Parakal to Palani Hills
Although Jesus’ earthly mission was largely confined to Israel, and his reputation as a miracle worker and healer spread even in the gentile territory, the mission of Jesus does not stop at a geographical boundary. His disciples continued the mission and took it to the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus’ is the mission of God and it is to restore the image of God in every person through the word of God which was lost by sin. This restoration process will continue until God’s purposes are fulfilled. The evangelical awakening in the Church of England paved the way for the going out of the C.M.S. missionaries to Kerala and elsewhere. It is part of the ongoing mission of Jesus. The Rev.Thomas Norton arrived in Alleppey in the year of 1816. Several missionaries along with Rev.Thomas Norton accepted the challenge to “follow me” and their witness and sacrificial life became the seed of a growing missionary community in Madhya Kerala. The Madhya Kerala missionary community must in turn relieve the suffering in others and becoming an agent of change in the communities of India, as the mission does not stop at a particular geographical confinement, as it must be carried to the ‘ends of the earth’. This is our mission –God’s mission- to the whole world and in God’s power we go to the earth’s limits replicating Jesus’ mission. The ancient Syrian Church present in Kerala was revived and reformed to go to the limits of the earth instead of confining to herself in Kerala. Moreover the Kerala Churches have been contributing to the extension of God’s Kingdom, be it through churches and through Para church missionary work. So great is the impact of the arrival of the CMS missionaries in Kerala. The CMS missionaries challenged the state of the church which resulted in parting company with the Syrian Church. 200 years of mission history is full of challenges and opportunities. This article is a brief overview and a small attempt to chart the history of mission work of CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese and to depict the present scenario.
The genesis and growth
1816- Rev Thomas Norton came to Alleppey
1879- The Travancore Cochin Anglican diocese was formed
1924- The first Missionary Rev K E Eapen went to Parkal
2012- Odisha Mission
2013- Kanamala Mission centre
2014- Palani Hills Mission formed
2016- Coimbatore Students Centre
2016- Kalhatti Mission field
2016- Uttaranchal Mission centre
The Anglican Diocese of Travancore-Cochin has celebrated the centenary year in 1916 marking the arrival of the Church Missionary Society Missionaries in Kerala. Obedient to the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to go to the ends of the earth, the Diocese prayerfully considered establishing a mission field outside Kerala. The challenge and exhortation came from Rt. Rev. V.S. Azariah, the Bishop of the diocese of Dornakal, the celebrated great missionary bishop. To this call a young man responded writing with his own blood that he was ready, and his name was K. E. Eapen and on Feb. 24, 1924, the Parkal Mission was born and the work started at Katrapally, and later joined by the Rev. T. M. Thomas. The rest is history. Today, CSI Parkal Mission is part of the CSI Karimnagar Diocese, sponsored by the CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese. Parakal Mission has celebrated “Navathy” in the year 2014. The Youth movement of the diocese considered opening up a new station fully supported by them. Missionaries were sent to Palpara in Madhya Pradesh. Sr.Rachel John (Leela Kochamma) and others worked there for a brief stint and later in 1967 they chose ‘Mugalappally’ a very backward village in Warangal district in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Rev.P.O.Ninan and Mrs. Nancy Ninan were the first missionary family. The work of the missionaries changed the spiritual, social and economic conditions of the people in the area. Several churches were established and the gospel has arrived in many unreached villages around. Rev.Viji Varghese Eapen writes in a report. “As the CSI Parkal Mission completes 90 Years, there are many living in the light of Christ and many more are being attracted to the enriching influence of Christianity. ‘Gospel’ has transformed the lives of the people here. In their own words, “If you have not come to us and preached about Jesus, our lives would have been miserable”. Another person says, “Today many among us are doctors, engineers, teachers, and those who engage in local governance, and that is because of the Gospel that you had preached. I myself am a teacher.” These testimonies point towards the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit who breaths on the ‘valley of bones’, resuscitating the ‘life’ and transforming a buried community into an army of God”.
In 1979, CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese celebrated the Centenary year of the erstwhile Travancore –Cochin Anglican diocese. The “Cottayam Village Mission” has grown in to a full-fledged diocese in 1979! To mark this great occasion Madhya Kerala Diocese in partnership with the CNI Diocese of Allahabad started a mission station at Ghazipur in eastern Uttarpradesh. In the year of 1982, the bishop of Allahabad diocese the Rt.Rev.Deendayal, who was a close friend of bishop Rt.Rev.M.C. Mani invited Madhya Kerala Diocese to start mission work in his diocesan area. Mr. P.N.Ninan was the pioneer missionary who was a retired Air Force officer and he was later joined by Rev.C.K.Chacko. Due to the local opposition the station was shifted to Mahoba in western UP. Our missionaries had to face hostile situations in this place also so they to moved to Charkhari in 1991 and continued the work in the area.
