[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] The Church of North India (CNI) will be using its 50th anniversary this year to review, consult and then re-set its mission priorities for the next 10 years as thousands of people come together from around the country. Starting in November 2019, the golden jubilee to mark the formation of the united Church in North India, will include a year-long celebration including programmes, processions, consultations and events.
The General Secretary of CNI Synod, Alwan Masih said: “God has blessed and led this Church while it celebrated its unity, witness and service through all these years. What we’re very excited about is going to the place in Nagpur where the church was founded and the whole church gathering together there. This is one very exciting thing. People will be able to know each other more. The churches here are thousands of kilometres from one another and many people have not seen other areas.
“People will have the chance to feel the richness of this church. We have so many languages, so many cultures, different dresses people wear, different foods people eat . . . it will be quite an event.”
Alwan Masih said one of the highlights would be the whole church sitting together and debating the mission priorities for the future over two days. “We will also share our challenges and the difficulties we face,” he said. “Sharing the moments when we have faced the worst kind of persecution.”
Talking about the violence in Orissa in 2008 when 103 people were killed or burnt alive and some 300 churches were burnt down, he said: “last year in 2018, after 10 years, we thought we would organise a festival of hope and peace. We were praying for 100,000 people to come. On day one we had 100,000 people. On day two we had 60-70,000 people, but after 3 pm in the afternoon people just came rushing in, and by the evening around 5.30 pm to 6pm we had more than 250,000 people.”
“This is what the Church of North India is. This is what we share with each other. Our persecution and our joys, our challenges and our blessings. So, when this whole church comes together we will talk about these joys and these persecutions and we will see how the whole body of Christ can come together at one place and take decisions for their church.”
A whole programme of events is planned for the year beginning with the gathering in Nagpur and a procession to All Saints Cathedral followed by a celebration service.
The church of North India was formed through uniting six different denominations, including the Anglican Church, the Brethren Church, the Church of the Disciples of Christ, the Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church. The General Secretary said that the Church of North India today was an ecumenical expression of how they are still working together as one.
The year-long anniversary will include six separate celebration programmes in different areas for each of the original traditions.
Other items included in the programme will be an exhibition and a new monument at All Saints Cathedral.