With everything that is happening in the world right now – especially COVID-19, and the police brutality and racial injustice protests – I’m finding myself feeling a little overwhelmed at times. There is so much work to be done… so many opportunities to fulfill our baptismal promises “to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves;” and, “to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being.” It’s hard to know where to begin!
The congregations of the Diocese of Michigan have been working together in many and varied ways to really demonstrate what we believe. From raising money to feed hungry people throughout the southeast and south central portions of the state, to participating in Wednesday evening Race Matters discussions about how we can combat racial injustice, the congregations of our diocese are doing the work that God has given us to do and really making a difference in the lives of those around us. However, there is always more work to be done and always the need for more people to share the load.
As wonderful as it is to see the congregations of our diocese working together, it is good to remember that God’s human resources go far beyond the people in our diocese who worship in Episcopal churches. We have strong ecumenical relationships with people in many other denominations, and we can accomplish way more when we include them in our efforts.
Which brings us to today’s resolution:
Resolution D043 ~ Welcoming the Church of South India
Resolved, That the Secretary of the General Convention send warm greetings to the Moderator of the Church of South India (CSI), an Anglican communion partner United Church, and all CSI congregations within the geographical bounds of The Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention welcome with affection and seek fellowship with congregations of the Church of South India within the geographical bounds of The Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That all Dioceses, Parishes, and other Episcopal communities be encouraged to seek fellowship with CSI communities within their geographical area of ministry.
Although not part of the actual resolution, the Explanation provides an important part of the history of the Church of South India in the United States:
Church of South India congregations emerged in the United States in the 1970’s after a change in immigration law permitted immigrants from India to settle in the United States. Congregations continue to be sanctuaries for new immigrants arriving from India. This resolution seeks to build relationships between the Episcopal Church and these immigrant churches, as a source of blessing for both. Church of South India congregations in North America can be identified on this website https://csicouncilnorthamerica.wordpress.com/.
There are not many Church of South India congregations located in the United States, but the Diocese of Michigan is privileged to have one of them within our geographical boundaries. The CSI Congregation of Great Lakes, Michigan is located on East 11 Mile in Warren. Their website includes a lot of really interesting information about the history of the Church of South India:
The Church of South India is the result of the union of churches of varying traditions Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It was inaugurated in September 1947, after protracted negotiation among the churches concerned. Organized into 24 dioceses, each under the spiritual supervision of a bishop, the church as a whole is governed by a synod, which elects a moderator (presiding bishop) every 2 years. Episcopacy is thus combined with Synodical government, and the church explicitly recognizes that Episcopal, Presbyterian, and congregational elements are all necessary for the church’s life. The Scriptures are the ultimate standard of faith and practice. The historic creeds are accepted as interpreting the biblical faith, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as of binding obligation.
Discussions concerning union had begun at a conference at Tranquebar (now Tarangambadi) in 1919, and in 1947, after India attained independence, the union was completed. The Church of South India has its own service book and communion service, both of which draw from several denominational sources. The union, especially in its reconciliation of the Anglican doctrine of apostolic succession with the views of other denominations, is often cited as a landmark in the ecumenical movement.
A unique church was born out of the blending of the Episcopal and non – Episcopal traditions as a gift of God to the people of India and as a visible sign of the ecclesiastical unity for the universal church.
The Vision and Mission statements of the CSI are beautiful and very much in line with the work we are doing as members of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Michigan:
Vision: The Church of South India (CSI) affirms that the purpose of the union is to fulfill the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church “That they all may be one, and that the world may believe that you have sent me.” And the Church of South India would become an effective instrument of God’s mission so there will be greater peace, closer fellowship and fuller life in the Church and a renewed commitment for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through word and deed.
Mission: The Church of South India affirms that the Church is the Servant of God to carry on the mission rooted in Jesus Christ based on the Scriptures. The Church through her mission expresses solidarity with the broken communities for a new hope to face the challenges of life. The Cross continues to be the sign of hope for the witnessing Church, which strives towards Unity, Peace and Reconciliation as a vibrant Channel of God.
The work God has given us to do here in the Diocese of Michigan is powerful work and there is much of it. The more people we include in our work of justice and peace, the easier the work becomes. Including our brothers and sisters of the Church of South India and the other denominations around us in our projects and plans will enable us to do the work God has given us to do in the way God intends for us to do it: as one united body of Jesus Christ in the world.
Let us pray ~
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (BCP pg. 818)
The Rev. Diana Walworth, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council