The diocesan mission work is going on in 8 states in India. Parakal Mission(1924) Telangana Mission(1967) Charkhari, Uttarpradesh(1982), Mysore Mission(1995), Bhilai Industrial Mission (1988), Vellore, Bethsaida(2000),Uttaranchal Mission(2005), Odisha Mission(2012), Palani Hills Mission(2014). We have 9 Missionary Presbyters, 85 workers and 81 churches. Apart from this we have teachers, doctors, nurses, Tution centre workers, Social workers, Accountants and others. The work includes village evangelism, village churches, child development projects, schools, Junior college, orphanages, medical work, clinics, and laboratories, tuition centres, tailoring units, Microfinacing units and computer centres. Apart from the missions outside of our geographical boundary there are three home missions effectively functioning by conducting evangelism, house visits, awareness programs, namely Thottapradesha mission, Kuttanadu mission and Malayora mission.
Bicentenary period, 2012-16
The bicentenary period was indeed a period of growth for missionary work of the diocese. All the missions in and outside Kerala witnessed a tremendous growth during the period. “This is a missionary era and the growth depends on lay movement” says Bishop Thomas K. Oommen. Bicentenary homes were built in different fields. Many churches were built. Several years back in Parakal, missionaries worked in a village, and now as per the revenue records it is called “Yesunagaram” (Jesus’ Village). During this period the foundation stone for a worshipping centre was laid and it will be dedicated on November 28th, 2016. During the bicentenary period another remarkable development is the unprecedented involvement and participation of different organisations and parishes in mission work. The Almaya fellowship is in the forefront by taking up building projects and support for workers and evangelists. The diocesan Sunday school children support the work in the field through their generous contributions. The Youth movement encourages youngsters to go to different fields as workers. It is an enriching experience for them. Also parishes plan visits to the mission fields to encourage missionaries and believers and this trips has enhanced the vision of our people and they return to Parishes with a great commitment to involve and give sacrificially for the work.
Coimbatore Students Centre (2016)
The student centre consisting of a Chapel and a Parsonage was dedicated and declared open by the Most Rev Thomas K Oommen on August 30, 2016 in the presence of Bishop Timothy Ravinder, the Coimbatore congregation members and, a number of Clergy and lay leaders from the diocese. It is a place of worship and spiritual nurture for students.Rev. Johnson Alexander put the pioneer effort and Rev.Levin Koshy Mallasseril is currently the student chaplain. The parsonage is built in memory of Rev.T.Koshy (Aathmopakari Achen).
Lay Missionary Cadre
One of the very important projects during the bicentenary year was to recognise and train ‘Lay leaders’ for ministry in the parishes and mission fields. This is a movement of volunteers. Many of our members responded to this call and involving in the ministry of the church.
To ‘the ends of the earth’
The beckoning call “come over and help”, is not just only a call of St.Paul’s, but also reality in our context. There are plans to start new mission centres including one across the international borders. The Anglican diocese of Uganda in Africa has given the diocese an invitation to visit there as a team to explore the possibility of working there, which is a country reeling under severe drought and poverty. Also we have identified locations in Tripura, Bengal and in Nepal to start new mission centres. They all need the gospel of grace.
Future mission engagement will be in the two areas. One is among the IDP’s. A recent study shows that the current population of North Indian workers in Kerala is 40 lakhs. This is an era of internally displaced people (IDP). People migrate from one place to the other seeking livelihood and better prospects in life. Another space is the digital world. More and more people are using internet and other social media. This space is going to be another area of witnessing of the gospel. The virtual world is a reality now. Technology is not evil in itself and it works for the good of the world and it is important that how we use it. Social media can be misused as a space for gossip as well as self gratification. But gospel can be reached to millions of users if it is used properly.
The mission continues because it is God mission. It is our responsibility to give others an opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Mission of God is to restore the image of God in every person through the Word of God. As we enter in to the third millennium as a missionary community, there is no place for stagnation but moving beyond to reach the world with the love of God.
Prayer support is so vital in Mission Work so please keep the work in your prayers. Pray in prayer groups, Share this information with other church members. Gurupadanthikam a devotional is publishing as 3 Volumes in a year. You can subscribe a copy of the same.
Financial support can be sent by Cheques drawn in favour of
“The Treasurer CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese”.
Funds can also be transferred to
SBT, CMS College Branch, A/C 57008472532, IFSE SBT0000484
The Dept of Mission and Evangelism
CSI Diocesan Office
“There is only one life. It will soon be past. But what is done for Christ will last forever”