclaim Jesus in practice. The Church should go to the people and work among them. This is the kind of vibrant Church that I believe in,” he said
“And I believe that we need to continue to take up the cause of ecological concerns, of the rights of dalits and adivasis and the need for gender equality. We will continue to oppose injustice, particularly where it concerns the rights of Dalit Christians.”
He also promised that the church's extensive mission activities would be expanded further.
The Bishop in Dornakal, Vadappally Prasada Rao, was elected deputy moderator. Revd Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda and Advocate Robert Bruce were each re-elected to serve a second term as general secretary and treasurer respectively.
The 35th Synod has been taking place at the CSI Retreat Centre in Kottayam. The city was in the news recently when it hosted huge celebrations in November to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the diocese of Madhya Kerala following the arrival of the CMS missionary, Thomas Norton.
The Synod began with a procession from the diocese office to the Retreat Centre, where delegates were welcomed by the general secretary. The theme of the gathering was ‘Pilgrim Journey Towards Forgiveness and Reconciliation’. The inaugural sermon was delivered by Revd Christopher Ferguson, the general secretary of the World Council of Reformed Churches.
Among the other guests at the synod were the moderator of the Church of North India, Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy; the general secretary of CNI, Alwan Masih; Revd Roger Gaikwad, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India; and Revd Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar from the World Council of Churches